Mucka Jay caught up with Chris at Februarys Rockmantic gig up in Carlisle where ABSOLVA headlined on the 2nd night of the 2 day bash…
I’m joined here for my, probably second or third ever interview, with Chris Appleton from Absolva. You’re headlining tonight Chris, you looking forward to this tonight?
Very much so yea!
It’s a decent crowd. Have you played here before at The Brickyard?
Yea we’ve played here a couple of times with Fury UK and with Dave Evans as well yea.
I last interviewed you 12 months ago back at Hammerfest IV. Your brother, Luke Appleton, was just disappearing from Fury UK, to play in a little band called Iced Earth…
..which was obviously the demise of Fury UK and the launch of Absolva. How’s that worked out over last 12 months?
Fantastic really. From Hammerfest last year, we still had quite a few months left touring with Fury UK and then I was busy with Dave Evans and the Badasses so Absolva’s only really had about, just coming up to seven months being active now, and the response we’ve got from everybody has been fantastic. There’s a lot of the old fans that have come with us and we’ve made a lot of new friends as well, probably coz it’s a bit heavier, a bit more in your face, a bit more to the point metal. The response has been much bigger than I ever expected really, coz I thought I was gonna have to do a lot of the groundwork you know and really get from bottom of the ladder and climb up again, but its sort of exploded quite quickly really so very happy about it. We’ve done our debut album Flames Of Justice, that came out in October, we recorded that over in Doncaster in Axis Studios, that was a great process. Launched the album in October, and toured the hell out of it.!
So what you’re saying is, it wasn’t like starting a band from brand new. I’ve been talking to people about Absolva today and they’re like ‘who’s Absolva?’, and then when I mention Fury UK …
Yea, I mean Fury UK was like not far off 10 years. I was with Fury UK from a very early age, probably still in school in the early days of Fury UK and we’ve been around a long time, toured with a hell of a lot of great bands, great festivals, been to 18 different countries and played, but when Luke left, I didn’t wanna just get somebody else in playing bass coz it was very much a 3 piece band, very close. So, me and Martin (McNee) the drummer just took the decision to change the name. Well, it’s not even changing the name, it’s a brand new band!
So everywhere you go it’s a first for Absolva at the moment…
Martin’s been drumming for me for not far off 8 years or something and we’ve done each band together so if we go to a new place, and say ‘good evening Newcastle’ or ‘good evening Carlisle’ or Manchester or whatever, ‘this is our first time playing here’ we sort of turn round and look at each other and its like, its not really, but we’ll say it is! …First time with this band..!
Tonight is gonna be my first experience of seeing Absolva. I’ve seen you in 2 different bands and this is the third band I will have seen you in. For those who don’t know, The UK Badasses is Dave Evans’, the original AC/DC singer, backing band when he comes to the UK, which is Chris Appleton and the rest of Absolva…
The first time Dave came over it was myself, Martin, and then we had Marshall Gill from a band called New Model Army and his brother on bass, Leon Gill. That was the original formation. When Dave came over last time it was a good warm up for us coz Absolva had never really done any shows together so it was quite a good warm up for us to get used to playing with each other.. not in a rude way obviously!
So when we saw you last year, that was the formation of Absolva because it was literally just as your brother just left. I understand his first gig was like about 100,000 people or something crazy like that?
Yea he was doing the States… Iced Earth, Hellyeah and Volbeat, and they did coast to coast in the states, some really cool festivals over in Europe and we got 3 dates supporting Iced Earth as a bit of a thank you for nicking Luke! We met up with them over in the UK, well, in Ireland and we did Dublin, Belfast, then over to Glasgow, then we did Bloodstock together so, good experience!
Are you jealous of the chances Luke has had?
Not at all, no. I mean Fury UK supported Iced Earth last year, this is how it all started. We did a 32 date European tour with Iced Earth and we were opening up. We got on terrific with Iced Earth and not just the band members, the whole crew and everything so you know it was a really good arrangement and we all had a laugh and a drink but then we were really professional, and quick and everything just worked like clockwork. I think it was in Lithuania, Luke got up and actually sound-checked for Iced Earth as a little bit of a treat coz it’s actually his favourite all time band. I can remember like opening his bedroom door and he be sat there with an Iced Earth shirt on playing away, learning all the songs. So as a bit of a treat, they got him up to sound-check which was a big deal for him, and then it was just a few months after then the news came that Freddie their bass player was gonna be leaving. The management called us up and said Iced Earth specifically asked for Luke, don’t need an audition, and he’s like ‘do you want the job or not?’ And before Luke even said anything I said ‘right, don’t say anything, you’re doing it and that’s it!’
You’re obviously proud, OK it meant the end of Fury UK, you’ve gone to a new thing…
It’s probably given me a bit of a kick up the arse to crack on. You know, I’ve totally been a bit more controlled over Absolva than I probably was in Fury UK. I mean, I’ve done quite a lot of the songwriting, virtually all the songwriting, I was very hands on with how I wanted all the artwork to look, I wanted to know where we were playing, I was very involved with all the bookings and everything so you know its probably done me a favour. It’s like, ‘Oh, Luke’s gone, I better sort myself out and lets really start cracking’
It really is a kick up the arse…
Absolva is everything I wanted really coz obviously we’ve added a second guitar player and I’ve never really worked with a second guitar player before it’s always been me, me, me!… but it’s great because it’s the fact that Tom’s a fantastic player you know and he can really keep up with me and we can do a lot of the twin harmony stuff which I could never do before. A lot of the harmonies, twin lead, bouncing off each other with solos and everyone seems to take to it really well so, yea very happy.
You’ve got a massive tour this year, I’ve seen the poster. I’m guessing this is partly down to Rocksector Records, they’ve done some good things for Absolva and they’ve got you in 6, 7 countries this year?
I think it’s 8 now! A lot of the UK shows Rocksector takes care of, a lot of the European shows I’ve actually chased after myself. We always struggle finding the right agent to work with and whatever so you always end up going back and doing it yourself. We got a new German agent that I got in touch with, she’s been helping us get on some of the German festivals. We’ve already got a fantastic fan base in Belgium and Holland. Belgium’s probably as big, if not bigger than in the UK for us in album sales, merch sales and gig attendance. Headlining Wizzfest, that’s sold out already, and we’re recording our live DVD over there at Wizzfest. There’s Skullfest coming up too, there’s lots going on, and just recently, which is mainly down to Rocksector again, we got the main support for Queensryche at Manchester Ritz and 8 dates with Michael Schenker over in Europe. So that as well as all of our festival dates and our headline shows in Europe, it’s turning into quite an amazing tour!
You’ve got a very very good following now! Are there a few coming up from Manchester for this?
We’ve got quite a few come from Manchester, some people that have come from Blackpool, people have travelled from Newcastle and I think there’s a few that have come from Birmingham as well…
Anyone in particular you wanna give a shout out to?
I should mention an important thing about tonights show. It’s been a bit traumatic today for Absolva because our bass player, Dan, has had a bit of an accident this morning and he’s spent all day in hospital as he’s had a bit of an eye injury. He’s still alive, he’s here now, but I’ll give a big shout out to Paul Finlay and Jason for bringing Dan down later on. Luke’s actually here tonight by the way, so Luke came down and did the sound-check while Dan was in hospital and Dan’s here now so we wanna thank those guys for bringing Dan down and helping him out and helping us out!
So Flames Of Justice, hows the album done?
Really well! We’re getting lots of sales through the UK, lots on export as well, so we need to be looking at branching out to Greece and Bulgaria again. We’ve had quite a few people asking us to get over there. Greece is in a bit of a bad place at the moment, we still wanna try and get over there coz they still need it you know. We’re in a bit of a shit place, but we cant just stop gigging and stay at home!
We gave you an award on the TBFM Music Industry Awards 2012 which was for…
..Code Red, best song of 2012. Was it a surprise for you?
It’s a good job we’re playing that song then really isn’t it? It was to be honest yeah, definitely!
Where does the inspiration come from, is it all your writing?
Yea, I don’t know really, I just fancied a change. Fury UK was quite an experimental band as we sort of modelled ourselves on bit of a heavy metal Rush sort of thing, 3 piece. We weren’t playing just metal, sometimes experimenting with hard rock elements, some prog influences in places whereas Absolva I just wanted it to be straight up British Metal, sometimes going a bit thrashy here and there but I still wanted that main Judas Priest meets Iron Maiden influence.
As Fury UK, you were the major piece of the band so having second guitarist Tom means you’re splitting that with someone else, having to give them half the stage – how has that worked for you?
It’s worked well to be honest, it takes the heat out of me. You know, when I need to concentrate on being a frontman or I need to sing a certain section of a song he can take the reins off me, you know off my shoulders for a bit and I can concentrate on doing something else, but my main thing is I can really go back to my early love of Thin Lizzy and Maiden, all those early twin lead guitar bands and do it you know. No harmonizer pedals or owt like that we can do that big twin guitar attack and that’s a big thing for me really. That’s the main difference that’s lifted it all.
Any new material this year?
We’ve actually got two brand new tracks in the setlist. We’ve done that deliberately coz we wanna test them and we want it also to be featured on the new live DVD so we’re gonna release the DVD first before we release the second album. We’re probably gonna be looking at getting into the studio erm, probably end of this year, November time. We’re gonna have another headline tour before we go into the studio. I think we’re probably gonna aim to get in the studio before Christmas. We always try and have January off, maybe even go on holiday. I went on holiday this year actually, its my first holiday in 8 years!
…hang on a second, where did you go on tour last year?
That’s work!! [laughs]
Come on, name some of the destinations…
France, Belgium, Germany, Holland, Switzerland, Greece, Bulgaria…
No, I’ve not been to Ibiza actually!
Did you not go to Hard Rock Ibiza last year?
No, I don’t think we got asked?
No it was the end of Fury UK at the time!
Yeah, blame Luke!
We’re gonna hear a couple of new tracks tonight then. Which tracks should we be listening out for?
All of em, definitely! I’m really enjoying playing one of the new tracks called ‘Killing Season’ which the lyrics behind it and the song meaning, it’s about these dickheads that go into schools with shotguns… but the main reason behind it is, well you’ll find out when you hear the chorus, but basically its always the killer that gets the attention but nobody ever knows the names of the victims and nobody really remembers them. The press attention is always on the killer.
A political message?
Sort of. Just the way I look at it really.
Give us a shout when that ones coming on, we’ll be down the front! Well Chris as much as I love chatting to you, the bands have started downstairs so I need to go and check em out but you are the most intelligent person I have ever interviewed.. well, apart from Ian Anderson, so your my second favourite person to interview..
Well I cant play flute!
Chris, thank you for joining us on TBFM
Awesome, thank you.