Asking Questions With The Answer
Anthony Firmin aimed to get some answers from The Answer’s bass player, Micky Waters, on the launch day of their new album Raise A Little Hell
Thanks for talking to Manchester Rocks Micky. You guys played two warm up shows in Ireland before the main tour started, tell me a little about those to get things started?
It was all family and friends, everyone wanting to come to party and get drunk and all rest of it. So basically we did those two shows, crashed it and came over here to get a rest for a night! And it all kicks off tonight in Manchester, in fact this is the fourth tour in a row we have kicked off here.
Manchester is a great rock city…
It always has been for us since the days playing in the Roadhouse. We played there about four times during our own tours, driving ourselves around the UK and since then we have had a brilliant following in Manchester.
It's a strange venue because you walk-in and the stage is on the left-hand side kind of behind you…
We've played a lot of strange places!
The guy who was running it died about six months ago but he really took care of all the bands that were booked and made sure the sound was always spot on…
It sometimes takes someone like that to run the venue right and get the equipment right, tricky thing to do and get right but we had some good times there.
So today is launch day for the album…
It is, it is, it's been a long build actually because we recorded it back in September so it has been a long time.
And you went to Madrid to record it, what was the thinking behind going over there?
A couple reasons, one, somewhere to escape where we can feel that we can put our heads down and work and enjoy ourselves a little bit as well, we will go out after a recording session and have a few beers and talk about the day and see how things are going and all the rest of it - we did it every day actually. Our long-time friend and producer, Will Maya, has built himself a little residential studio in the mountains. It's not like going to Olympic Studios in London as it's quite basic but it's got all the right gear. It's also got a really old school atmosphere and we were using Ampeg flight cases to muffle the kick drum sound, all sorts of creative stuff we’ve never tried before. When you're in a major recording studio you’ve got access to everything you want, any effect and this was a bit more hands-on kind of vibe which was quite interesting. We felt it really created the atmosphere for the record as well.
The album has got an edge to it which has been missing for a little while ‘cos there was no agenda going into the studio, so with fresh ideas and trusting each other's musicianship with ideas coming up on the spot, it made it feel a bit like the first record, that punky edge which is cool.
I have really enjoyed listening to and watching the video for the single Red, what was the thinking behind the costumes in the video?
That goes back to the front cover and the album title, Raise A Little Hell, and we had the idea of little monsters coming out of hell beating peoples ears up with rock 'n' roll music and that inspired the artist Sebastian Jerke who did the artwork for the album cover. And we love the artwork, it’s really funny. The little avatar characters were seen by the director of the video and he said let's get costumes made so he got onto the Game Of Thrones people who are based in Belfast and they made the costumes. It was always going to be a gamble how they were going to turn out, but the costumes actually look quite good, but in the camera I'm not quite sure what to make of it.
Raise A Little Hell - why not a lot of hell?
Again it was the idea of the little monsters coming up and beating people's ears with rock 'n' roll music but it's kind of tongue in cheek. It’s us coming out on the road and experiencing what we've experiencing and also wanting to put a little fun in people's lives, it is that kind of vibe.
The album has been referred to as a reboot…
It really has, although I think the last album was a bit more about that because we re-signed a deal and we had new staff like new agents, new press, new management, everything. That was more the reboot but it was maybe more of a trial and this one were actually getting things right so it does feel like that.
Things are happening faster now, we toured this time last year, so it's faster than with the previous records when we went off on extensive tours.
There was a three-year gap between the first and second albums…
That's because we were just touring constantly, we did count how many shows we did but it was ridiculous, we just toured and toured and toured. I think we toured that album 4 times because it was released in the UK but not in other countries, so then we toured it in Europe, toured it in Japan.
And it happened with Everyday Demons as well, that was the AC/DC tour and that went on forever.
You had some good exposure on those tours…
We did, and good experiences too, I wouldn't change anything.
Here is an interesting question for you, thinking about Gene Simmons comment that rock is dead, what is your view on it and the state of rock today?
I think that rock is as relevant as it ever has been, AC/DC are back on the road and rock sells more tickets than any other genre. And we have noticed our audiences getting younger rather than older. Originally parents brought their kids to the gigs but now those kids are coming with all their mates to the gigs. I think Gene Simmons says that just to get a rise in the press sometimes.
I know the way music is sold is in a bit of a crazy state, Spotify is great but it's not going to pay for recording contracts or for our albums, the bigwigs need to figure it all out. For a million plays you only get $10 so that needs to be sorted out.
Are you still getting a return on your albums?
We are lucky in that we were at the tail end of people buying albums and our fans do like buying CD’s and vinyl. I can only see start up bands getting out on the road and play and play and play as performing is the only way you can make money really. It is just in a really strange state at the moment.
And you did a pledge campaign for the album…
Yeah, the pledge campaign allowed us to put out a whole range of vinyls which we love, we are all into vinyl and collect vinyl so we wanted really heavy grade stuff. We have red, purple and black ones. Also we mixed a live CD of the last tour and it sounds really good, we recorded about 25 shows from last year and we put together the best performances and it sounds pretty awesome. And there are about half a dozen versions of the album because today to sell CD’s and vinyl you really need to make something special.
A lot of people are going for vinyl now…
We’ve seen vinyl make a really big comeback, we’ve sold more vinyl of this than any other and it has been gradually creeping – this one is bigger than the one before. It seems to be a thing, even students are going out buying vinyl players, it’s a cool thing, I am all for it!
Words & Interview: Anthony Firmin Photos: Phil Goddard