The Answer is proud to hoist the riff-rock torch



By Steve Newton

Bluesy Irish rockers the Answer have been opening for AC/DC for nine months now, living a dream most bands would kill for. As vocalist Cormac Neeson explains during a day off from touring in Grand Rapids, Michigan, it’s all been good—and some of it has been downright amazing. Like the previous night in Detroit, when AC/DC’s plane was delayed and his group got to go on later than usual.

“It gets a lot more people through the doors,” explains Neeson, “so we were playing to pretty much a full house. We went down great, and after the show there were a lot of people waiting out by our tour bus wanting to get autographs and photographs and everything like that, so it’s always nice whenever that happens. Plus we had [AC/DC vocalist] Brian Johnson in our dressing room havin’ a glass of wine with us, and tellin’ us a few particularly Geordie-style jokes.”

Besides managing to win over demanding AC/DC fans and hang with their rock idols, Neeson and his bandmates have been able to squeeze in the odd club gig as well. Two nights earlier they played a sold-out show at a Chicago venue called the Beat Kitchen. “I think it’s necessary for the band’s sanity that we get to play for longer than 45 minutes,” says Neeson, “and play in front of a crowd that are there entirely to see us.”

The Answer has plenty of new material to roll out, having recently released its second full-length album, Everyday Demons, which carries on the band’s modus operandi of putting a Black Crowes–like spin on ’70s guitar rock, with heavy nods to Zeppelin and Free. The songs were recorded in L.A. and London last year, before the band headed off with AC/DC in October, and eight of the 12 tracks were mixed by Vancouver’s Mike Fraser at the Warehouse Studio in Gastown.

Fraser also engineered and mixed AC/DC’s latest CD, the hugely popular Black Ice, and his producing credits include Joe Satriani, Dio, and Coverdale/Page. Not surprisingly, Neeson would “absolutely” welcome Fraser as producer of his band’s next CD.

“He’s a good man,” reckons the lion-maned singer. “The last time we were in Vancouver he came down and said hi, so it was nice to meet him in the flesh as opposed to screamin’ at him down the phone to do this and do that for us. But he did a very good job. He still mixes in a very old-school way, which is perfect for rock music.”

When the massive AC/DC world tour winds up in November, the Answer won’t be taking time to catch its breath, but heading right out on a headlining tour of the U.K. and Ireland that’ll keep it going until Christmas. But wherever the road takes Neeson, guitarist Paul Mahon, bassist Michael Waters, and drummer James Heatley, you can bet they’ll be proudly hoisting the riff-rock torch that their dedicated Aussie mentors are passing.

“You watch Brian and Angus [Young] work the stage every night and it’s inspiring how much they still enjoy it,” says Neeson. “It’s absolutely necessary to have a genuine passion for what you’re doing in order to continue for as long as those boys have.”

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