Indie Music Monday Exclusive Interview | Voice Of Addiction
By Candice Anne Marshall
IMM – Hello Gentlemen! Welcome to Indie Music Monday! What do you know about Indie Music Monday and when did you find out you were being hosted on our site?
VOA – IMM is new to my radar, but I have checked the site out and am excited to be included. We really appreciate the support.
IMM – What has been the media response to your new album (released June 2017) ‘The Lost Art of Empathy’?
VOA – Actually, it was released July 16th, and we have had an overwhelmingly positive response so far. I have been doing this a long time and it really makes a guy feel good when all these efforts come to fruition and are appreciated.
IMM – What does the title of the album suggest in terms of life and/or the music industry?
VOA – We live in a very narcissistic and self-obsessed culture. The title is a metaphor for all of modern day life and society. Through social media we only surround ourselves with people who agree and have created echo chambers. The same can be said for how people choose the rest of their news, entertainment etc. While we are in a certain golden age of technology we have unending options and choices. And we once again usually stick to things that agree with our politics and outlooks on life.
IMM – Which was your favorite song on the album to produce?
VOA – That’s like asking a father which one is his favorite child 😉 I wanted to recreate something we did on the full- length preceding this. Very last minute we decided it would be cool to end the album with an acoustic song that incorporated all the song titles on the album. Within days I wrote and recorded the song. So, with this album I waited until the last minute to write the song. Again, within days writing and recording the song. I did this on purpose I wanted to keep every aspect of it raw. This time I decided to chronologically go through our west coast tour we just finished. So, I guess I would say ‘Are We Even Human Anymore’ because I had the least idea of how it would turn out.
IMM – We read in an interview that the Punk Rock genre has always been a part of your music career history – what draws you to the punk rock genre?
VOA – I come from a pretty big family and all of us were into punk rock. From a very young age I was dubbing cassette tapes from them of all the mainstays of the genre. Throughout my teenage years I was always in a handful of punk bands at all times. Once I moved to Chicago and started music school I started joining all types different bands etc. it is part of the major to play all styles. I had about 5 years of not really playing in a “punk band” per say. But as I have gotten older I find myself more and more going back to my roots for inspiration, strength and emotion.
IMM – A lot of the song titles on the new album are pretty literal in meaning. Which song is your favorite off the new album and why?
VOA – ‘Rustbelt’ is a pretty personal song for me. I spent my first 21 years growing up in Cleveland Ohio. I feel like my lifetime has been spent watching the eradication of the middle class. I watched the American dream die in front of my eyes. As factories close, people lost jobs, and desperate people do desperate things. I am very happy to see how far that city has improved since I left, but we are products of our environment. And that’s when and where I formed my politics and world views.
IMM – Which song off the new album is your favorite to perform live and why?
VOA – we always get a strong reaction from ‘Corporate Pariah’ live. Dynamically in the set is for sure is set apart from the others. It starts with a ballad, and then alternates between a ska verse and a driving chorus which get the booties moving! Ha ha
IMM – Just today, as I was typing up this interview, the world has learned of yet another very tragic shooting in Las Vegas at a music festival. Can you tell us what your thoughts are on this and what you feel about the safety of musicians and their fans? Meaning: what would you do as a band to avoid catastrophe such of this magnitude?
VOA – We live in a very scary time in a very uncertain world. No other country has this gun problem. As far as that is concerned nothing will change until we actually start talking about this. The problem is money. The lobbyists have too much money going into politics. The NRA has essentially held the Republican party hostage, if anyone does anything they disagree with, they just prop up their opponent in the next election. As far as at concerts etc., these are the things that define a society; the arts and culture. And these scenarios can literally happen anywhere. Don’t ever give in. Live your life.
IMM – I read that you also toured in Canada as well as the USA. What was the reception from fans like in Canada as opposed to your home country?
VOA – I have done 7 Canadian tours now and have visited countless times I love Canada!! I have only toured Eastern Canada and most of that has been in Ontario. Ontario is America Light. Pretty much the exact same as any American city in the great lakes region. Being from Chicago we have a lot more in common with southern Ontario than we do other parts of America. It has also gotten to be drastically easier for American bands to cross the border, which is great. Once you get into Quebec everything changes, but the cities are so rad and the shows are great. People are very kind and open and eager to hear new music in Canada.
IMM – Which is your favorite venue to perform live at and why?
VOA – The same reason I liked catering gigs when I worked in restaurants is the same reason I love playing live. A successful live show only comes from all involved doing their part. It is a group effort. At home in Chicago I would say Liar’s Club, Reggies and Livewire. All are stocked with solid people that have the same goal as the band, they want a successful show. And when that happens all parties involved are happy.
IMM – We always like to ask: what is your go-to favorite social media platform to engage with your fans on and why?
VOA – I probably use them in this order, Facebook – Twitter – Instagram. I am trying to use the latter more. But to answer your question none of the above. However social media is a necessary evil if you are in a band these days. With over-saturation it makes it extremely hard to stand out these days.
IMM – When your bio reads that the band is ‘Politically charged’ and ‘Socially Conscious’ what does that mean for you?
VOA – If people are gonna take the time out of their busy day to listen to my music I figure I better have something more to sing about then just girls and cars. That is also the meaning in the band name. I believe everyone is addicted to something. And it doesn’t need to be the usually thought of vices such as sex drugs and rock n roll. Religion, greed, caffeine, TV etc. are also just as viable answers. I like to bring up less talked about topics and put them on the table for discussion.
IMM – What has the radio play been like for your new album? Are there any radio stations you would like to give a shout out to?
VOA – Pissed Off Radio, Not For Sale Radio, Poduck Radio, Fearless Radio are top ones I like off the top of my head. We couldn’t thrive and continue with theirs and countless others support throughout the years!
IMM – Who is your ‘go-to’ team in terms of production of your music? Do you produce your own or is there a production team?
VOA – One of my degrees is in audio so I am extremely hands on when it comes time to record. For 5 releases we worked with Scott Fritz at Stranded on a Planet Productions. However, for this last album I did it with Dan Precision at Bombshelter Recordings.
IMM – Do you write all your own lyrics?
VOA – Yes of course. I find it weird when people don’t write what they sing. Although in pop genres that is pretty much the norm. The emotion and conviction behind what someone sings are what draws me to them. I find it to be a very personal thing.
IMM – What are your thoughts on the music industry today as opposed to, say, the late 70’s or 80’s when bands like The Sex Pistols, Blondie, or even Patti Smith were performing?
VOA – This goes back to over saturation of the marketplace. You can go to Guitar Center or Walmart and get a super cheap guitar. Likewise, you can get a cheap program and mic and start recording demos. Not only is there just so much music available today, it is mostly terrible. Standing out in the crowd and remaining relevant is an ever-increasing challenge. It has never been easier to find exposure and harder to be heard. Another enormous change in the industry is the collapse of major record labels. As well as music downloads. The only way to make any money these days is playing live shows. There will always be a market for this as nothing in your home can quite replicate this experience.
IMM – What do you hope to accomplish through your music?
VOA – Complete and utter world dominance! Ha ha. Nah the ability to keep touring and visiting all these amazing places, and being able to keep putting out albums is the most I could ever hope to personally receive. Being able to touch anyone with my music, help them through a rough day or time, or just punch ‘em up to that next level is really what it is about though. We have to be the change we want to see in the world.
IMM – What is the importance of music platforms like Spotify or Pandora to you? Do you feel these will eventually takeover radio?
VOA – I feel like they already have taken over radio. While they do pay per stream it is such a low percentage most artists won’t really benefit much from it. But it is a volatile market and constantly changing so who knows what tomorrows thing will be.
IMM – What are your thoughts on promotion and how you want your band best represented?
VOA – There is only one thing that happens without promotion, nothing. I spend most of my spare moments working on promotion. It is so hard to stand out and reach your audience. Growing up you always handed out flyers at local like-minded shows leading up to the show and in record stores etc. Nobody does this anymore. We are stuck with boosting Facebook posts that are not intended to work well. DIY promotion is harder than ever these days. It Is harder than ever to get people out of the house and harder than ever to reach them through the internet.
IMM – Which bands or Musicians today do you think have it ‘going on’?
VOA – I respect anyone regardless of genre or band if they tour DIY. One of the hardest things to do, let alone keep it going for an extended period of time. Some great ones doing this are Boss Daughter, Jukebox Romantics, The Symptoms, Crab Legs, Wolves X4, I feel like I could go on forever.
IMM – Can you tell us what the definition of ‘success’ means to you?
VOA – Being able to do what I love and not starving in the process.
IMM – What are some unique facts about the band that no one really knows about?
VOA – Since the final acoustic song on the new full – length was an after-thought it was tracked last. By this point I was deathly ill. Laying down the vocals on that song took way longer than it should have. I am absolutely amazed we were able to get what we needed that day. Halfway through I was convinced it wouldn’t work and I would have to come back once my health improved. Also on the new full- length Dennis came in and tracked drums after just one rehearsal with me!
IMM – Alright, final question: Can you tell us what advice you would give someone new coming into the music industry?
VOA – It is a dying industry unfortunately. You have to have a deep-down love and respect for the craft to get into it because the money will probably never be there. Constantly network and keep track of all your contacts. You never know where people may be or be doing in 3, 5, 10 years. Super important show up to everything on time. Punctuality has broken many talented people. Gathering references and being dependable will take you farther than pure skill. No matter where you are in your career never forget why you got into this. Every time I get up on a stage I am reminded and has kept me on the road for half of my life.
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