“You paid fifteen american dollars to get in here. And we’re getting paid for this shit. Who’s the real asshole here?”, Peter Steele said on the live version of “I Know You’re Fucking Someone Else”, a 15 minutes long song that featured moaning, a constant change of rhythm and an ever increasing brutality staring lyrics about a man finding out he has been, without any doubt, cheated. “You suck!”, the public creamed, as if we were listening KMFDM’s audience, mocking but also cheering them at the same time. It was just the way Type O Negative’ crowd interacted with the band.
In Wacken 2007, dressed as a priest with black shirt and a green collar, Peter -lead singer and bassist of the band- threw wine to the public. “The power of God compels you” came out from his mouth as “Christian Woman”, one of their most iconic songs, started playing. Ten years prior, during a performance by Pantera on 1995, the singer showed up and started sweeping the stage’s floor, where the singer Phil Anselmo was laying, getting hit with the broom. Later that night, the whole band showed up with tons of toilet paper and started screwing around, interrupting the concert completely. The public just had to deal with it. Throughout the years, Type O Negative never gave up this attitude.
I remember the first time I listened to the band. The silliness of “Black No. 1” surprised me at first, but going through their discography was an experience that, until this day, have never got old. Type O Negative started their career on 1989, formed by Steele (who had been on two bands prior TON, called Carnivore and Fallout), Josh Silver (keyboardist and producer), Kenny Hickey (guitar and vocals) and Sal Abruscato (drums) who was replaced by Johnny Kelly in 1994.
Songs portrayed topics like lycanthropy, religion, white people, murder, depression and suicide. Type O Negative didn’t care for anyone, something they were always implying in every song. Crying babies, torture machinery sounds, more moanings that I’ve ever heard in my entire life. They couldn’t care less for the listeners nor their record label Roadrunner Records. But hey, the album “Bloody Kisses” released on 1993 was the first platinum record of the brand, what could they do? The success did nothing but increase since.
One could think that songs such as “My Girlfriend’s Girlfriend” or “I Don’t Wanna Be Me” showed up as an intent to go towards a commercial patch, but that couldn’t be farther from reality. Hits like “Christian Woman (Butt-kissing, Sell-out version)” on the bonus CD of “Life is Killing Me”, along with even crazier ideas like “Gravitational Constant: G = 6.67 x 10-8 cm-3kg-1sec-2” carried the same identity from their attitude.
The band enjoyed to mix hardcore with goth sounds, or even seventies’ pop from now and then. Some of the lyrics, along with song titles, only became more and more illogical over time. But, in reality, most of them tackled real life issues that were tormenting the lead singer’s head on that time. We are talking about a person who attempted suicide, had to spend time in jail and that lived with a constant depression about his surroundings. He always said that the way he dressed, using a black suit most of the time, was a signal of preparation for the inevitable deaths of friends and family.
Dark humour was always present, as well as absurd and grotesque scenes that plagued both their live shows and the DVDs released. But there was always an innocent humour into the equation. In an scene from the DVD “Symphony for the Devil”, we see the most horrible underground bathroom in history, filled with graffitis and a horrible stent that, while not tangible, is certainly perceived by the recording. As the camera got closer Steele’s showed up, clapping while trying to take a shit. That innocence is what kept Type Of Negative tied for so many years, which benefit from its own inner charm and silliness.
We are talking about a band who got surprised at being showcased on Beavis & Butthead, and that probably never knew they are part of a lap dance scene in a Vampire: The Masquerade Bloodlines’ mod called “Clan Quest”. They started the band as a side project from they everyday routines, never expecting the success and endless hours on the road during tours that were expecting them. Steele’s incredibly low vocals, the hellish screams of Kenny, Josh’ ever present synthesizer giving an identity to each song, the constant drums of Johnny that kept everyone in check. A group of friends that became a family both on the tour bus as on stage.
Peter Steele passed away in April 14 of 2010, a few days away from the supposed start of their new album, due to a heart attack. He lived a life of excess in every possible way, but also got the most out of each situation. His friends didn’t have any doubt about what they were going to do after hearing the news: Type O Negative was disbanded right afterwards.
I first listened to them a few years ago and I was invaded by an incredible sadness when I found out of Steele’s passing. “I wish I could have seen them live. I wish they could have went and made another album”, said to a friend of mine who recommended it to me. Songs such as “Love You To Death” and “Wolf Moon (including Zoanthropic Paranoia)” stood with me along the years, feeding me with an unique feeling of sadness and a wanton sense of nostalgia.
During an interview with Juliya Chernetsky, the band was asked how each of them would like to die. Peter said: “It wouldn’t really matter so long as I felt I made a difference to the world”.
“You did it, you made it worse”, Kenny replied.
“We are gonna be auditioning for guitar.”