It’s St. Patrick’s Day, you’ve had a Guinness or three, you’re eyeing up that bottle of Jameson, but you don’t know what the soundtrack to your drinking should be. The answer? The Answer, of course.
The Northern Irish hard rockers’ seventh studio album, Sundowners, was released today, and it contains 11 appropriately raucous and rousing anthems.
Like a Celtic Black Keys, The Answer produce rock that’s a little old-fashioned, even a bit unfashionable, but it’s a style of honest, hard-working rock that feels deserving of a renaissance in the Reloaded Roaring 20’s.
There’s a timeless quality to the band’s endlessly searching grooves, their filthy blues-tinted rhythms, and their growling vocals. Produced by Dan Weller (Enter Shikari, Bury Tomorrow), the instrumentals might befit a dive bar – oh, how lovely it would have been to listen to The Answer blow away a crowd in Frankie’s Pizza By The Slice – but Weller’s steady hand makes everything sound crisp and polished.
After releasing six well-received albums and touring the world, the band decided to take a much-needed step back in order to reset before making Sundowners. “Whilst that wasn’t an easy decision, with retrospect it’s possibly the best decision we’ve ever made because after seven years away we all came back fired up and end result is an album we’ve been waiting to make our whole lives,” lead singer Cormac Neeson says.
“Full of good time rock ‘n’ roll and positive energy created by four brothers who quite frankly just really missed each other. We’re back and we’re ready to bring our best album ever to you!”
Before The Answer hit the road for a European tour later this month (their music is popular across the continent, particularly in rock-crazy Germany), Tone Deaf got the band to take us through each track on their new album in more detail, which you can read below.
The Answers’ Sundowners is out now via Golden Robot Records.
Sundowners Track by Track:
When we set out writing the new album, we didn’t expect to open it with a 6:30 min epic! The track started with a lyric idea I sent to Cormac, a kind of shamanic, circular rhythm. Cormac said he went on a night out with the Sundowner line stuck in his head, was having a lot of fun with old friends not really caring about much in particular, and started writing the verses.
The Sundowner lyric is a reference to souls who are free-spirited and find much joy in living for the moment. When we took it to the rehearsal room in Ireland Heatley started playing that hypnotic rolling Tom beat and Paul picked up the resonator guitar!
Cormac and Paul did some sessions on Zoom I think and finished the lyrics. Kinda wrote the rest itself from just jamming out. Tracking this one at middle farm was special, all one take live to tape, vocal and all. Pure magic! Had to be the opener.
We wanted to write a real stomping bluesy fuzzy track. Kinda Black Keys influence, I had the riffs and some lyrics inspired in lockdown, real yearning for that release to just get back with the band and rock out.
James took the backing track, chopped up an arrangement that worked, and he added that cool stomping beat! Paul produced the demo and added some super cool parts.
We brought the demo to the studio and basically recreated. Our producer Dan Weller captured the vibe and spirit so spot on. Got Paul to go pretty nuts on Guitar FX. As on a few tracks on this album, the keys & organ playing was performed by the amazing Jonny Henderson!
Paul sent us all this demo and we were like ‘wow!’ What a tune. And so much energy and a very different drum groove to the other tracks so far. Paul and James came up with some different time signatures inspired by Jimi Hendrix’s ‘Manic Depression’. And again Paul and Cormac jammed over the internet coming up with some lyrics. Was pretty fresh heading into middle farm to track it proper! Think you can hear that, it’s full of excitement and energy.
‘Want You To Love Me’
First riff we wrote for this album. This one for me is all about that outro jam, that’s a real Answer moment there, in the rehearsal room it just happened. No thought just great energy… will be a big moment live for us.
Lockdown! I had the riff during lockdown when the pandemic stopped the world and closed all the shops, we had a fruit and veg delivery every week. There was a box of Cherries in there, my daughter and I started singing “oh Cherry you’re sweeter than”… it became our little lockdown track.
I recorded it in my studio, the lads were into it, and did their thing in making it an alt rock epic! Kinda got that mod rock thing going on, James really captured a super energetic groove.
‘No Salvation’ actually sounded totally different when we brought it to the studio. It was much more of a straight-up rock song.
At middle farm studio in the morning, we decided to record the track. We were all sitting around having coffee with the doors open, it was an amazing spring morning, and we were just listening to old vinyl in the kitchen.
Someone had the idea to take a different approach to it. If it had been the old Answer, panic would have taken over and we would have been stressed and trying to keep it the same. But we all just kinda walked in and picked up our instruments and started jamming it in a totally different way.
One of the first tracks on the board. Paul sent it as a demo, and we first jammed out a full band demo in mid-2019. This was a key track for us as it got our management Jaba and Golden Robot excited about it. Kinda gave us the confidence that we were on the right vibe – free rein to just do what we do best.
Think I was listening to a lot of 70s rock. That title had been kicking about, I had a sync brief come in for something like this, 70s blues rock for American spirit ciggys I think! Sent to Cormac to sing on and right away he had all those lyrics. Really honing in on positive vibes in a time when we were all very much alone. We knew this one would resonate when the world opened up again.
‘Livin’ On The Line’
The original demo was quite different, took a bit of putting together, it got pieced together over the web. The solo section was recorded out practice room at Paul’s in Ireland. The build is classic Answer energy, like The Who pumped up on whisky! All about that chorus – “Get me through this day and il be alright!” I think we can all relate to that!
‘Get Back On It’
Big Phat grooves! Classic The Answer this. We love having a big spacey dirty groove. Really came to life in the studio. Playing live together and using some brutal fuzz pedal fx on bass. You can hear in the background lots of woohs and yeahs! Shows how much fun we were having!
This little gem was another lockdown one, over summer 2021. I sent Cormac the music for it with a title idea and we just went from there, pretty much the same as the album version.
For the end section Cormac had the idea of making it an epic Americana sing-along. In the studio, it really came alive though. Really felt like we found some gold. Nice way to end this journey the four of us have been on since getting back together after that call from Golden Robot in 2019.