Type O Negative - Biography




1989: After two records and great frustration with musical direction and the inability to find good tailors for their custom-designed loincloths, thrash-core future primitives Carnivore disband. Bassist Peter Steele pursues a career at the New York City Parks Dept, where he learns a variety of skills including how to pick up human waste with a rake and new metaphors for maggots ("dancing rice").

1990: Steele's longtime friend Sal Abruscato asks him if he wants to start a band. Steele wants to do something that won't be as strictly defined as the grind-and-grumble Carnivore, so he agrees. Abruscato enlists guitarist Kenny Hickey. Steele commandeers keyboardist Josh Silver. Steele unwinds by pursuing his favorite hobby: reading the phone book. Arriving at page 136, he sees an ad for a blood bank who is paying top dollar for a particular blood type: O negative...

1991: The quartet hunker down at Systems Two studios for six weeks and give birth to the debut Type O Negative album, Slow, Deep And Hard. The album tempers aggressive and dirge-rock tempos with Hickey's razor-sharp harmonics, Steele's heavily processed bass (described by band members as "a baritone guitar") and Silver's array of keyboard textures. "Unsuccessfully Coping With The Natural Beauty Of Infidelity" (a.k.a. - "I Know You're Fucking Someone Else") reflected homicidal anger over a relationship that was so deep, Steele attempted suicide over it. It wasn't too long until Steele played Jonathan Swift to the confederacy of rock dunces everywhere: Politically correct trust-fund owners decried Steele with such knee-jerk epithets as "misogynist scumbag" and "Nazi bastard," despite the fact that the singer actually had the nerve to be in a family with five sisters and demand that a nice Jewish boy like Josh Silver be in his band. Such oversimplifications of the band's raison d'etre robbed SD&H from reaching a wider audience. But so what? Everyone was listening to Nirvana back then, anyway...

November 1991: Type O Negative hit the road on a package tour sandwiched between Biohazard and British cartoon punks, the Exploited. The pairing of Type O and the Exploited was cited by one rockcrit rocket scientist as "Slayer opening for the Banana Splits." Soon after the cartoon credits roll, Type O heads off to Europe where the Nazi-rumor mill was in full swing. The maraschino cherry topping on their shit sundae was when an angry protester smashed a jar of acid (not that kind, raver-boy) on the door to a German venue.

1992: Roadrunner tells Steele that Type O must ride the waves of the bad press, and the best way to do that is to rush release a live album. The band decide to fake a live album by playing their set poorly under one microphone in the studio, while overdubbing pseudo-crowd noises generated by neighborhood. The record, Origin Of The Feces, was initially released with a cover photo of a lamprey, but once K-mart staffers inspected the cover more closely, it was in reality, a close-up of Steele's anus. Piles of fun for everyone!

1993: Type O Negative record their second studio LP, Bloody Kisses. The dirges are cloaked in swirling atmospheres that make the girls swoon and the boys club each other like a Neanderthal Anachronistic Society. The sexy and sinister "Black No. 1" and the arcane "Christian Woman" picked up steam in the underground. TON focused their explorations into the worlds of dark sexuality and gothic imagery ('gothic' as in Wuthering Heights, not Beetlejuice), and the music reflected that without losing any resonance. Ironically, Steele wasn't sure if he wanted to carry on with Type O Negative. Steele's waffling about touring behind Kisses became a source of frustration to the Abruscato, and in response, Sal resigned from Type O to join hardcore merchants Life of Agony.

Summer 1993: Type O Negative celebrate the release of Bloody Kisses by going out on tour. Johnny Kelly, longtime drum tech, van driver and occasional psychic baggage porter, was recruited for the drum chair. The tour lasts around the two-year mark, with TON sharing stages with bands as diverse as Danzig, Queensryche, Godflesh, Nine Inch Nails, Pantera and M"tley Cr?e.

1994: Type O become the gothadelic industrimetal equivalent to James Brown as the hardest working Brooklyn dirtboxes in show biz. They accepted an invitation to appear on the Black Sabbath tribute album, Nativity In Black (covering "Black Sabbath") and 3 years later, ended up sharing a stage with rock chairman Ozzy Osbourne during the year's OzzFest. Roadrunner then asked Steele to remix and oversee new artwork for a special digipak edition of the album. Steele decided to make sonic changes as well, replacing the Al Sharpton-inspired tracks "Kill All The White People" and "We Hate Everyone" with the moodier "Suspended In Dusk." The payoff: Bloody Kisses became TON's first gold album. Roadrunner also reissued Origin Of The Feces with artwork devoid of centerfolds from Proctology Today. In sharp contrast to Kisses, Origin has since gone linoleum.

1995: Steele - whose rugged sexuality has not gone unnoticed by scores of black-PVC-clad porn-stars and sexually frustrated housewives - takes up an offer to show his ladder-rung of love in the pages of Playgirl magazine. The band members laugh themselves into pant-pissing seizures after Hickey finds out through his publishing world contacts that 23% of the magazine's subscribers are female. Soon afterwards, Steele puts on his pants to prepare a version of TON's "Blood and Fire" for the soundtrack to TVT's Mortal Kombat. Much of this year is taken up, writing, recording and making Kelly the brunt of all their cruel jokes.

1996: Roadrunner abandons its plans for a Saturday morning kids show starring King Diamond to release Type O Negative's third album, October Rust. The record is launched with the release of the metallic big-O single, "My Girlfriend's Girlfriend," which is further propelled by a provocative video lensed by twisted NYC filmmaker Richard Kern (Sonic Youth, Lydia Lunch). More extensive touring preceded and followed the release of Rust, including dates with Ozzy and Sepultura, and a show in Cleveland where Marilyn Manson was in the audience admiring the band's use of onstage snow to simulate nuclear winter. Manson spent thousands of dollars copping the idea, much to the hysterical laughter of Type O, who merely bought a case of expired cornflakes and made Silver paint each one individually with typewriter correction fluid.

1997: After another bout of touring, the men of TON infiltrate the world of movie soundtracks. The band covered Status Quo's biggest hit, "Pictures Of Matchstick Men," for Howard Stern's Private Parts bio-pic. TON's motor-oil saturated cover of '70s footnote hippies Seals And Crofts' "Summer Breeze" found its way on the soundtrack to the Jennifer Love-Hewitt thespian-vehicle, I Know What You Did Last Summer.

1998: Babes In Toyland founder Kat Bjelland puts together a concept album based upon the Top Cow comic series Witchblade, enlisting Steele to be the voice of Ian Nottingham. Steele's vocal prowess on "Go To Sleep" makes even the heads of longtime Type O detractors swivel. The other members of TON pursue assorted activities including auto mechanics, scanning satellite dish networks for reruns of Punky Brewster and going through rehab. Steele also ends up attending the funerals of relatives and friends, an activity which will manifest itself on the album the members are now writing.

1999: The flagship feature-film The Blair Witch Project takes America by storm, and Type O Negative are stowaways in the ship's bow when their track "Haunted" is used for the film's not-quite-soundtrack album. The band also contribute tracks for the soundtracks to Carrie 2: The Rage ("Die With Me") and Bride Of Chucky ("Love You To Death"). But none of these projects adequately prepares the record-buying universe for World Coming Down, the band's fourth and most punishing album. Steele's treatises on addiction, loss and Armageddon were bathed in sheets of Hickey's caterwauling feedback, Silver's harrowing soundscapes, migraine-inducing beats and wounded, yet seething lyrical invective.

2000: The band embarks on a tour featuring labelmates Coal Chamber and new-school metallers Full Devil Jacket and the Deadlights. That summer, October Rust reaches gold status. Ever the card, Steele complains that he now owns "a pair of gold albums to serve food on, even though they don't match my apartment." Drummer Kelly, always fascinated with how things work, smashes his gold record out of the frame and actually plays it. He learns that it's actually a spray-painted copy of forgotten '80s metal-disco act Sly Fox's only album, Let's Go All The Way. Roadrunner shoots down Steele's proposal to fund a table-dancer finishing school in his name, and the label instead compiles The Least Worst Of Type O Negative, a remarkably cohesive overview of the band's career. Classic TON songs as "Unsuccessfully Coping..." "Black No. 1" and "Everything Dies" appear along such previously unreleased tracks as "Stay Out Of My Dreams," "12 Black Rainbows," "It's Never Enough" and a studio version of "Hey Pete," to satisfy both hardcore fans and armchair needle-dicks who sold their previous TON discs A longform home video, After Dark, was also released this year, which featured the band's video output, 8mm footage of transglobal shenanigans (which includes Silver's unusual approaches to personal hygiene and bathroom interviewing) and staged "personal" moments.

So then, any regrets? "I regret everything," says Josh Silver. "If you have no regrets, it means you never accomplished anything in the first place."