The Answer Interview
With Paul Mahon & Michael Waters
At Sub 89 Reading
9th March 2014
Interview by Ashlinn Nash
The Answer have kindly spared some time to talk to us today, in tonight’s gig venue Sub 89 in Reading as part of their massive UK club tour. Which was been a vast and what sounds like an enjoyable journey for the band. We managed to catch up with very lively pair from the band; bassist Michael Waters and guitarist Paul Mahon.
First off thank you for doing the interview with us, how are you?
Michael: Very well thanks
You’ve been on this tour for quite a while now, out of all of them so far, which has been your favorite gig?
Michael: We’re about two, two and half weeks into it now it’s been great you know we feel like old road dogs at this point [laughs] we’ve been doing this for years , we love coming out and this has been a refreshing tour for us, because we’re covering a lot of places and venues we’ve never been too so it’s good fun meeting new people
Which has been your favorite gig so far?
Paul: Southend was pretty good, Aberdeen was good, Hull was surprisingly good, it was a Sunday night in Hull it doesn’t strike you as a good one.
Michael: I was really worried about that one, it was a cracking night.
Any funny tour stories?
[Talk amongst themselves]
Paul: that hotel in Hamburg? That was pretty funny
Michael: Yeah! We stayed in a hotel in Hamburg, and it was just off Reeperbahn [red light district of Hamburg] we had lots of prostitutes, taking their clients in non-stop. That was pretty interesting as all the showers were in one block, so instead of in your room you had to go to like a block.
Has it been a new departure from support slots to going alone again?
Michael: Not really, I mean we’ve always done the headline band thing before as well as being the support we’re five to six months into touring this record you know I mean it is a different dynamic from going from supporting a band like AC/DC who have sold a bazillion records it’s a completely different experience but I mean this is what it’s all about, getting out there and playing your own stuff keep your fans happy while trying to get as many new ones as possible.
Who so far have been the best bands to tour with?
Michael: That’s a very open question
Paul: it’s probably still AC/DC you’re not going to top that, of getting to see that band every day and getting to hang out with those guys and of course all the trappings that come with a tour of that size, it has a little bit of everything. Another tour we did though in Australia once with the Eagles of Death Metal for around two weeks, that was pretty hard to beat for all the things you’d imagine happening on the road and of course great music every night too. I mean The Answer and Eagles of Death Metal you maybe don’t put those two things together but it worked a treat.
Who would you like to tour with in the future?
Michael: [after a long pause] maybe someone like Van Halen would be good, or Soundgarden actually any of those two.
Paul: Pearl Jam
Michael: We are grunge kids at heart so I guess, as we grew up on that so any of that scene would be amazing for us.
On the website you had a “drinking session” countdown, how did this come about?
Michael: Ah well you know our lead singer likes to drink [laughs] so it was his idea, basically an excuse for a piss up Belfast I think that was. It didn’t end up that pretty travelling home that night. The videos defiantly got funnier as they went on well the last few were hilarious!
You recorded the last album outside of the UK, what was it like to come back to the UK to record New Horizon?
Michael: It’s actually refreshing, absolutely refreshing to come back it’s such a tight little studio like the size of this room really [about 10 metres by 10] but it had great gear in it and really great sound too. I think that studio has had four or five top ten albums recorded there in the last few months there are quite a few bands now going there. It’s a very successful studio for what it is, it’s very old school kind of recording. We were all in this tight little pocket together.
Just when you’d forgotten what each other’s arm pits smelt like
Michael: it was all cut live too.
You have a new producer for this album Toby Jepson, what was it like working with him?
Paul: It was good, he’s an old head and he’s been around music for a long time but he’s still fairly early in his production career he’s very enthusiastic he’s very hungry and he has a very simple style of the song has to be right first and if you can play it live then it will translate well on tape. He doesn’t get caught up in having a million guitars over dubs and vocals. As long as the song works as well on a acoustic guitar and a voice and the band can play it right you know, that’s going to work. And from him being in a band before he’s made records that he’s happy with and he doesn’t like and he knows what could be better and what are the right things for him to do so he brings the musicians angle to it as well, Toby kind of brought all of that too it I think. He’s probably the hardest guy to record for we could do twenty odd takes until it was right, he’s a hard task master that way.
What has been the writing process for the album, did you have any ideas left over from previous recordings?
Michael: it was all 100% fresh we took about five to six months for ourselves and then effectively Tony joined the band for about four to five months so he mucked in for about five songs it was an interesting dynamic for us. We learnt a lot from him and that process as well, he’s good at getting the right mix and performance from people.
Where did you get the inspiration from?
Paul: I think probably from the last album and all the changes we went through with that, I think there is maybe a little bit of angst with this one and we wanted to prove something again. So we kind of went back to the first album and the whole “us against the world” spirit in it. Then there were a lot of new experiences to draw from as well from the AC/DC tour and going around the world for thirteen months, with all the different people we met so some of that went into it. As well as the changes in the band and few changes in people’s lives and I think all of that influenced the writing too. Sometimes it’s just three, four guys in a room playing a kick ass riff and it works, there is no big thought behind it, sounds good, and feels good and some of those things are on the record. Sometimes you don’t want to think about it too much it’s rock and roll really.
The album cover looks great, where did the idea for that come from and who is the artist behind it?
Michael: Basically Storm Thorgerson [Album cover artist for bands such as Led Zepplin,Pink Floyd, The mars Volta, Muse- to name a few] once he agreed to take on the project, we at the time had no idea he only had X amount of time to live, he took it on effectively knowing that. He interviewed us then after about two months emailed us with about ten to twelve sketch ideas for it all amazing ideas, so unique takes on each individual idea. They all worked but we agreed on the idea for the current cover, then it went to the next stage and he developed it and kept sending his ideas back to us. To be honest, he knew what he was doing a lot more than we would know what we were doing you know, I mean with album covers he’s the most champion guy in the history of the game you know, was just amazing to work with him it’s basically his interpretation of our music.
New Horizon is the fourth studio, how do feel the band has grown from the early releases such as the album “rise” and EP’s: “breakdown honey” and “end your day on a high”?
Paul: In some ways with this album I think we’re back to the spirit of the early stuff, it did feel like we’ve started afresh but obviously with the experience and everything what with the knowledge from the three records before, be built on it a little bit each time. The first album was very much a sum up of our influences and our collections were very apparent in that then the next one “every day demons” we kind of we took on the feedback from different people and producers. The on Revival we kind of threw everything out there, we were allowed to do whatever we wanted so that was a very creative time for us. After that it’s kind of a what do you do next, I mean we’ve done all the big arrangements and the big production then we decided to go back to all the guys in garage again and just crack it out with the benefit to write much better songs. Knowing where the hooks are, where the right hooks are and being able to be a bit more direct with the message we were trying to convey it’s a lot more cohesive now and can probably cross over to more people now.
How many of the new songs have you been showcasing this tour?
[Both look down at the set list in front of us]
Michael: we’ve been changing it most nights not drastically just two or three songs but tonight we’re doing a couple of b-sides and about three brand new ones. Then a best of, with our favourite ones really, it’s been a fun set actually just flies through really.
What does the rest of 2014 hold for the band?
Michael: Finish this run which goes for another month, do a bit of writing and a bit of catch up kind of stuff and then Download and bunch of festivals over the summer so we’ll be busy doing that and writing and recording. September maybe doing a states thing and Japan and then hopefully after that jump in the studio and do another record.
Thank you for talking to us today and good luck for the rest of the tour.