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Wilkes-Barre, Pennsylvania, United States | SELF

Wilkes-Barre, Pennsylvania, United States | SELF
Band Rock Metal


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"Absolution: Tight and Focused"

When talking to Mark Wojtkiewicz of the band Absolution, one can feel a sense of momentum. The powerful, heavy and melodic modern-rock band — which released its second CD, “Theory of Existence,” early this year — is already working on its third, and Wojtkiewicz says it is a group that is driven and focused on moving forward. He adds that “Theory of Existence,” the follow-up to 2008’s “Surfacing” CD, served as a natural progression for the band.

“A lot of the vocals are more intense, and the songs are deeper,” he says. “They tell a better story. I think we’ve been able to craft the album well, and we all worked together to write it. I think we’ve all grown with our instruments and into the Absolution sound. From the last record, there’s more emotion, and it’s tighter.”

Joining Wojtkiewicz in the band is Jay Green on guitars and vocals, Brian McDonald on bass, Tom Godin on drums and Will Perna on guitar. Perna, the group’s newest member, is a former member of Hope Fails You and Full Circle and joined Absolution earlier this summer.

Wojtkiewicz says there are several reasons why there’s such a sense of focus in the band’s camp these days, and one of those reasons is an important decision he made in his life: he quit drinking, cold turkey.

“It’s mainly due to just gaining a little bit more wisdom with age,” he says. “When I first turned 21 and started drinking, just socially, I looked at other people that were angry drunks and mean drunks, and drank everyday, and I said, ‘I never want to be that way,’ but I started to walk down that road. Luckily, I was one of the few that could just switch it off like a switch and say ‘This is not where I want to go, at all.”

Wojtkiewicz says he was impressed with how Ben Burnley of Breaking Benjamin, in a recent interview with the Weekender, talked so openly about his battles with alcohol. He’s clearly decided to do the same and says such experiences and feelings have even inspired some of his songs, including a new track, “Dry County,” which will appear on the band’s next album.

“It’s nothing I want to hide,” he says. “It’s who I am.”

The new album, like its predecessor, is being recorded at The Barber Shop Studios in Lake Hopatcong, N.J. It is the same studio used by Breaking Benjamin and former New York Yankees star Bernie Williams. Freddie Fabbri, who once helped manage Breaking Benjamin, continues to work with Absolution. Wojtkiewicz says pre-production for all of the new songs is completed, and nearly all of the lyrics are written.

Absolution, formed in 2005, has tweaked not only its lineup over the years but also its attitude. That, says Wojtkiewicz, is yet another reason for the sense of drive, focus and teamwork within the band.

“It’s still fun, but we treat it like a business,” he says. “This is what we all dreamed about. Not for fame and the girls and all of that. It’s more about ‘This is my job. This what I do to pay my bills and survive, and it’s still fun.’ We have fights all the time, but nobody says, ‘Screw this. I’m out of here,’ and actually quits. We need each other, so we sit and hack it out. We come to an agreement.”

Wojtkiewicz says that songwriting within the band remains a full collaborative effort, and that all of the group’s collective influences can have an impact on its sound. Those favorites include Disturbed, Pantera, Rush, Slipknot, Sevendust, Korn, Killswitch Engage, Nonpoint, 12 Stones, Limp Bizkit, Straight Line Stitch and even some hip-hop.

“Theory of Existence” is available at Gallery of Sound stores, Amazon, CD Baby and iTunes.

Wojtkiewicz says hard-rock fans can expect to see the same intensity on stage that can be found on the group’s recordings.

“It’s very energetic,” he says. “There’s lots of emotion.”

Written by: Alan K. Stout - Music Columnist
11/11/09 - The Weekender

"Absolution Tracking Ahead"

Pop in the latest CD from local band Absolution, and you’ll hear some fierce intensity. Titled “Surfacing,” the eight-song audio assault is an in-your-face amalgamation of old-school metal and more modern nu-metal sounds. The churn and the grind associated with current hard rock is clearly there, yet some of the guitar solos — yes, guitar solos — posses a classic metal quality. And though the record was only released earlier this year, the band is growing no moss and is already in the studio working on its follow up.

Featuring Mark Wojtkiewicz on lead vocals, new guitarist Jay Green, Brian “B-Man” McDonald on bass and Tom Godin on drums, the history of Absolution dates back to 2003, and the current lineup has been in place since earlier this year. Wojtkiewicz says that it wasn’t until 2007, with former guitarist Dan McDonald, that the group found a cohesive vibe it could call its own.

“We got more focused on a tighter sound,” says the singer. “Now, if you listen to two different songs back to back, it doesn’t sound like two different bands. It’s more powerful and everything ties together. The real birth of what we have now — the tightness and the writing style — really took off in 2007.”

The band is currently cutting tracks at The Barber Shop Studios in New Jersey, the same facility where Breaking Benjamin recorded its “Phobia” CD and the same place former New York Yankees star Bernie Williams recently finished work on his new album. Freddie Fabbri, who helps manage Breaking Benjamin has taken an interest in Absolution, and turned them on to the studio. Wojtkiewicz jokes when asked about the short amount of time between albums.

“We just have a lot of stuff to get off our chests,” he says. “Jay came in and quickly learned all of the stuff from ‘Surfacing’ and a few other songs we had on the plate, and new stuff just started falling into place. He’s had some of the riffs for years and we just keep writing.”

Though Absolution was a well-oiled machine before Green came on board, Wojtkiewicz gives the former Owen’s Grudge member credit for connecting the band with Fabbri and helping the group get more serious about everything from its recordings and promotion to treating itself not only an artistic endeavor, but also a business. Collectively, Wojtkiewicz says everyone from Rush to Slipknot, Sevendust, Korn, Limp Bizkit, Deftones, Killswitch Engage and Pantera have had an impact on the group’s members. He says the power of hard-rock music appeals to the group and also fuels the songwriting.

“It’s the energy and the emotion,” he says. “I had problems with my old band. I wrote very emotional stuff, and I needed certain parts to be there to push me. Now, when [these guys] hear that emotion, it pushes them. It’s like this vicious circle that’s just never ending. You just keep feeding off each other. It’s heavy stuff, but more melodic. We want to stand out for our tightness and for being different. We don’t want somebody to say, ‘That’s already been done, I’ve heard it.’ Some of the stuff is what you may have heard, but hopefully we still have that edge that puts us out in front a little bit.”

Wojtkiewicz says that sometimes when the group has played gigs with other bands, it’s been told it was the lightest act on the bill. And sometimes the group has been told it was the heaviest band.

“We’re kind of in the middle somewhere,” he says. “Some people say we’re not even metal. Maybe it’s a sub-genre? I don’t know.”

Absolution is metal. Not so heavy that there is no commercial appeal, but listening to the “Surfacing” CD, the metal roots and flavor is obvious. Wojtkiewicz says he’s fine with that, as long as a sense of melody remains. He says he loves the ego-free collaborative songwriting process within the band, where the members don’t just write bass, drum and guitar parts, but also might even kick in some lyrical ideas. And even when the lyrical ideas are mostly his own, he says he crafts them in a way that exemplifies the whole group.

“All throughout the writing process, I don’t want to misrepresent anybody in the band,” he says. “Anything that I sing about is mainly personal experience that they can relate to. I’ve always looked at it as, if my bandmates can’t relate to what I’m saying, then how are we, as a unit, going to be able to project that to everybody else?

“This band is my personal dream band,” he adds. “It’s not just where they write the music and I write the lyrics and the melody, and we’re done. That’s what I love.”

Written by:
Alan K. Stout - Music Columnist
11/11/08 - The Weekender

"Drowning Pool of Chaos"

JERMYN — Ryan McCombs may not have been with Drowning Pool when it became a household name in 2001 when its popular song “Bodies” was released, but last Friday at Eleanor Rigby’s it didn’t matter. The crowd of 715 ate up every bit of McCombs’ stage antics and screeching vocals as he brought a new life to Drowning Pool fans.

Drowning Pool opened its hour-long set with many new songs, including current radio hit “Feel Like I Do.” The band had a great crowd response, and the club was filled with energy. The drummer, who frequently spoke out of his microphone headset, thanked the fans for coming out and for being loyal to the band for such a long time.

The best part of Drowning Pool’s performance was in the latter part of the set. The band played songs such as “Step Up,” “37 Stitches” and “Bodies.” The audience’s moshing picked up and was twice as heavy during the second half of the set. Before the last two songs, McCombs started speaking about Ozzfest and how the band was first discovered there. He said the band was led by the late Dave Williams, “the best f---in’ singer to play in the band,” then honored United States troops that protect this country. McCombs also spoke about “Bodies” and “37 Stitches,” the two songs the band was about to play, and thanked the fans for listening to them and giving them a career.

During “Bodies,” the crowed erupted into several pits, creating a chaotic atmosphere. The song ended abruptly after a fan was injured.

The night started with a half-hour set from locals Absolution who rushed out on stage with tons of energy and solid riffs. All of the members of the Mountain Top band moved around on stage and interacted with the crowd on every song. The crowd closed each song with a huge applause and even sang along to the songs they knew.

Scranton’s DropVeil, the next act to perform, had a much different vibe. Its half-hour set started with a lot of energy but quickly died down. The songs turned slow and long and were, quite frankly, boring. The impressive drummer kept things interesting by pouring water on his drums — as seen in many metal music videos — and frequently splashed the crowd.

Luckily, Nonpoint hurried out on stage after numerous chants from the audience. Singer Elias Soriano came out with a bang, violently swinging his dreadlocks around as the band opened with “Witness.” The crowd cheered very loudly and moshed to the next song. The band had mindboggling drums beats, great guitar parts and one hell of a singer. After its song “Front Lines,” Nonpoint honored America and the United States Army, explaining how we are the best country on the face of the Earth because we have the best people willing to fight for us. Nonpoint ended its 40-mintue set with its most popular song “Bullet With A Name” and earned a chanting crowd that wanted an encore performance.

Written by: Matt Morgis - Weekender Intern
06/01/10 - The Weekender

"Freddie's Fab new gig (Absolution's Manager and Consultant)"

Freddie Fabbri has two great passions in life: music and New York Yankees baseball. And as many local music fans know, the former area radio DJ — who was instrumental in the initial success of Breaking Benjamin — has had his fair share of success in the world of music. His passionate and relentless support of Breaking Benjamin led to the band receiving substantial radio airplay for the first time, and that airplay led to more CD sales, which in turn lead to a national record deal and national stardom for the band.

Fabbri was there with Breaking Benjamin from the beginning, and until recently, continued to serve as the band’s road manager.

Now, Fabbri is taking that experience and bringing it into the world of the Yankees, or more specifically, the world of former Yankees star centerfielder Bernie Williams.

Williams, who is also an accomplished guitarist, is on tour supporting his new critically acclaimed smooth jazz CD “Moving Forward.” And Fabbri is serving as Williams’ road manager.

“I’m just very pleased and honored to have the opportunity to work with Bernie,” says Fabbri. “The record keeps doing well, it’s hitting all of the charts, and radio keeps opening up to it. Bernie loves it, and he’s told me that he wants to do more and more. We’re looking to tour for the next 12 to 18 months, all around the world.”

Fabbri was a popular DJ on 97.9 X from 1998-2003, where he became known to area music fans for his colorful on-air personality. In 2006, he got involved with the Yankees for the first time when he worked for the YES Network, which is owned and operated by the Yankees. Fabbri appeared in a series of humorous commercials in which he acted as a rabid Yankees fan anxiously awaiting for the start of the baseball season. (Those that know Fabbri know there was very little acting involved.)

During the 2007 and 2008 seasons, Fabbri worked for the Scranton/Wilkes-Barre Yankees as the on-field announcer and helped entertain fans before the games and between innings. At the time, he got to know up-and-coming Yanks such as Phil Hughes and says players would sometimes come out to Breaking Benjamin concerts. He was also able to get a close glimpse at the inside operations of the minor league facility, and on one occasion, watched a game and talked baseball with Brian Cashman, the general manager of the Yankees.

“Maybe to other people, it wouldn’t mean a lot, but to guys like me, you can’t put a price tag on something like that,” he says. “It was an amazing time.”

Fabbri’s work with Williams developed through Williams’ record label, Reform Records. The label is associated with Barbershop Studios, a recording facility in New Jersey where Fabbri also has a working relationship and where Breaking Benjmanin has recorded.

“They were talking about having somebody go out on the road with Bernie — not so much a sports manager or personal manager, but somebody that’s actually a musical tour manager,” says Fabbri, whose name quickly came up in the discussion. “It was a funny, coincidental thing, and lo and behold, I got the gig with Bernie. I never let them know how excited I was about it.”

How excited? Well, Fabbri jokes that though he obviously gets paid for the job — which is a lot of work — if they’d known him better, it might not have been necessary.

“All they would have had to do was let me wear one different World Series ring per show,” he says with a laugh. “They wouldn’t even have had to pay me. I’d front my own expenses. But they went off and offered me money.”

Fabbri says he loves working with Williams, whose reputation as a class act and unassuming gentleman has proven to be true.

“It’s so much cooler watching Bernie meet people than anybody else I’ve ever worked with,” he says. “He is so genuine. He just gets on a roll of chatting with people and meeting people and taking pictures. He really understands that he’s Bernie Williams, and he realizes the great responsibility that he has. With an active-rock band, it’s an age group, and a lot of the reaction is the same over and over again, but when you’re Bernie Williams, it’s 10-year-old kids and 80-year-old men, and they all have the same kind of enthusiasm. Baseball is universal.”

Williams’ band members, all accomplished musicians from the world of jazz and rock, have played with the likes of Billy Joel, Bruce Springsteen, Elton John, Tower of Power and Spyro Gyra. They, too, says Fabbri, have been great to work with.

“It’s a professional environment where the band actually loves to play music together,” he says “They actually love what they’re dong, which makes it a lot more pleasant to be around. Sometimes I forget that it’s actually work. I feel like I’m hanging out with a bunch of really cool guys. The stress is eliminated by the people that love to play the music, and they’re all so pro. It makes the whole environment smooth and happy.”

Fabbri also sometimes enjoys asking Williams to share baseball stories. He says Williams particularly enjoys making references to pitcher Pedro Martinez.

“Bernie’s Pedro stories are the best,” he says. “He talks about Pedro the way little kids talk about the Boogieman. It’s always, ‘This one time against Pedro. ….,’ or ‘Who do you think you are, Pedro?,’ or ‘Playing up there was like batting against Pedro.’ It’s always Pedro.”

Fabbri, who served as Breaking Benjamin’s tour manager from 2004 through 2009, still hosts a weekly online radio show, “Traumatic Thursdays,” which can be heard every Thursday from 7-10 p.m. at www.cagerattle.com. He’s also working with the local band Absolution and is diplomatic about his recent split from the Breaking Ben camp.

“After a long layoff, a lot of things have changed with the band and with our relationship,” he says. “The band wanted to go one way, and I was set in going another, and they just didn’t meet, and it’s time for a change. I will always love Benjamin (Burnley) and his band from a distance.”

Right now, he’s quite happy being on the road with one of his all time favorite players who is also becoming a friend.

“I’m fine all the time,” he says. “I’ve gotten to live a life where I’m a master of nothing, but I’ve gotten to do a little bit of everything I’ve always wanted to do, and I’ve always ended up at area of interest at the end of the day. It’s all good, man. “I’m a lucky man.”

Written by: Alan K Stout - Music Columnist
12/02/09 - The Weekender


Absolution - Surfacing EP - 3/2008
Absolution - Theory Of Existence EP - 4/2009



Founded in 2005 by drummer Tom Godin and vocalist Mark Wojtkiewicz, along with several line-up changes, the band found itself creatively with Brian "B-Man" McDonald on bass with later additions Jay Green and Will Perna on guitars.

The quintet has toured the tri-state area extensively in support of their latest EP “Theory of Existence” (2009). The bands unique rock/metal sound and high energy live show has helped them build an ever growing fan-base, from West Virgina to North Carolina and everywhere in between. Sharing the stage with the likes of Sick Puppies, Drowning Pool, Nonpoint, RED, Black Stone Cherry, Halestorm, Otep and more.

Their latest work "Theory Of Existence" was recorded at The Barbershop Studios in Lake Hopatcong, New Jersey and was produced by Jason Corsaro (Soundgarden, Bobaflex, Soulfly, etc). Not even a year after the release of the EP "Theory of Existence", the band finds themselves back in the studio with enough new material for a full length follow up.

ABSOLUTION’s non-stop writing process, nose to the grind stone work ethic, and adrenaline filled live show has been the bands driving force since day one. And with a new album in the works and a packed event schedule, they show no signs of letting up or slowing anytime soon.