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LAist Interview: Cormac Neeson of The Answer

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Southern Californians with a taste for the ballsy, beery hard rock sounds of the seventies have already bought their tickets for AC/DC's long-awaited return to LA this coming Saturday and Monday. (We hope so, for your sake, because they’ve been sold out since around the time they went on sale.) The Forum, the site of many historic metal gigs, seems like the perfect venue for their special brand of mass gathering, and according to the reviews, the new album Black Ice is their best album since the last one that was actually pretty good. Consider us About To Rock.

This time out, we suggest you don't go all Heavy Metal Parking Lot through the opening act. The Answer, a four-piece from Northern Ireland on their first American tour, have a sonic template that stretches even further back then the headliner's. The songs and stylings on their American debut EP Never Too Late seem grounded in about 1972, when Deep Purple had the number one album in the country, and Humble Pie, Black Oak Arkansas and Uriah Heep filled convention centers nationwide with blue-ish clouds of smoke as their audience repaid the favor. They're the kind of band whose music should be required to come with elaborate gatefold covers suitable for rendering cheap marijuana. You can't roll a joint on an Ipod, one of many irretrievable losses for the children of tomorrow, poor things.

But these guys believe some traditions are worth preserving, so listen up. Lead singer Cormac Neeson is a real nice, down to earth guy once you crank up the volume on your cellphone enough to cut through the brogue.

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Have you guys been in LA before or are the shows next week going to be your first time here?

No, we’ve been to LA a few times before. The first time we just did a couple of gigs, we played at a place called Spaceland and a gig at the Viper Room. And then we came to LA to record our album over the summer. We were there for about six weeks, so we know LA quite well.

What are your thoughts about the city?

Oh man, we love it! All these boys here want to move there as soon as they've got enough money to pay the rent. It's great. The climate always helps, and there's a lot going on, a lot of very interesting people in the mix. It's a nice, colorful city and I would say a very thriving music scene as well. It suits us very well!

What's the music scene in Northern Ireland like right now?

At the moment I would say it's very healthy. There's a lot of good bands, playing a lot of different stuff, you know? It's very eclectic. You've got a thriving metal scene in Belfast at the moment, and the whole indie thing is very, very strong also. From a rock and roll perspective, we've emerged out of that scene, but there's another three or four bands doing stuff quite similar to us, who are probably up there as well. It's great. From an international perspective, we've found there are a lot more bands willing to come and play in Belfast, and Northern Ireland in general, which is a great encouragement to young musicians who are trying their best to learn their trade and get out of there and see the world with their music, you know?

What's the most important thing you've learned from spending time around AC/DC?

How to, just, you know... they put on a two-hour show, and they're gonna kick Satan's ass from beginning to end. Those guys are rocking out, giving 120%, from the first song to the last second. And there's so many twists and turns the audience are just enthralled. So from that perspective, we're looking ahead now, to whenever we get to the point, where we're playing in front of twenty thousand people, and we have to sustain a two and a half hour show, on a tour of the magnitude of the Black Ice tour. These guys are a perfect example of how to do that.

I can hear a pretty distinctive early 70s influence hard rock in the sound. Are there any influences we might be surprised to hear about, based on what we've heard so far?

Well, regarding the influences in our band... I think all four of us are influenced from different areas of music. But the music that we play, that kind of hard-edged rock and roll, where it meets metal... I'm obviously very influenced by the great passionate singers of the late 60s,early 70s, like Paul Rodgers, like Robert Plant, like Steve Marriott, you know, and it goes to the present day. Chris Robinson of the Black Crowes, stuff like that. Paul and Mickey, they grew up in the 80s, so they were very much influenced by a lot of the 80's "hair metal", if you want to call it that, and a lot of the early 90's grunge scene. And James, our drummer, he just loves any drummer that hits the drums as hard as he possibly can, you know. Helmet, Tool and bands like Therapy?. Myself, my favorite band of that period was probably the Smashing Pumpkins, or Rage Against The Machine. But the music that you hear on our CD, it's a kind of middle ground where we all find the music where we're gelling together, and we're really a hundred percent into it. And proud to be on the stage playing it.

And what's your favorite rock and roll Christmas song?

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"I Wish It Could Be Christmas Every Day", it's gotta be!

Good choice!!

AC/DC and The Answer
The Forum | 3900 W Manchester Blvd., Inglewood
Saturday December 6 and Monday December 8 8:00 PM
Tickets are $90.50 for all seats, and sold out, but try Ticketmaster if you feel lucky.