With the 2014 World Cup in Brazil just around the corner, Downpatrick four-piece The Answer have caught the spirit of the event, and reworked one of the singles from their 'New Horizon' album as an infectious samba track. We caught up with frontman Cormac Neeson to get the story behind this rather radical departure.
The Answer catch World Cup fever
Northern Irish rockers rework 'Spectacular' as a samba song
Q. Where did the idea of turning Spectacular into a samba track spring from?
CN: “From the bottom of a pint glass! It was just a crazy idea we came up with over drinks one night: we were talking about the New Horizon album artwork, with the birdman concept, and someone mentioned how great it would look as a reworking of Christ The Redeemer overlooking Rio de Janeiro. And then we had another couple of beers and started talking about the World Cup coming up in Brazil and we just thought 'Maybe we could have a bit of fun here, and do a samba version of one of our songs.' We'd actually had a full samba troupe onstage with us last year at a festival in Northern Ireland, and Spectacular was one of the songs we'd rehearsed with them, because that four-to-the-floor rhythm really lends itself to samba and bossanova beats. So then we called our friend Pedro from Breed 77, former label mates of ours, who's a fantastic flamenco guitar player, and he kinda gave us a tutorial on how to do it. We stripped the song down and built it up again from scratch, tweaking my phrasing and the guitar lines and melodies to give it an authentic feel, and when we listened to the end result we were like 'Man, this makes me wanna party!' So we decided to roll with it. We're just putting it out there as football fans, and as Irish men who're struggling to find any other connection to this World Cup whatsoever!”
Q. Have you have much feedback on the song yet?
CN: “Well, we launched it with our first ever acoustic show at the Phoenix Artist Club in London. It was a great night, so much fun that we're now actually talking about maybe doing a little acoustic tour of our own towards the end of the year, just to let people hear our songs stripped down like that. Because we're a hard ass rocking blues band sometimes the details of the melodies and the words can get lost amid the hail of riffs, which is always going to happen, but our fans who were at this show seemed to really appreciate the clarity of the presentation, so maybe that's something worth exploring. But anyway, we had Pedro from Breed 77 and Oscar, their old drummer, onstage to add guitar and extra percussion, and we did an eight minute samba version which had everyone on their feet shaking their stuff. So that's our initial feedback and now it's out there for people everywhere to hear.”
Q. And what of the next Answer album?
CN: “Well, we've started now. We've been off the road now for about a month, so our heads are firmly in that song-writing space again. When you mainly play gigs at weekends during festival season that usually gives us time to use the rest of the week to write, and so we're looking to have the album written by the end of August, with an eye to going into the studio again in September, and then releasing a new record in January. We feel we've got a good momentum off the back of New Horizon and we don't want to take our foot off the gas now. We're in a good place right now: as songwriters and performers we feel we're getting better and better. Every tour feels more exciting and more of an event than the one before.”
Q So, next up, Download...
CN: “Yeah, Download is our first festival of the summer and it's the first time we've been there for three years, so we're all looking forward to it. One of my earliest memories as a full-time musician was playing Download on the Rise album and it was one of those moments where I thought 'Yeah, this is what I want to do with the rest of my life', largely down to the Download crowd. No-one comes to that festival to kill a couple of days in June, they're there to see great music and we're looking forward to getting a piece of that action again.”
Spectacular (World Cup 2014 Samba Version) is out now on iTunes.
The Answer play Download's Zippo Encore stage at 3:50pm on Friday, June 13.