The Answer - Summer 2016

It's been 10 years since Irish rockers The Answer released their debut album Rise. A record of high impact classic rock, tracks such as Under The Sky and Come Follow Me ensured it was an instant success. On the very day it became available, Rise made the headlines by selling 10,000 copies in Japan alone.  Now a decade on, it's a very fitting tribute that The Answer should undertake a short tour to celebrate the record that brought the band to the masses. And it's at the Manchester show that we sit down with guitarist Paul Mahon to enjoy a trip down memory lane…

You're currently undertaking a mini tour to celebrate the 10th anniversary of The Answer's debut album Rise, and it's a precursor to a more substantial tour you have planned for the autumn. But before we talk about that I would like to take a moment to reflect on the last year. In March 2015 you released your 5th studio album Raise A Little Hell which went straight in at number 1 in the rock charts. How did the record's instant success make feel.

You're always a bit nervous I think when a new record comes out. I remember when the first album came out, we didn't really care so much about not making it. There are certain perceived targets you want to hit each time. So it was reassuring. It's nice to have a little bit of success and it kind of tells you you've pulled it off to a certain extent. How it sells is rarely a reflection of how good the record is but it’s nice to have a little bit of a pat on the back from the fans.

Last year saw you undertake an extensive summer tour with Whitesnake and you will be sharing stages with band again this year. Tell me about your experience of those huge shows last year and how the special relationship The Answer has with Whitesnake came about.

To touch on our relationship with Whitesnake, it goes back to one of the first decent tours we did back in the day. Actually, when Rise came out we were on tour with Whitesnake. I was a fan when I was younger but at the beginning I wasn't overexcited on going on that tour and then being on it the tour was just fantastic. Great people to be around. You forget how many hits they had and just how good the band was every night. And with David Coverdale we were told that his public perception is that he can be a primadonna and a superstar. He's certainly a superstar but he's not a primadonna. It was surprising how down to earth he was and how accommodating and willing to engage with us everyday he was. We toured with them again in 2011 and it was just picking up where we left off. So it was great to do it in America with them this time and I think the added bonus was that we hadn't been back there since the Black Ice tour with AC/DC so we were kind of making up for lost time. They were really good venues, around 5 to 6 thousand every night, and the audience was very good for us so it was good to kill 2 birds with 1 stone. It will be nice to do it in Europe this time. It's almost like family with the crew and the band now. 

So you're now the middle of a mini tour to celebrate the 10th anniversary of Rise. What are your memories of when you first toured that album?

Pretty hazy now actually! There were many tours. We were touring in the middle of making it, then we did some small club shows just before it came out and then we were on that first Whitesnake tour when it came out. I think we played Newcastle City Hall on the Monday it came out. We were having a really good time and it was just great to finally have our first album out. It was maybe a 4 or 5 year project for us from when we started and the goal was to get a deal, make an album and get it out, and it was great to make that happen and a dream come true. You kind of think, as long as I get to do 1 album, 1 big tour, I'll be happy. Finally getting to do that, you felt kind of whole in a way. It completed a circle. And to play with pretty big audiences, and very receptive audiences, was great. It was happy times. I have very fond memories of that time.

How do you feel you have changed as a band over the last 10 years?

I think we've definitely widened the creative pallet of what we do. We've become more experienced. Some of the songs have become more simple. We understand how to communicate it to an audience better. And I think all those things that a band goes through to develop and improve, we’ve done that too. It's good now to do these shows and it does become a real sort of reflection of the last 10 years. When you're doing it, you kind of look back through the material. It's interesting to see the way we played back then and the stuff we wrote and how it compares to finishing off the new album right now. It's still very rootsy. Probably not as straight ahead bluesy as we were when we started out but it's still part of what we do.

The last 10 years has been quite a journey for you with some amazing shows and 5 albums representing everything that's great about rock. Looking to the future you have a new album planned for later in the year. What can we expect?

It's quite different this time. It's called Solas which is the Irish word for light, and we kind of sat down and decided to take a slightly different approach to writing and to recording. It's much more acoustic based with some Celtic influences in there. There's still some heavy stuff in there too that fans will recognise from previous material. There will be a few surprises in there too that hopefully people will like and hopefully some new fans will come in to. We've been brave and not been afraid to take chances. It will be interesting to see how people take to it in October. 

As Paul leaves us to prepare for tonight's show, we feel very pleased that The Answer have chosen to formally celebrate the 10th anniversary of Rise. An album of this calibre absolutely deserves such recognition. It may be a decade on but the tracks still sound as fresh and relevant as they did in 2006. Check out the video for the record’s opening track Under The Sky and experience an example of the gifted material this album delivers.