TYPE O NEGATIVE - "Fire in the Hole"

Interview with... Peter Steele.

A: What does a producer do?

P: A producer shines a piece of coal into a diamond or attempts to do that...meaning that nowadays, a producer will work with a young band...and producers seem to think that they are know-it-alls and it is their job to make the band sound as good as possible...meaning they kind of trim the fat because younger bands have a habit of being repetitious with riffs and stuff and y'know, their songs are pretty long so in essence of Type O Negative just like that... they just try to direct the band and try to get the best sound that they possibly can and try to highlight the band's few good points and to hide the band's many bad points.

A: So what exactly does a reproducer do?

P: A reproducer is someone who has sex with women and attempts to expand his gene pool.

A: In regards to your album? (giggles)

P: Oh, I see. That was just kind of a stupid joke because Josh and I have a habit of not agreeing how my songs should sound so after he goes and does what he thinks is right I go back and I do what I know is right.

A: Normally you write everything, right?

P: That is correct.

A: So on World Coming Down, I heard the band had more input. Why'd you decide to change the process?

P: The band had more input during the mix. Not really during the actual writing of the songs. And like an idiot, I tried to make everyone happy and in doing so, not only did I make no one happy, because then it became like one big argument but I made myself most unhappy. So this is not something I'm going to attempt again. There's an old saying 'Too many cooks spoil the broth.' Well, our soup is full of maggots.

P: I'm very interested to find out, like, how you know my opinions about fire (see elemental comparison).

A: Oh forget it, I read everything.

P: I didn't know that it was common knowledge that I'm like a pyromaniac.

A: Of course! Anyone who... you could say I'm a connoisseur of the Type O Negative. I don't know, I read up on you guys.

P: Well actually, the correct title is not pyromaniac, it's called pyrolagnia (spells it) Something like that. What it means is 'fire lust.' It's like a sexual response to something that should not really be sexual.

A: Why not?

P: I don't know. I have only heard about like a handful of people who were, I'm not going to say afflicted but who had the same reaction to fire as I do so I guess it's pretty abnormal but I guess as long as it doesn't hurt anyone it really doesn't make a difference. I mean I'm not going down and burning apartment buildings or old people or anything like that.

A: I guess the pyrolagnia is what 'Pyretta Blaze' is all about.

P: Yeah, exactly. It's about me having sex with a female pyromaniac while she's starting a fire. One of the other things I find very sexual too is when women smoke, but I guess that's on the Internet as well - I don't know.

A: What do you think's the reason society tends to blame music and those who make it for its problems?

P: Because rock bands are an easy target. They're notoriously flashy, and they project the views of the youth which is virtually condoning irresponsibility and condoning the notion that young people are just poor, poor victims of the modern age. And so, as an older person nowadays I guess I kind of blame some of the rock bands for some of the evils of society like drug use, promiscuity and stuff like that. But, you know, I'm turning into my father nowadays. We're not the type of band that condones these things. We don't condemn it either, because we don't want to turn people off but in essence what I'm saying is we're the type of band that says if you're f**ked up, it's not the fault of the government or the city or your parents or the church or the school. You're f**ked up because you're irresponsible, and if you want to blame somebody look in the mirror. There are no victims, there are only volunteers.

A: What were your reactions and feelings when it was you in particular?

P: Well, we were kinda singled out for all the wrong reasons. I've got a big mouth and am politically incorrect and I'm very proud of it. Just the word politically correct irritates me because I don't want to be told by anyone or any entity like the media what I should believe or what is right or what is wrong, y'know... my opinions are not based upon hearsay, my opinions are based upon life experience and so when we were accused of being fascists and communists and Satanists it kind of did us a huge favor because it generated so much press and it increased record sales.

A: Back to the rock music being a reflection of what's going on with the kids, do you think that most rock groups now try to cater to that and that's not really them?

P: I think that probably most of the rock groups cater to it because that's how they really feel but I think that the media and the record companies and certain other entities know that what these bands are preaching is wrong. However, they don't care because they're going to make a huge profit off of it. So in essence, it is these capitalist ideals that are destroying the youth, not so much the bands, because unless the band has a springboard and some way to convey their message, they would never be heard.

A: Why don't you play the older stuff anymore?

P: You're saying off of Slow, Deep and Hard?

A: Yeah.

P: That was ten years ago. I'm not going to say that I think that I'm a much different person, but I think it was kind of vulgar and like that song, "I Know You're F**king Someone Else", I thought it was funny, and a big joke and yeah, it had a lot of shock effect. But now looking back, I really cringe when I think about writing that song because it was so Neanderthal. But this next tour that we're doing, we're going to play two or three songs probably off of each album because now we've got four albums to work from, and we're going to do a couple of different covers and stuff, so...

A: What covers are you going to do?

P: What we're thinking of is "Bad Moon Rising," by...

A: Creedence.

P: But like a hardcore version of it, sped up a little bit.

A: You slowed it down last time, I remember.

P: No actually, we did it really fast, and then the last verse, it was slow. So this is going to be the same song. I just think it's good, you know, for the Halloween season. What else? What else am I thinking about doing...maybe Cinnamon Girl, or maybe a Beatles song, I don't know ---

A: "Day Tripper" (on the new album, World Coming Down) is very nice.

P: Yeah, I like it, I just don't think it's a good live song cause it is kinda slow and virtually eighty percent of all the material we're going to be doing is really slow. I wanted to get some uplifting songs in there.

A: True or false: In your previous material- Carnivore/Retaliation/ Slow, Deep, and Hard you used the music to let out an intense mess of pain and feeling, like you said, it's sonic therapy for you. But people took it way too personal --

P: That's true.

A: -- and used it as a reflection of themselves and you didn't like it -

P: Right.

A: And that's why you changed your style.

P: Uh, I didn't change my style intentionally. I changed my style because I changed as a person. You know, I think that I got over being pissed off at the world. Then with Bloody Kisses, when the band I think really found its style, I didn't expect there to be such a sexual response and for someone who has always felt really insecure about his appearance and always wanted friendship, especially the companionship of women, this was like finding gold buried in your own back yard.

A: And that album went gold, too.

P: Yeah, that was a fortunate accident. I mean, I was working for the Parks Dept. at the time and I just wrote these songs, like not really thinking that anything would happen with it, and then all of a sudden I was just getting these great responses, and I just couldn't believe it.

A: Is that why you made October Rust very sexy?

P: Yeah, I think all the attention went to my head a little bit but looking back at it, I think we've made our point. That's why this new album is not really sexual at all except for one song, "Pyretta Blaze", and that's it. So instead of writing eight or ten songs about chasing some poor girl around in the woods, I'd just wrote some songs about looking for myself in the woods.

A: It's a great album.

P: Thank you.

A: Why do you think that in the past people have had such a strong reaction to you?

P: I think it's because we're a very emotional, passionate band, we don't mince words, we don't mix words, I mean if I got something to say, generally I say it. I mean, even though I like goth music I was never really influenced by it, but now I see why a lot of goth people like us. If you mix up sexuality, religion, death, and love, it comes out to a very interesting product at the end. I mean you throw in some fire, and some blood, and well, there ya go. It was not contrived - I was not trying to be goth or anything like that, I've just always been a romantic, morbid person, and having been raised Catholic and stuff...

A: Sorry.

P: Me too. You know, all the ingredients were there.

A: What did you start Type O Negative with the intentions of doing and where do you see it going now?

P: It started because I was bored. Type O Negative was formed after my former band Carnivore broke up, and I did not even touch my bass for two years. Literally. I did not play my bass for two years. It's ironic that Sal [Abruscato, former drummer of Type O now with Life Of Agony] came over my house one night and uh, it's ironic that he wound up quitting after getting the band all together and stuff. We just went with it from there, and then a hobby turned into a career. The intention was sonic therapy, it was just something to do after work a couple of days a week. I like writing songs, it was very interesting for me to work with the band and to put all of my feelings, and sweat and blood and semen...

A: That's how you signed your contract [with Roadrunner Records, in a mixture of blood and semen]?

P: That was a rumor.

A: Was it true?

P: No it was a rumor. Everything's a rumor about us.

A: Where do you see Type O going now, with all the rumors about you breaking up (voice cracks in sorrow)?

P: I don't know. I just mentioned to you, when Type O Negative was first formed that there was a lot of pleasure in songwriting and recording and working with the band. It seems that, well, every day that passes by I'm getting less and less pleasure out of it because there are too many entities involved. You know, I'm not a control freak, but these are my songs and I have definite ideas about how they should be recorded and mixed. I also enjoy putting all the art together for the CD packaging and posters and whatnot, and now between the label, the band, myself, management, and butting-in girlfriends and wives who give their opinions when they're not asked, it's not even my band anymore. I don't like being told what to do, I don't like having anything that comes out of me creatively being tampered with. Not that I feel it's so precious or so beautiful, but it's mine. This is like having a child and someone coming in and telling you how to dress your child. My response would be, of course, "F-k you." But this is not something that happened overnight. This is something... if someone steals something from you every day without you noticing it one day you're going to walk into the house and you're going to realize you've been totally wiped out. And you're going to say "Wow, I didn't even see this happening", and it was happening really slowly. So, that's kinda what is going on here. So now I've learned to say no to people, and I must say that saying no to people feels much better than yes. I think Mae West said it the best when she said that "One of the ways that you know that you're successful is when people tell you that you're difficult to work with." And so, I'm not going to say that I'm difficult, I just know what I want, and I don't want advice unless I ask for it, I don't want suggestions, I don't need it. I don't want input. I mean, you know, it's either going to be done my way or I am prepared to walk. It's not to say that I'm going to stop making music, I just should not call any future projects if I left Type O Negative Type O Negative. I was thinking about doing a side project but I don't know when I'll have the time. We just worked on a video over the weekend -

A: For Everything Dies, right?

P: Yeah. And this is one of the other problems too. We sit home for a year doing nothing, and then all of a sudden the shit hits the fan and I try to do four different jobs at once for six months. It's like, why doesn't somebody from the label or management because they're being paid for it, why don't they figure out my time for me because that's their job. Why on video shoots am I doing interviews on cellphones? And my having meetings with stage designers, and drawing sets, and being called back to the shoot, and not being able to eat lunch or sit down to have something to drink, and you know, this is virtually how every day has been for the last six months. People sometimes say that I'm a constant complainer. A complainer is someone who just starts talking when he or she is not even asked how they feel. I don't start so-called complaining until someone says, "How's it going?" and I'll be like, "Well do you really want to know?" And during the course of interviews, I'm not going to make believe that everything's great, everything's happy. I'm not happy doing this.

A: (babbles something ) Sorry to interrupt.

P: No, that's OK. I think I was finished complaining.

A: It's OK. Believe me. I wasn't worried about it. My ear is open.

P: That's fine.

A: What's the video gonna be like?

P: Well of course it's "Everything Dies." The song itself is about... over the last 3-5 years I've lost quite a few important family members. And I'm not going to say I'm obsessed with death but it just seems that I am surrounded by it and it's really hard for me to get a break from it. So I wrote a song about it, and it's about the death of my father, my uncle, and my aunt. So what's going to be shown are like various family members sitting around the table and every time the camera goes back to the scene, there's another family member gone. So that's kind of like what happened with me, every time I would see my family would be around Thanksgiving or Christmas and you know, every year the table would get smaller and smaller, and now it seems I only get to see my family members when I go to the funeral. Sometimes when I go see them, they're in the box.

A: That song made me cry.

P: Well, it was really difficult for me to do this video cause there were certain lines I had to say over and over and over again. And, uh...

A: I don't understand how you can do it.

P: I didn't think that this song would be the first video, or ever a video.

A: (thinking) It was the record company.

P: It was a joint decision between management, the band, and the label. The next song that I would like to do a video for is "Pyretta Blaze." That should be pretty interesting. I don't know how these ideas would be conveyed because the whole thing is about a woman smoking and burning things, and those are two things you can't show on MTV. You know, they don't even want you to show fire in like, any kind of destructive or what is perceived to be destructive sense.

A: Really.

P: Yeah. Like when we did the "Girlfriend's Girlfriend" video the original version was having these two women sharing a cigarette which I think is very sexy, but ultimately it was very phallic too, and when we presented the video to MTV they rejected it because of that scene.

A: What is this?

P: Uhh... I find it, well, very hypocritical because any time I see Slash on MTV he's always got a cigarette stuck in his mouth and I mean, I've seen other videos... I just saw one recently that was actually really pretty, where a girl was smoking and she was blowing bubbles with the smoke...it was really very interesting. She had one of those kiddie bubble wands and she was exhaling smoky bubbles...so... it kinda comes down to the fact that Roadrunner Records doesn't have the political pull that someone like Slash does or David Bowie or, or...Madonna... not even so much them as people but the weight of their record labels like Warner or, you know, any of the other types. Roadrunner Records sends this forthcoming video to MTV, I think they should enclose a blank check or a kilo of cocaine or something cause I think that's how things are done anyway it seems. It's like who you know, or who you're f**kin', or who you party with, you know. If you owe someone favors, this is how the whole thing works. Or, if MTV or VH1 or whatever entity feels they have something to gain or profit from by playing your video, that's the only reason they're going to play it. That's why I don't watch MTV, because it's all trendy shit, you know. All white guys trying to be black.

Interview by Aviva Sieradski.

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