|BACKSTAGE on a comfy sofa
Josh Silver from Type O Negative
|23rd June, 2003:
I got the opportunity to meet badass keyboardist, Josh Silver, from the controversial band Type O Negative, backstage at Vega in Copenhagen. They have recently released a long awaited new album, Life is Killing Me. The following collection of rude comments and ineffectually posed questions, sexual harrassment and heated opinions is what Iím hoping will pass for an interview.
-Ane Cecilie Tovgaard
|Ane Cecilie: So itís
been 4 years since World Coming Down. What have you been up
Josh Silver: Well Type O Negative always usually takes about 3 years between the records so 4 isnít really that much longer than normal.
AC: Yeah, I mean between October Rust and World Coming Down (WCD) itís been 3 years.
JS: Yeah itís always been 3 years, 3 years between Slow, Deep and Hardand Bloody Kisses, 3 year between Bloody and October.
AC: Do you think thatís necessary?
JS: Necessary no. Do I think itís good? Probably. I think what happens to bands nowadays is that theyíre forced to put out albums very quickly, and they donít grow, theyíre the same persons they were 8 months ago.
AC: Yeah I agree...
JS: I mean whatís going to be different? Nothing! Itís going to be the same bullshit probably not even as good. Because theyíre forced to turn it out quick.
AC: I believe youíre right, if you look at bands like Linkin Park and Limp BizkitĖ these rapín roll/nu-metal bands, they seem much more commercialized than the old bands; in comparison, Type O Negative (TON) is a pretty old band right now.
JS: Yeah, really old....(grins)
AC: I mean youíve been out there for a long time..
JS: Yeah I know itís amazing that weíve lasted this long.
We have a good underground following, weíre lucky.
AC: I must confess that Iím pretty amazed...
JS: Me too...
AC: ...because I actually didnít expect to hear from you again.
JS: Me neither...(laughs)
AC: And when you released The Least Worst Of I thought ďOh no, theyíre doing a compilation...Ē
JS: Yeah thatís usually the end....
AC: But then again I thought about the title Least Worst Of, and was relieved because the title seemed too funny to be the end....
JS: No, it was actually the record company probably projecting it was the end and try(ing) to get the last little juice out of it. But that album sucked anyway.... (lowering his voice) so donít buy it!
AC: No I didnít buy it, because normally I donít like compilations, they make me feel ripped off somehow!
JS: Especially you know compilations of radio-cuts, TON is not a radio-cut band. Thatís terrible.
AC: So what is your point of view about Life is Killing Me (LIKM) ?
JS: I think itís a little more eclectic than October Rust, WCD.
AC: Yes, it seems more lighthearted than WCD.
JS: Well, I mean God! Most nuclear wars are more lighthearted than WCD. WCD was a very serious album.
AC: Yes it was you could really hear that. I read an article where Peter said he wasnít quite satisfied with WCD and that he felt he owed you and your fans a better record this time. Why?
JS: He said that about October Rust too, and heíll probably say the same about LIKM.
AC: All right so thatís just how it works...
JS: Yeah donít worry about it. I think WCD reminds him about a lot af bad times. I think itís a great album. You know I donít look at sales figures to determine if I feel an album is good. Most people do.
AC: Yeah, thatís business I guess, you have to make money!
JS: Iím not in business, I want to do the artistic (thing) and so I thought it was a great record, and I donít care if it sold 500.000 or 2 million. It doesnít matter to me.
AC: If you had to pick one or two favourite songs on each album, what would they be? Or is it too difficult, do you think?
JS: Itís hard, I mean itís easier to pick songs I hate than songs I love. But I hate doing that.
AC: Yeah, I mean I find it difficult to pick one favourite song or album myself because each of your albums is special in itís own way.
JS: Yeah I agree, and theyíre always different. This one again is a little more eclectic like Bloody Kisses but itís really
not likke BK. Itís nothing like BK, but it does have that variation and tempoes slow fast slow.
AC: How do you work? I mean the process of making lyrics into music?
JS: I think we make the music and then the lyrics actually.
I just produce with Peter, he will come down with some chords or you know whatever, we will just start playing and either it will turn into a song or it will turn into something we end throwing away. And sometimes it just happens right on a spot you know theres no set way of doing it. Sometimes it happens sometimes it doesnít.
AC: Thereís an extra disc to
LIKM, is it just for overseas?
JS: Yeah, just for European release, I donít know just for some reason. Europe
needs more to buy records I guess.
AC: Yeah itís possible Ė the labels here have a difficult time with all the downloading taking place. Thereís a massive amount of downloading.
JS: Yeah in America too!
AC: Yeah I know, I actually read your statement about downoading. There was a leak before the release of LIKM and the result was a massive downloading. You compare it to shoplifting, I must say I agree with you!
JS: Thank you.
AC: What is the entire bands position, do they agree with you?
JS: I donít know I mean I really didnít ask them. (Starts to laugh!) To tell you the truth.
AC: All right, so you tend to work as individuals? You donít sit down as a band and agree on some sort of official anouncement?
JS: No, that was my opinion and I know it (the downloading) is going to hurt us. It has already hurt us in WCD. I mean you read what I wrote, when a band first puts out. a record...AC: Yeah itís so important.
JS: Right, that first week it sets the stage for... you know whats going to happen. So if you chart low you know the fans will say Ē I love TON so Iím going to download it but Iím gonna go buy it...
AC: Yeah but itís not gonna happen...
JS: itís always 10-20 % that donít run out and buy it.
AC: I know, I mean if youíre a real fan you wouldínt even consider downloading music. I believe if you respect music you have to go and buy it.
JS: I think the rock audience is young and they donít really think itís damaging anything but it is.
AC: Yes of course.
JS: Thousands of people have already lost their jobs and the record company people still donít give a shit but hey!
Musicians are soon going to be out of work and itís going to be very hard for bands to stay alive.
AC: Yeah, itís sad.
AC: I think most of the tracks on LIKM they speak for themselves, but the track Angry Inch might need some explanation. Itís from a musical right?
JS: Yeah it is, itís from a play (Hedwig and The Angry Inch!).
It was originally a play and then it became a movie. Itís about a transsexual who has a bad operation and ends up with an inch instead of a vagina.
AC: (laughing) A bit of shame you could say!
JS: Yeah, canít win them all right!
AC: What about the track Drunk in Paris...is it out of experience?
JS: Well some of the titles came in later on so I donít even
know the number....sing it to me!
AC: ...ha ha ha..I canít itís an instrumental number! But nevermind
I just thought it was funny because I got this picture in my head of 4 TON members being drunk in Paris.
JS : (Smiles) I wouldnít know about that!
AC: Many people consider Bloody being your greatest success.
Do you agree?
JS: Certainly financially yeah...
AC: But artistically?
JS: I think artistically it was....I donít like to say the most successful but it was successful in a way that all the other records werenít like that, and for the time it was very original, and it was one of the first of that genre.
We almost created a genre, so in that aspect it was an unique album.
AC: Youíre actually also one of the only bands who create ďsound imagesĒ, for an example if you pick one of your albums could be October there are sound images like footsteps. I think it creates some kind of a TON universe. I
guess thatís very special for you that you have some good soundeffects.
JS: Thank you...you know we donít like to think about what weíre doing weíre just kind of doing it. I donít want to overanalyze why.
AC: Yeah, I guess you have to not analyzie too much sometimes, people seem to think Ď TON ! what is it all about??!í
You have a lot of statements that a lot of people donít really get, but I think itís very obvious that youre being ironic, itís just this humour, your dry sense of humour confusing people.....
JS: Yeah especially in Europe...because the language is very literal.
AC: I guess thereís a lot of comprehension issues here.
I remember I once read an article from a German magazine where Peter was asked how big he thought TON was becoming and he said you know TON is more popular in Germany than Adolf Hitler...
JS: You know where he was stealing that from, itís John Lennonís statement about Jesus Christ...
AC: Yeah I know. I find it funny but the Germans didnít get it,
and then there were bombthreats and all sorts. It was
JS: When was that..?
AC: Itís many years ago I think it must have been from one of your first European tours...
JS: Oh yeah 91í ....(smirks)
AC: Yeah, and there was also some idiot throwing a jar of acid on a German venue...
JS: Oh I rermember that, sure I was there...
AC: But how does that feel ?
JS: Iím a Jew so ...you know... people calling us Nazis and stuff...Iíve been Jewish all my life but whatever you know we say aggrevating things and Germany is an overcom pensating country so you know Iím sorry they overcompensated.
AC: But itís not something you think a lot about, youíre just being you, itís not a problem that people get it wrong?
JS: You know Iím not prejudiced, I just donít like people, I start off now liking people if they give me a reason to like them I will. So you know German, Danish, Dutch I donít care who the fuck you are.
AC: Because you donít know us!
JS: Thatís right!
AC: So! Have you ever considered being your own label,
wouldínt it be absolutely freedom or is it utopia?
JS: No, it would be inslavement. It would be so much work to make that a reality. You would just be a business person, And you couldít think about music anymore. You had to think about sales all the time, selling shipping, I donít
wanít to do that, Thatís not why Iím in this - let some other poor schmuck do it! (Smiles)
AC: LIKM is probably the last album to fulfill your contract with Roadrunner, do you already have any future plans?
JS: Yes, weíve had offers. Even an offer from Roadrunner actually but I really donít know Ė weíll have to wait and see what it soundscans in two days. That always has a big effect on business. So weíll see.
AC: I heard something about a live record after this tour. Is it true?
JS: Better not be, cause I tell you Iím tired!
AC: Yeah, I can see that!
JS: No more...
AC: So do you feel the difference now becoming older and the three of you being daddies? It must a new era.
JS: Yes itís hard.
AC: I looked at your tour dates, itís pretty much every day for a whole month...itís a long time being a way from home!
JS: Yeah it sucks. Weíre coming back for 14 days and then weíre going to tour the States for two months. Itís harsh - but when you come out here you want to make the most of it right! So thereís kind of no point in sitting in a hotelroom somewhere doing nothing anyway - you might as well play.
AC: I guess I would also get really tired of touring because even though we try to ask you a lot of things, it must be boring to give the same answers.
JS: Itís boring most of the times....no, no not the interviews or anything! But just kind of the whole process of driving and sitting, it gets kind of monotonous. But I still like the playing. Interviews arenít boring, theyíre actually usually kind of entertaining during the day.
AC: Really?! (laughing)
JS: Yes I mean itís better than sitting here looking at the mir ror right?....
AC: But I think itís actually quite a nice room....
JS: Itís not bad. Weíve been here before so I know this place.
AC: Yes I know, I read a review from your concert here at Vega in 99í and I donít think youíve had a better review than that...I mean the concert sounded amazing..
JS: Hopefully you can write one again tonight...
AC: I think so...or I hope so....(grins)
JS: (laughing!) I hope so too...
AC: Peter once said that if bands were running one way you were running the other. That youíre not trendroids. I like that but donít you think that sometimes being so individual effects the sales?
JS: Canít worry about that. I think staying true to what you do also effects the sales in a positive way, so I think itís probably why weíe lasted these many years , because we are true to what we do. And we donít really worry about things like...I mean can you imagine Peter rapping?
AC: I hope not... (in shock)
JS: Thatíll be funny,. Thatís almost so funny we actually should do it...
AC: Oh my god!
JS: Just as a joke...
AC: (laughing) I think Iíll start crying the day you begin rapping..
JS: You might laugh.. it might be really funny...
AC: Yeah, if itís to be ironic but not if you were doing it seriously!
JS: No... we could never do that..
AC: I hope not.
JS: But I would like a new haircut though Ė Iím getting tired of the long hair. Itís too hard to take care of.
AC: Nobody stays true to the haircut anymore.
JS: The only new thing about Nu Ė metal is the haircut anyway.
AC: So have you had absolute artistic fredom all the way?
JS: The only limits were selfimposed, we were never limited by the record company. Thereís always been a couple of internal struggles but now weíre pretty free artisticly.
AC: Do you think it would be much more different if you were in another label regarding the artistic freedom?
JS: Yeah, I guess it would be different...you know...I mean Roadrunner now is considering themselves a major label with Nickelback and making multi million sales but they still lay off us because they know if they push us too hard weíre just gonna shut down, so they leave us alone. Weíre like a pet, the angry dog in the corner Ė leave the dog alone leave the dog alone...
AC: If you ask me, thatís a pretty nice position in the rock world today.
JS: For us it is yeah, weíre never gonna sell 5 million records - We know that. We donít care. We move on.
AC: Do you stlil feel alive and kicking?
JS: Iíve never felt alive and kicking. (laughs)
AC: So youíre always tired, huh?!
JS: You know, weíre not tired, weíre just not the usual...(makes the sign of the devil and headbangs sarcastically) Weíve always been very low key and very to the lower side. So I donít feel any worse than I did 10 years ago. Iím 40 now and thatís pretty old for music, but I stopped smoking so I feel pretty good.
AC: How did you manage that?
JS: I had a kid. So I had to stop.
AC: Yes of course, thatís a big difference.
JS: I just donít want to die. I have no right to die anymore.
Itís not my life, itís her life now.
AC: So how old is she?
JS: Two and a half....
AC: Nice. I guess it must be a whole new feeling being a dad.
JS: Yeah it is. Itís a more responsible feeling, but at the same time...you know... itís not bad to be 40. Itís not bad. Stopped smoking, gained a little weight but hey! What are you gonna do, shit happens! I donít worry about it.
AC: Would you agree if I said that current rock and heavy metal is much more underated compared to earlier?
JS: ....pause....You mean today it sucks? Thatís what youíre saying?
AC: Yeah...in other words! (laughs)
JS: Yeah...it does.
AC: Like I told you before, I think todya itís more the rapín roll genre - bands like Limp Bizkit and Linkin Park gettin all the major attention....
JS: In general music is more generic now, this is a bad time period for music. It sucks!
AC: Yeah, because when I think back....
JS: ...the 60ís, 70ís and even the 90ís had some interesting stuff...
AC: I think especially when Bloody came out, you know at that time....
JS: Yeah, you had Nine Inch Nails, Soundgarden...you had some decent stuff.
AC: But also in the media. There was more focus on the rock and heavy metal genre, like Headbangers Ball It gave focus to the bands. Today I really think some more attention should be drawn to the good old rock and heavy metal bands. You could even say the Ďoriginal bandsí!
JS: Pioneers die hungry...be careful... We know!
AC: I guess youíre right!
JS: So how old are you?
AC: (laughing) Iím probably younger than you....
JS: ha ha ha...I would say half my age...God bless you!
AC: (laughs) No Iíve had a crazy life so far, so I think Iím gonna be OK.
JS: Well I could tell, because you have this like ĎfuckĖyou-changeĖtheĖworldí kind of attitude!
AC: I think youre supposed to have that attitude when youíre young, but I guess it changes by age...
JS: Yeah it does change. Although I still say ĒFuck YouĒ I donít expect the world to change.
AC: No no, me neither, but sometimes you just want to make a change thatís not gonna hurt anybody.
JS: Yeah that would be nice.
AC: So, what do you think has been the biggest misconception about TON?
JS: That weíre good!
AC: So you still believe that youíre just four dicks from Brooklyn?
JS: We are, musicians are...I think thatís something that has always bothered us, the way that musicians are put on piedestals. Theyíre just idiots like everybody else. The guy delievering the milk is the same idiot playing the guitar, probably the guy with the guitar is more of an idiot actually, heís probably infantile and stupid and got more psychiological problems than you know. (pauses)
JS: Yeah, I think thatís the difference that weíre to degree a band that doesínt think weíre....you know...
AC: ...the answer..?
JS: Right! Weíre just making music, and if you like it... great! And if you donít like it, grea.t It doesnít matter.
AC: I think thatís why you have a lot of loyal fans out there.
JS: Could be one part of the reason, yeah!
AC: Have you ever considered how you want to stop your career? Do you want to be remembered for anything as a band?
JS: Oh itís gonna stop, every career stops. But itís not important. I think although we have not sold millions and millions of records I think weíve done something musically that other bands have not done, which has really left a mark in a certain genre. And I donít think I could really ask for more, but accept maybe like 5 million dollars...
AC: Would be nice....
JS: Yeah but itís not gonna happen, so I guess Iíll be the guy delievering your milk if you moved to Brooklyn.
AC: Youíre all born in Brooklyn. Did you know each other when you were kids?
JS: Iíve known Peter from I was 10 years old.
AC: Did you go to school with each other?
JS: No. Peter went to Catholic school. Iím Jewish I couldnít go there. They wouldnít let me in, they would put horns on me and send me away....(starts laughing).
AC: Thatís really strange to think about, because here itís really rare that you bring your children up religously. I think Denmark is really a pagan place. I think weíre still old vikings at heart!
AC: I donít think the church thing will ever work for us...
JS: Good, youíre lucky.
AC: Yeah but at the same time people seem to seek themselves more because they donít feel...you know...
JS: They wanna belong ....
AC: ...yeah, to somewhere... and you donít feel that really.
JS: Thatís why you have a feeling of nationalism here.
AC: Yeah I guess youíre right.
Janus ( TONísDanish label manager) enters the room...
JS: Is he kicking you out?
AC: Oh no... he wouldnít dare to do that!
Kenny Hickey (Guitarist) enters the room: Can I use the bathroom...?
AC: Yes sure...(laughs)
JS: You might wanna put the mic in there... it could be interesting!
AC: ...yeah I could leave the mic outside here. (Whispers) Just be quiet...
AC: Do you have any plans about touring with other bands?
JS: We take the future one step at a time...so we are doing a tour in the States, I wouldnít wanna say who were touring with since itís not confirmed officially to my knowledge.
Johnny Kelly (drummer) whispers: confirmed....
JS: Are you gonna join Kenny in the bathroom? I know you guys were close but I didnít think it would get that far...
JS: Lacuna Coil is opening for us....didnít know if it was confirmed. Sorry about that!
AC: Thatís ok. Well I think Iíve got it all now, so Iím just gonna look forward for tonight. I hope you do OK on stage...
JS: I hope so too. I hope we donít disappoint you.
AC: I donít think so!
JS: If you drink enough...
AC: I think Iím gonna have a scotch
JS: Just one?
AC: Maybe a Cuban cigar...
JS: (looks astonished) A Cuban cigar?!
AC: Yeah! Like this one (picks one up and shows it to Josh) I like these. Itís a Cohiba.
JS: Itís illegal in America...
AC: Well I didnít know that!
-Ane Cecilie Tovgaard