TYPE O NEGATIVE - "Be Careful What You Wish For"
Pete Steele & Josh Silver, Interviewed by Robert Makin

Q: Comment on the recent concern about violence and injury in the moshpit.

PS: When you go out to have a good time, like playing football, racing cars, there's always an element of danger. Just because somebody gets hurt playing football doesn't mean you're going to ban football games. Kids go to a club to have fun. I think it should be known that if somebody gets hurt at a club, it's their own responsibility. It's not the club's fault. The club should not be liable unless there's some goon throwing kids off stage or some kind of hazardous condition exists. But otherwise, if a kid gets up onstage, jumps off and gets hurt, that's nobody's fault but his own. We live in a society where everything's a lawsuit. Everybody else is to blame except for the person who has the problem. I think that people should really start to take responsibility for their own actions.

Q: Do you think there is a problem between some venues and patrons when it comes to moshing?

JS: There are some overzealous security guards who are a little too sadistic and enthusiastic, but that's an individual problem, just like there's overzealous patrons who go a little too berserk.

PS: You see a lot of fucked up stuff from the stage. You see security whacking people, throwing kids down real hard. Now, of course, that's something I don't go for. These security goons just don't understand that they're kids. It's not that serious to them. They're just there to have a good time. I don't know what the solution is.

Q: What made you do a Carnivore reunion?

PS: Money, but primarily it's fun. I get to see the guys I haven't played with in a while. I get to see some of the people who used to go to Carnivore shows. It brings back good times.

Q: Does some of that same crowd come to see Type O?

PS: Very few.

Q: That surprises me, because the first two Type O albums were an obvious evolution from hardcore. I would think that the crowd would have evolved, too.

PS: Well the band has a lot of different influences, not just hardcore. It's true that I have hardcore roots, but I was much younger and definitely a very different person when I was into that stuff.

Q: Is the hardcore scene dead?

PS: I would say so. There are a few hardcore bands now that I like. The band Shelter that we're playing with tonight really brings me back to the old days, because they have a very go-for-the-throat style, very unpretentious, very real, which is what hardcore was about. There really aren't too many bands like that now.

Q: Type O got their start in the metal scene, yet you, among many other heavy alternative acts, have evolved away from that scene. Given that evolution, plus the recent cancellation of MTV's Headbanger's Ball and the closing of such clubs as L'amour, is the metal scene also dead?

JS: The term is outdated. What is metal? What is alternative? Alternative is just everything that can't be or is hard to classify. I think just the word metal is dead. There's bands that are heavy and have hard edges, it doesn't mean they're metal or not metal.

Q: Music seems to be harder and heavier than ever, yet it doesn't sound like metal.

JS: There's a lot more melody as opposed to five or six years ago.

Q: There's also a lot of vocal harmony, such as on Bloody Kisses. How much do you think that has to do with your burgeoning commercial breakthrough?

PS: A lot. People want to be able to hum a song after they listen to it. I've had people come up to me and say, 'You know, Pete, I hate you and your band, but I can't get your fucking songs out of my head.' I'm like, 'Thank you very much.'

Q: How much do you think Q104.3 [NYC commercial heavy rock station, who in my opinion were instrumental in breaking Type O through in the NYC area by overplaying 'Christian Woman' ad nauseam] has affected your career?

PS: A lot.

Q: Do you owe them a lot?

PS: Owe them? I don't know, because it's like tit-for-tat. We provide something that keeps them in business, and they're doing a service for us that keeps us in business. I don't think we owe them anything except thanks.

Q: Comment on the fact that alternative radio stations, such as WHTG 106.3, have gotten a lot heavier. This time last year, WHTG weren't playing bands like you and Danzig, and now they are.

PS: We're a commodity now.

Q: Has there been a unification of punk and metal, not only in the sound of the bands but in the presentation of them?

PS: Maybe people are getting a bit more open-minded that in the past. I'm definitely finding that. I think it's a real good thing. There's not one pure type of music now. Everybody has so many different influences, and there's so much great music out there, that it's like trying to paint a painting with just one color. It gets really boring. You need a whole palette to work from.

Q: That's what Bloody Kisses is, a real diversification with elements of gothic, industrial, punk, metal, pop. You have worked really hard this past year. Roadrunner has worked hard with you. Probably your next record will come out on Roadrunner, but one day, do you see Type O Negative on a major label?

PS: Do you want to answer that, Josh?

JS: No, 'cause I'm scared of the answer.

PS: For me, I don't mind being on a small label, because I have a lot of control.I'm afraid if we get picked up by a larger label and I start having tantrums, they'll just say drop dead, and put the band on the shelf. Right now, I can just walk up to the office and threaten somebody and get my way. If I were to go to Warner Brothers, they'll just have security come. Roadrunner doesn't have security.

Q: A lot of success has come your way. The perception is that you're an overnight success, but, of course, we know that's not true. In reality, your success, just like your debut album title, has come slow, deep and hard.

PS: I never thought of it like that, but it's very true.

Q: Compare that to bands such as Green Day or Candlebox who explode from obscurity to overexposure.

JS: I think bands that come up that fast also go [down] that fast. Bands that take a lot of time and build up their followings -- fans who are going to stick with you through musical changes and grow with the band-- last over a period of years rather than on two radio singles. I think there's a lot less longevity with a band that burns that bright too fast.

PS: Everything is pretty much formulated. There's a business strategy involved. It's like war. It's the same thing. You lose, you lose everything.

Q: When the Pantera tour is done, you'll have been on the road almost a year straight. Does that feel like a war sometimes?

JS: All the time.

PS: With each other, yeah. More than anything else, I'm at war with myself, because I still don't know if I've made the right decision yet by leaving my job and dedicating my life to the band. But we'll see. Anybody who's ever made anything out of themselves has always had to take a huge chance. Failure is actually a really good thing if you learn from your errors. I don't think I'm a stupid person. I learn from my mistakes.

Q: There's still plenty of opportunity at this point.

PS: Sure there is. There's lateral things that can be done as well. We've had some other interest. I just wrote a song for a movie called The Addiction. And there's movie interest, parts in movies for us and things like that. So it leads to other things.

Q: You can't tell me you miss your day jobs.

PS: I do, yes, because I like routine. I like waking up at 4:30 a.m. I like being home from work at 2:30 p.m., so that I have the whole rest of the day to do the things I like to do. Money to me represents independence. Once I make enough, I won't have to make anymore, and I can kiss the whole world goodbye.

Q: What kind of toll has being on the road taken on your psyche?

PS: I think we're all just hanging on by strings right now, trying to be as patient and tolerant of each other as possible. We all miss our friends at home, our families. Hopefully it will lead to something better down the road. It's an investment. We suffer now for some greater good.

JS: I just hope we don't all lost sight of the fact that we were friends way before this band ever existed and that before this much business got into it, it was a lot more fun.

PS: Definitely. When we all had day jobs and stuff, we did not have to take the band seriously. But now, this is what we live off of. If the band collapses, it's going to mean hardship for us. It's a risk, and it's become a bit more stressful.

Q: Is it still fun?

JS: It has its moments.

PS: Yeah, when we're having a really good show or when there's funny things going on.

JS: But when you have nothing, you have nothing to lose. You don't care. Now it's our job. I gotta pay bills. I'm 32 years old. I'm not a child. I don't live with my mother. It's a real concern unfortunately.

PS: It's a job, fulltime.

Q: But if you compare your job operating heavy machinery for the city parks department to doing the band fulltime, which is more like a job?

PS: The parks department because I had a routine. This is different. They're both a job, but it's like comparing apples to oranges.

Q: Josh, compare your old job to the band.

JS: It was very similar, because it was a lot of music. I was self-employed (running a recording studio) [note: Josh owns Systems Two studios in Brooklyn, where all the Type O and Life of Agony recordings were done] and had to always motivate myself, just like a band. If you're not willing to really work hard, you're not going to be shit. I did always want to take a stab at this, but I gotta say, you gotta be careful for what you wish for, because you might get it.

PS: And we do usually. We get exactly what we want.

Q: You've already started to write your next album. What is that like compared to your previous releases?

PS: Stuff like 'Black No. 1', 'Christian Woman.' Heavy, melodic. I think I'd like the next album to be a bit more psychedelic actually. But we'll see what happens. We had very different plans for this last album. It turned out radically different. Even though it didn't turn out like we expected it to, it turned out pretty well. Josh is really good in the studio. I tell him what I hear, and he's able to take those ideas and make them happen. So we're a good team in the studio.

Q: It's great that the band is so self-contained and you don't need a lot of outside influences.

JS: Only the pharmacist.

PS: I have to give him a call too.

Q: I wasn't going to ask you any Prozac questions, but since you brought it up...

PS: I'm still on it.

Q: [to Josh] Are you on it too?

JS: Valium.

Q: It helps?

PS: I don't want to find out that it doesn't by stopping it.

JS: He's depressed. I'm hyperactive. We have a pill for every occasion.

Q: Yin and Yang (laughs). Do you have any idea when your next album might come out?

PS: When this album stops selling. When we have exhausted every trick in the book to get the public to buy Bloody Kisses. As long as the album keeps on selling, why not support it?

JS: The problem is that it was out for six months and we didn't do anything.

PS: I didn't know what the hell I wanted to do with my life, because I had a great day job. I really didn't want to tour. Ken (Kriete), the band's manager, asked me if I could take some time off of work to do a six-week U.S. tour. I said fine, that's cool. The tour was so successful, I figured this could work. It really showed me that the band had potential. I said to the band, 'I'm going to quit my job. Is everybody into this 100 percent?' And they said yeah. I quit my job and that was it.

Q: Are you going to continue on past the Pantera tour?

PS: If the album still sells, yes, but I'm anxious to get back in the studio and make another album.

JS: We all are. We're sick of playing the same shit over and over.

PS: Even if it's an EP or a single. We like to be in the studio. We like to be home. We like to work like that, so the sooner the better. But I'm sure after Pantera, there'll be some festivals in Europe that we'll be asked to play.

Q: What is the best part of being this busy and what is the worst part?

JS: The best part, for me anyway, is achieving something that so few can do. So many try and so few succeed. I'm just happy with my one personal goals that I've set in my life.

PS: I think the best part is giving people pleasure with the music. The worst part is not being able to see the people you love. My parents are in their 70s. I'm horrified to call home everyday, because I'm afraid of what I'm going to hear or whom I'm not going to hear when I call home. So things happen from time to time and I have to go home to take care of them, so that's added stress on me.

Q: It's good to see you're so tight with your parents.

PS: I love my parents. They've always been behind the band, always been behind me and Josh in local bands as kids. They never gave me a hard time about having long hair or spending thousands of dollars on basses and keyboards and all this other stuff, because they figured I could be doing a lot worse. I could be out doing drugs or some other shit, which we were never really into. We were actually good kids. We never got into any trouble.

Q: You've earned this success by not only being a good band but good people besides.

JS: I don't even think it's a matter of good, because I'm sure there's plenty of pricks who are making tons of money in this business. But I think it just takes a lot of dedication. I've been doing this for 19 years. Pete and I have been on the stage together 19 years.

Q: What was your first band?

PS: Aggression. We played in the lunch room of P.S. 193 on Avenue L in Brooklyn, and I was hit with my first missile, which was a half-eaten apple, right in the head. It was a kind of look into the future for me.

Q: Comment on the irony of being tagged fascists by the European press, when Josh is Jewish.

JS: Well, there are Jewish fascists, but I'm not one of them.

PS: I think the basis for this was my band Carnivore. We had a symbol that some people said looked like a swastika. It was actually based on a radiation symbol, on three triangles, because there were three members in the band. It had nothing to do with fascism or anything like that. During the course of an interview with the German press, I had said, trying to emulate that John Lennon comment about the Beatles being more popular than Christ, that at the present time I felt that Type O Negative was more popular than Adolf Hitler. I learned from that interview that when people don't have a complete grasp of the English language, they do not understand sarcasm. So now, when I do interviews with Europeans, I don't try to be funny. If the ask me a question, I give them a direct answer that can not be misconstrued.

Q: So the misconception of the band as Nazis was the result of a language barrier?

JS: Partly, and I think it's a guilt problem. I think they feel real guilty over there for World War II. They should stop inflicting their guilt onto others and worry about what the important issues are. They really have serious stuff going on over there. If they have nothing better to do than bother with four assholes from Brooklyn, then that's pretty sad.

PS: What's really sad and ironic is that they would use Nazi tactics against us. They were calling us fascists, yet they were protesting our shows, they were calling the club owners at home, threatening their lives, threatening the lives of their families, breaking windows, like Kristallnacht Part II. I thought it was hypocritical.

JS: It was. They had to use total propaganda to accomplish that. They wrote [that] when we play in New York, we play with a swastika behind us, we have white power guards lining the stage, and the audience Sieg Hiels us. They made up a complete science fiction story, just like Hitler did, and all these radical, so-called liberal people became exactly what they were fighting against, which is Nazis.

PS: But something wonderful came out of it. These people stirred up so much controversy for the band that we sold thousands of albums that we normally could not have sold, because they just generated so much curiosity about the band. They cut their own throats. So now I look forward to making comments to these people, because I know it will sell albums in the future.

Q: Another thing that ties into Josh being Jewish... do you ever get sick of Pete's lyrics about Christianity?

JS: No, because growing up with Christians and going out with mostly Christian women, just because that's the environment I'm in, I have as many opinions about Christianity, [and] Catholicism as any Catholic would. Probably more, because I'm a little further back from the situation. I think it's a completely destructive institution. I think Judaism is too. I think Catholicism is worse, but it's shades of grey. Organized religion in general is a nightmare.

Q: I'm fascinated by the way your lyrics point out the negative and destructive aspects of organized religion. It makes me curious as to how you incorporate spirituality in your lives.

PS: I have no spirituality. I am completely rooted in science. I'm 200 pounds of walking meat. The idea of god to me is attempting to put a face on physics that we have yet to understand. God, to me, is a physics book.

JS: I completely agree, 100 percent. There was nothing before life, there is nothing after life. People have to answer all questions. People are terrified to say we just don't know, but we just don't. To make up a bizarre explanation that 80 percent of the planet believes is horrifying. They're just deluding themselves. They have to have some form of denial in order to continue existence.

PS: Religion is just mass psychosis.

Q: But outside of religion, apart from a god, do you have any spirituality?

JS: The word spirituality has to be more clearly defined. It conjures up images of supernatural things. I think my spirit is an electro-magnetic field in my brain that makes up my personality. When my heart ceases to beat and no more oxygen reaches that brain, that's the end of it. That doesn't mean I don't think I have a soul so-to-speak. My soul is my personality, but it's not magical or mystical or amazing. It's not going to float through the universe forever after I'm dead. That's just my opinion.

Q: Why then does religion play a part in your lyrics?

PS: It's something that most people can relate to. It makes an interesting topic to write songs about. I was raised Catholic. I am no longer Catholic. I went to the Catholic school where I had to deal with nuns and priests and all the bullshit that goes with that. Christianity is just really hypocritical. More people have died in the name of god than under any and all totalitarian regimes. It's ridiculous.

Q: Explain what inspired 'Christian Woman'

PS: Religious repression. The song is partially autobiographical. When I was growing up, sex was never discussed. Masturbation was never discussed. I had to repress sexual feelings, but, as you know, these feelings come out in many other ways. Some of the ways they came out was through dreams. Basically, that's what the song 'Christian Woman was about, but my life's really boring, so I'm not going to write a song about nocturnal emissions when I was 13 years old, so I projected myself into this teenage girl, who's so repressed. She goes to sleep looking at the cross every night, and when she closes her eyes, her fingers do the walking.

Q: What subjects will your next album concern?

PS: The next album is more based on paganism. More songs about women, of course.

Q: Isn't paganism a form of spirituality?

PS: Not the way I define it. I have the ultimate respect for nature. I consider myself to be an evolutionist. I find beauty in all things natural. My girlfriend and I like to go to the woods and look at leaves, almost like neo-hippies, getting into everything around us. That, to me, is paganism, respecting life. Everything has a right to live. In this band, we don't think that respect has to be earned. We think that respect should be given, until you realize that you're dealing with an asshole. Then you either try to walk away or break their legs. Most ancient cultures-- Nordic, Native American, Orientals-- all have the same beliefs. As we get further and further away from our animal nature, we start to lose touch with the id and become species who think we're better than anything else because we walk on two legs. For everything we create, we destroy 100 times.

JS: The planet will go on happily without us. I'm looking forward to it. Some people say that's a really negative attitude. That's not negative, that's totally positive.

PS: It's nature's way.

JS: We'd be doing the planet a favor by getting rid of all the people on earth. It knows what to do. It's doing the right thing, and we can't stop it no matter how hard we try.

Q: Unless humankind changes its destructive ways.

JS: Yeah, can you imagine that? The common man changing his viewpoint? One hundred percent of humanity cooperating to make the world a better place? That's a great fairy tale, but it ain't gonna happen, man. Sorry.

PS: People will not change, especially when the media dictates values. That's really scary to me.

JS: What's even scarier is when they allow it to happen. It's one thing to be told what to do, it's another thing to be quiet and doing it.

Q: Like sheep.

JS: Exactly. Human nature is to destroy. If everyone was the same color, there'd be a new reason to kill each other.

PS: It would be, like, how a person smelled differently. There is always some reason to fight. My family comes from Brooklyn, where there is Irish, Italian, German. All these people look the same, but they fought every day, because they were from a different part of Europe.

Q: While touring, have you encountered any culture, society that comes close to an ideal?

PS: It seems like Scandinavia has it really together.

JS: The reason I think is because they refuse to let anybody in. Everyone has the same beliefs and culture, and they will not let you in. You can't go and live there if you wanted to.

PS: Everybody works, everybody contributes. That's what makes a society strong.

Q: If either of you were president of the United States, what would be your first course of action?

JS: I'd resign, because I don't want the job of herding ridiculous people to do what I consider to be the right thing. I want nature to take its course. I want man off this earth, and I don't have to do a thing to accomplish my mission, except sit back and watch it happen.

PS: I think I would send all the white people back to Europe, all the blacks to Africa, all the Orientals to Asia. I'd just leave the country to the Native Americans and let them decide who's allowed back in. Then I would leave.

Q: When Valentine's Day comes around, you'll be in Michigan with a day off. What do you think you'll do?

JS: Masturbate.

PS: Probably playing a headlining show somewhere. We don't like days off.

JS: They're torture.

PS: If we don't play a headlining show, I would like to spend the day with a special lady.

Q: Who would be your first choice for a valentine and what would you do?

JS: I'm glad I don't have that choice.

PS: Every woman is beautiful. Every woman is like a flower in a junkyard to me. I don't know. I like to please women, so it's not so much what I would do, it's what they want me to do to them.

Interviewed by Robert Makin - Aquarian Weekly - February 8, 1995

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