At home with PETE STEELE of TYPE O NEGATIVE


Type O Negative's frontman, the imposing six foot-plus Pete Steele, has lived in Brooklyn, New York City, since he was 19 years old. He invites Ian Winwood in for a glass of red wine and a chat about carpentry and pancake making...

HOME SWEET HOME

"I'VE been living down here since I was 19 years old. My parents and sister live upstairs, and I moved down to the basement when they started to get really deaf. I would come home and try to get to sleep cos I had school the next day, and they'd be blasting the radio, so there was no way I could ever sleep. One night I just got really fed up so I dragged my bed downstairs.
"My old band Carnivore ['80s New York hardcore outfit] was quite a sight and sound! We rehearshed here and used to make everything miked - drums miked, amplifiers miked, Marshall stacks. How my parents dealt with it I just don't know. And it didn't look anything like this, it was old brick and these really ugly fluorescent lights.
"When I moved in I decided I didn't want to live like an animal, so the first thing I did was put a bathroom in so I didn't have to keep going upstairs all the time. Then I put a closet in, got a bunch of weights so I didn't have to keep going to the gym whenever I feel like working out - which is generally every day. So everything I need is right here. I've got music, I've got my bed. It's very small, it's very comfortable, it's efficient.
"I noticed that I got kind of cold and draughty down here during the winter time. Now I love the cold, but from time to time when I would have female guests they would get a little chilly. Apparently my body heat is not sufficient. So these pipes [red piping that runs across the ceiling] used to be covered with asbestos insulation, and I got the bright idea to just rip it off. I bagged it and tied it up and got rid of it. And it gets quite warm down here now."

THE DOUBLE BASS

"I bought the double bass from a bassist lived in Staten Island, right next to Brooklyn. He had about fifteen for sale and I chose the least worst. It cost me $1300, which looking back I don't really think was worth the money. But I painted it, I glued, I refurbished it and stuff. I can play it after a fashion, but usually it just hangs there grinning.
"Where I usually write [music] is over on the keyboard. I'd put the closet in and I had a little space there, so I thought why not get a little music area. So if I'm feeling sorry for myself I've got my dopey little thing here which I can play on and hopefully create some new music.

THE HOUSE-PROUD BACHELOR

I didn't tidy the place today just because you guys were coming, this isn't even up to my standards. I've been at the studio so long that I haven't been able to get the place up to a standard that I can be happy with. But I try to clean here every two or three days; you know, mop, sweep, clean up. I try not to create a mess, ever. When I take something out, I put it back; if I turn on a light I turn it off again. So I can generally get the whole place cleaned up in about an hour or an hour and a half. So actually I can work the housework into my workout. If I have to rest for a minute beetween a set, I have time to make the bed. Or sweep the floor beetween the next set. And I'm doing thirty sets now during a workout, so that's half an hour of time where I can tidy the house. And if I get called on the phone during a workout I can just put them on speaker phone and they can hear me grunt, fart and moan as I try to push up the weights.
If and when you use my bathroom, another sign of success is having a phone by the toilet. That means I can pick it up and best utilize my time!"

COOKING PANCAKES

"My cooking is actually quite good. I don't like to cook just for myself, but whenever I have people around me I like to cook 'em a good meal. And no one seems to complain - they always come back for more, and there's no visits to the hospital or anything. One of the things I like to cook is pancakes. I've loved pancakes since I was seven or eight years old. And if I had any batter I'd cook you some now.
"Being in the studio means that two out of three meals each day are consumed outside of the house, so I only really eat breakfast here. I have TV dinners in the feezer, some soda, pickles...regular stuff. I also have some pretein shakes, and I drink two of those a day. I try to maintain a protein intake of one gramme to two grammes of body weight, which is a lot of protein - we're talking about five quarts of milk per day!
"This has to do with the weights, which came about when one day I looked at myself and I didn't really like what I saw, so I decided to get into exercise. I like to challenge myself and I like to set myself goals. I work out for six of seven days, which is difficult with recording and touring. But I meet guys who went to high school with who are my age and they look like they're ten years older than me. They've got bellies and they're going bald, they're unhappy with their marriages or they're kids and they spend the whole time complaining. I just didn't want to get like that."

LET'S TALK ABOUT ART

"I like totalitarian poster art. I guess that's one of my few hobbies. I like art that glorifies the State, that glorifies women, the land and the worker. It's a really strange thing, because I find these aspects of fascism and communism so similiar. An outsider that doesn't know anything about them would say that these are the same thing. The ideals go so far left and right that they end up just coming round full circle. I find that ironic and amusing at the same time.
"Also up there you'll find that I have some books on how to fix things - carpentry, electrical work, plumbing. I refuse to pay anybody to do a job that I could potentially do myself. I'll go out and buy a book, figure it out and do the job myself. The way I look at it is that even if I screw the job up it's going to come out cheaper that paying somebody else to do it. And plus I get a free education. So if something breaks I can fix it, no problem.

THE 'HOOD

"I do like Brooklyn. Right now I can't really see myself anywhere else. Every place that I've been to on tour, as much as it was stunning and beautiful, I've always longed to come here. And it's really nothing special, I'm just used to it. I know where everything is, I have friends here, family. It's the devil that I know.
"Some parts of Brooklyn are kind of rough, but if you're stupid enough to go venture there then you deserve what you get. A lot of bands make a big deal of that aspect, but we don't because: a) other bands are doing it, and b) we don't see ourselves as boys from the 'hood. We're not into that.
"Brooklyn is just made up of vastly different neighbourhoods. You have carjacks and shootings every day; you have beautiful tree-lined streets with gorgeous houses. That's a complete 180-degree polarisation. It's like a little country. There are beaches here, there are woods here. Mostly this neighbourhood is Jewish. A couple of blocks down there are a lot of Russian; there are also Koreans, Poles, Irish, Puerto Ricans... And there are no problems. I don't know if that qualifies as harmony. I mean, I don't see blacks and Russians walking hand-in-hand, but they're not throwing bricks at each other either. There's no real inter-racial crime or violence. Well there is a little, but that's something that happens everywhere. It's not something exclusive to Brooklyn.



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