Ahead of their headline show at Bristol’s Thekla, I caught up with The Answer bassist, Micky Waters, to talk about the early days, the new album ‘Raise A Little Hell’ and to find out a bit about what they’ve been up to lately.
You’re now on your own headline tour of the UK, but you’ve previously supported Whitesnake and also Paul Rogers at the Royal Albert Hall – how does it feel to perform live with your idols?
Paul Rogers is actually Cormac’s [vocals] hero. We as a band like him, as a collective, the most out of our musical heroes. He joined us on stage a couple of times – it was surreal. He’s still got a great voice. He looks after himself.
Mr Coverdale has invited us to play in America, all along the west coast. We were out there with AC/DC for 8 months. It’s an amazing experience, like as a kid you would dream it. If I wasn’t in a band I probably wouldn’t have made it over there!
How is it going in America?
It’s going well. The last couple haven’t really stuck over there, but this one seems to be doing well. We’ve been getting a lot of radio coverage from Nikki Sixx and the like so it’s good. We’re prepared to have a go out there.
At what point did you start to think wow, this is really happening?
My favourite band has always been The Who and we got to tour with them around Ireland and England. It was amazing just to be on the same stage every night. The other pinnacle one was when we toured with The Rolling Stones on the ‘A Bigger Bang’ tour. They’d come in to your dressing room every night, Keith would come in and say hello…making sure you were alright and you were happy. To be at that level and actually be interested in you is incredible.
We’re all pretty humble people ourselves, we come from humble backgrounds and we’re the same with everyone we tour with. You live out of each others pockets, the crew, the support bands are with you for three months. We look after each other.
There are so many amazing artists out there but we’re at the stage where we want to do our own thing, our own headline tour. Although we’re touring with the Whitesnake boys again in America we’re also going to do a lot of club shows, not unlike the Bristol Thekla here. We want to build an audience and see what happens.
The new single ‘Red’ is a hugely popular at the moment – what’s the story behind it?
It’s just a cheeky little blues rocker, that’s the best way to describe it. It’s got a tongue in cheek sense of humour behind it. It’s just a solid groove. This album is very different from our last album in that it’s very much vibe based. We went into the studio with fresh ideas and just vibing on the atmosphere and each others’ musicianship, trying to believe in each other enough to say ‘do your thing’ and see what happens. It could go so wrong! But it went so right on this album. We locked ourselves up in a studio in the mountains in Spain for a month, basically that was the vibe.
What’s your writing process – do you have any specific rituals or things you’re influenced by?
We all write. This album represents something for everyone. Each song means something to someone, we’re all quite personable. We’ve all rampaged around the world and done enough things, we’ve got enough to write about.
For you, what’s the best part about the whole thing – writing, recording, touring?
They’re all so different and just as manic and as busy as each other. I have a love hate relationship with both. Touring is great…the first couple of weeks are agony. You leave home and it’s like ‘bye, see you in a year.’ It’s tricky, but once you get into it, everyone’s nackered all the time but as a band we’re tight, not sloppy every night. We’ve got our stuff together so at the moment we’re at the good point.
Have you played Bristol before?
We’ve played Bristol many times – actually I was a student here for a year. It has a brilliant music scene. A great local band BlackWolf has supported us here.
When we put a tour together, we don’t just want any old band with us. The guys opening tonight are called The PictureBooks, they’re very interesting, very left field, very cool. And again, Bad Touch who are a classic rock blues band.
Who gets to choose the set list?
We change it all the time. We put together a rough guide and change it every night. We’re really into the new album and playing a lot from that so we change it up. We’re playing a lot more new stuff and less old stuff and the audience are thanking us every night.
With technology being so much at the forefront now and social media, do you think that has helped or affected what you do?
It’s certainly affected it, it’s more instant. You have to be more instant with what you’re doing daily. I actually like Instagram, I like taking an interesting picture and sharing it so I’ve started doing that on tour. I’m learning ‘smart-tagging at the moment. But you miss the old days where you just did an interview and you didn’t have to go online and Facebook and all of that, but I don’t mind, I think it really helps. You can be more interactive and it’s limitless what you can actually do aswell. Look what it did for Ed Sheeran eh?
It’s great to see bands such as yourselves with old, classic rock values but out there and relevant now, don’t you think?
Yeh I mean there’s Black stone cherry, Airbourne, Rival Sons, great bands and they’re doing really well. Black Star Riders…there’s a lot of good bands out there. Sure they’re not no1 in the charts but we’re doing our best.
Ricky Warwick [vocals, Black Star Riders] was saying when they played Bristol last week how pleased he was that they are being played on BBC Radio 2!
I’ve heard them on Radio 2, on our bus. We’ve had a couple of spins on there. It’s like, really?
You’re doing some festivals this year – which ones?
We’re doing a lot in Europe. We’re missing download as we’re in America. We did it last year and fingers crossed we’ll do it next year. They don’t tend to have bands consecutive years, unless you’re Lemmy. We’re doing Hellfest which in my opinion is one of the best festivals in the world, great line up.
So, do you enjoy doing the festivals?
Festivals to be honest are pay off for a hard year of touring. You go up there and do 45 minutes of your thing. Having a different crowd is a bit of a treat sometimes. We can be a bit of a welcome break at some of the heavy rock festivals.
You’re busy at the moment – are you thinking of having a break after this?
I guess we’ve been building up to doing this and it all depends on the success of it – that’s the short and curlies of it really. If it’s a success we’ll be out again. It’s a strong record.