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, thrash metal, blues, punk rock/hardcore punk, and alternative rock into their work, and often describe their sound as Black Sabbath-meets-The Beatles, both of whose songs they have covered. 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 have gained an enormous underground following with seven studio albums, two best-of compilations, and concert DVDs. Their most recent album is 2007's Dead Again.
Following the release of their second album, Retaliation, Carnivore went on hiatus. Steele decided to pursue the more stable and lucrative career of working for the New York City Department of Parks and Recreation. In 1989, after two years of looking after hedges in Prospect Park, he was forced out of retirement by 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 agreed upon Type O Negative. The band released a demo which caught the ear of executives at Roadrunner Records - the premiere 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.
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 said album at Brighton Beach, Brooklyn, Type O instead used it for buying cheap vodka, and re-recording 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. 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. The band had made huge strides in the progression of their musical style.
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 8½ and 11 minutes long). In order to promote the album, Type O Negative embarked on a grueling two-year world tour. Steele, who stands a over 6'6", 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). The unexpected success of Bloody Kisses proved the diligence and sacrifice the band had put in for three years was beginning to pay off. Features on MTV, VH1, and Rolling Stone followed. 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 worthy 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 instead 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", and a fan following surrounded the semi-serene "Green Man" as years passed on. 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 regretted the decision after finding out via Kenny Hickey's publishing contacts that "[only] 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, where the band seemed to wallow in misery. 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 the mindset Steele shared 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" (often 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 Nürburgring, 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 stated that the band does indeed have the "best intentions" in releasing another album. However, he also noted the band's long lapse between album releases and that it could be another 3 or 4 years before it actually sees release.
In other media, the computer game Descent 2 features a shortened, instrumental version of the track "Haunted". Additionally, Descent 2: The Vertigo Series contains a full-length version of the instrumental; the compilation Duke Nukem: Music To Score By features "Cinnamon Girl (Extended Depression Mix)"; "Love You To Death" in the computer game Blood; "Out of the Fire" from the Life is Killing Me bonus CD was a theme created for WWE Superstar Kane, but was never used. Recently, the opening two seconds of "I Don't Wanna Be Me" were used as a frequent sample in Grand Theft Auto IV, on the Liberty Rock Radio Station.
Numerous covers have also been performed. The Doors' "Light My Fire" has been covered live numerous times, mostly during the 90s . Steele has described the song as "probably the greatest song ever written" before apologizing for having "destroyed it". Seals and Crofts' "Summer Breeze" appears on Bloody Kisses, and Neil Young's "Cinnamon Girl" appears on October Rust. The tongue-in-cheek "Angry Inch" (from Hedwig and the Angry Inch) also appears on Life Is Killing Me. World Coming Down also included a Beatles medley consisting of "Day Tripper", "If I Needed Someone", and "I Want You (She's So Heavy)". Other covers include a rendition of Black Sabbath's "Paranoid" and "N.I.B."; Status Quo's "Pictures of Matchstick Men" with Ozzy Osbourne, two versions of "Black Sabbath" (one with the original lyrics and one rewritten by Peter Steele to be from Satan's perspective), Jimi Hendrix's "Hey Joe" (rewritten as "Hey Pete"); The Beatles´"Back in the USSR", Deep Purple's "Highway Star", and Creedence Clearwater Revival's "Bad Moon Rising". A medley of Santana's "Evil Ways", "Oye Como Va", and "Black Magic Woman" are also available on the CD accompanying the DVD Symphony for the Devil.
Also appearing on all albums, on backup vocals, is The Bensonhoist Lesbian Choir. In reality this is another liner note gimmick, as the "Choir" is actually just all of the other members of Type O Negative performing harmonized or synchronized backup vocals. "Bensonhoist" is the neighborhood of Bensonhurst, Brooklyn, rendered in the local New York dialect .