O-negative is a blood type -- and Type O Negative is a blood group. That's what these four guys from Brooklyn are, in that blood is very intimate, and intrinsic, to the function and lifespan of the body. So, too, is blood intrinsic to the life cycle of this band. Not randomly-obtained, brutal blood -- that's for the death metal/black metal pariahs to procure in their satanic alleys. Rather, majestic Victorian blood, as in the "bloody red sun" or "I bleed for you," and, of course, the blood of pacts.
The guys from Type O Negative will probably read the above intro and laugh their respective asses off... and then hire me to write their press releases. I spoke with guitarist Kenny Hickey, on the phone from Hartford, Connecticut, to separate Brooklyn from blasphemy.
"None of us are really into Goth, but Halloween's always been our favourite holiday. We've always had a dark atmosphere to our performances, so it sort of developed along those ways," intones Hickey. "It wasn't so much of a controlled effort to end up as part of the Goth scene. It's getting popular now with the younger kids with Marilyn Manson and Nine Inch Nails, so maybe we're just around at the right time."
Marilyn Manson? Now there's a catch phrase. Could it be that they have something in common? Could it be... Satan? Nope. "We are all atheists," confesses Hickey. "We basically believe in nature more than anything else; that's why the new album, October Rust, has a strong pagan element to it." Right. I should've known that the Antichrist couldn't possibly be from Brooklyn. Newark, maybe, but not Brooklyn.
Listening to October Rust conjures up lust for the four elements -- earth, wind, fire and water -- made flesh, even for sexual trysts with Wiccan priestesses. One song contains the lyrics, "I will do anything to make you come." Throughout the album, you get the feeling that Peter Steele, the band's vocalist and lyricist -- and Playgirl beefcake -- really wants to make you come. I ask Kenny about this.
"Yes, uh, that's been his new goal, his newest goal. It has nothing to do with the Playgirl thing. I think overall the whole issue has to do with sexual frustration, that and wanting to please as many women as possible."
Does that sexual frustration have anything to do with the infamous sphincter photo in the sleeve of 1992's The Origin of the Feces LP, not to mention the poor photographer?
"That was a really strange thing, well, you know, the whole point to it was that we're just a bunch of cards from Brooklyn, assholes like everyone else," he laughs. "That was just a spur of the moment thing. Peter just bent down, took off his pants, and spread his ass." And the photographer? "The guy who took the snapshot actually didn't want his name in the credits. I don't blame him," chuckles Hickey.
There was a time back in the band's infancy when they didn't tour that much. In fact, they hardly toured at all. Their drummer left to join Life of Agony because of this, and it looked like Peter Steele was more interested in Better Parks and Recreation than Circus or Kerrang. But now it seems like Type O are always touring.
"Touring is extremities. You're either have an extremely good time or, as most of the time, an extremely miserable time," exclaims Hickey. "I think Peter actually surprised himself and had the most fun he'd ever had in his life [when they first started touring]. Then after about eight months you start to settle back, and after two years you start losing your mind. Now we're going on four years and we have tested all the limits of our personalities."
The list of bands that Type O has toured with is massive, everyone from extreme bestial noise to mainstream radio metal, so I wanted to know who stands out, and what knowledge has been gleaned from his peers. "I guess we've learned a little from all of them, especially Motley Crüe and Queensryche. These were bands that were over their top already and heading down. We got a first-hand vision of what it's like, you know, the downside, when everything's just falling apart," relates Hickey, adding in a deadpan voice, "Once I see that coming, I'm bailing out."
Type O Negative bring their blood -- and their music -- to the Starfish Room on Sunday, February 23, with Sister Machine Gun and Drain.
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