TYPE O NEGATIVE - "Nothing works... or does it?"

My interview with Ken Hickey from "Type O Negative" was a very interesting one. We discussed many different topics in his life from his family to his recent rehabilitation.

Behind the thick Brooklyn-ese and daunting exterior lies a man with a lot of character.

FM: When does your new CD come out?

Ken: September 21st

FM: And the name of it?

Ken: "World Coming Down"

FM: You are a "New Yorker" aren't you?

Ken: Yes, I am from Brooklyn!

FM: Something in your bio caught me by surprise. It said that you tend to be very intimidating. How would you respond to that?

Ken: I think people like to build it up to that. I mean sometimes we are when we're being exceptionally assholes.

FM: What about you personally? Do you think you tend to be intimidating?

Ken: No, not at all. I mean anyone can be when they're angry, I guess. I don't get angry that often. Well, Peter is 6 foot 6, kinda scary looking, you know. I think sometimes people want to be intimidated. That's what they're expecting. People see what they WANT to see.

FM: What is the average age of the guys in the group?

Ken: Let's see Peter's 37 pushing 40, can I just say that? (Laughing) No, Peter is 37 Josh is 36 I'm 33 and Johnny is 31, I think.

FM: And you are one of the original band members aren't you?

Ken: Yeah! 10 years, got a ten-year sentence! (Laughing)

FM: How did your big break come about?

Ken: Big break? I don't know if there ever was any "big break", y'know. It grew slowly. I consider us (Type O) pretty much still a cult band, y'know? "Bloody Kisses" was the first album that went gold... the only album really... that went gold.

FM: That was your second album, correct?

Ken: Yeah, it took us 3 years to do that with intensive touring.

FM: Where has "Type O Negative" toured in the past?

Ken: Mainly Western Europe and the United States.

FM: Do you have any plans yet for promoting "World Coming Down"?

Ken: Well, there are no long-term plans yet. But, in August we'll be in Germany before the release. Its released Sept. 21st. Then we'll tour the States. Either we're going to jump on with a big show or we'll headline if we can't get anything.

FM: How does "World Coming Down" differ from your previous work?

Ken:I think it's...ummm...well, they've all been very different. That's one thing about "Type O", we never put out the same album twice.

FM: That's great! It keeps your fans interested then.

Ken: I think it keeps US interested, y'know. The first album was slow, deep and hard. It was a cross between...it was hardcore and then a lot of durge-between the hardcore-slow durge-doom parts. "Bloody Kisses" was more uhh...light. It had the durge elements still, but it was more "pop" oriented as well. Then "October Rust" was like... it was so embellished, it was more orchestrated than any of the previous albums. It was more complex and more "light and airy" than the other albums. And now we've...the success of "October Rust" wasn't what everyone expected it to be. I think, y'know... it was a great album..I believe it was.

FM: Which of the "Type O Negative" albums is your personal favorite?

Ken: My favorite album? I don't know, it's hard to say. I'd have to say...parts of each...moments in each. But this album ( World Coming Down) is more "back to our roots", it's heavier...there are more slow durge parts. It's more simplistic than "October Rust" was.

FM: I know that "Type O" has done some soundtracks...which ones were they?

Ken: Yeah. We've been on many, actually. Umm..."I Know What You Did Last Summer" as embarrassing as it is. "Bride of Chucky" (laughing) that was the last one. Howard Stern's movie ("Private Parts") ...uhhh, "Mortal Kombat". "Mortal Kombat" was our first one. That was our first platinum album too! (Laughs) It was our only one!

FM: In the past Peter has done most of the writing for the band...still the case now?

Ken: Yeah, in the past he's done the writing PERIOD! The new CD was more spontaneous, it was.. uhh..We rehearsed in the studio he (Peter) came down and he threw some licks at us and it sort of grew into what it became. There was no SET vision of what it was supposed to be. So it was more spontaneous. There was definitely more input from the rest of the band on this album I think, than any other.

FM: Sounds like you guys are "maturing" together.

Ken: Well, y'know...either that or we're giving up! (Laughs)

FM: What bands have been your biggest influence in the past?

Ken: " The Beatles"...definitely "Black Sabbath".

FM: There is a "Beatles" cover on "World Coming Down" isn't there?

Ken: Yes. "Daytripper". It's actually one of my favorite things on the new album.

FM: I know that you are a published writer in addition to your work with "Type O".

Ken: Yeah. I write.

FM: Can you tell me a little more about that?

Ken: It's called "Sex is Dead" It's 6 chapters.

FM: Where can we find your work?

Ken: Oh, well are you ready for this? It's a long one! Http://members.aol.com/daveburger. It's a "Type O Negative" website actually.

FM: Who is Dave Burger?

Ken: Dave Burger is a good friend of ours. He started on of the first websites for "Type O". We know him personally. He gets a lot of information first. He put this ("Sex is Dead") on the net and it got a pretty tremendous response.

FM: So you gotten a lot of feedback on "Sex is Dead"?

Ken: A lot! Yeah, a lot of great letters. Everybody seems to be asking me about it now, so I don't know. I've been sitting down doing nothing ...I've been afraid of the page for 7 months and to my surprise there has been a big buzz on it.

FM: So, other than writing, what do you like to do in your free time?

Ken: I like to scuba dive. Yeah, I've been diving for 8 years. When I was a kid I wanted to be a Marine Biologist.

FM: Where do you dive?

Ken: All over...mostly the United States. I actually haven't gone (diving) outside the United States. The farthest I've been is Hawaii, which is still part of the United States...Southern California, the Gulf of Mexico. I take my gear out with me when I go on the road.

FM: Every time?

Ken: Yeah. If I get a shot...if I get a chance to go...I go, y'know. If there's a day off, whatever.

FM: Do any of your band-mates go diving with you?

Ken: I used to go with my soundman, but he's not our soundman anymore. It's hard to keep anybody who's gonna stick with you. They get fired, they quit.

FM: Being on the road must be tough... do you enjoy it?

Ken: Uhh...I love the road. I could take a beating on the road 'til I'm 65. It's gonna be a little different this time though 'cause I'm a father, y'know. I gotta leave my daughter.

FM: How old is she?

Ken: 2 years old.

FM: Her name?

Ken: Megan!

FM: Out of all the bands you've toured with ...from "9 Inch Nails" to " Motley Crue"... who was your favorite to share the stage with?

Ken: I'd say "Pantera".

FM: And why is that?

Ken: "Cause they were like...they treated us like brothers. We had a great time together. We were on the road together for...I think...over 2 months. We just got along, y'know. That's what I judge a band by, it's how our personalities click together.

FM: I would guess you'd HAVE to get along if you were on the road together for that long.

Ken: Well, you don't always though. Y'know, let's face it a lot of musicians are assholes!

FM: Do you put yourself in that category as well?

Ken: Sure I do! Yeah, I could be a real asshole.

FM: What ticks you off the most when you're on tour?

Ken: Well, I don't know NOW. I know what used to tick me off the most.

FM: What was that?

Ken: When all of my Heineken would go sour on me or I couldn't find drugs! That's what it used to be.

FM: That's not the case anymore?

Ken: No, I've been clean and sober for 6 months.

FM: Really?

Ken: Yeah!

FM: What made you make that decision?

Ken: I was falling apart at the seams, y'know. I was losing my family and uhh... my liver was falling out. So, I checked myself into rehab about 6 months ago...7 months ago.

FM: That's great. I'm sure your friends and family are happy that you are clean now.

Ken: Yeah, so y'know..when you ask me what ticks me off the most, I don't know. It's gonna be something new this time.

FM: You've recently married haven't you?

Ken: I just got married, I've been with Bonnie for 13 years and it took me 6 months of sobriety to marry her.

FM: She must be a good lady to stick with you through everything.

Ken: Well, I can't say she's delighted EVER with me, but she tolerates me, right?

FM: Do you ever think about what you might be doing if you weren't in the music industry? Do you think you would have pursued Marine Biology?

Ken: I would have loved to. I would have given up construction a long time ago.

FM: Did you go to college?

Ken: No..I wanted to be a "rock star", right. ..so...

FM: Right from the beginning?

Ken: Yeah...

FM: How old were you when you realized that your music was going to play a big role in your future?

Ken: Around puberty somewhere... when I first realized I was ugly! (Laughs)

FM: Why do you think a lot of the angry, angst-filled music is so popular right now?

Ken: I don't know, I'm not sure any of it is honest. Most of the time... 99% of it isn't honest. Most of the time it's just bullshit. But I do see a big identity crisis in a lot of the music that's coming out now. I don't see any new ideas coming out; I don't see any originality.

FM: Is there a lot of anger on "World Coming Down"?

Ken: No..I think there is a lot of "TYPE O" on our new album. But, we've always been singularly identifiable, y'know..

FM: How did you develop your musical style?

Ken: It sort of happened through experimentation, y'know? I mean there was a definite vision of what it should have been...what it was going to be.

FM: Based on what your fans expected or what you wanted to play?

Ken: No..It was mostly...it started as a very introspective music career. It was anger based, but REAL anger y'know? And depression and then it went on to a lighter phase, y'know. It changed with every album. It developed as we developed...or underdeveloped as human beings at the time.

FM: Do you think it is easier for you to play the type of music that you want to play...now that you have a name and have toured so much?

Ken: No! It isn't...definitely isn't. They have these crazy notions of... the industry has a crazy notion of turning us into some kind of commercial band, which we're not capable of first of all... it just wouldn't work for Type O Negative". We'd just probably lose all our base following y'know and not gain any new ones.

FM: What inspires you to keep playing and making new albums?

Ken: I don't know all the time..if it's inspiration, but that it was pounded into me to never quit when I was a kid.

FM: From your parents?

Ken: Yeah, my mother. Yeah, I never anything no matter how bad the job was. No matter how much shit I had to shovel.

FM: Do you interact a lot with your fans that make it back stage? Do you take a lot of time with them?

Ken: Of course! I'm always courteous.

FM: A lot of bands are not.

Ken: I know a lot of bands aren't, but we're not like that. It's rude to blow people off ...or... I can't bring myself to be rude....unless I know someone (laughs)

FM: So, people should feel complimented if you're rude because it means you are feeling close to them?

Ken: Yeah! Exactly! Exactly what I mean! You must know people from Brooklyn!

FM: I'm familiar with the idea. I have family from there...we're comfortable enough to be rude to each other! Other than your new CD, do you have any other projects in the works?

Ken: I'm going to keep writing, y'know. There's no time for other music that's for sure!

FM: How did the name "Type O Negative" come about?

Ken: The band was going to be called "None More Negative"....what the hell was the story again? We went through like 5 or 6 different names...just throwing them around, y'know. Peter heard of a blood drive for type O negative blood on the radio and we already had the slogan "None more negative"...the name just went right along with it.

FM: What is the most important thing you would want your fans to know about you?

Ken: We just 4 regular shmucks who are looked upon as something more.

FM: Do you enjoy being looked upon as "rock stars"?

Ken: No..NO...We're just tragic disasters that have somehow made something out of it work. It's like an accident. It always felt like an accident At times it's a semi-successful accident...

FM: Does your family ever go on the road with you?

Ken: No...it's impossible, hectic and crazy. A hotel every other night, 18 hour drives in between on a bus with 35 people on , how're you gonna bring a 2 year old on a bus...that's impossible.

FM: Well, our time is getting short...would you like to say anything to your fans right now?

Ken: Nothing works!

FM: That's awfully dark.

Ken: It's not dark... just frustrated.

FM: Why are you so frustrated right now?

Ken: I've always been frustrated.

FM: Is it getting easier now that you are sober? Or more frustrating?

Ken: Umm, at moments it is (easier). I'm still the same person that I was before I started drinking 18 years ago.

FM: Do you still struggle every day with sobriety?

Ken: That's getting easier. I don't struggle everyday with it where..y'know..like...I think of beer everyday. I had a drinking dream 3 days ago. Surprising to me. I hadn't dreamed of it in a month. When it comes back it comes back HARD out of nowhere and it's like WHAT THE FUCK??!! But, it's getting easier.

FM: When Megan (daughter) gets older what will you tell her about your drinking and drug use?

Ken: I'll tell her absolutely nothing about my past, unless I see she has a problem. If I ever see... I'll know immediately if something like that is becoming a problem to her. That's the only time I'll tell her what I went through.

FM: Will you have any more children?

Ken: Oh, I don't know. I don't think Bonnie wants to have anymore. I don't think she wants to ruin her beautiful body, y'know? I'd love to , man, 'cause I found out something that I never would have dreamed of. That's that I love children. I couldn't believe that it could be as instinctual and natural as it was when she came into the world.

FM: Were you there when she was born?

Ken: Yes, I was there for the whole thing, I was the first to hold Megan. Yes, I'd love to have more. But right now, there's no time... maybe in the future...

Interview was conducted by Laura Young on July 19, 1999.
for... Flick Music.

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