Type O Negative interview (10/2003)
|With:||Peter Steele [vocals, bass]|
|Conducted by:||Melanie Haack|
Type O Negative
Just about two weeks and we can finally hold the new Type O Negative album in our hands! On June the 17th Peter Steele and Co. are coming back with their fifth studio album "Life Is Killing Me", ready to make our ears bleed again. After their last longplayer "World Coming Down" (1999) which didn't escape out of its depressing, negative atmosphere and about which Mr Steele thinks he has a bit to say sorry for we could have been very curious what the new album would sound like; if they even succeed in creating such a genius work as "Bloody Kisses" is in my opinion. And yes: They definitely did their job more than good! In April Steele and drummer Johnny Kelly were on promo tour in Europe and also spent one day in Hamburg. It was definitely time to talk with Peter about the new album and to get an idea of his sarcastic way of humour. A very talkative, nice man told me then a lot about the sound and the lyrics of "Life Is Killing Me", about what he is longing for and about black boxershorts with a little bit orange... and many other things. Not everything meant so seriously...
- There were a few working titles concerning the album and then you decided on "The Dream Is Dead". Now it has changed and the album is called "Life Is Killing Me". Both are also new song titles. But why did you change the album title?
"The Dream Is Dead" seemed to be a bit too negative for us. Maybe like "World Coming Down" which in my opinion was too negative. I also like "Live Is Killing Me" just because of how the song itself came out. It seemed to be like one of the more catchy ones. I just love the stupid Type O Negative humour. You know: "life is killing me". It's a little bit more like an ironic title. The song "The Dream is dead" is really negative. It's about my father dying on Valentine's Day which is always pleasant for me on every 14th of February. You know, everybody is out with their girlfriend, their fiancé or their wife and I am going to the cemetery. The song pretty much means that you can't take anything for granted. When things go wrong there is nobody there to pick you up. You gotta pick yourself up which is very difficult.
- The album includes 15 songs - that's really great and quite unusual today. Did you have so much good material that you couldn't leave so many songs out or what was the reason?
My friend told me that the new Linking Park album is like 36 or 39 minutes. I don't know if that's right but up to the fact that you can put I think about 80 minutes onto a cd these days that's really not much. My attitude has always been: If the kids gonna pay the same prize wether it is ten or 15 songs, I give them 15. They are fans and if we have that many songs written we put them on there. It's not that we thought that these songs were so great. It was just: Well, if they don't like the songs they can skip them. So they have the choice.
- What did you want to change after the last and fourth studio album?
The last studio album "World Coming Down" was I think a little bit too self- indulged in a self-pitious way. There weren't really any fast songs and there was nothing to brake up the funeral march. In this album I wanted there to be more contrast between the songs like different styles. Some songs sound like 60s, some like hardcore, some sound like goth or metal. And so I wanted to incorporate everything that the band has ever done onto an album.
- How long have you been working on the album?
About two years... but I have to point out that it has been quite a bit of interruptions. Josh, Johnny and Kenny have children, my mother is in the hospital with diabetic so there have been lots of interruptions both good and bad when it comes to this album.
- Can you describe the new album in just a few key words? And now don't say Type O Negative, please...
Hope it sells! No, seriously... Three keywords? Okay: Punk, metal, goth - that's it!!
- For me it's a bit like taking the catchy way Beatles songs are and the melancholy of Black Sabbath songs / of the way their guitars sound...
- ... combining it, taking it to our time. I think "Electrocute" is a good example for it.
Oh yes. There's definitely a very heavy Beatles influence but at the same time: There's always been a certain Beatle influence in everything that we've done so far. Maybe not with orchestration and the instruments but how the songs were written and approached. One thing that I wanted to purposely use more on this album was instruments like citar, tembora... whatever. Not because I wanted to write songs for this instruments but just because it sounds more Beatles and more psychedelic.
- "Electrocute" is a bit different from the others, a bit slower and...
Yeah it is. It's not as direct lyrically as most of the others. People are like: What the hell is this song about? And I tell you: I was with somebody for a long time and a part of me still loves this person but I am very happy that I am not with her anymore because looking back she was in fact "as real as her tits" (quote from the song).
- "I Don't Wanna Be Me" will be released as single - why this song?
It's gonna be the first single as well as the first video. Our company chose this song together with the management. We were just told about it, weren't even asked.
- You don't seem to be be very satisfied with this decision...
I don't think the track actually represents the album. It might be misleading. I think it's a good song but I don't want people to think that the whole album sounds this way.
- "Nettie" is a very personal song about your mother. Is that the best way for you to handle the situation?
I wrote the song because I realised after my father had died that I wished that I had said a lot of things to him that I didn't while he was alive - some good, some not so good. I just wanted to be honest with him about everything. I hope that my mother has the chance to hear the song and I'd like to know what she thinks of it. I played the demo tape for her but she wasn't feeling too well. So I don't think she actually realized that it was even about her or what was going on.
- "I Like Goils" - well, I like the lyrics. What is the background concerning this text? Any experiences in this way? I mean do you often have to tell men: I like girls so leave me alone!
After the Playgirl thing I did came out we did a lot of record store signings and stuff like that and a lot of times people came up with the Playgirl thing but the half of these people were men which is perfectly fine. I feel equally complemented by both men and women but some of the men could be very aggressive and I just said: "Look, men... I'm sorry. I like girls. I stick to women, okay? I've got five older sisters - I'm absolutely used to women so get out of my life..." I have nothing against gay people. As a matter of fact one of my sisters happens to be gay and it doesn't make a difference to me as long as she's happy.
- With "Angry Inch" we have a cover version - why did you chose this song to cover?
Well, have you heard of the movie "Hedwig And The Angry Inch"?
- No, but I guess you gonna tell me now that I should watch it...
You definitely have to try to find it! It's about a transvestite who gets his exchange operation. This operation is botched leaving him/her with a one inch penis after having a six inches penis before. So that's why it's called "Angry Inch". It has nothing to do with "I like goils" - believe me! I would imagine this will sometimes be the next question. I think it is a great movie, it has a great message, too at the end: If you are gay or not, black, white, male or female - it doesn't matter just as long as you are happy with yourself. That's really all that matters I think. I wanted to draw attention to that movie just because it is so good. It was an Off-Broadway rock theatre hit before it became a movie. The soundtrack is equally as good. You should definitely go out and look for that soundtrack!
- Are a thousand tears worth a single smile? What do you think? (passage of the song "Anesthesia")
No, of course, not!
- Do you really think so? I mean you can't be always happy 'cause if so it happens one day that you don't recognize anymore that everything is fine and that you can be totally happy with your live. You can't always be on top with your feelings. Don't you think that tears and smile belong together even if there are more tears?
Yeah, I think there is a place and time for both sides. If you see the sentence in this connection you are right! But what I meant with these lines "Are a thousand tears worth a single smile?" was that it works so much of one's pain to make someone else happy. That's what I meant by that and the answer of course is: No. You shouldn't put up with your pain to see someone else happy. I am thinking about somebody specific but I should not mention her name.
- Can you gather the inspirations for the lyrics out of everything that happens around you or is there a main thing?
It's different for every song. I would think that the main inspiration is trying to make a song out of nothing because I've got a pretty boring life actually back home. I don't go out of the house too much. I spend time cleaning the house, working on my car. Stuff like that. So as I am doing this things I try to think about: I know I have an album to write so what the hell should I write about? I take a little something like maybe something like "Nettie" or like about my father or "I Don't Wanna Be Me" or "Life Is Killing Me" which is about doctors and try to make it into something interesting that not just shows my opinion on things because the world gives a shit about but also on the same time write memorable songs about these things and exagerate a bit so that they remember.
- Type O Negative aren't existing just since yesterday. And you can't say that you had no success. What is it that makes you going on with the music stuff?
My goal was to be financially independent which I am not as this point. Financially independent means to have enough money that I can have what I want and not have to work anymore but nineteen years ago I signed a lousy contract with this record company. That's the reason why I am sitting here and talking with you right now. It's part of my job but... I don't know... being 41 years old and still behaving like I am 17...
- So you wanna tell me that you made this album just because of money?
No, I did it because I like to write songs, I like to record them. I don't like to play live. I don't like to do interviews just because I don't really feel I have anything valuable to say. But finances unfortunately play a part - not so much for me but for the rest of the guys because they have wife and kids. Even if I was financially independent because I do make some more money because I write the songs but in my own defence I have to say that I split a certain amount of that money with them. I couldn't live with myself because they're my friends. So were are trying to bell and having fun with making money. I think that one of the keys to happiness is have a job that you enjoy doing. After all you gonna spend at least ¼ of your life doing it. So you really should be happy.
- With this studio album the contract with Roadrunner Records is fullfilled. What about the future? New label or same label with new contract?
I don't know. I've gotten pretty used to being on Roadrunner. It's just... I'm not too thrilled with our contract. I would like to consider staying on the label after we changed the contract a bit. That requires that Roadrunner even wants us to remain. If not - yes, we have other offers but I think It all depends on how well the album is reveived. We'll find out mid June. Let's see what happens.
- Last year you worked together with Doro for her album "Fight" and recorded the song "Descent". What was it like working with her?
First of all: She is a very, very nice woman. She's, of course, very attractive. I like her music and was honoured that she has asked me to accompany her on this song. She gave me a lot of freedom to do whatever I wanted and I was kind of concerned because she was not there with me in the studio when I did the vocals. So I did three / four different things and I let her decide. I like how it came out very much and maybe we can work together again in the future. It was a very positive experience.
- Is anything else planned... I mean concerning working together with other musicians?
Right now no. The full concentration happens to be on this band and this album. We're supposed to be coming over to Europe mid June till mid July to do shows and a couple of festivals. So I would imagine that right after doing this video we gonna have to start to rehears because we haven't played live for a real long time. We have to decide exactly what we are going to play live. Now we can chose from five studio albums, actually six if you include "The Least Worst Of". There'll be shows where we only have about half an hour to play and some where we have 90 minutes. So what stays - what goes? I don't know.
- Will there a be a bigger tour maybe in autumn?
Yes, exactly. Hopefully after we come back from Europe mid July or something like that we will tour the States. Then next autumn I'd like to do a European tour where we also come to the north of Germany because we won't play here this summer. France, Portugal, Spain, Southern Italy, Greece and then going to South America, Australia... some places that we've never been before. I think it's unfair to our fans that we have not played these places and sometimes people from Brazil, Australia or maybe Portugal ask me: Why don't you like us? Why don't you come around? And I have to say: Look, it's not just up to me. I hate to say that it comes down to money again but certain places are much more expensive to play in than others. Places like Auatralia and South America are extremely expensive. I don't mind coming home with no money if we gonna please fans but when the management and the booking agent - if they aren't gonna make any money... if they could make money sending us to other places then that's what they're doing. This is what you call capitalism at work.
- Black shirt - green trousers: same as every time. Or did it change - I mean: Do you have anything white or red except those great white socks you wear today?
...too much bleach in my green socks... Actually I didn't pack properly and I will show you something. I was forced to buy underwear. (He stood up and - no, he didn't let his trousers fall to the ground - he opened the first buttons of his trousers so that one could see his boxershorts.)
Orange! (a black boxershorts with an orange line)
- Oh my god!
That was all I could find at the airport.
- Do you get along with this?
As long as it's covered: yes. I like all colours but I just feel emotionly the best when I wear green and black. But I've learned never to say never - anything is possible.
- When will we read a biography bristling with your sometimes sarcastic sense of humour?
I'd like to write one at some point. There are many, many funny things that have happened to me and the band. Many strange things, many sad things and many interesting things. I am 41 years old and I've a lot more living to do and I wouldn't wanna be like Marylin Manson - not that I'm putting him down but to write a biography when you're half way through your life it doesn't really make sense because it's only half the story.
- So you start writing when you are...
...42?! I don't know exactly, anything could happen. Maybe I am gonna come out with an update every year or so..?! Will see. It could happen next year, could happen in five years, it could never happen...
- You once said that you were kind of jealous of the rest of the bands with their families and children...
That's true. Yes, I am because I see the happiness that it has brought them and that's something that I'm longing for. Coming home to somebody, having a son or a daughter running towards you... I was with somebody for a long time and things ended quite badly and now I had a couple of years to do some thinking. I can't expect somebody to wanna be with me and love me unless I love myself. And I am far from perfect and I wanna try to be as perfect as I can for the person that I wanna be with. So until I can't be the best I can I am going to remain alone.
- I hope you'll succeed one day.
Yeah, I hope so, too!
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