DK: Hey JohnnyX and Ian, how’s it going?
VOA: Hey good to hear from you again! We are doing good.
DK: I know you guys are in the midst of some shows this weekend before starting off onto even more shows next month for your Canadian and East Coast tour, so, I really appreciate you taking the time to answer some questions for me here. So, aside from shows… ha ha, what is the latest from one of the hardest working Punk Rock bands here in Chicago? I understand you have a new guitarist named Dan, right?
VOA: We just finished a weekend in Wisconsin which was also our first shows with a new guitar player Dan Brown. We are getting excited for our Canadian / East Coast month long tour this fall!! And now that we have the new setlist ready we are looking forward to working on songs for the next record.
DK: How has Dan been doing so far?
VOA: When we got to the pre-game party for his first show he was not shy to represent V.o.A. in some Beer Pong. We played hard and fast and partied until dawn. I think he just might fit right in ;)
DK: Great to hear it! Kind of link an initiation to the band, cool! :-) Tell me about your documentary “Punk Band”.
VOA: The end of 2016 we went out on a 4 1/2 week West coast tour and had a videographer come with us. The documentary is a culmination of that endeavor. It was done by Brad Pontecore at Madness Maker Films. And is currently available through Vimeo, Amazon, dvd and blue ray.
DK: I really respect the band, not only for the powerful statements the band makes with your songs, but all the hard work that is put into promotion, shows and simply staying with it all these years, how do you manage it year after year?
VOA: The meaning behind our name is the fact that we all are addicted. Whether it be the usual suspects of drugs, sex and Rock n roll. Or more widespread addiction such greed, religion, oil, cigarettes, television, screens, power etc. I guess my addiction is itchy feet, hitting the road, throwing caution to the wind, and mostly playing music for people. I just can’t quit it. I was a teenage drug addict and the “high” I get from performing every night is unlike anything else I every experienced. It keeps me sane and is my release. Nothing is more humbling than going on tour. It is so easy to get down with the echo chambers of social media, 24 hour news cycle and un-rivaled narcissism. Touring is very humbling. No tour is successful without relying on the generosity and kindness of not only fans, family and friends, but also strangers. Getting out there and seeing people in person re-instills my faith in humanity and directly affects my writing and our message.
DK: Even your show posters are never something just thrown together, they really stand out and grab your attention, who puts your posters together?
VOA: It has been a bunch of different people over the years. I am absolutely terrible at them. I could draw a stick figure and you wouldn’t know what it is. But I can throw some things together when needed as I have been lately. I still am a big believer in old school promotions and always do flyers and hand out handbills. As it gets harder for people to see your posts on social media I still feel like the grassroots effort. Passing out flyers in town at like-minded shows. Is the best place to put your time.
DK: I totally agree. The Lost Art of Empathy was released just a bit over a year ago now (can’t believe a year has already passed on that already). How has the album done for you?
VOA: Well, we actually just put it out on vinyl, took us a little bit so essentially, we are still getting it out there. It took a bit longer than we wanted but after our fall tour we will have hit all of North America with the new album on tour. We have, by far had the most over-whelming reviews and press of any of our previous releases. As an artist you are always the most proud of your most recent work. But it feels extra awesome when the critics agree.
DK: In the short time since the vinyl release, have you sold a lot of vinyl compared to digital and CD?
VOA: You cannot deny the “want” for vinyl these days and we always press it. Honestly in my opinion we still sell about the same amount of vinyl as cd’s. But none of those vinyl customers would have bought the CD if we didn’t have the vinyl. People who collect wax are a particular breed and it doesn’t go both ways. People who buy CD’s are people without record players.
DK: Now that some time has passed since the release, how do you feel on the album as a statement from the band? Do you feel you said everything that needed to be said with that release?
VOA: I tracked this album the end of December 2016. So all songs were written previously. As time has passed the lyrics and writing has become almost prophetic with our current world. It feels like I should of written it only yesterday. While I am not proud, this is what we have become, the life imitating art aspect boggles my mind.
DK: How do you feel The Lost Art of Empathy stacks up against your earlier releases? Do you feel your sound has evolved over the years or stayed consistently true to the core sound that you started off with?
VOA: Oh for sure, I believe every band should evolve throughout their career. This band started after I moved to Chicago in the summer of 2002. We were all working full time and in music college full-time. So we played when we could, and our music reflected our training and was quite genre-hopping. It wasn’t until after college that the music started slowly moving back toward my roots of 80’s punk and hardcore. I have always believed though, that if people were gonna listen to me that I should have something more to sing about than bubblegum, girls and cars. I have always liked a certain “energy” to V.o.A.’s music.
DK: Speaking back about tours, how does the band do on the tours…? Do you manage the road fairly well and eat [relatively] decently?
VOA: I spent 11 years in Kitchens until I was done for college so what we accomplish meal-wise on tours is un-paralleled. I always bring my two burner camping stove and we make community meals as often as possible. I swear I am gonna finally write that touring band cook book! (laughs)…
DK: (laughs) But that is a good thing though, right?
VOA: The diet on the road and avoiding fast food and gas station food is essential on any tour of any length. I have been touring half my life now so I have learned tons of tricks and short cuts over the years, which for sure give us an advantage. But nonetheless touring is the absolute hardest thing you can do and I don’t recommend it to anyone.
DK: Of all your songs, is there one song that you would say would sum up what Voice of Addiction is all about?
VOA: UNITY, I will let the lyrics speak for itself “I’m not your fucking pawn, I don’t believe in your laws
What if punk rock becomes what I always thought it could be
Because I still believe, that with Unity, everything can be achieved
I will not be knocked down, together we will stand our ground
what if we all give in to something bigger than you and me “
DK: What bands have you toured with that have really fit well with your sound?
VOA: I am actually not the biggest fan of touring with bands. I prefer to play with local bands.
DK: Getting biblical on your asses now… but, Luke 4:24 states that ‘No prophet is accepted in his hometown”, over the years, how supportive has the Chicago music scene been for the band? Have you found that biblical statement to hold any truth for you?
VOA: I hit every city in the United States pretty much every year. There are a lot of things I like about a lot of them but Chicago still is my favorite. I didn’t move here till I was 21 and starting college, but it only took a couple years for me to start calling it home.
DK: Sticking on the topic a bit, how would you rate Chicago’s music scene (in general) for all bands? How do you feel it compares to LA or New York?
VOA: Chicago is an amazing music town, famous for being both the home of Jazz and Blues. We only can have festivals 4 months out of the year and still have more than any other U.S. city. In the 16 years I have been in Chicago I have for sure seen the local punk scene grow. I can only hope that I at least had a little to do with it.
DK: The band has been independently successful for many, many years, if a major label should come around (if they haven’t already), would you consider signing with them if the contract was everything you’d need it to be or prefer to stay independent?
VOA: The days of labels are far over. We have had lots of attention over the years. Pretty much these days, they are just trying to take a cut of what you are already doing. I am not 100 percent against it. But it would have to be a mutually beneficial agreement and not one sided. I grew up on the D.I.Y. aesthetic and V.O.A. began that way. But I only stayed independent because people are just out to take advantage of you and your hard work.
DK: When it comes to songwriting, it doesn’t ‘seem’ that the band would have any trouble coming up with topics to write about, but do you ever struggle with what you want to say or how you want to present it musically?
VOA: I have always been a prolific songwriter. The biggest thing ever holding me back is the band learning new songs. When we are behind on learning the songs or I am between members I write other songs. When Trump got elected everyone started saying at least punk will be good for the next 4 years. We have been here the whole time.
DK: How does the band feel about opinions from the press or opinions from fans or general listeners, do you let opinions impact any of the direction of the band in any way?
VOA: We have been quite blessed with almost all positive reviews etc. It really has been quite amazing. I really don’t have anytime for trolls and try to spend as little time on social media as possible. These types of things only mean as much as you want them to. And as a wiser person once said, “ain’t nobody got time for that.”
DK: Having been around for over a decade, what achievements is the band most proud of and what would you like to see the band accomplish over the next decade?
VOA: Punk rock literally saved my life. I had a lot of obstacles and family turmoil when I was young and became a teenage drug addict. It was playing in punk bands and music that got me clean and gave my life a purpose. I never fit in with the jocks or the nerds. In punk rock, I found a family I never had and people that accepted me, and looked out for me no matter how I expressed myself. All I can really hope is to give this back to at least one person and I will be successful. As far as the future the goals are touring Europe and Japan.
DK: If you could affect real and immediate political change in our country, what would you like to change first?
VOA: Things have gotten so bad, it is impossible to name just one thing. But I would have to say the Lobbyists. The money going into politics is beyond unprecedented. And absolute power corrupts absolutely. I also believe over-population while not an immediate threat on our country, the world over is the greatest threat to the future of humanity and all of our current hurdles.
DK: Does the band have a new album in the works? If not, how many new songs might you have written already that [could] appear on a forthcoming album and do you play them live yet?
VOA: We did have a couple new songs we were playing on the west coast tour and we even filmed a video for one of them that is about to be released. The original goal was to be in the studio this winter but with the change in guitar players it is pushing us back a bit. It is harder than ever to stay relevant so I want as little time to pass as possible. So now that the set for the upcoming tour is done we are ready to get to work!
DK: What is it about Punk Rock that you like the most?
VOA: How accessible it is. I meet life long heroes all the time. And they are all very approachable and just ordinary people. Ego’s are a lot smaller in this genre. The sense of community and family.
DK: What is planned for the band for the remainder of 2018 yet?
VOA: We have the official screening of the documentary on us ‘Punk Band” this friday in Chicago at Beat Kitchen with us and a bunch of friends playing afterwards. 8/24 Villa Park Punk Night 9/7 Lexington Ky 9/8 Cincinnati OH 9/13 Chicago punk rock weekend kickoff at Liar’s Club. 9/27 – 10/21 Canadian and East Coast tour.
DK: Is there anything else you’d like to share with our readers today?
VOA: The best way to stay up to date with what we are up to is our facebook page www.facebook.com/VoArockers and the best and cheapest way to get our merch is at www.voiceofaddiction.com/store coming soon to a town near you!!
DK: Thanks so much for your time once again… I greatly appreciate it and look forward to more great music from the band soon!
Biography: Voice Of Addiction are politically charged and socially conscious Chicago based punk-rockers. V.o.A. has been around over a decade doing 1,200 shows across the U.S. & Canada. Having 5 official releases & independently selling 6,500 physical copies these boys have proven they are a force to be reckoned with. V.O.A. realizes how important the live show is to their career & never fail to deliver a highly dynamic and energetic performance in which all are encouraged to participate. Both a new full-length album and a feature length documentary are due to be released in 2017.