When Fury UK bassist Luke Appleton was given the opportunity to take up his dream job with Iced Earth the remaining members of the acclaimed trio opted to put the band on hiatus and form a brand new classic metal quartet – Absolva. Joining vocalist / guitarist Chris Appleton and drummer Martin McNee are second lead guitarist Tom Atkinson and bassist Dan Bate and debut album Flames Of Justice is due to be released in October. Sea Of Tranquillity sat down with Chris just a short time before Absolva gave their debut live performance at the SOS Festival.
First of all we discuss how Chris' brother Luke is getting on since taking up the bass position with the mighty Iced Earth. "I was talking to him on SKYPE the other night and you could really write a book about it to be honest; it really is his dream job, Iced Earth are his favourite band and I wish him all the best." Absolva will shortly be sharing the stage with Jon Schaffer's titans with dates in Ireland, Glasgow and at the Bloodstock Festival – but wasn't Chris tempted to retain the Fury UK name and bring in a replacement for Luke? "Well, I think because it was a three piece, it was my brother and we had been together for such a long time I really couldn't see myself bringing anyone else into that unit other than Luke. So I thought it was the right moment to go with a new band and do something that was a bit different to Fury UK and have a band with two guitars that would go with my early love of Thin Lizzy and Iron Maiden."
"We wanted something that was totally original and different to anything else" explains Chris when asked about how the name Absolva came about, "and so when you type it into Google you've not got a million similar things coming up - you think of the name Absolva and you think of our band and nothing else. So Martin is still with me, the powerhouse on drums, the bassist is Dan Bate who was with the Midlands band Point Blank Fury and guitarist Tom Atkinson was with a band local to here called Vice. Both Tom and Dan are really nice lads with the right attitude to rehearsals and making themselves available to tour."
Absolva will shortly be heading into the studio to record their debut album. "The material is all brand new, we are throwing in one or two Fury UK songs for the first few shows, we head into the studio in August and are aiming for an October release for the album which is called Flames Of Justice." And how does Absolva's style differ to that of his former band? "Well we've got two guitarists and I have never really worked with another guitarist before and so we've really taken advantage of that with harmonies all over the place and loads of duelling solos. The material has gone a little bit heavier with that Priest and Maiden twin guitar attack and a little bit of a European influence such as Accept and Helloween. We've been listening to an awful lot of Accept, especially the last two albums where they've really gone down an even heavier route and we are big fans of the new singer – we liked UDO but Mark Tornillo is really something else."
Matt Ellis, who worked with Fury UK on their last album A Way Of Life, is lined up to produce Absolva's debut album, "It's very important when a band goes into the studio that someone is going to be sat there knowing what the band are trying to achieve and will help them to do that instead of just pressing record and letting them get on with it. Matt has worked with quite a few bands on the Rocksector roster and he's a very active guy. With Fury UK we would spend very little time in the control room with him; we'd go in and lay the parts down and both he and I are very strong characters, particularly when I am in the studio. We have had a couple of differences of opinion where I ended up having to roll with it but the end results have been absolutely fantastic so I am going to put my trust in him again.
"One of the main advantages with Absolva is that we don't really have to start from the ground up. We can start at quite a nice level and I was a little worried that we would lose the Fury UK fan base that has been growing over the years but everyone has really embraced it, they have saluted Luke and have got behind Absolva."
With time running out before Chris takes the stage we end with the quick-fire round, so – Rush or Dream Theater? "Rush", Metallica or Megadeth? "Megadeth", Sabbath or Priest? "Sabbath" (note – Chris takes a very long pause over this one), Tea or Coffee? "Coffee", Diamond Head or Saxon? "Saxon", Clubs or Festivals? "Clubs - I like festivals but you can't really beat seeing a band in a club after they have had a decent sound check, got their own amps and gear with them and can play a full set in front of a packed house."
Absolva – Chris Appleton, Martin McNee, Tom Atkinson and Dan Bate – will be appearing at the Bloodstock Festival on August 10th and tour the UK in support of debut album Flames Of Justice in November. For a full list of dates and album info check out www.absolva.com
Dean Pedley and Mark Davies for Sea of Tranquility