Interview: Chris Appleton (Absolva) “It’s a wonderful thing for me having my brother in the band.”

With a massive album, huge tour and large and loyal fanbase, Absolva have the guts, glory and tenacity to make 2020 their own. And many more years to come too. Devo’s Jo Wright had a chat with lead singer and guitarist Chris Appleton about his band’s new record, their amazing followers and sibling rivalry. 

Absolva’s fifth studio album ‘Side By Side’ will be released in April. How excited are you to unleash it on the world?

“I am very excited to unleash ‘Side By Side’ to the world. We have worked very hard on this new album, and we are extremely proud of the songs, production and performance. We’re also very happy with the new artwork. It is a great achievement.”

The world is pretty excited to hear it too! It’s got a real ‘blended’ sound going on  – old school, melodious and modern metal all meeting in the middle to make ‘Side By Side’ unique. Do you feel you agree?

“Absolutely – that is what Absolva is all about. On ‘Side By Side’ we were able to combine myself and my brother Luke Appleton’s experience of song writing and recording albums, and make what we feel is a fantastic hard rock/metal album.”

‘Side By Side’ is also great because it doesn’t quit. There are no tracks you feel the need to fast forward through, because Absolva are continually on the gas. Did you aim to keep the pace constantly fierce?

“That’s what we aimed to do in the song writing process with ‘Side By Side’. No song was finished until we felt that each one on the album was what we call a ‘show-stopper’. You could end the set with any one of these songs and it would be a grand finish. Each song has been carefully crafted to be the best it possibly can be.”

You guys have been in the business for quite a while now. You must have seen a lot of changes – for better and for worse?

“We have seen many changes in the music industry and music business, but what I think we have on our side is we always stick to our guns. We have a very loyal fanbase and our main goal is keeping the fans that we have happy, and encouraging new ones. The Absolva fans are incredibly loyal to us, so we must not forsake them. The industry and business can change all they want, but it’s the fans that are buying your albums and coming to your shows. That’s the thing to treasure. “

Your experience clearly gives you a wise outlook. ‘The Sky’s Your Limit’ must come from a view you can only see after years of graft…

‘The Sky’s Your Limit’ is one of my favourite songs on the album. It is one of those songs that started in my head and I pretty much wrote the whole thing before even picking up a guitar. Yes, a lot of Absolva songs send a message of never back down, live for the fight, conquering your own personal challenges in life. This is one of those songs. I like to send a positive message in my songs even if they contain darkness.”

Thanks to ‘The Sky’s Your Limit’ being a complete ass-kicker, I was inspired to sign up for a half marathon in March. Any tips? Headphones aren’t allowed, by the way…

“Haha, that’s awesome. I’m glad this song has had a positive effect on you. My best advice is when you hit your hurdle of tiredness or whatever, remember the lyric, ‘take on the chance you will never have again – to feel alive…..’ This for me is the most important lyric along with the title, basically meaning seize the day. It’s not about being first place, it’s about getting up and doing it whilst we’re still alive and have the opportunity. The best of luck with the marathon.”

Thank you! You’re putting in quite a shift as far as touring’s concerned this year. What can fans expect from the setlist?

“Touring has always been a big part of life. We almost feel we’re on a never ending tour, but we’re looking forward to performing the new songs. The setlist will contain 4,5,6 songs from ‘Side By Side’. And of course we have to keep our ‘hits’ from our first 4 studio albums. It’s a tricky job to do, to keep our fans happy, but it’s a lovely problem to have when you have so many great songs that people love.”

How does being in a band with your brother work out for you? My sister and I look the same, sound the same and pretty much are the same, which we think is brilliant, but has everyone who comes within a few metres of us curious, confused and a little scared. In that order. Same with yourself and Luke? Or just my sister and I then?!

 “Working with Luke definitely comes with its own challenges. Siblings sometimes have that 6th sense kind of thing, before one or the other has done or said something, the other already knows what they’re thinking. We do have that bond. Sometimes we argue and fight, but that’s normal, hehe! It’s a wonderful thing for me having my brother in the band and alongside me on stage. He is an amazing talent as a songwriter and musician – as a guitar player, bass player and singer. And we have been doing a lot together for a long time. Character-wise we are similar in some ways, but also we are quite different. I am the older, perhaps louder, shorter, curly haired brother with a broad North Manchester accent. Luke is the younger, quiet, taller, bigger, straight haired brother, and slightly more well-spoken, hehe! It’s all good.”

And finally, festival season is getting heavily pushed at the minute. What would your dream Saturday night main stage line-up be? With Absolva headlining, naturally…

“It would be great if I could bring all my friends together. If I could have Absolva and our mates Vice also from Manchester, our friends Saxon, Steve Harris’s British Lion, Blaze Bayley joining us, and also Iced Earth on the bill. Very much ‘Absolva and Friends Festival’!”

Interview by Jo Wright