Fireworks Magazine Online 81: Interview with Absolva

ABSOLVA: Showing 'Defiance' with Absolva and Iced Earth man Luke Appleton

Words by Steve Swift

Hang on, are you with Iced Earth at the moment or is this Absolva you're with? Or on holiday?

'We're on tour with Absolva at the moment, day off today.'

Good to ask though, as Luke played with his brother Chris in Fury UK, then left to join Iced Earth. Chris formed Absolva from the ashes and Luke then started to turn up onstage with the Mancunian marauders; surprising to hear him taking this interview. Is he more stable now?

"A couple of years ago we thought, 'You write lot of songs on the album, you're now the full rhythm guitarist on every album and as many tours as possible,' so I'm now officially a full member," he calmly explains. "It's a lot of fun. It's amazing really, what we've done; a rollercoaster. It's a positive message we're trying to send with this album and I think it really does come across that way. Once people listen to it they immediately want to play it again and always finish the album with a smile on their face. That was the main purpose of the album. It's what we've gone for and achieved, I believe."

And after comings and going affected Absolva, from the first guitarist to bassist, there is relief at the new line-up. "This line-up is now settled. Chris is the main man, the Steve Harris of the project. Whatever he says goes ultimately, but he loves to hear everybody's opinion. Martin (McNee) the drummer, he's been with Chris for well over ten years now from Fury UK days and Karl (Shramm), the bass player, has been with us for a couple of years now and now I'm a solid member; it doesn't show any sign of changing, we're all very happy and committed to the cause."

It's good to have a history lesson; I've been following and writing about them from the start and even I'm confused. Nothing confusing about new album 'Defiance' though, their third has the hammer we'd expect, but as this band have always been interested in melody and there's more this time than ever.

"When Chris and I were writing the songs, the plan was to make as much melody and catchy choruses as possible. We still want it down, dirty and heavy with some great riffs and flashy guitar solos, but the main focus is the chorus. I believe we've got a lot of songs for crowd participation, tons of sing-alongs. The great thing is that on this album me and Chris have collaborated a lot more than before. We both sat in a room, came up with a riff and then threw things together; I think that's worked a lot better. We've taken ideas from when he's been working with Blaze Bailey and my time with Iced Earth, we've combined those songwriting techniques and made them our own and it's benefited Absolva. It's fantastic to collaborate with my brother. We love snappy songs but we've had six to ten minute ones as well! The length doesn't bother me as long as the song makes sense and keeps your attention."

And not only this, he's got his other band, a little combo called Iced Earth. You might have heard of them... "When I joined in 2012, that was a huge dream come true. One of my favourite bands. I was unbelievably shocked and happy. I treated the first few years more as a learning experience. I was jumping into some really big leagues here and I believe I've gained so much as a musician, songwriting wise, performance wise. Working with a genius such as John Schaffer has improved the way I play the bass and my vocal harmonies. I've tightened up on my vocals and it's broadened my mind to a lot of ideas for songs. I believe I can say the same for Chris with the work he's done with Blaze. He was in Iron Maiden, another guy who's been around the block in this business – it's done us both a world of good."

Fireworks - The Ultimate Magazine for Melodic Rock Music

Luke and his bro' are in an interesting situation. You know Rocksector, that smallish but exciting record label? That's their mum and dad, that is. "It's a fortunate set up. It's funny because parents always put a lot in when their kids want to go to university, so we think 'Okay, this is our university' because they helped us a hell of a lot, especially at the start. It gave us that stability at the beginning and now we're flying free. Chris does a lot of the booking of shows, travel arrangements, one of the main organisers, so it's given us a lot of independence. We're eternally grateful to our parents for that. We know where we want to go, let's just do it. We did made bad decisions, but we learnt from it. Touring is awesome at the moment and fans are receiving the new songs very well. Our main influences are Iron Maiden and bands like that who give it full pelt, so every time we go on stage we think, 'It's 110% energy time, let's give the crowd a show to remember."

Being born into that business has given Luke, and particularly Chris, a really hands on feeling for the record business. "'If the crowd are happy, that's my main goal; CD sales are a second thought. I know we've got an unbelievable fan-base and a good amount of pre-orders. I do think about the business side but it doesn't worry me because I just tackle the situation and do what we have to do, making sure everyone knows about the new album, the tour and the fans do the rest. So far it's been a working formula and it's grown every year. Chris has got things planned for a year in advance, he's on tour and has already booked the next tour!

"We've released the new album for Iced Earth recently, 'Incorruptible', and it's great for me because this year I've been able to release two albums with my two bands, two albums I'm extremely proud of. A couple of days after I finished in the studio with Absolva, I flew out to Spain to record with Iced Earth, so within two days I had to say to myself, 'Switch off guitar mode, I've got to go to bass mode.' With the bass I find less is more, let the bass breathe more and ultimately it fills up the song, makes the song sound bigger. For Absolva we've got a fantastic studio engineer, Matt Ellis. We always get a fantastic sound, which has improved every album we've done with him; we get an amazing drum sound with him, which we've never been able to get with anybody else. Drums first, guitars, then bass, guitar solos and vocals in the same day so that Chris or I don't get too burnt out. It's done in two or three weeks; a pretty straightforward process and its pretty similar with Iced Earth. Jonrecently bought a couple of buildings and made it into Iced Earth's headquarters, rehearsal rooms, studio, hangout place. It's gonna be brilliant!"

Luke tells me he's "...incredibly excited! It's a lot of work, but it's a big return and completely worth it. A dream come true!" Two bands, both Metal but different enough to keep him on his toes and both producing excellent music. 'Defiance' is another Absolva album that's anything but average; they are keeping this ball rolling just as Luke wants. In fact they've put it right into the top corner.

Absolva - Defiance

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