We were in a different America when Ian “Johnny X” Tomele, founder, frontman, chief songwriter and
visionary behind politically charged, trend blasting Chicago punk powerhouse Voice of Addiction, rose to
power. When the band released their self-titled debut in 2004, Tomele and his fiery crew gave voice to
our frustration during the Bush era when the headlines were all about Iraq. 13 years later, stuck in the
scary clown circus of Trump’s America, we need his voice, insight and catharsis more than ever. VoA has
been through a wild revolving door of personnel, but Tomele is more on fire than ever on a scorching, no
holds barred lament about The Lost Art of Empathy – the band’s first full length release since Reduce
Reuse Resist in 2011. The album was engineered and produced by Mr. Precision (aka Dan Wleklinski),
guitarist for Chitown punk legends 88 Fingers Louie who runs Bombshelter Recording.
While raging against the machine with enough spit, grit, fire and angst to fill the deplorable 24 hour news
cycle, the singer covers the waterfront of problems plaguing us. “Rust Belt” is about the despair people in
his hometown of Cleveland felt during the time he was growing up, when the jobs they counted on for
years were suddenly lost to economic circumstances beyond their control. “Corporate Pariah,” which
features the key line “The Lost Art of Empathy, behind this global tragedy,” is about going against the
grain in the face of mounting social and political frustrations. “I Can’t Breathe” shares that sense of being
overwhelmed by the nonstop social injustices surrounding us on a daily basis, while “Eviction Notice”
tackles the many issues that will lead to the complete destruction of our planet without restraint.
There’s some sense of redemption and a way forward through the darkness on “Unity,” where Tomele
declares: “Because I still believe, that with Unity, everything can be achieved/
I will not be knocked down, together we will stand our ground.” On a more personal note, Tomele pays
homage on “Lockwood” to a recently departed great friend of his who was a pillar of the Detroit punk
scene. He is a huge supporter of punk music everywhere who books numerous Chicago bands through his
Wrecking Ball Production.
One of the most fascinating and unexpected tunes on The Lost Art of Empathy is the final track, the
acoustic guitar driven “Are We Even Human Anymore,” which rolls like an adventurous, playfully
schizophrenic diary/travelogue about VoA’s 4 ½ week Midwest and West Coast Tour in late 2016.
Renowned music video director Bradley Pontecore of Madness Maker Films followed the band during
this stretch and has created the documentary “Punk Band,” which will be submitted to major festivals
(including Sundance) soon and is scheduled for a 2018 release. The film will feature live performances
and pre- and post-show interviews. Its soundtrack will include songs by VoA and a “who’s who” of
Chicago punk bands, including 88 Fingers Louie, Pegboy, Local H and Naked Raygun.
“The song goes into why after all these years, after over 1,200 shows throughout the U.S. and Canada, I
still like touring and want to keep doing it,” Tomele says. “I dabbled in drugs as a teenager, but nothing
ever got me as high as I feel when I’m playing live. It’s my outlet and release, and I would probably be a
lot meaner if I didn’t play. Seriously, when I’m off the road, I get depressed. It’s also humbling to be on
the road and rely on the generosity of strangers in so many places. There are also friends I see maybe
once or twice a year who I can instantly pick up where I left off with. These people help restore my faith
in humanity. When I spend time with them, my lyrics about unity start ringing true. Collectively, we may

have lost our sense of empathy, but the minute one individual puts him or herself in another person’s
shoes, it can be restored.”