The Unbearable Lightness of BeingThrough five albums and more than a decade of depressive despondency, Brooklyns Type O Negative became rocks undisputed masters of misery. In the shadow of their success, however, main man Peter Steele languished in a dungeon of doubt, addiction and self-loathing from which he could not escape. Until now. Paul Stenning spoke to Steele about Love, Life, Death and a trip to the Vets.Theres life in the old dog yet.As Peter Steele drawls a deep throated hello in his thick Brooklyn accent the world outside my window appears darker than before I dialed the number for the Dark Ones hotel room in Holland. As we begin, Im sure I see the colors of the sky turn a fixating dual shade of green and black. This was not unexpected. What was unforeseen is the engaging and chirpy chap on the other end of the phone. Despite a voice so low that it makes an Exit-13 album seem stereo-friendly, Mr. Steele is delightfully talkative and affable.Given the subject matter, and typically austere moniker, of the Type O Negative album, Life is Killing me, the idea of a humorous conversation certainly isnt taken for granted by me. Its clear that from past TON interviews, however, that Steele is a very misunderstood character leading an equally distinctive band whose humor seems to be lost within the mire of its own depression.From the early days of Carnivore and the logical transformation into the more measured beast that is Type O Negative, its clear that Peter Steele hasnt done himself any favors in terms of public perception, whether it be posturing a la Manowar in Carnivore, posing for Playgirl with a steel sword worthy of a Viagra advertising campaign or writing frequently dubious lyrics. Yet there are those who see the beauty of the man (feel at liberty to take that comment however you desire) who, more than adequately, plays out a role in a unique band that sets itself no boundaries - other than to utilize the colors black and green and to remain intently miserable for mandatory photo opportunities and stage shows, that is.There was part of me that was hoping this band would actually dissolve because I wanted to go back to school to do civil engineering or architecture. Unfortunately, it looks like we will once again be successful so apparently I am doomed. Though outside the clouds are rumbling Petes motivations cut through loud and clearly:Its hard for me to walk away from something that still has some life in it. A couple of years down the line I dont want to think ` Did I really F**k this thing up? On a more positive note, `I dont wanna be me will be the first single and might also be the first video. Im proud of the album and I like it - the band really likes it and were looking forward to touring Europe this summer.With the emergence of a new TON album with suitably somber lyrics, the relatively upbeat tenure is both surprising and alluring. It is unmistakably a return to the satisfying equilibrium of Bloody Kisses and could well set the band up for an equally successful resurgence. A return to form it most certainly is:We changed the name of the album from `The Dream is Dead to `Life is Killing me, `TDID sounded like it could be `World Coming Down Part II - like here we go againthe black Type O Negative cloud settles on earth. That title was even a bit too negative for me.Ahem, surely the chosen `Life is Killing me is hardly cheery, I cant help but mention? Thats actually kind of a pun, Pete deadpans, its your typical stupid idiotic Type O sense of humor. If Lemmy can say `Killed by Death and Ozzy can sing `Killing yourself to live, then I can say `Life is Killing me. Im in good company there.Reading into the lyrics there is a genuine seriousness, even by TONs standards, this is a largely solemn subject matter. Surely the lyrics cant be just?Not when it comes to what the title track is about. Its about doctors. I blame them for my Fathers death. He dies on Valentines day of 1995. My Mothers been in the hospital with diabetes, they take another piece of her foot every month just because theres no end in sight. It just seems to me that the care shes receiving is adequate but it shouldnt be adequate, it should be f**king great. The doctors just dont care. They have taken this thing called the `Hippocratic Oath, which I call the `Hypocritical Oath. Theyre supposed to put their patients before the monetary motivation, and that is by far not apparent. To make matter worse, I dont think doctors make an concerted effort to keep their patients alive. For every time a dying patients heart beats, its probably worth 1.60 beats per minute, 3600 beats per day until the person passes away. Even after theyve passed away you still receive bills - two months after theyve died. You get a reminder like, `Hey, I killed your Mother and now youre paying for it.Famous for his athletic stature and outward health, I ask whether Steele still keeps himself well stocked on vitamins and how his general health is:Right now Im doing absolutely great. Im working out and running. Im sorry to say that Im not the suicidal vampire youre used to interviewing. Im very happy to be on this press tour. Im very happy to talk to you and Im very happy to invade England. As far as general health, I actually dont even see a family doctor anymore. Ive got 4 cats so I let the Vet have a look at me. This seems bizarre enough to be completely true. Im not kidding you. The only difference between myself and a great dane is that they walk upright on all four legs, and generally theyre much smarter than I am. I find it fascinating that the guy charges me $20 to look down my throat , tells me I have infected tonsils or something and writes me out a prescription that costs like $15 for a cat or a dog but would have cost $100 for a human.With a sudden thought of Steele downing a couple of horse tranquillizers to tame a headache, Im seriously wondering (not to mention worried) whether they have the desired effect on a human, even one as large as Pete.Of course, he answers me, I took chemistry at school. Its the exact same chemical compounds just called something slightly different and priced at one sixth of the rate. Thats just one reason to string doctors up. I would say 80% of individuals who need this medication are children and elderly people - there really should be a little more compassion involved.The drugs dont (always) workMany people reading this might not be familiar with the chemical dependency of Pete Steele over the years. The band played shows with Steele totally intoxicated 90% of the time. The revelation that he neednt be dependant on such intoxicating substances is only a recent one.Most times I was drinking, that stems from low self-esteem and shyness - basic stage fright. No one thing can turn a person into an alcoholic. Im making this a statement, Im not blaming the band for it. I wound up with a drinking problem because of a psychological need to drink something before going on stage from nervousness. The most I ever drank was at Dynamo where we played in front of 130,000 people. I probably drank 3 or 4 liters of wine before going on, maybe 2 or 3 on stage and a couple afterwards. Alcohol also opens the door to other things because it lowers resistance and inhibitions.I guess what Im trying to say here to your readers is learn from my mistakes because if I could fall into this anybody could. What asshole starts to drink and use drugs every day when they are 36 or 37? Its a real F**king disgrace. Im kind of shocked at myself, Im embarrassed and I feel that I owe all my band members, all my family, the record company and, most of all, the fans some kind of an apology for not doing my job. That slump of doing too much drinking and cocaine is becoming a thing of the past and Im starting to get myself back a little bit.Was there any particular event or thought process that initiated this decision?Im sick and tired of being sick and tired. Im tired of feeling sorry for myself, of complaining and not doing anything about it. Tired of isolating myself and not going out. This is all drug and alcohol induced. The more of that I did the more depressed I became so the more drugs and alcohol I would do - it just becomes this horrible cycle. Such honest proclamations bring further revelations of Pete the young man and of the man we see before us today:Ive always been depressed. Some of my earliest memories are always really sad ones. Im depressed all the time and its almost ungrateful because Ive got a great f**king life. I can walk, I can see, Im not the worst looking person in this world. I have a pretty good career. Ive got great family and friends - Im doing what I want and Im only 41.Recognizing that, what brings a man down?I have no idea man. Im bi-polar. I can be having a great time and all of a sudden Im just filled with this black water I cannot explain it - it just comes over me. I havent been on Prozac for awhile because, like I said, I kind of gave up on myself. But when I get home Im going to get my hands on some of that and start to self-medicate because it really makes a difference. It cuts out some of the real blackness, I feel sadness but not to the extent that I would if I wasnt taking it. Its not something that gets me happy - it stops me from dropping to the bottom of the ocean.Dangerous LiaisonsConsider me a vampire genie able to give you everything you desire in life, what is it you most seek that can replace a chemical addiction?Children, responsibility. I am in fact looking for a life partner. I want the so-called American dream, I want a wife, kids, a home and I want McDonalds. This revelation seems a little surprising yet I preserve (for the ladies), what exactly does Pete look for romantically.I like Nordic women, preferably very tall with red hair and light eyes, very slender. Someone intelligent. To be with me with a face like mine shes have to have a sense of humor. To have the same philosophical goals as far as religion and politics go. I have somewhat of a large criterion, some things really cannot even negotiate on. If I cant get what I want Ill be equally happy to be alone. If I cant have verything I will settle for nothing.And there is good reason why Steele has enough resolve to be alone if need be:I wasted 10 years in a relationship. he begins, and when I was touring I probably met 10 women that I should have married and I kick myself every day for letting them go because they were absolutely perfect and the reason I let them slip through my fingers was I felt I wasnt good enough for them. Im the most imperfect person I know but I realize now that no one is perfect.But then I want to be the person I would marry. I dont want to meet somebody with a drug problem. I want someone who is trustworthy, who is not going to cheat and, of course, Ive got a pretty nasty reputation in that area but you know, Ive been talking about my Mother and I swear to all the readers that the next time I tell a woman that I love her and only her - when I go on tour Im going to leave $10,000 at home with that woman and Ill say `this is my tour schedule, any time you like, without provocation or notice, you take this $10,000 buy a first class ticket anywhere in the world, theyll be a laminate waiting for you at every show and I will guarantee you will never ever find me with another woman. I swear on my Mothers health.In the past I was immature, dishonest and, most of all, I was a sneak and thats one of the things I hate the most in people. Pete continues, Its a crazy thing, when I was a kid I used to walk home from school with my nieces and there was this old Italian woman who used to sit outside her house every afternoon, she was around 70 years old and every time she saw me walk past she would point at me and say `You will become what you hate! Shed never say it to anybody else, shed look right at me with those really light blue eyes. Her hair was black and she had olive skin - she was a very interesting looking person, like a witch. Ill never forget her pointing at me with her bony finger saying that.
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