Interview with Guitarist/Vocalist Chris Appleton
Belfast, 8th August 2012
Interview by Mark Dean
Out of the ashes it is said a phoenix will arise. Well since the temporary demise of Fury UK, Chris Appleton and Martin McNee have been cleansed of their sins and returned rejuvenated as Absolva. Completed by Dan Bate (Point Blank Fury), and Tom Atkinson of Vice, the band is fresh out of the starting blocks and I caught up with them in Belfast prior to only their third ever show. They were in town supporting metal legends Iced Earth when I talked to vocalist-guitarist Chris Appleton before soundcheck.
With Fury UK you toured with many renowned artists, Michael Schenker, Y&T, Blaze Bayley and Iced Earth themselves. Did any of those artists offer any professional advice which you were able to carry forward into Absolva?
Chris Appleton (CA): Yes absolutely there was a lot we learned from doing those shows. Obviously those guys have been there and done it, and had a lot of experience. Doing the shows, visiting other countries and being on the road for large periods of time, you also learn a lot yourself. It was great also to do that with such reputable bands.
So was there a bit of hero-worship going on with those tours then?
CA: Totally, yes I’ve been ticking off boxes since I first started playing really with my heroes that we have supported and been on the road with. It’s been great.
Any boxes left then?
CA: Sure there’s always somebody to fill in. Maiden is always a big one. Fingers crossed!
It’s early days for Absolva as a band, and you have just played a couple of gigs, including your debut at the SOS festival, how was that?
CA: Absolutely fantastic.
As all the band members have experience in other acts, has it been relatively easy to gel as a new band when playing live?
CA: Martin and myself are very experienced through Fury UK about how everything works, and to start with a fresh page with two other guys who have come from fairly decent bands in their own right as well, it kind of feels like a supergroup has just been formed, and so because of that we have a lot to bring to the table as individuals. When we did our first show, it was my hometown as well. Nice big festival. We have done a lot of hard work, I was very strict with the lads. Practising four-five times per week for six hour sessions, day in and out, and really grinding the hell out of the new material. I’ve been really excited because it’s a new band with new songs.
How do you define Absolva’s sound as compared to the members’ previous bands?
CA: This band has got a little bit heavier than Fury UK. We’ve gone a little bit directional with the approach in the way we write songs, and how we go for it. Fury UK was quite an eclectic sound because we were a power trio. We had a lot of freedom with what we were doing, and we were trying different things out. It was very experimental. With Absolva we have just come straight in with the accessible heavy metal. The stuff I was brought up on with traditional influences like Lizzy and Maiden
Lizzy especially, today for instance we’ve just gone to Phil’s grave. That was something that I have been planning to do since I was about ten years old. Dan our bass player is also just covered in Lizzy tattoo’s so that twin guitar element is rooted there. To visit his grave together as a young band was special, it was emotional.
I have read that "Absolva" your band’s name is defined as "absolution of sin". Are the band religious in their personal beliefs, or is it just a name?
CA: We came up with the name and there were a lot to be pulled out of the hat. It took a long time. One of the things that we liked about the name was that it doesn’t really hold any reference to anything else. You type it into Google and there really is no other bands that have used it, or even twisted the name. It’s got an "A" at the start and at the end, so it’s catchy. We quite like the absolution of sin idea, though it’s not particularly religious. It’s just something that we thought was really strong, and we used. Especially when you take what has happened to our previous bands recently. We thought that it was something that meant a lot to us from a personal perspective of actually moving forward. It means a lot to us
Do the band listen to a variety of other styles and musical genres? Or as it is rooted in a traditional metal sound is that solely where the influences come from?
CA: No we have got a variety of things. I like a lot of old blues-rock and stuff – early Whitesnake, Rory Gallagher, Gary Moore, Peter Green and stuff like that. Then we go right up to the really heavy state of thrash metal – Megadeth, Slayer, Testament, Exodus stuff like that. A couple of the lads, Martin and Atkie, are into the heavy death-metal stuff. There’s a whole variety, we also like a load of progressive rock as well.
Has the album been recorded yet, or are the band still in the process of doing that?
CA: That’s the next step. We have got a couple of dates, tonight in Belfast then we get ferry over to Glasgow. We then do Bloodstock festival down in Derby, six days off then we hit the studio for three weeks. The album is probably due to release at the end of October.
Isn’t it difficult playing a set of songs that the audience isn’t familiar with?
CA: That was one of the things that I sort of wanted to do, because there was the idea of recording an EP. We threw in a couple of Fury UK songs at SOS, just to soften the blow. We had a 45 minute set so we needed to stretch it out a bit. I didn’t want to come over and do these shows (Dublin and Belfast) especially as we have never played over here, nobody really knows the difference because it’s a new band. The idea was suggested to do an EP. I didn’t however want anybody’s first impression to be that. I wanted a strong album instead.
As a guitarist who were your musical influences growing up? Are there any new guitarists that you have recently discovered?
CA: When I first started it was all about Angus Young, and Tony Iommi, as I went on obviously the Lizzy influence and then Iron Maiden. Then I got into more intricate guitarists, discovered Steve Vai and Joe Satriani. Also Michael Schenker who I thought had the perfect blend of the classic feeling and also the technical side.
How do you like to unwind and spend your spare time? Or is music your sole passion?
CA: I’ve been asked this quite a lot actually. I just like to get a beer and watch a band.
Final question Chris. How do you feel watching your brother Luke, who you have grown up and played in other bands with, now playing with Iced Earth?
CA: It was a little bit strange yesterday, that first show with Iced Earth, and hanging round the venue setting up. They were doing their soundcheck. They did "Melancholy" which was actually the first Iced Earth song that I discovered on the Friday Rock Show on VH1. I was quite young, and that was way before Iced Earth came into Luke’s life. I thought "this was weird" that this was the song. It was very odd, and it still feels strange. Hats off to the guy he has just joined his favourite all-time band.
Thanks very much Chris for chatting ahead of Absolva’s debut Belfast show, have a good one………………