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Testing their metal
The Answer have played to almost a million people on the current AC/DC tour. Not bad for an indie hard rock band from Norn Iron. Singer Cormac Neeson gives us the skinny on Angus Young’s love of Rory Gallagher, meeting Alice Cooper, and why Hunger is required tour bus viewing.
Stuart Clark, 11 Jun 2009
Hunger also resonates strongly with James Heatley, The Answer’s Animal from The Muppets drummer who’s currently sidelined – former Relish man Carl Papenfus has been depping for him – because of a hand injury.
“Cormac and I watched it together on a night off in Germany – everyone else had blagged tickets to see Pink, but we thought Hunger would be less heavy going!” James deadpans. “I lived in Belfast until I was 11 or 12. My da owned a garage between Andersonstown and the Falls Road, and got sick of people coming in and demanding money off him all the time.”
All of which is an extremely long way from blasting out ‘Never Too Late’ on The Late Show With David Letterman as The Answer did last November in their thermals.
“Cormac had a scarf on to save his voice!” guitarist Paul Mahon reminisces. “Letterman insists on the temperature being kept close to freezing, apparently so that his make-up doesn’t run. We were in the nice warm Green Room, but friends of ours who were sitting in the audience almost got hypothermia. It really is that cold.”
“Being in the make-up room and having Bill Cosby sit down beside you is by far and away the most bizarre thing that’s ever happened to me,” Heatley resumes. “Jimmy Nail was in the London O2 the other night, which was a bit surreal too. I imagine he’s an old Newcastle mate of Brian Johnson’s whose main topic of conversation is vintage cars. He’s got his own racing team, which he loves only marginally less than AC/DC!”
If you’ve been scratching your head for the past 1,063 words and thinking, “What the fuck has all this got to do with indie rock in Ireland?” I ought to point out that The Answer have eschewed major labeldom in favour of a deal with the Aussie imprint, Albert Music, run by AC/DC’s management company.
“Albert Music started life in 1885 as a clock, watch and occasional violin repair shop,” Cormac reveals. “It’s funny, some people sneer at hard rock because they see it as being this big corporate money-making machine, but we were complete DIY outsiders when we started. I remember a friend of mine saying, ‘Fucking bring your demo down to Terri Hooley’s shop and he’ll see you right’, which we did. The first record store The Answer were in was Good Vibrations.”