The Gown spoke to The Answer’s Cormac Neeson about headlining Glasgowbury, their new album and touring.
Conor Kerr: One of the highlights of the summer was Glasgowbury. How was it?
Cormac Neeson: It was fantastic. It was a big occasion and one which we had been looking forward to for a long time; since we were told we were going to be headlining the whole thing. And obviously with the news that it was going to be the last festival it kind of added to the momentous nature of the occasion. It didn’t disappoint, we had a great time up there. We had a lot of love from the crowd and the crowd had a lot of love for Paddy Glasgow and the festival in general.
CK: What did it mean to you to headline the last one?
CN: It meant an awful lot, I mean we played Glasgowbury back when it was on a football pitch in Draperstown, back about eight or nine years ago I think it was. There were only two tents back then. I think we headlined the small tent. But back then we just a young band starting out. As it got bigger and bigger and better developed, similarly our career has taken off a bit more since then. It was almost like it was written in the stars that we’d be given the honour to headline the very last festival.
CK: How is New Horizon different from previous albums?
CN: It’s hard to sum up in a nutshell. There are clear differences there between New Horizon and Revival. It’s probably more akin to the ethos that we had going on with Everyday Demons in that we’ve tried to write a bunch of very punchy, rock n roll songs that don’t take too long to get straight to the point. I think it’s quite an aggressive album. I think we’ve channeled any frustrations in the right way and filtered them out through the songs on this record. So there’s that sharp edge, and it’s really four guys enjoying what they do and very much looking forward to the future, and I think that comes across very clearly on the record.
CK: What characteristics do your songs have that make them “The Answer” songs?
CN: Some good, old fashioned, no nonsense riffage is a necessary component of an Answer song. I think there has to be a degree of soul and emotion in every track. I think there’s a human side to our music that people can connect with. First and foremost we’re a straight down the line, no nonsense, rock and roll band. I think that comes across in anything we do.
CK: Do you find it just as easy to come up with new material?
CN: Material isn’t really an issue thankfully. Whenever it comes to writing any album you just draw on your personal experiences. Everyone has them. Everybody has experience, good and bad. There’s a range of emotions that are tapped into on a daily basis and the songwriters just have to try and channel that into the artist’s or the band’s music. It’s never really an issue with us. Once you get up and running and the juices start to flow then it kind of runs through to its natural conclusion then.
CK: When you’re writing, do you write the songs to be good live. Or do you find that out only when they’re played live?
CN: Well definitely on this record we wrote them and recorded them in a way that would be quite true to how we would play them live. I mean there are not a lot of overdubs on this record, both in the guitars and the vocals. We’ve kept it very stripped, and even a lot of Paul (Mahon’s) solos were done in a live room in the moment whenever he was jamming out a song with James (Heatley) and Micky (Waters). So there’s a rawness there in New Horizon that will transfer very easily and effectively to the live stage show.
CK: Are there any new tracks that you’re particularly proud of?
CN: I’m proud of them all. I really am very happy with this record. “Spectacular” is obviously a favourite because we put it out as a single. But the title track, “New Horizon”, we played it live at Glasgowbury there and it went down great. There was a big mosh pit going for it in the middle of the song which is good to see. There’s a song on the record called “Call Yourself A Friend” that I suppose you could call the most experimental song on the record, it’s six or six and a half minutes long and it’s a proper journey from start to finish. I think our fans are going to really enjoy that one.
CK: Do you address any particular topics or themes on the record?
CN: As the title of the record suggests, it’s an album very much about a new beginning. An ‘out with the old in with the new’ kind of ethos. And staying positive. Kind of remembering your dreams and not just letting them fall by the wayside and doing everything in your power to fulfil that ambition. That sense of optimism. But as well as that there are a few songs that are old fashioned relationship songs that let the lyrics do the talking. It just soaks up all our experiences as individuals and as a band over the last two and a half years, and we channel that into this record.
CK: What’s next on the agenda? Tour for a while?
CN: Yeah, I mean the record is out on the 30th September across Europe. We’ve got a trip to America at the end of September to launch the album in the States and then a 40 date European tour kicks off in the Limelight in Belfast on 11th October. And then that’ll run right through until Hard Rock Hell on the last day of November. We’ve to go to Japan and we’ll go back to America early next year to follow up on the launch. Then that’ll all roll into the festival season next summer, and hopefully that will be a very busy summer for us.
New Horizon is out now on Napalm Records. The Answer play at Limelight, Belfast on the 11th of October.