http://www.digitaljournal.com/a-and-e/music/interview-with-paul-mahon-guitarist-with-the-answer/article/429183

Interview with Paul Mahon, guitarist with The Answer Special

Posted Mar 26, 2015 by Adrian Peel
The Northern Irish rockers, who count Jimmy Page and Def Leppard vocalist Joe Elliot among their many fans, have just released their fifth album. Digital Journal gave one of the band members a call.
The Answer
The Answer
Andy Turner
The Answer first came to my - and to a lot of other people's - attention via Classic Rock Magazine some 10 years ago. Their no-holds-barred, blues rock swagger came as breath of fresh air in the rather dull musical landscape of the time and now after 15 years together, Paul, lead singer Cormac Neeson, bass player Micky Waters and drummer James Heatley have seen their new LP released a couple of weeks ago - the outstanding Raise A Little Hell - storm to number one on the UK Rock Charts.
I was lucky enough to see this hard-hitting foursome live when they more than ably supported Aerosmith at Hard Rock Calling in London's Hyde Park back in 2007 (they have also opened for the likes of AC/DC, The Rolling Stones and Whitesnake) and was blown away by their raw, contagious energy and uncompromising, no-nonsense approach. When I spoke to Paul, he was in Brighton on the British leg of their current European tour.
The album is 12 tracks of pure, unadulterated rock, steeped in tradition but also refreshingly modern, and I asked the Belfast resident which tracks off it have been getting the best reception each night. "'Red' is going down well," he replies. "'I Am What I Am,' 'Last Days of Summer' and 'Strange Kinda Nothing' is working quite nice in the set as well."
"It went in at number one last week," continues the long-haired guitarist, in answer to a question about the lofty, though thoroughly deserved, chart placing, "so obviously we're very happy with that... I think we knocked Led Zeppelin off the number one spot. It's good for us and it shows that rock music and The Answer are still very much alive and kicking."
Going into further detail regarding the overall sound of the album and the themes addressed therein, the thirty-something musician observes, "I guess it's kind of a mix of everything we've ever done, really. It's got certain elements of the first record Rise with the blues and stuff...
"It's a bit heavier than we have been before. We've always been able to write pop tunes and I think in the early days maybe those songs stuck out a bit too much... Now I think we've managed to write more accessible material, but keep the heaviness and the rootsiness and the true spirit of the band in there. That's been a big step forward for us on this record.
"In terms of thematically and the way we went about the creative process, it was much more open this time... The previous record New Horizon had a very clear direction, what we wanted to do, before we even wrote a note and I think that can kind of strangle the creative process a little bit. In some ways that album was successful and in some ways it was an experiment that didn't work as much as we hoped.
"Taking the education from that, we let ourselves be totally free this time. We wrote the songs as they came out and didn't try and force them, didn't try and write songs specifically in a certain style. We just let it all flow and I think through experience and hard work, we were able to make it all work together."
The Answer have been together with their lineup intact since 2000 (their first single "Keep Believin'" came out in 2005). Are they in it for the long haul? Can Paul imagine that he and his mates will still be playing music as a fully-functioning unit when they're in their 50s and 60s?
"I think so, yeah. As long as it's still exciting for us and we all feel we've something to say and something to contribute... Over the past few years we've been through a few ups and downs and we've come out the other side now and the relationships within the band they're better than ever. There's great communication and great creativity across the four.
"We're much more comfortable with ourselves as a band and as individuals and musicians and that's something we want to keep going forward with and keep creating. It's still exciting for us."
To conclude, I brought up the ongoing "rock is dead" debate and made it clear that I believe bands like The Answer, Rival Sons and Blackberry Smoke emphatically disprove this theory.
"I think it's quite healthy," agrees Paul. "I don't think it's rock that's dead, it's music as a whole that is dying - not due to the quality of the bands and the artists out there, but just the way the industry is going at the moment. Unless you're on a major label and you've got a wad of cash behind you, it's very hard to exist in this current environment.
"The Internet has brought a lot of freedom, but it's also killed a lot of physical sales, in a way... I know when I was a kid, buying a CD or a record was an almost spiritual experience. You went out and it was a big part of your day and you couldn't hear it until you got home. There was excitement and anticipation and iTunes has taken that away, and Spotify as well. People don't really buy anything; they'll just stream it.
"But I think the state of bands is really good. You've got Rival Sons, Blackberry Smoke are doing well, The Cadillac Three, Black Stone Cherry are still out there doing it, Airbourne, ourselves...
"And I'm sure in every pocket of the UK there's young bands coming up that are similar to all those guys I've mentioned, so I think rock's in a very good state right now."
Raise A Little Hell is out now.
For more information on The Answer, visit their official website.