Tapping the Vein
By Joe Who?

News, Rumors, Facts, Gossip - These are all things that make this crazy world go around. These things also intertwine when you think about it. You can't have news unless you have the facts, and usually when you hear gossip, there's rumors involved. I myself enjoy gossip it always makes for some interesting conversation!

In metal circles, there's a lot of it. I mean between friends I see at shows, the internet, zines, record stores etc... there's no shortage of it. Joe have you heard this band? Joe if you like that band, you'll love these guys too, or my favorite - Joe you have to get this cd an absolute must have! It never ends, but you know something? I love it, and I have a "want list" a mile long to prove it!

A few years ago, I kept hearing about a great power metal band called Ion Vein. I was told they were really good, and that I needed to check them out. So one day I finally got myself a copy of their "Reigning Memories" cd. The gossip was indeed true, as I found the album to be excellent, and a great recomendation for sure.

The band plays progressive sounding power metal with a technical flair that keeps your interest and attention. I heard songs that were catchy and melodic, executed with a keen sense for detail, not to mention the killer production job of Neil Kernon.

Ion Vein is now going on their sixth year as a band. Some line-up changes a side, they show no signs of slowing down. They continue playing shows, and continue working on their next epic release.

I recently had a chance to speak with guitarist Chris Lotesto on the above mentioned items, as well as the past, present, and future of the band...

Wormwood Chronicles: Chris I had a chance to see your show at Penny Road Pub on Sept 25th. It was your first show as a four piece band. For the fans that couldn't make the show, can you tell us all the current line-up.

Chris Lotesto: The current line-up is Russ Klimczak / vocals, Brian Gordon / bass, Chuck White / drums, and me on guitar.

WC: Do you plan on staying a four piece band? or will there be another guitar player added?

CL: We're definitely a two guitar band and while the four piece is working out ok, we'll at least have someone for the live shows next year. Our good friend, Andy Paredes, formely of Talamasca, who played with us in Cleveland at the BW / BK fest would like to continue doing shows with us, so it will most likely be him. It's to bad he lives 4 hours from us, he would be a great addition to the band.

WC: It was cool to see Brian Gordon back in the band. What was his reason for leaving a few years ago? Why did
he decide to return to the band?

CL: Yes, it's definitely cool to have Brian back, it was tough for everyone when he left, but he has always remained part of the family. He left for an opportunity to play in another project that he felt he might be sorry later on if he passed it up. Things never really went like they were promised for that project from the start, and finally this past summer we were all in a position to make the "reunion" of sorts happen.

WC: At the Penny Road Pub show you guys debuted some brand new songs, that sounded great. How's work on the new album coming along? Can you give us some details?

CL: The new album is coming along great, we're very excited about the new material and feel like we're coming into our own. Hopefully the comparisons will stop, and people will recognize us as finally defining our own sound. We have six songs finished and would like to have at least 12 with most likely 10 making the final album and the others avaible for bonus tracks or whatever. I guess we'll have to see before we make any final or hasty decisions.

WC: I see you have a hand in writing both lyrics and music for the band. Do you prefer one over the other? or is it a labor of love doing both?

CL: I don't prefer one over the other and I guess it is fair to say it's a labor of love doing both. I like coming up with a story whether it's musically or lyrically and sometimes one side is flowing and the other isn't which can get frustrating. There are peaks and valleys in the creative process, so you have to ride the wave when you can and be careful not to force things...

WC: Do you ever get writer's block?

CL: Well, continuing from the last question, yes I get writers block sometimes and you sit there questioning whether you can write another cool riff or lyric and wonder how the hell you were able to do it before! HaHa You just have to keep at it and eventually, you'll break out of your rut.

WC: I read that you guys just signed a deal for your "Reigning Memories" album to be released in Europe - Congrats. How did it all come together?

CL: Yes, we signed the deal with Now And Then Records out of the U.K. back in May and the album was originally going to be released in Europe / Asia in September, but kept getting pushed back and now we're looking at January. It's frustrating but that's the business. Actually, the label president heard about us and ended up buying the album through us and then approached us. At the time we were still shopping around so we lost contact, but eventually began talking again and struck the deal.

WC: What's the status on the next album as far as distribution? Have you gotten any record label offers for here in the states? Will it be released indepently? Will you license it to a interested label?

CL: Well, the deal with Now And Then is for two albums in Europe / Asia so they will be releasing the next one as well, unless a bigger label decides they want to pick us up. We haven't had any offers we're interested in here in the states, so we'll start shopping demos for the new album when we feel they're ready. We certainly would be interested in licensing the album or releasing it independently again, but we're hoping things will be different for the third album.

WC: Back tracking a bit - Your last album "Reigning Memories" was produced by Neil Kernon. (Queensryche, Priest, Nevermore etc...) He's a big name producer, how did you hook up with him?

CL: I heard Neil was living in Chicago at the time and I was talking to my good friend Ken Golden, at Sensory Record whom Neil had just done an album for and Ken said "Why don't you just e-mail him", so I did and the rest is history.

WC: Will Neil be working with you again on your next album?

CL: Well, that is certainly the plan so unless their are some crazy scheduling issues or something, Neil will doing the next album. We're certainly excited about that since he was so great to work with and we have one album under our belts together, so it would be great to build on that.

WC: I see you guys have played on a number of tribute releases. I was wondering have any of the bands that you've covered heard your version of their song? If so, what was their reaction?

CL: I'm not really sure if any of the bands heard them or not.

WC: Your first album "Beyond Tomorrow" is real hard to find. Will it be re-issued at all?

CL: We are certainly planning on doing a re-issue complete with a remix, re-master, new artwork and possibly a few bonus live tracks or somthing. We were hoping to have it out at the end of 2004, but it's going to have to wait.

WC: I hear you guys have had some radio air play in Chicago. How did this come about? Did the stations get a hold
you? or did you send the stations promo kits?

CL: No, the stations don't get a hold of you, you have to get a hold of them and strangle 'em until they play your stuff! HaHa There are different ways, either through developing relationships over the years or meeting people, that's usually the best way to get a shot at radio play. We also have a college radio promotion going on right now that's just about to wrap up and it's gone quite well with us charting at several stations and getting top 200 rotation and not just on the specialty shows.

WC: You guys have played the Chicago Powerfest and BW&BK - 6 Pack Weekend this year. How did those shows go? Do you have a favorite show that you've played past or present?

CL: We also played the first ProgPower USA Fest and the old Powermad Fest in Baltimore that spawned these fests. All the shows went great, the crowds have been great to us at all these events and we've always had a blast playing them. The very first Powermad we played at in 1998 is probably my favorite since no one knew who the hell we were, and we came in and blew the roof off the place! HaHa That's a direct quote from a review too so I'm not tooting our horn. HaHa The BW / BK Fest was a great experience on the big stage as was our appearances at Chicago's House Of Blues with Armored Saint and more recently Metal Church.

WC: Any good road stories?

CL: Oh, there are a lot of good ones, but too long to tell! HaHa There are better stories when we go to the events and we're not playing! HaHa

WC: Speaking of shows, I hear you and Rob Such (Twelfth Gate) play a big part in organizing The Chicago Powerfest. I was wondering if you could give us some details about the 2005 show. Will Ion Vein be playing on it?

CL: Yeah, I organized the first one back in 2000 then Rob became my partner in organizing it in 2004, when he finally got me off my ass to do it again. HaHa It's a great time and we do it to help the scene, we're not looking for anything out of it except to help bands and help metal in general. The only thing I can tell you about 2005 right now is that Ion Vein and Twelfth Gate will indeed be playing again.

(Make note that since I conducted this interview, The Chicago Powerfest has been announced for April 8th and 9th 2005 with headlinners - Morgana Lefay, and Tad Morose. for more info go to:

WC: If you had to pick one Ion Vein song that best described the band, which one would it be? Your signature song?

CL: Man, that's a tough one... Our anthem for a long time was "Bridge Of Dawn" off of "Beyond Tomorrow" and I guess the whole theme of the song and the dynamic of the song still does describe us best even though we're much heavier now. The song is about overcoming life's obstacles to achieve your dream and goals and we're still doing that every single day, and the flow of the music represents that journey as well. The funny thing is that we haven't done that song in probably a year so go figure. HaHa

WC: Thanks for your time Chris, good luck with the new album. Any last words for your fans out there?

CL: Thank you Joe, we certainly appreciate your time, interest, and support! The only thing I'd like to add is a huge thank you from the bottom of our hearts for the continued support our fans give us and to anyone else out there that may become a fan. Stay tuned to for all the latest and we'll see you on tour. Cheers!

Ion Vein's Website