Interview with Peter Steele of Type O Negative

When bands do interviews to talk about their music it’s always hard to tell whether they’re being completely honest or just putting up a front to sell records and make their label happy. But Type O Negative leader Peter Steele puts up no such pretenses. During the course of a telephone interview, the singer/bassist openly puts down his record company (Roadrunner Records) for pushing his music on the metal market even though it would appeal to a much wider audience. He explains that he is trying to speak with a wide variety of magazines to make up for this, yet he answers in short, often one-sentence responses that reveal little insight. Peter doesn’t seem too concerned with the promotion side of making music, and he doesn’t pretend to.

But the music on the New York band’s new LP, “Bloody Kisses,” manages to speak for itself with its wide variety of styles incorporated into an eclectic sound. Probably the easiest way to describe it is as a combination of The Sisters of Mercy and the Beatles. There’s a dark, gothic tone here, with thrashing guitars and growling vocals, but there are also some nice harmonies that you’d never expect to hear.

Type O Negative formed four years ago, after the demise of Steele’s former group, Carnivore. The group’s sound has evolved from a noise/hardcore/grunge style into the current gothic sound and Steels ways the change was brought about simply by what he was listening to.

“I like psychedelic music, I like goth, I like some early metal and I like indie,” he explains. “I was not trying to copy anybody but I certainly to listen to this stuff and I think it’s rubbed off on me.”

Connecting the many of the songs on “Bloody Kisses” are short, formless noise collages. With many guitar bands starting to incorporated industrial elements into their music, this doesn’t really seem out of place. But Steele says that Type O Negative are not jumping on the bandwagon, but actually mocking it.

“That’s to make fun of the so-called ‘art bands’ that think random sound is art,” he explains. “I really don’t think so. It does happen at times that random sound does sound pretty cool, but otherwise, I don’t think it takes any real talent or any skill and this is just like poking fun at the whole thing.”

Steele’s tendency for freely expressing his beliefs has caused many problems, to the degree that the group had to back out of a European tour in 1991 dues to accusations that they were fascists.

“I’m not really a big fan of socialism, and I have made this clear and I guess some people think that if you put down socialism that you’re a fascist, which is not the case,” he explains. “I’m just the type of person that feels everybody should stand on their own two feet and everybody should be independent. Because I don’t ask anybody for anything and I don’t want anybody asking me for anything

But Steele says that they tend to have problems wherever they go, so it doesn’t look like Type O Negative will be touring anytime soon (though they may do the occasional show in New York). “As it stands now, we are big fish in a small pond, and that’s the way I like it. This way we can have more of a say in the actual product”

Other Recent Interviews

Highlights From The Archives