Blues-influenced hard rock band the Answer first came together in 2000 when guitarist Paul Mahon, then 18 years old and living in Northern Ireland, decided to put together a group with the help of a friend, bassist Micky Waters. Waters was already a veteran of the Belfast club circuit, having played in several cover bands, and Mahon had been given a crash course in the nuts and bolts of the music business by his father, who played trumpet in a long-running Irish show band. Mahon recruited James Heatley to play drums, Cormac Neeson signed on as lead singer, and the Answer were born. After several months of rehearsing and writing material, the Answer started playing live gigs in 2001, and in 2002 they landed a prestigious gig as the opening act at Ireland's Witness Festival. In 2005, the Answer signed a record deal with the U.K. branch of Albert Productions, and in June 2006 their first album, Rise, arrived in shops. Rise earned enthusiastic reviews in Kerrang! and Classic Rock and chalked up respectable sales in the U.K., while becoming a legitimate hit in Japan. After sharing bills with everyone from Deep Purple and Paul Rodgers to the Rolling Stones and the Who, the Answer reissued Rise in 2007 with a bonus disc including a handful of tracks the group had issued as download-only singles; a second full-length album was slated for subsequent release.