Opening Band Blues: Q&A With Cormac Neeson of The Answer

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The Answer opens for AC/DC tonight, then heads to the Pontiac Garage for a midnight gig.


Tonight at the American Airlines Center, before Aussie rock legends AC/DC will be bringing back a lot of high school memories by banging out classic hard rock warhorses such as "You Shook Me All Night Long" and "Hell's Bells", the crowds will be warmed up by Ireland's The Answer, a Led Zeppelin-inspired quartet who has done well across the pond and is just beginning to make inroads here in the states.

The Answer's next album, Everyday Demons, will be released in America on March 31st, but if it's anything like 2006's Rise, most AC/DC fans in attendance this evening will be quite pleased if they get to the gig early. Speaking from a tour stop in Toronto, lead singer Cormac Neeson spoke in a thick, Irish accent about the pros and cons of opening up for such a renowned band as AC/DC, as well as some of the other big acts The Answer has opened up for...

How is the tour with AC/DC going so far?
Well, right now, we're freezing our balls off. Besides that, it's going well. We're getting a really good response from crowds all across the states and Canada. Generally, we're getting 80 to 85 percent attendance for our gig which is pretty great. It's such an unbelievable opportunity for the band. We're starting with kind of a blank page here. No one knows who we are, but since we've starting this tour, our Myspace page is constantly getting hit by all these people who come to see AC/DC but really enjoy us as well. We're all really happy with the progress we've made in North America.

Were you nervous about what the reaction of the crowds might be?
Before the tour began, I certainly was a bit apprehensive; thinking that AC/DC hasn't played the States in five or six years. With a very hardcore following, there was a distinct possibility that we were going to get bottles thrown at us. Once we played the first gig, we saw that such wasn't going to be the case. Obviously, we've gotten more used to playing in front of 20 and 30 thousand people. We're very comfortable with our surroundings at the moment.

Do you have much contact with Angus Young or any one else in AC/DC?
Brian Johnson is from our part of the world and he pops his head in our dressing room every couple of days. He smokes the same tobacco as our bassist, Micky Waters. Brian's always asking if we need anything. He's made it a very positive experience.

There is quite an age difference between the members of AC/DC and The Answer. Couldn't those guys almost be your fathers?
I never imagined that my dad would be anything like Angus or Brian. You have to look at them a bit differently than father figures. It wouldn't be too bad to have a dad like that. I think I would be a pretty different human being if that was the case.

In the past, The Answer has had some other high profile opening slots for bands like The Rolling Stones, Aerosmith and Deep Purple. You guys are not really a stranger to large audiences.
No, we're not. Those shows in Europe were the prefect preparation for a tour of this size. We did that show with the Stones in Belgrade in front of 80,000 people. We cold never conceive of playing in front of a crowd like that until we were actually standing up there and there were 80,000 sets of hand clapping to our music. But this tour with AC/DC is on such a huge scale--42 dates across America, the same again across Europe. It's something that has taken getting used to.

At that Stones show, when you walked out on stage, did you say to yourself, "Oh, fuck"?
Man, I was shitting myself. I was never as nervous in my whole life, but after a couple of songs, I kind of settled down a bit. It wasn't actually until the very last song that I had the balls to try and get the crowd involved, get them clapping along to the music. I did it almost tentatively and I didn't want to look up. Thirty seconds later, I lifted my head and looked out, and I swear to God that every one of those eighty thousand was clapping as far as the eyes could see.

Was that better than sex?
I wouldn't say that, but it was definitely a defining moment. It was a memory that will always stick with me and it gave the band a great belief that we could, one day, do our own shows of that size.

The Answer opens for AC/DC at the American Airlines Center tonight, then heads to the House of Blues' Pontiac Garage for a midnight show.
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