"No one gives a fuck anymore. Everyone's doing what they want to do and it's cool," Vein vocalist Anthony DiDio enthuses, nodding to his peers in bands like Code Orange, Turnstile, Jesus Piece and Full of Hell, all of whom mix styles and defy genre boundaries without compunction. "I think now it's almost like it's normal to be weird and it's normal to do weird shit."
Vein, then, are very, very normal. Hailing from the Merrimack Valley area outside of Boston, and with members who are all under the age of 25, the quintet spins out heavy music that's strange and spastic, technical and abstract, part New England hardcore heroes Converge, part multinational jazz-fusion group Mahavishnu Orchestra. But for all their cacophony and chaos, Vein also have a healthy respect for the craft of songwriting and an even healthier love of groove; the band's two demos — 2013's self-titled release and 2015's Terrors Realm — and a 2017 split with .Gif From God showcase subtle hooks and heavy mosh parts that slyly nod to groups like Deftones and Korn, who were gateway metal bands for Vein's young vocalist-to-be.
Not that DiDio always felt comfortable wearing such influences on his sleeve. "Now you see kids wearing Slipknot and Korn jerseys at shows and they're, like, normal," he explains. "But when I was 15 and I went to hardcore shows — you wouldn't get made fun of, like, nobody's gonna go out of their way to make fun of you, probably — but it just wasn't a thing to do. Like, there was less mixture of influences."
DiDio began collecting his major creative influences while in his early teens. He gravitated to "dark shit," from horror video games like Silent Hill 2 and ultra-violent movies like Suicide Club — which would eventually lend their disturbing vibes to his band's songs — to nu-metal, screamo and hardcore. Discovering heavy music soon led him to seek out local shows, and it was at one of those gigs that DiDio and future Vein drummer Matt Wood were introduced to each other by their sisters. The fast friends soon hooked up with guitarists Josh Butts and Jeremy Martin and bassist Jon Lhaubouet, and Vein's lineup was complete.
For DiDio, the thrill of creating original music was a revelation. "It was like crack to me," he recalls of writing his first real song. That creative "addiction" has continued through to Vein's first full-length, which they will release in 2018 via Closed Casket Activities, and which DiDio promises is the purest recorded representation so far of what the band is trying to put out into the world. "We always wrote the stuff we liked, but recording-wise I think it never came back or translated the way we wanted it to," he says. "On the split [with .Gif From God], that was kind of the vibe and the dirt and the recording — everything about it — that's what we wanted from the get-go, but we just never got it … But we wrote a full-length, like, a year and a half ago [and] there's a lot of shit on it that I think [will make] people understand the band a little more. I'm excited about that."
As the group's vocalist, and sole lyric writer, DiDio has a special stake in the clarity of Vein's self-expression. He very literally writes himself into the band, pouring deep-seeded feelings of anxiety and depression into songs like "Ideation: Self-Destruction," on which he confesses, "I've spread my wings and learned to fall twice as hard."
"It's great to write lyrics," DiDio says. "Lyrics are the one real chance to sit in private and hash something out and let someone know how you feel. Because you might not even have the words to really explain it in a conversation."
That desire to express himself in as real and raw a fashion as possible goes next level once he hits the stage, and Vein's shows are quickly earning a reputation for their high-energy catharsis. "Onstage, it's like sometimes you wanna break your fucking head open and make yourself bleed," the singer says. "Because at the end of the day, you don't know what the fuck anyone's actually feeling, even your best friend or whoever. You wanna do all this crazy shit that you want people to know how you're feeling. And when you're onstage, in the heat of the moment, that feeling is like no other. But then after that, you can think and do shit and it's a fucked-up way of feeling in touch with yourself. It's very real."
For DiDio, today's weird-is-normal hardcore scene is the perfect place for a kid with dark inclinations and feelings to express himself, and for a band that he describes as having "an extremely high ceiling, if not no ceiling at all" to aim for the stratosphere. "If you have a brainchild like that, which [Vein] is for all of us collectively, and you have a bond over it, it's like a baby," he says. "It's like you. It's like it's your seed. It's like, this is me, and you could put everything into it and make some sick shit out of it that's gonna be remembered long after you're gone."