TYPE O NEGATIVE - "No one said life was easy..."



As Type O Negative complete their first UK tour since '97, Pete Steele continues to grabble with life's complexities. Valerie Potter hears his many and varied issues.

Pete Steele has lost his trousers. Or rather, he's lost three pairs of trousers, after his bag was accidentally left in a taxi last night. And when you're the size he is, you have your trousers custom made, so it's not easy to find replacements. But the Type O Negative frontman is viewing the situation philosophically as he sits down in the restaurant of his plush Kensington hotel and orders, by way of a pre-lunch snack, spaghetti bolognese and six (yes, six!) bottles of Diet Coke.

Amazingly, despite his chosen career, Steele hates touring, and while losing his luggage is a major inconvenience, he currently has bigger issues to deal with.

For a start, there's the last album, "World Coming Down". He had thought that writing a record inspired by his darkest personal experiences would be a cathartic experience - but it hasn't turned out that way. "This is my least favorite Type O Negative album - because it's the most painful one", he explains. "So every night, I have to relive some of the things I'd rather forget".

With months of touring stretching ahead of him, it looks like the misery is never-ending and he's relying on Prozac to get him through - although, as he admits, taking it is only "paving over dirt" and doesn't provide a long-term solution to his depression.

"I should be in psychotherapy", he confesses, "but I found that 45 minutes of psychotherapy per week made the situation worse for me, because half an hour into the session I would finally get to what was actually bothering me and at that point, I would need three or four hours to get it out of my system, but I'd get 15 minutes, so I'd walk out of therapy like a total fucking lunatic. I don't have any health insurance, and I'm not cheap, but it was extremely expensive, and you know, I can be irritated for free - that's why I'm on tour", he ends with a laugh.

It wasn't just the lost of close family members and drug addiction so painfully depicted in "World Coming Down" that Pete is seeking to reconcile; he's also grappling with other, long-standing issues. His infamously dry sense of humor developed, he maintains, from low self-esteem, learning, as a child, that making people laugh would earn their approbation. And there were other childhood problems as well...

"I've always had fear of abandonment", he explains. "As a kid, I was terrified of going to school. Every morning, I sincerely thought that I was never going to see my home or parents again, and I'd be having anxiety attacks and crying...It's something that really hasn't left me. I have no problem being away from home now - it's just I would rather be home - but I still have fear of abandonment, especially when it comes to women".

"I had three girlfriends who were unfaithful to me, and it made me very jaded individual. I don't think that there's any woman out there that would not cheat with me. Because I was so sure with these three. I mean, you say things in bed, like promises of love to each other, in the throes of passion, and if you're going to lie in that situation, then you're going to lie in any situation".

So how do you cope with leaving your girlfriend at home when you go on tour?

"Not well", He replies. "It's a train on the relationship. Well, 'that which does not destroy us makes us stronger'; if not, it just makes me more cranky".

Do you have some kind of fidelity agreement?

"We can have opposite-sex friends, but we don't fuck anybody but each other", he nods. "I have to admit there's a lot of temptation - not just women, but drugs - but mercifully, I started to tour seriously when I was 31, so I got most of that shit out of my system beforehand and it really doesn't appeal to me too much".

So it's a celibate European tour for you then?

"Well, I'm left handed, so there's always my left hand! You know, I've got five older sisters, and I find it kind of shocking the things certain woman will let you do to them. Some women wants to be beat up, and some woman like it when a man ejaculates on their face, which I think is kinda derogatory, cos I've always thought of semen as like a waste of product".

On top of everything else, Pete suffers from stage fright, so the bottle of red wine he keeps at his side throughout Type O's live performances is there for medicinal purpose, not for the show.

"It takes the edge off", he explains. "I started to tank up about an hour before we go on, because I get really nervous - we all do. There is no such thing as constipation in this band! There's always last- minute rush for the bathroom before we go on".

"I used to drink beer on stage, but then I had to burp in between every word. And you get these things called 'vurbs' - which are vomit burps. You think it's just air coming up, but you get an unexpected treat! I'm sorry, we're just about to eat...

"The worst thing is actually wanting to shit while you're onstage. I was just about to go onstage somewhere back in the States and this security guard comes up to me an goes, 'I just want to ask: what do you guys do when you have to shit onstage?' So I said, 'It's never happened to me, thank God.' The intro music came on and - I said, 'Oh, you cursed me! 'Hey, I held it and the feeling passed.

"And I think there was one time I had to leave stage to piss. We were into three or four songs and I said to the audience, ' I gotta pee really bad!' and there was nothing backstage for me to piss in except a pitcher for beer. So I came back and showed the audience - it was like a gallon and they were like, 'Wow!'"

Strangely for a man who has no qualms about publicly exhibiting a jug of his own piss, Pete claims that he hates to be looked at: "I feel like a two meter penis on stage!" But surely when you're six foot six and built like a brick shithouse, being stared at is an everyday occurrence - even in those pre-Type O days when you were working as a park gardener in Brooklyn.

"Where I worked was a very affluent neighborhood with a very large gay population, so most of the attention that I got was from other males", Pete recalls. "I'm not homophobic, I don't have any problems with someone finding me attractive, whether they be male or female, but I want one more tattoo; over my anus, I want 'Exit Only'. I have got no problem with anyone's sexuality, but my anus is for one purpose, and I think you know what that is!

"When I worked for the Parks Department, this woman came up to me once, I guess she was in her thirties, and she said, 'Can I ask you a personal question?' I said, 'Yeah', and she goes, 'How much money do you make per year?' I said, 'About $40.000.' So she goes, 'How would you like to make that much in one night?' I put my tools down and said, 'What or who do I have to do?!' And she said that she was looking for a sperm donor and would I be interested? All I had to do was jerk off in a cup - normally, I do it for free! Like a fool, I said, 'Let me go home and discuss this with my girlfriend' and my girlfriend flipped out, so I called the woman up and said, *I can't do it right now' - but a couple of years later, I saw her walking with a little boy, which is cool".

Does it occur to you that a lot of people with boring 9-5 existences will be reading this right now and thinking...

"What is wrong with this guy?" he finished. "Well, I would like to point out that I don't complain unless I'm asked a question; I don't just sit down and start to bitch. My problem is that this is not what I thought it would be. The public is misinformed about what a 'rock star's' life is like; it's all business and headaches, it's everybody making money off the top, except for the band. We get left with the crumbs on the bottom, which we have to fight for. The only difference between prostitutes and Type O Negative is that prostitutes get paid to get fucked - we're just sluts!

"The first time we came to Europe, I took two chances of clothing and I wound up bathing with my clothes on, cos there was nowhere to wash them. This is one of the things that most people don't realize. And one of the rules of the road is that you're not supposed to shit on the tour bus. No pun intended, but that's bullshit, because the toilet is made to hold all sorts of bodily waste. I think it's just some anal power trip devised by the drivers' union":

In December 1998 issue of Metal Hammer, you threatened to quit if 'World Coming Down' was not a success; do you still stand by that statement?

"When I said that, I may have spoken a bit too hastily", he concedes, "but at the same time, there were times on tour when I really thought I was going to lose my mind. I don't think that I've given this album a proper chance yet. But even if I left the band or chose not to tour, it would not necessarily mean, that the band would break up, it would just mean that I would have to find another occupation. I just like writing songs, so maybe we could become a recording band or maybe I could write soundtracks for movies - and I would love to get into acting".

Are you hopeful for the future?

"I do have hopes, but I'm afraid to hope. If you set unrealistic goals, then you'll be disappointed. But I believe that my goals are realistic. I would like to have my own home. Marriage is not out of the question. If she wants it and I love her, then that's fine. If I tell someone that I love them, I don't think it has to be sanctioned by the state or God, but if we made a pact with each other, I would like there to be some kind of public ceremony to say that we should now be considered one person".

Type O's press officer interrupts to tell him that he has one more interview to do before she takes him for lunch in what used to be Princess Diana's favorite restaurant before she dies. "Paparazzi..." he drawls in an exaggerated Italian accent. Yeah, blame the press - everyone else does...

"Yeah, baby!" he answers, before continuing in an even, conversational tone: "That's one of my dreams: to murder a journalist. I hate music critics and movie critics. I'm like, what gives you the right...? I feel like taking a magazine and shoving up their asses as hard as I can - yes!"

Sorry, Pete - I think you'll find that's marked *Exit Only'.



Interview - Metal Hammer - February 2000

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