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Type O Negative - Four assholes from Brooklyn

In a music world dominated by MTV, visual impact is everything. With their front-man, Type O Negative have what's needed. Pete Steele is around seven foot tall, built like a tank, with long black hair and a voice that registers on the richter scale. In short, he is like the bizarre love-child of Dracula and Hulk Hogan.

[image: Josh Silver] Keyboard player Josh Silver may not have quite the same visual impact, though he does have the long black hair and a similar gravelly Brooklyn accented voice. He may not be the same size as Pete, but he does have quite a few more piercings, with large chunks of metal hanging from his ears and a small silver bar-bell through one eye-brow. He fills a very important position in the band, his keyboards providing the atmospheric back-drop that gives the band's music it's individual quality.

In a few short years, the band have left the Brooklyn hard-core scene that spawned them far behind, gradually consolidating their position as the spear-head of the new US goth movement. Along with Marilyn Manson, Type O Negative have made black leather and arcane symbolism the new uniforms of American alternative.

Josh, however, is not very comfortable with the goth tag they have attracted. "We see ourselves as four assholes from Brooklyn. Classifications are usually inaccurate. The word goth is used in Europe far differently that it is in America. I mean, you've got a classification we've lost 9, 10 years ago. We just wanted to do something that had a lot of depth, a lot of feeling, some real soul."

They are, in many ways, more renowned for the controversy surrounding their music than for the music itself. The allegations that followed the release of the first album "Slow, Deep and Hard" and the subsequent banning of the live album "Origin of the Faeces" has been well documented. Josh's reaction to the mention of this is one of amusement.

"I'm the first Jewish Nazi and I find that pretty funny. To even defend against that is giving it credibility, so I won't bother."

This controversy is something they have noticed more in Europe than in America. "In America they just don't look for anything, in Europe, they misconstrue it to what they want it to be. America's too shallow to even get it, but Europe takes it and makes it what they want. Europe is looking for somecoby to scream at and we're good candidates."

The band are very cynical about the effects of all the controversy and judge that it has done them no harm. Josh pointed out that it has got them a lot of press and that is something they are very glad about, as it helps them sell records.

"I thank those people for misinterpreting everything we've done. It's great. There is no bad press, only no press or press."

All that aside, there is their actual music, whether you call it goth or not. Type O Negative have paved the way for an onslaught of black clad bands. Josh bears no ill will to those who have followed.

"If somebody's influenced by what we do, I'm gonna take that as a compliment. Artists always affect each other and we openly admit we rip off stuff from the Beatles and Black Sabbath, and I'm not ashamed of that at all. You gotta learn from the best. I'm not saying that we're the best, they just chose the worst people to learn from, that's all."

The style of their most recent album, "October Rust", is somewhat different from that of "Bloody Kisses". Missing are the out-bursts of vitriol like "Kill All the White People", replaced by a much more measured laid back sound. This is added to by a change in Pete Steele's lyrics. In comparison to the dark vampiric tales of "Bloody Kisses", tracks like "Be my Druidess" seem almost tender and romantic. Pete is the only member of the band to write the music and the lyrics and Josh, as co-producer, does not like the change.

"There's a lot more continuity on this album, which I personally don't give a shit about. I like the eclectic mess. Peter's a big fan of keeping things with a lot of continuity and that just happens to be the material that was presented to us. I think some of the lyrics are actually shallow to a point that really annoys me. I think Peter's a great lyricist and I think more time should have been spent on some things."

The romantic element of the lyrics is not the problem for Josh. On the contrary, recent event in his own life have made him more appreciative of the world of candles and red roses and he welcomes that element into their music.

"I just got engaged and I'm feeling a little romantic myself at the moment. But, I'm also a very angry person. Romantic or not, that anger will always be there somewhere. I think or music is a combination of romance and anger. If you don't change, you're stagnant, so I'm not saying the next album is gonna be more romantic, less angry, we don't know. We're gonna go with the changes of life and deal with it."

One thing that hasn't changed from their first album to their most recent recording is the inclusion of a twisted cover version. On "Bloody Kisses" it was sixties hippy classic "Summer Breeze", then it was Neil Young's "Calendar Girl" and most recently they recorded Status Quo's "Matchstick Men" with Ozzy Osbourne for the soundtrack of "Howard Stern, Private Parts".

[image: Pete Steel] "A lot of bands did covers note for note just like the originals. We do a cover and it turns out to be a Type O Negative song. We're just borrowing someone else's material, but it still becomes a totally different song and that's really all I care about. Sometimes I like the music, it simply keeps us entertained. We gotta be entertained too."

In a blatantly commercial move, the band have just had some of their stuff remixed by Nine Inch Nails' Charlie Clouser. "We'll admit we sold out. The truth is musicians as artists do have to eat as well and that is the reality of the situation, much as I dislike that. Am I a fan of it, no I'm not. To me, it is what it is, it's a great piece. But, it is a brilliant Charlie Clouser piece, not Type O Negative."

The imagery on "October Rust" had a very Pagan feel, with it's pictures of trees and songs about magic and druidesses. It stands in stark contrast with the Christian/vampire symbolism of "Bloody Kisses". This was another one of Pete's ideas.

"Peter was shooting for a pagan thing, but the word pagan scares me because it has religious connotations itself. I mean, I think we're complete atheists, basically we're godless people and the only thing we have one ounce of respect for is nature. Call that pagan? Nah, 'cos I'm not gonna bow to a rock and do rain dances around it, but it is what it is and we do have respect for nature. What is there left to respect but nature? It has the final say, it'll destroy humanity and I'm looking forward to it."

by Donnacha DeLong