Type O Negative is a heavy metal band from Brooklyn, New York City. Although commonly viewed as a gothic metal band, Type O has also incorporated elements of doom metal, and thrash metal. Their dramatic lyrical emphasis on themes of romance, depression, and death has resulted in the nickname "The Drab Four" (in homage to The Beatles "Fab Four" moniker). The band went Platinum with 1993's Bloody Kisses, and has gained an enormous following with seven studio albums, two best-of compilations, and concert DVDs. Their most recent album is 2007's Dead Again.
Type O Negative's members were originally in a band called Fallout, formed in the early 1980s by then-teenager Peter Steele. He was joined by fellow teens John Campos, Louie Beato, and Josh Silver. The band released one EP in 1981, titled Batteries Not Included. It enjoyed modest success on college radio. Shortly thereafter, Silver left Fallout to form Original Sin, which combined the sounds of eighties hair metal and new wave. Meanwhile, Steele went on to found the thrash metal band Carnivore. Carnivore spent much of the mid-eighties playing venues in and around the East Coast, including the now defunct CBGBs on the Lower East Side of Manhattan, and the now defunct L?amours in Bay Ridge, Brooklyn. The band's lyrics were harsh and very politically incorrect, dealing with race, religion, war, and misogyny, with a sound reminiscent of speed metal mixed with hardcore break-downs and three-chord punk rock.
Following the release of their second album, Retaliation, Carnivore went on hiatus. Two years later, Steele recruited long-time friend, Sal Abruscato, Type O Negative's original drummer. Soon after, Silver was convinced to join, with fellow childhood friend Kenny Hickey following suit. They originally named themselves "Repulsion" and "Sub-Zero," but after an extensive search through the Yellow Pages for potential names, they realized "subzero" had already been taken. Due to the band already having the "o" negative tattoos for subzero, they decided to name the band "Type O Negative." The band released a demo, which caught the ear of executives at Road Racer Records which later Became Roadrunner Records, a prominent American label for metal and hard rock in the late eighties and early nineties. Roadrunner signed them to a five-album record deal, and in 1991 the band quickly released their debut, Slow Deep and Hard.
Produced under the working title None More Negative, Type O's first album Slow Deep and Hard incorporated dragging dirge riffs, maniacal punk-metal outbursts, and droning industrial and gothic atmospheres. The songs were long, multi-part theatrical epics, with lyrical topics ranging from heartbreak to getting revenge on a cheating lover, and even contemplating suicide. Their first tour following the album's release was met with hostility, primarily by Dutch political activists who failed to recognize Peter Steele's tongue-in-cheek humor regarding certain social topics, which resulted in false accusations that the band's members were misogynists and Nazi sympathizers. This was perceived as ironic by the band, as Josh Silver is Jewish (they made light of the situation on a later album with a song titled "We Hate Everyone").
Back in the States, Roadrunner Records held Type O Negative to a contractual obligation of recording a live album. With the money they received from the label to facilitate the recording of the album at Brighton Beach, Brooklyn, Type O instead used it to buy cheap vodka, and re-recorded their debut in Silver's basement. They later dubbed in live noises, and improvised a fake "fight" between the band and the hostile "crowd." Entitled The Origin of the Feces, a warning label was put on the album cover: "Not Live At Brighton Beach." The cover was also controversial, as it originally depicted a man's anus (believed to be Steele) being spread by his hands, until later copies featured a different cover depicting skeletons. Roadrunner was not amused with the prank, but went ahead and released the album in 1992 anyway.
From Bloody Kisses.
Their true second album, Bloody Kisses, was released in 1993 to critical and listener acclaim, and eventually became the first record for Roadrunner to reach certified Platinum status in the US.
Bloody Kisses mostly addressed loneliness and heartbreak, with songs like "Too Late: Frozen," "Blood & Fire," and "Can't Lose You." The organ-driven "Set Me On Fire" is vintage sixties garage rock, while "Summer Breeze" covered the 1972 Seals and Crofts hit. "Christian Woman" and "Black No. 1 (Little Miss Scare-All)" became the most popular tracks, after having been edited down to radio-friendly lengths (the album versions were 8? and 11 minutes long). In order to promote the album, Type O Negative embarked on a two-year world tour. Steele, who stands over 6' 8", had a signature action during concerts of playing bass with a large chain instead of a normal guitar strap (this also appears in the "Black No. 1" music video). During this time, the band was featured on MTV, VH1, and Rolling Stone. In the midst of this media blitz, drummer Sal Abruscato quit the band to join another Brooklyn quartet, Life of Agony. Johnny Kelly, the band's drum technician, was therefore hired as a full-fledged member. Bloody Kisses was re-released a year after the original release in a limited-edition Digipak form, including eight of the musical tracks from the original (omitting the "filler" tracks) and the previously unreleased "Suspended In Dusk."
The unexpected success of Bloody Kisses brought on the pressure of recording a successor. The record label, suddenly capitalizing on the revenue being generated by Type O Negative, began pressuring Steele and company to write even more commercial-friendly songs. The band tried to strike a balance between the commercial and the creative, and the result was 1996's October Rust. Picking up where Bloody Kisses left off, this album continued to explore themes of sex and sensuality, explored in a humorous sense on the single "My Girlfriend's Girlfriend" and then taken much darker with "Love You To Death." This record also saw a cover of Neil Young's "Cinnamon Girl," as well as the fan favorite, semi-serene "Green Man." While not quite as successful as Bloody Kisses, the album was certified Gold in the US, and was the first Type O Negative album to enter the top half of the Billboard Top 200, debuting at No. 42. It was also around this time that the band garnered some controversy. On The Howard Stern Show, Steele admitted having fantasies of murder-suicide involving girlfriends, and confirmed claims that Kurt Cobain was his "hero" for "having the balls to shoot himself." He also appeared in Playgirl, although he regretted the decision after finding out via Kenny Hickey's publishing contacts that " 23% of the magazine's subscribers are female." Steele was reportedly "very disheartened" when he found out about the magazine's demographics, and made light of the situation on the track "I Like Goils" on a later album, to underline his purely straight stance on his sexuality.
With the completion of another successful world tour, writing for a fourth album began. In the period immediately following the release of October Rust, Steele experienced several deaths in his immediate family, and he began drinking heavily to mask the bereavement and pain. This epoch of self-loathing would eventually manifest itself in the next album, 1999's World Coming Down (working titles included Prophets Of Doom and Aggroculture). The vibe of the album was a significant change from October Rust; this time the band revisited the more dooming sounds of Slow Deep & Hard. This time around, instead of sex and romance, lyrics focused on death, drug addiction, depression, and suicide. Songs such as "Everyone I Love is Dead," "Everything Dies," "World Coming Down," and "All Hallows Eve" were not meant to be tongue-in-cheek, but rather true life reflections of Steele's mindset at the time. It was nowhere near as accessible as Bloody Kisses or October Rust, but despite its morbid subject matter, World Coming Down debuted at # 39 on the Billboard Top 200 charts.
A 'best of' album followed in 2000, entitled The Least Worst of Type O Negative. Although most songs appear on previous albums, many are unreleased remixes or B-sides on previously released singles. Along with these songs are some unreleased numbers from the World Coming Down sessions, the band's cover of "Black Sabbath" by Black Sabbath, and a cleaner version of "Hey Pete" (originally released on the mock live album The Origin of the Feces).
Type O Negative's sixth studio album, Life Is Killing Me (originally called The Dream Is Dead after the closing song), was released in 2003. For this album, the band picked up the pace of their sound from the dirgeful slowness of World Coming Down. Songs such as "Todd's Ship Gods," "(We Were) Electrocute," and "I Don't Wanna Be Me" convey the band's classic elements of epic song lengths and melody. A humorous cover of the song "Angry Inch" from the musical Hedwig and the Angry Inch, detailing a sex change operation gone terribly wrong, marks the band's return to its trademark humor that had been absent on their previous album.
After the release, Steele spent a brief time in prison for narcotics possession and endured a stint in drug rehabilitation. After Roadrunner Records released the 2006 compilation The Best of Type O Negative (allegedly without notifying the band), Type O split from the label upon a better offer from SPV Records and released Dead Again in March 2007. A video for "The Profits of Doom" (spelled "Profit" in some instances) arrived in April, and the "September Sun" video was finished in November. Both videos saw frequent airplay on MTV's Headbangers Ball in the weeks after each release. Dead Again saw a culmination of previous Type O styles, from the thrash-inspired title track to the blues rock style "An Ode To Locksmiths." Female vocalist Tara Vanflower also appears on "Halloween In Heaven." The album debuted at # 27 in the US; the band's highest chart debut to date. They also continued to tour through October of that year, including a performance at the Rock am Ring festival in N?rburgring, Germany.
Two special editions of Dead Again were announced in January 2008, for a February release. One is a two-disc package that includes live performances at Wacken Open Air 2007, with interviews and music videos, and the other is a 3LP vinyl set, with a 12-page booklet and T-shirt.
In a recent interview, Johnny Kelly said the band does indeed have the "best intentions" to releasing another album. However, he also noted the band's long lapse between album releases and it could be another 3 or 4 years before we actually see a release. It is also not known how the band's record label SPV Records filing for bankruptcy will affect their releasing of further albums on SPV Records.
Peter Steele ? Lead vocals, bass guitar
Josh Silver ? Keyboards and synth effects, programming, backing vocals
Kenny Hickey ? Lead and rhythm guitars, backing vocals
Johnny Kelly ? Drums, percussion
Sal Abruscato ? Drums, percussion (1989?93). Quit band to join Life of Agony.