Interview with guitarist and vocalist Chris Appleton
Interview conducted by Luxi Lahtinen
Date online: November 3, 2019
British melodic metallers Absolva, formed in 2012 by guitarist, vocalist and songwriter Chris Appleton, have come a long way since their formative years with four studio albums and many successful tours behind them. From one album to another, from one tour to another, the band has managed to make quite a name for themselves with opportunities to play at many festivals as well as in many countries due to being such a hard-working act.
The band's current album, Defiance, was released in 2017 on Rocksector Records, a label run by Mark Appleton, Chris and his brother Luke's (also in Iced Earth) father. It was a clear step forward from them musically, introducing a more mature and refined sound from this largely beloved foursome that has pleased many metal fans around the world, especially those who like their metal melodic, catchy, hooky and just irresistible.
In between tours, the band has been spending time writing and recording their forthcoming studio album, very aptly titled Absolva V. We here at the offices of The Metal Crypt decided to reach out to Chris to find out what they have been up to lately and what on earth happened at the airport in Amsterdam when the band was supposed to fly over to Finland for the Dark River Festival this August.
Luxi: First of all, thanks for the cool show at Dark River Festival in Kotka, Finland! There were quite a few setbacks before you made it to Finland. Mother Nature can be rude sometimes, can't it? Could you tell us what happened and caused your late arrival to Finland on August 10th?
Chris: Some of the worst travelling of my musical career happened that weekend. Very bad luck all around. The night before Dark River, we played this great festival in the German part of Switzerland near Bern. Fantastic festival but pretty much immediately after we played there was a huge thunderstorm. We checked out flights that we were getting in the early hours of the morning and saw our flight from Basel, Switzerland to Amsterdam to Helsinki had been *CANCELLED*. We immediately assumed that this was because of the horrendously close and low storms in Switzerland but then we later learned that it was because there was a 10-second hurricane in Amsterdam and incredibly strong winds. We experienced the same thing early this year on our way to Latin America, in January. So in a panic I decided to have the festival organizers of the Swiss Mannried Open Air Festival drive us immediately from the stage to the airport to see if we could find new flights to Helsinki, as at this point it was looking like we wouldn't get to Finland in time for the festival for Absolva or Blaze. As soon as we arrived at the airport, it was closed... We had to walk all around Basel airport trying to find a door to get in. When we got in the airport it was around 3 am then *ping* on my phone, the airline had sent us replacement flights for 10/11 am. Basel to Munich to Helsinki. But this meant we had to wait 7 hours for the connecting flight to Helsinki. This also meant it would not get Absolva there on time for Dark River, and the whole band would get zero sleep on top of NO SLEEP that we had the night before because of the travel to Switzerland. ANYWAY, we managed to contact the festival through our manager Mark, and Dark River accommodated new stage times for Absolva, Luke Appleton and Blaze Bayley so we could be triumphant. But I am telling you we all were ready for a rest after the show. Long story... But wow!!!
Luxi: For your brother, Luke, all this extra headache before your original scheduled flight to Finland must have been even harder as he had to hit the stage not just twice but three times due to his own solo gig. But apparently, he's made of steel and was happy with how his solo gig turned out at the festival, right?
Chris: He is made of steel. We all are. We always say no matter how hard things push us, we will never back down. We will do things that most bands and people wouldn't do. Call it love for the fans, love for music, madness or just stupidity. But that's what we do.
Luxi: After your show at Dark River Festival in Kotka, you have a little break before you play a few more shows between October and December this year. What are you going to do during this short break?
Chris: Sorry mate, no short break for us, unless you call five days a break. Festivals throughout the summer, we just finished a UK tour, we're heading back out to Europe this week with Blaze, Absolva is heading out with Blaze in October, we have shows with Y&T and Power Quest and writing and recording in between.
Luxi: What gigs or festivals were highlights this year?
Chris: Well Dark River was one to remember, how we pulled off that amazing show after the travelling nightmare we had. Sweden Rock and Rock the Coast in Spain were HUGE!! I will remember those. Also, Headbangers Open Air was amazing. It's been a great festival season this year for both bands.
Luxi: Let's get back to your forthcoming album, which obviously will still be titled Absolva Five (V). In which phase are you with that album right now?
Chris: At the moment, I'm recording the vocals and mixing the album. We're quite far on, but I decided this time to go the extra mile with the production. This is why I haven't set a date for release. We'll set the release date when the album is finished. This album will be Absolva's greatest day.
Luxi: Last time we had a chat in Helsinki, Finland, in October of last year, you mentioned that your new songs will be perhaps a little bit longer and more anthemic and bigger sounding than the songs on your previous album, Defiance; more like in the vein of some songs on Flames of Justice, which was the band's debut album from 2012. Do you still feel some of these new songs are similar to that album style-wise?
Chris: I feel there's something in there for everyone. In some elements it has gone a little darker in some ways, we have some longer songs, but still have the short and snappy songs too. It will always have big solos and massive choruses. It's just the way Absolva is.
Luxi: Was it intentional when you started to write that these longer and more anthemic sounding songs would come out?
Chris: It's just how it all comes out. Sometimes you want things to go one way but only if it works...
Luxi: I suppose you wrote a big chunk of the material on this new album. How much did your bandmates help you during the songwriting process?
Chris: This album is pretty much 50/50 myself and my brother Luke, in writing and recording. The exception is one song that Karl brought to the table which is 100% different, but it is a great song.
Luxi: Can you reveal some of the song titles or is it still a bit early for that?
Chris: It's a bit early. Some still have working titles. For instance, one is called "Irish" because it has a Thin Lizzy vibe.
Luxi: Will you release a promotional video prior to the album's official release date?
Chris: Yes, I think we will.
Luxi: With Blaze Bayley on the road doing his 25th-anniversary tour, playing the Maiden songs from when he was fronting the band, how tough is it for you to play two shows during one night or are you kind of used to that already?
Chris: Two shows is fine, as long as Absolva plays first. Then I can pull back from being the frontman and just concentrate on guitar and be part of the band rather than fronting the band. If Blaze plays 90 minutes, Absolva 45-60 minutes at one festival, that's only two and a half hours, with a break. Some bands do 3-3.5 hour shows. Bands like Rush and Bruce Springsteen do longer shows, I think. Why should we complain when they're 30 years older than us?
Luxi: How do you usually spend your time in between the shows when you need to do two shows in a night?
Chris: Resting, sleeping, drinking water, laptop, the usual things really...
Luxi: Absolva are considered a hard-working band when it comes to playing live. Do you think all this intense touring has paid off during the last few years, growing your fanbase?
Chris: Yes, for sure, hard work, playing shows, touring, it's an old-school way of working but it works. And it's an old-school format and way of doing things that works. Sure, we have to adapt to social media and Facebook, Instagram and YouTube. But ultimately, it's when you get on that stage and can deliver something special which gets you there. I think doing it the way we do it keeps fans for life, rather than 12-18 months of stardom then they move on the next craze.
Luxi: Your brother Luke will have plenty of solo shows booked for the fall. How do you think that will slow things down for Absolva?
Chris: He does that when we tour with Blaze Bayley and there are no Iced Earth shows. Nothing is slowing Absolva down.
Luxi: What do you believe 2020 will look like for Absolva?
Chris: I believe it will be great. In 2020, the main focus will be the new album and pushing that as much as possible. New music videos, great artwork, cover and everything. My main focus is to bring a great product. The best we have done yet.
Luxi: Thanks for your time, Chris, and all the best to you and Absolva in the future as well. Any last comments perhaps?
Chris: Thanks very much. And just visit our website www.absolva.com. Thank you very much to our loyal fans in Finland. We love you Suomi.
|Other information about Absolva on this site|
|Interview with vocalist and guitarist Chris Appleton on November 12, 2018 (Interviewed by Luxi Lahtinen)|
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