20 Health & Fitness Questions: Co Down musician Cormac Neeson on spicy food, 20k races and Guinness home delivered …
1 Up and it – what’s your new morning routine? How has this changed?
Getting my two boys out of school / nursery pretty much dominates the first part of the morning. Afterwards, each day is different but generally evolves around a studio; either mine or someone else’s in which I will work on songs, songs and more songs.
2 What might you eat on a typical workday for …
Breakfast? A sandwich – preferably a bagel with jalapenos in one way or another. And more coffee.
Dinner? It really depends on what’s in the fridge. I like spicy food but my wife doesn’t, so anything I eat is normally sprinkled with hot sauce.
3 Were you able to work from home – if so, how did you find it?
Initially I had a small setup in the guest bedroom which was a bit cramped but I made it work. I was sent a track that I recorded session vocals for, and as I listened to them, I thought about how I had recorded those voices in my wardrobe.
I missed the live gigs a lot, but again tried to make the most of the situation by hosting a weekly online Saturday night concert on Facebook called Cocoons with my friend Matt McGinn.
We’ve invited guest singer-songwriters to join us virtually every week, and we’ve done so for over 60 weeks straight. I also created an event every Friday at 5:30 p.m. called “One Drink-One Song-Home”, where, as the name suggests, I played a song, drank a different alcoholic drink every week and had chatted with people who were missing it. “Get out of work” when the pubs were all closed.
Luckily I was able to have a real studio built during the lockdown in my back yard and it really changed everything.
4 The best / easiest containment meal?
Nigel Slater’s steak and chips and spaghetti alla puttanesca are two practical and very tasty dishes. I also make some pretty decent chorizo baked beans… but I love it every time, so sometimes I get carried away a bit with the chilli and cayenne pepper.
5 Weekend treat?
While in lockdown, it was definitely frozen margaritas. I have also taken full advantage of the Hatfield Guinness van whenever possible; it was always a surreal experience, getting pints of Guinness delivered to your door.
6 How did you stay in shape physically and mentally during the lockdown?
It actually surprises people, but I run 20km per week which I know isn’t exactly a marathon but definitely helps keep the lungs pumping. I also find that going out for a run also helps my head; it allows me to let off steam a bit and think about things.
7 What was your daily exercise outdoors?
The race is normally condensed over two days, but I find playing soccer with my two boys and their seemingly endless demands for “whirlwinds” and piggybacks helps keep you sweating on a daily basis.
8 How do you relax?
I seem like a loner, but I love going to watch a Liverpool game in a pub on my own. I love to switch off and watch the Reds do their thing – although sometimes watching Liverpool play can be quite stressful…
9 Teetotal or drink?
I think my pretty constant stream of alcohol references answers this one for you.
10 What book are you reading now?
You are already free from Ryan Doherty.
11 Best Netflix?
Narcos is hard to beat.
12 The most surprising thing that you have learned about yourself?
I can play a two hour show with just my acoustic guitar and my songs to fall back on. I don’t think I could have done it before the lockdown. I’ve spent a lot of my career leading a rock band and sharing that experience and responsibility with the guys at The Answer, so being able to get up on my own and do my thing is pretty good.
13 On a scale of 1 to 10, where were you in relation to cabin fever and where are you now?
Since my studio is in good shape, I don’t go out of the house much, so I’m pretty happy inside. Fortunately, I’ve been able to temper those hermit instincts with some nice gigs since the restrictions eased, so I feel like I now have a decent balance.
I’ve probably hit around “five” at times along the way, but I’m at the bottom of the scale now.
14 What were the three things that you missed the most during the start of the lockdown?
Football, pubs and concerts in no particular order.
15 Where will you go and what will you do when the restrictions are completely lifted?
I can’t wait to go on tour again at some point.
16 The biggest complaint?
Ronaldo returns to United.
17 Have your life priorities or outlook changed?
I think I’m more comfortable in my own skin, it’s safe and more attentive to shared experiences and freedom.
18 New skills or new hobbies?
Thanks to my two boys, my first contact has greatly improved. I can also turn a computer on and off and easily assign people to Zoom breakout rooms.
19 What would you like to see changed for good when this is all over?
People underestimate musicians and take live music and music in general for granted.
20 Has the coronavirus changed your attitude towards your own mortality?
I have always really enjoyed being alive. If the coronavirus has done anything for me, I guess it has helped me appreciate and see more clearly the people and things in my life that are truly worth experiencing.
:: Cormac Neeson’s lockdown single, Precious Cargo, is out on digital platforms, along with a new EP, Up There Somewhere, slated for release in March.