ARTIST NAME: Voice Of Addiction
SONG TITLE: Rustbelt
ALBUM TITLE: The Lost Art of Empathy
GENRE: Politically-Charged Punk Rock
Voice Of Addiction are politically charged and socially conscious Chicago-based punk-rockers.
Voice Of Addiction has been around since 2004 doing over 1,300 shows across North America.
Having seven official releases and independently selling over 8,000 physical copies (as well as being involved in countless compilations, and digital sales); these boys have proven they are a force to be reckoned with.
V.O.A. has been featured in the video games: Skateboard Party 1, 2, and 3 as well as Snowboard Party 1 and 2.
A feature-length documentary on Voice of Addiction entitled “Punk Band” is out now in all major outlets.
Discuss your recording experience with your producer.
I had done the previous five Voice Of Addiction recordings with the same producer and we went in a different direction on “The Lost Art of Empathy.”
We went with Dan Precision (of 88 Fingers Louie fame) at Bombshelter Recording Studio.
I had previously known Dan which helps but this was the first time we had worked together.
The album came together over two weeks, 12 hour days. And it was basically Dan and me throughout the process.
We put a lot of work into this album and I am very proud of what we created together.
Discuss what comes first and last while creating a song.
Inspiration hits whenever it damn well feels like. I have always carried a small notebook and pen just for this reason. You never know when a melody, progression, lyric, thematic idea will hit…
I usually flush out the skeleton of a song on an acoustic guitar and come up with the lyrics. Sometimes bass or even piano, but usually these days it is on guitar. So even though I play bass it is literally the last thing I write.
It is only after I show them the song, and we get the drums down that I start creating the bass line.
Then add backing vocals and any other ideas we may have. At this stage I always say there is no such thing as a bad idea, we will try anything once…
Sometimes everything hits you at once and you go from conception to completion on a song in fifteen minutes.
Other times ideas and parts get put on the back burner until another idea or part brings it back to life.
Sometimes this is even over the years.
Tell us the piece of advice you will give to a new artist.
Don’t do it. Now is not the time to pursue a career in music.
The odds and cards have never been stacked more against musicians.
Schools are drastically cutting all music and art programs.
And there is a complete over-saturation of the marketplace.
No one will ever understand the blood, sweat, and tears you put into making music and getting yourself out there.
And you will spend most of your life working for little or no money for the chance of something that will probably never happen.
You can’t get onto this path unless your heart and head are completely in it – Because even the most determined will constantly want to quit.
With that being said I do not know what I would do without playing music. It literally keeps me alive.
Discuss your worse experience in the music business.
The keyword here is ‘business.” There are a lot of shady people out there trying to make a buck off artist’s hard work.
Pay-to-play and battle of the bands prey on young and inexperienced musicians.
I have dealt with so many shady people on the business side of things over the years.
The worst though personally on the business side of things was a manager we had about ten years ago. No big story here except a ton of talk and no follow-through – Just a ton of wasted time and money.
I will never forget this expensive ass photoshoot he made us do. It was eight straight hours at three locations and many costume changes. The whole time the crew is yelling at us “straight face! Don’t smile!”
At the end of the day, we only got to pick one of each individual band member and one group photo. Ever since then I have managed us.
Tell us how you deal with rejection.
I have been doing this a long time and at this point, it doesn’t bother me at all.
I don’t make this music for them I make it for myself. And every day I see the positive effects on my music.
Music is subjective not everyone will like the same thing. They are entitled to their opinion. I choose to focus on the positive.
Tell us what you are doing to impact people around you.
We have always helped whenever we can and have played countless benefits and charities.
I have also personally put on a bunch of these as well. Including an anti-NATO & G8 demonstration and concert I put on when they were in Chicago at the same time.
I also do the punks-giving show every year where we not only raise a bunch of money for the hungry but a canned food drive.
I also have worked with Refuse Fascism on recent events.
We are very active in our community.
Tell us the music that makes you happy.
Music is an international language that goes beyond borders…
We all can feel the music. I have a saying “you have to sing it like you mean it.”
If I don’t feel your emotion when I am listening to your song you need to try harder.
I listen to all kinds of music as long as it doesn’t put anybody down.
Tell us how you make instrumentation to your song.
For the album; my old school buddy of mine Dennis Tynan came in on drums for the session. He only had a month to woodshed the songs. We only had one practice which just him and I for three and a half hours.
Two days later we went into the studio and laid down the drum tracks. I am still amazed at what he pulled off for us and am super proud to have him on the record and to call him a friend.
Next, we lay down the bass tracks. We layered two different 3 mic setups and mixed in the direct out.
Quite pleased with how my bass turned out – Then onto guitars and vocals. Everything starts with the rhythmic foundation.
Tell us how you feel when you sing and your fans sing along to your song.
I don’t have any kids so this is the proudest and most humbling thing.
We don’t play a lot of places we haven’t played before these days.
But for instance on tour last month in Corpus Christi seeing all the Latino punks singing along who haven’t seen us before unless they drove up to San Antonio or just listen to our albums.
The same thing happened in Boise, never been there before and everyone knew the words.
Tell us the goals you aim to achieve when creating a song.
I want the widest audience possible to be able to identify with the song.
While the song is extremely personal to me, in particular, I also want it to be inclusive. So people feel like they are part of the story and included on the journey. We may not have had the same experiences but through the song, they realize our journeys have never been that different. We are all in this fight together.
State your approach to writing.
You know the old saying, “a writer writes, always.” Just keep doing it. It doesn’t all have to be your best work. The process is a big part of it too – And keeping those creative juices flowing.
I am constantly worried about forgetting a good idea, so I write everything down.
Sometimes I will go through old writings and it will influence something I am currently working on.
I have to also put out there I have never experienced writer’s block so my outlook on this may vary from others.
Tell us how you plan to develop a unique music style.
I describe my writing style as a hybrid of my classical training and my ADHD.
I am always trying to attain accessibility while also being very tricky and progressive musically.
We are known for being very high energy, technical, and being political.
A long time ago I decided that I wasn’t going to sing about girls, cars, or bubble gum.
If people were going to listen to me I should have something to actually say.
Tell us how to record a song.
Technically all you need is a microphone and tape or digital recorder.
I am a firm believer that if you can’t play your part within three takes you should not be recording it.
It’s too easy and cheap to use digital as a crutch. I personally am an analog fan but you can’t deny the advantages of digital recording (and how much cheaper on the bottom line).
For economic reasons, I tend to do a hybrid of both recently.
My biggest advice is to know exactly what you are going to do before you step foot in the studio.
Too many bands waste too much time because they weren’t prepared. And time is money.
Tell us if you are collaborating with other songwriters or you write alone.
For the most part, I am the sole writer for Voice Of Addiction. It was never really intended this way it just kinda ended up being my songs.
I always invite and embrace as much as the others want to contribute to writing. I love collaborations and am always down!
Discuss your experience with fans.
This is what it is all about connecting with the fans! I love recording but for me playing live is my life fuel. It is also one of the best ways a musician can still make any money these days.
We are definitely a touring band and hit almost every city in the U.S. and Eastern Canada every year.
We also finally played Mexico last year and are planning to return on our west coast tour this fall.
I will never understand bands that hang out in the green room or in the tour vehicle and just come out to play the show.
I want to be out there talking to everybody before and after the set.
I want to be out there catching all the other bands’ sets.
I want to be a part of the scene and not the commodity.
State your experience with booking gigs and shows.
I also run a booking company “Wrecking Ball Production.” Booking shows is for sure not easy, and most people I know despise doing it.
Then when you are booking a tour and need every date to make sense and be back-to-back. You are going through the flyover states on weeknights.
Most people forget that there a five other days in the week other than the weekend.
I don’t completely mind doing bookings but my biggest problem is flaky people. A lot of the people, venues, bookers, etc. are working in late-night establishments and are drunks and/or drug addicts.
People forget, don’t write things down, double book. That is the thing I hate about booking shows, is having to redo everything because somebody dropped the ball…Do what you say, and say what you do.
Tell us if you consider song placement in TV or Film.
There is a documentary out right now entitled “Punk Band” where they followed us around on a four-and-a-half-week west coast tour (no days off!).
It is available in all major media outlets including Amazon and Vimeo you can find out more at Punk Band The Movie.
Check out Voice Of Addiction in the indie film Billboard which just came out in theaters on April 5th!
Official selection for the 21st San Francisco Independent Film Festival.
Elaborate on the song.
I have lived in Chicago a long time but I wasn’t born and raised here.
My first twenty-one years were spent back in Cleveland Ohio.
My experience growing up in those years was watching the deterioration of the middle class. All our factories closed and things went from bad to worse.
Desperate people do desperate things. That is what this song is about as the opening lines suggest “Born in the rustbelt, raised in these steel towns, and nothing seems to go our way.”
Elaborate on your artist name and the title of the album.
Everyone is addicted and it isn’t always the usual suspects such as drugs, sex, and rock n roll. It could be caffeine, television, church, money, sugar, I could go on forever.
We feel like our job is to take the things that we don’t see people talking about and putting them on the table of discussion.
This album is prophetic in a lot of ways and it kind of freaks me out.
I wrote all these songs pre-trump yet it seems immediate.
The album title “The Lost Art of Empathy” describes how I feel about everything right now.
We need to start caring for each other. We need to focus on the overwhelming majority of things we all have in common and not focus on the few things we don’t. We need to start putting people before profits.