The guys in Type O Negative are not happy fellows. In fact, they're downright depressing. Spending time with keyboardist Josh Silver, it seemed as though his most content moments were when he was taking a long draw on his cigarette. Other than that, if death himself had walked through the door, we don't think Josh would have flinched. He might've offered Death a smoke and chatted with Death for a moment or two, but beyond that, he probably wouldn't have paid much attention.
As for Type O Negative front man Peter Steele, he would probably intimidate Death. Steele is an imposing figure: he big, he's buff, and he doesn't look happy. He could rip you apart and feed you to the cat, and he really wouldn't feel bad about it.
What probably stands out the most about the guys in Type O Negative is that, while they aren't running around with smiles on their faces, they really aren't angry - they don't walk about moaning and groaning, and they also don't act pissed off. They really are more depressed than anything, or so it seems; depressed with the state of the world, depressed that people are back-stabbing fuckers, even depressed that the chicken they've been served tastes like shit. But they aren't angry about it. The chicken won't be flung across the room - they expected it to taste this bad, so they'll just take it and deal with it, because that's how life is.
What we mean is that they have accepted the depression. They've accepted the chicken, the people and the state of the world, and they know it sucks.
Type O Negative live is another story. They definitely do not suck, but they aren't there to make you happy. They aren't here to deliver some sort of divine message and change your life - they want to rock you to the core and play their songs as hard as they possibly can. Steele, as much as he may not like it, is actually charismatic, and the music is awesome.
Just prior to their sold-out double bill with Coal Chamber at LA's Palladium, we had some time to get mired in the misery of Josh Silver and discuss pain, revenge and cocaine addiction. If you can find the energy to do so, please read on...
Josh Silver: Hmmm, excuse me
[choking on cigarette smoke].
VOX: Don't die on me man.
JS: That would be great, man, a snuff video.
VOX: [After Josh recovers] How did Type O Negative come about?
JS: It's somewhat of a boring story. You just stayed in the neighborhood, neighborhood kids got together. Brooklyn. Like anyone else that gets together. It's like 2 friends get two friends, the neighborhood thing, everyone's known each other for six or seven years. You all get together and do a neighborhood thing. Then all of sudden you wonder why you signed a record deal.
VOX: Sort of guys wanting to be in bands - the teenage dream every kid has?
JS: It's what every young guy wants. But it's cause they don't know what it is.
VOX: Why is that?
JS: I can't answer that
VOX: Why not?
JS: You don't have enough tape man, not even in that digital camera, to give you that answer. It's the unexpected every moment of your life. Which can be interesting.
VOX: What's the downside?
VOX: Theft Of...
JS: Everything. You name it, they'll steal it... music, bootlegs, pictures, money, your life, your soul, it will get stolen sooner or later.
VOX: Why do you do it?
JS: It's challenging. What's more challenging than going down the hallways of criminals, trying to fight them off...
VOX: Is that the goal now, "What can I keep?"
JS: The goal now is just personal revenge, I would say. I live to make others suffer.
VOX: Who are those people?
JS: We can't name names, cause if they drop then I will be the one blamed man! You want me to go on camera and give you my hit list? It wouldn't even fit on that lens.
VOX: How did the Type O name get chosen?
JS: It was originally "Repulsion". Some band came out of the woodwork and said, "We own this name." They said they were going to sue us if we don't change it. And we said, "You know what? It's not even that good of a name so fucking keep it." So we didn't do a record yet, so what's the difference? So Peter came up with Type O Negative. It's an interesting name cause it really doesn't tell you what type of music it is. So that's something we wanted - ambiguity. That's what we got.
VOX: What's LA like, compared to NY?
JS: I lived here for six month periods. For me I'd rather be in a place where people give you the finger right to your face instead of your back. I mean LA or New York, everyone gives you the finger, except in New York it's right in your face. I'd rather know who hates me.
VOX: Where is rock music heading... call it what you will, its rock.
JS: Ultimately it is... I don't really know. Anything can happen, I don't like what the year 2000 is doing to music I'll tell you that. If I am unfortunately forced to listen to radio, you barely can tell the bands apart. I mean half of them sound exactly the same. I don't think this is a great period for music.
VOX: Rock music or music in general?
JS: In general, in general I would say. People are becoming less demanding musically than visually. That leads to better visuals and worse music!
VOX: The words you guys write are pretty fucking heavy. Let's be honest.
JS: Always honest, brother.
VOX: Is it all personal? What are your influences?
JS: Yeah, 90% is personal. I mean you have your fantasy songs here and there, but most of the stuff is from mostly negative life experiences.
VOX: The title of the album is somewhat positive...
JS: You're the first guy who's ever said that. But I won't argue with it. It's an interesting angle...
VOX: I mean it works...
JS: No one said it would.
VOX: It could be taken to mean "We are almost down but not there just yet."
JS: We are way too selfish to talk about the whole world - let's simply talk of our world. Musicians don't think they can change the whole world and if they are then they're lying to themselves any ways.
VOX: Is this album kind of a counterbalance to October Rust.
JS: I don't see it as a counterbalance. I see four full-length albums that sounded different but yet retained the Type O identity. That ultimately is our goal - not to repeat ourselves while going into a new area.
VOX: "White Slavery" is really the album opener - what is that about?
JS: Cocaine addiction. It's that simple.
VOX: Is this from personal experience?
JS: I think everyone has been pretty screwed up to that degree -except Johnny, he's normal. We'll keep him off the hook. Let's just say we have all had bad run-ins that we deeply regret. But that doesn't necessary change a thing.
VOX: Is it true that coke is God's way of saying you make too much money?
JS: Nah, its Satan's way of saying stuff it. You stay up all night and think about your problems and for a good time you have to pay for all that. What a waste. Sorry, I have enough anxiety.
VOX: What're your tour plans the rest of the way?
JS: We were with Coal Chamber in Europe for awhile. It just kind of came about. What started out as a few week tour turned out to be a few months. I figure we are not going to fit anywhere, so why not this tour, you know.
VOX: The sound gets described as Black Sabbath-ish...
JS: Well, thank you.
VOX: Are they an influence?
JS: Absolutely. We've listened to Black Sabbath, the Beatles for a long time. Probably longer than you lived.
VOX: Doing the Beatles medley, was it an hommage or...
JS: Doing a Beatles cover is a touchy issue. How do you improve the Beatles? I think we did succeed in making it Type O Negative. You try to make it your own thing, and I think we succeeded. And I really didn't think I would be a supportive of it, but I really liked it. It is more of paying our respects I suppose.
VOX: Do you feel bands take themselves too seriously?
JS: I am not serious at all. I'm probably the biggest asshole I know... probably the biggest asshole you know.
VOX: What do you mean?
JS: There's a whole wave of bands out there, the media, I mean if you're going to tell me that music made kids commit suicide, that's bullshit man. I thought it was the shitty raising of children. Cause if you're sitting there with hand grenades on your shelf. Don't blame what's in the CD player. You have a lot of trouble at home obviously. Instead of passing the buck, they should say the buck stops here.
VOX: Do you have fun?
JS: I don't have fun. I simply get satisfaction and dissatisfaction. But fun? I don't have fun often.
VOX: What type of satisfaction?
VOX: Musical success?
JS: Any type... if I set a goal, and succeed at that then I am satisfied. Then it's time to move on.
VOX: Are you happy?
VOX: Not just a modicum?
JS: Maybe a modicum.
VOX: What should we expect from a Type O Negative live show?
JS: Always like to say expect nothing and you'll never be disappointed. You'll be in the clear
VOX: We'll enjoy the show.
JS: Thank you brother.
Interview from Vox Online.