Type O Negative - Johnny
03/09/06 || Global Domination
This interview was done by ex-staffer Fishermane.
About 7 years ago I managed to get in touch with Johnny from Type ‘O Negative to see if he was interested in doing an interview with us here at Global Domination. At first he was hesitant. He thought about it for a while. He read the questions I had sent him over and over again. He hesitated. He pondered. Finally, he decided to go through with it and I sincerely thank him for that. It was only my 2nd or 3rd interview at the time and it clearly shows. Still, Johnny was a good sport and managed to get through all the questions so I applaud him for that. In all sincerity, TON are one of my all-time favorite bands so I’m extremely pleased that he was cooperative. That being said, this is what Johnny had to say.
(Note by The Lord: Since everyone knows what these guys look like already, we have decided to mostly use pictures of The Hoff thruout the interview.)
Global Domination: Hello Johnny Kelly, how are you today? I hope you are well. First of all, how about you give us a quick overview of your band, including the current members and your releases over the past 15 years or so. Nah, I’m just fucking around. Anyhow, to get the ass-kissing over with, congratulations on your last album “Life Is Killing Me”. Seriously. I think it’s a great release. So almost 3 years later, how do you feel about “LIKM” now?
Johnny: I still feel that “LIKM” is a solid record from Type O. There are a few songs on there that I feel completely validate it and make it important to our catalog. Making a Type O record is a hard task and really is exhausting mentally and emotionally. Every time we’ve completed one, I see it as huge accomplishment by the band as a whole. I thought that the record didn’t receive the proper amount of promotion from our label to help it reach its full potential and I don’t think that we toured enough to support it either. I thought that it was strong effort on our part though and it showed people that even though we had been around for a long time, we were still able to create some really good music.
Ok, let’s get some of the typical informative questions over with. You guys recently switched from Roadrunner to SPV for the next release. What was SPV offering that Roadrunner wasn’t? Feel free to throw some dirt at Roadrunner, if needed.
There really isn’t any dirt to get into. We had been on Roadrunner for over 15 years if you include Carnivore being signed to Roadrunner. SPV really wanted the band to be on their label and they made an offer that we couldn’t refuse…
In regards to the next album, what can we expect to hear as soon as it’s available to download illegally? “LIKM” was obviously a step towards a more uptempo vibe, especially after “World Coming Down”, so are guys planning on staying in that direction or should we expect any new twists in the song-writing?
I truly hope that the downloading is kept to a minimum but I know that lots of people will do it in spite of the impact that it is having on the record industry. I think that the new cd will have a good mix of everything on it. There are a few fast ones that could’ve easily been on a Carnivore record but there are some really heavy songs on this one and I can’t wait for people to hear it.
Seriously though, I do own all of your actual albums. Downloading is for effeminate southerners. Alright, typical drummer question here: Throw in a few quick comments on these 10 drummers, along with a score from 1 to 10, 10 being the equivalent of going for a ride in your favorite hotrod on a sunny day, and 1 being having to conduct a piss-poor interview for some crazy website:
Neil Peirt: 10 – I’m not really a Rush fan but you can’t deny that Neil Peart is one of the true greats.
Tommy Lee: 10 – “When Shout At The Devil” came out, I was 15 years old and was completely consumed by it. I had just starting playing drums and Tommy Lee was a huge influence on my playing.
Bill Ward: 10 – He was also a very big influence on my playing and no doubt one of the heaviest, brutal, primal drummers ever!
Lars Ulrich: 7 – Metallica was a big influence on me when I was younger. What drummer wasn’t blown away by “Fight Fire With Fire”?
Dave Lombardo: 10 – He is the original king of blastbeats and speed metal. Dave Lombardo will school any of these new kids trying to do what he did 20 years ago! Who’s gonna argue?
Neil Peirt: We already commented on him…
Vinnie Paul: Probably the greatest metal drummer of all time! Vinnie can do it all and he hits drums like Mike Tyson experiencing road rage! His versatility and chops make him a god amongst mortals. Becoming – nuff said!
Ringo Starr: I give Ringo a 10. You have to take into consideration what the state of rock and roll was in. It was 1963 when Ringo became a household name. I believe that he personified the term “rock drummer”. Other rock drummers didn’t have presence then and they all played like chicks. Ringo kicked the shit out of his kit! He’s the first headbanger. Not to mention he was in the fucking biggest band of all fucking time!
Regis Philbin: I didn’t even know that he played drums! Judging by the way he consumes coffee like a fiend, I bet he kicks ass and takes names!
(Note by the mane: Sorry, Regis doesn’t actually play drums, although lord knows I tried to get him to…)
Insert a drummer of your choice here that deserves to be commented on.
How could you leave out the greatest drummer of all time? You mention Neil Peart twice and you left out John Bonham of Led Zeppelin! Shame on you! Bonham was simply the greatest drummer to ever walk the planet. Almost 40 years ago, he came onto the scene with a style and presence that is still trying to be repeated. Still nobody has been able to achieve that feat. He laid the foundation of what a drummer is supposed to do in a song. It wasn’t always what he did in a song, it’s what he didn’t do. He had tremendous power yet, he had amazing grace and style. Nobody laid down a groove in a song like Bonham did.
Yeah, sorry about the Neil Peirt thing. I didn’t mean to mention him twice but after a few beers, I’m seeing Neil Pearts everywhere. I guess I had one too many while writing up that question. Ok, here’s a hypothetical situation: I meet the band in a bar, and being the generous guy that I am, offer to buy you each a drink. What would each of you ask for?
I would have a shot of Crown Royal and a Corona. Josh would have either Absolute Vanilla vodka, red wine or sake. Peter would most likely go for red wine but sometimes has an appetite for vodka. Kenny would order everything else that’s behind the bar.
Well, it’s nice to know that me and Kenny are on the same page. Now this is older news, and I’m sure you’re fed up of going through it, but why the hell did the website post a pic of Peter’s tombstone a while back? I mean, didn’t the annoying inquisitive feedback you guys expected to get from clueless fans & interviewers outweigh the possible benefits you could have got from the initial joke itself?
I did get a few emails from alarmed fans. It was an April Fool’s joke that Josh pulled on everyone, band members included. I think that most fans picked up on it quickly. They have grown accustomed to things like that happening.
About the new DVD coming out, is there a reason why the live show included is from 1999? I actually bought “After Dark” recently, and thought it was a solid release, aside from being exposed to Josh’s ass repeatedly. How do you think the new DVD will compare?
The bottom line to using a concert filmed in 1999 was that there isn’t any other footage of the band performing live out there aside from bootlegs. Fans had been asking for a live video since the release of “After Dark” which didn’t contain any live footage except for a few clips here and there. There’s still a lot, if not, more vile humor and body parts on the new one and I think that this one will gross fans out more.
Well, thanks for warning us at least. Now regardless of how you perceive it, TON does have that whole “image” thing going on. You guys are all grown men, some with families, so how relevant do you think it is for the band to still portray a certain image, regardless of it being the band’s actual intention, or just something artificially created and sustained by critics and fans alike?
In all honesty, what you see of us is how we really are. Some of us do have families and we have grown older but we haven’t necessarily changed all that much since the beginning. Some of us may not always wear black and green all the time but we portray who we really are. Whether we’re considered relevant is entirely up to the people that still like Type O Negative. At this stage in the game, I don’t see any gain or point in changing our image. I like the uniform and it sure beats wearing the ones that McDonald’s provide.
Hey, they’re not that bad. Just ask anybody on the GD staff. Now you guys have obviously toured a lot, seen a lot of cities, you know, that kind of thing. Even though it’s always hard to pick, what would be your favorite and least favorite cities to play in?
It always nice to be remembered in a positive way as opposed to being remembered as that guy who was a total asshole. I like playing anywhere and I really don’t have too much of a problem with any city or venue. Yes, some cities are more fun than others but at this point in my life I’m just grateful that I’m still able to travel with the band and play shows every night. Right now, I can’t really think of a city that turned me off so much that I couldn’t stand being there. Ones that stand out as highlights are Athens, Amsterdam and Budapest. I always love playing in Detroit and Chicago too. The fans are absolutely crazy in those two cities.
Incidentally, we’re halfway done here, are you bored yet? Do you like answering interviews? I kind of thought that question about me buying you guys a drink was kind of corny. So in retrospect, not including any of mine of course, what’s the worst question you’ve ever had to answer in an interview?
I usually don’t mind doing interviews. Typing all the answers can get a little long though. The corny questions sometimes are the ones that really give you insight to the person being interviewed so I think that they’re kind of cool and important to the interview. I usually get turned off by people who are more interested in your political point of view and try to instigate and provoke you into some kind of debate that I don’t think fans are too interested in. It becomes more about the journalists political point of view to me. I usually am not interested in talking about band finances and business matters. I don’t find that info pertinent and it’s not usually conducive to future business dealings.
Yes, of course. Alright, back to the band. Go ahead and tell us some significant facts about your skills as a drummer, so that people understand just how important your role in Type ‘O is.
To me, this is one of the tough questions. I don’t really consider myself a very skillful drummer. I’ve been fortunate to be able to have done it for a living and I appreciate it when someone acknowledges my abilities but I always am trying to push myself to be a better player. I think that I do play a part in Type O Negative but who knows how good they could’ve been had there been a different drummer with them? I consider myself the easiest to get along with and that may be why I’ve been in the band for so long. It does help that my hair hasn’t fallen out yet and that I’m 20lbs lighter than when I first joined the band.
So who deserves a good smack in the mouth and why? Nothing too serious, but just someone who needs to be put in line for the hell of it (whether it be a band/politican/etc…)
There are so many people that deserve a smack, where do you start? I could on for days but in the end it’s not really worth it.
Time for one of the most important questions of this interview. Finish off these 10 sentences and remember, we condone excessive swearing here at Global Domination:
Video games are for people who… are afraid to interact with the opposite sex.
In 15 years from now… I will get that assistant manager position at KFC.
Thanks to globalization… even people in Somalia can vote on American Idol!
Peter needs to just stop… asking me for Kenny’s cell number!
This interview is officially the… longest one I’ve ever had to type.
If I woke up naked in a bank, I’d… hope that someone doesn’t get me excited.
Type ‘O is to music what… mexican food is to your digestive system.
My favorite car is… a 1970 Dodge Super Bee.
That last sentence was so corny I feel like… Potsie Weber and Ralph Malph combined.
Mankind is… in desperate need of a new plan.
Ok, to switch things up, what do you guys think of that b.s. that started in Denmark because of those Muhammed cartoons? While we’re “on it”, what do you think of religion in general, and how it affects people’s daily lives?
I think that muslims got very carried away with the violence and protests etc. In most of the world, free speech is allowed and I’ll go way out there for a minute, sometimes encouraged. What makes them so special that they shouldn’t be ridiculed like everyone else? They did exactly what the cartoon was joking about. If they want to be viewed differently, they should take the steps necessary to curb incidents like that and try to focus more on what their beliefs and values are truly about.
I was raised Catholic but I never really bought into a lot of what was being taught. I think that religion does offer good lessons in values and I think that it’s good to have faith in something. Too much of anything isn’t good for you and I think that religion should be included in that philosophy. To run around and kill innocent people because they have a differing religious beliefs is insane and goes against the faith that you’re so devoted to. I haven’t read anywhere in regards to any religion that it’s ok to kill someone because they don’t have the same faith yet so many have killed in the name of their god.
So what’s your view on world politics right now? I know you don’t particularly enjoy answering these kind of questions but come on, it’ll be fun… For me? Please?
Here we go! Well, not really. I think that the ideas of a few select people in political power all over the globe are not really taking their citizens well being into consideration when they make the moves that they have made. I don’t think that true peace will ever be achieved especially in places like the Middle East. I think that it’s inaccurate to hold the U.S. responsible for everything that has gone wrong in the world. A lot of these places were fucked up way before we got involved and I believe that we would be blamed and held accountable if we chose not to get involved. Let’s face it, after WWII, we became the world’s police department. The US has done a lot of good along with a lot of bad when it comes to foreign affairs.
It bothers me how a lot of countries citizens quickly forget if it had not been for us they would probably have a different accent than the one they’re speaking with now. I do feel that Israel does have the right to exist being that’s what the super powers agreed on at the end of WWII and that’s the bottom line. I think that if Iran does go nuclear, the first missile is headed straight towards Israel. The Iraq situation is a mess and I think that we should’ve gotten rid of Saddam Hussein the first time we went there. We could’ve saved ourselves a lot of headaches. It doesn’t just end there though. The Iraqi people are killing themselves. They hate each other based on their religion and now we’re in the middle of it. Where’s Osama Bin Laden? My bet is that he’s in Queens, NY, but that’s just my opinion.
Now I noticed you guys have a pretty big internet forum thing going on there. To be honest, I tried checking it out but after about 5 minutes and 132 threads about Peter’s penis and jelly-beans I felt like inserting very sharp objects into my eyes. Do you think it’s important for bands to be in direct contact with their fans?
I think that band interaction on the board is one of the things that has helped the band over the years and it’s one of the things that makes it unique. I think that it makes the fans feel like they’re part of the band. We sometimes use their input for various things. I find that when there isn’t too much going on with the band, that’s when the topics of Peter’s anatomy and jelly beans become more prevalent.
Yeah well, that was a while ago. It’s nice to know that you guys appreciate the fans’ feedback. Now, do you remember “L’Amour” in Brooklyn? I know Peter mentioned it in the lyrics of “Unsuccessfully Coping with the Beauty of Infidelity” on “Slow, Deep & Hard”. I know it’s closed now, but does the band actually have some sort of nostalgic attachment to it? And incidentally, when are you guys going to come play in Montreal? Come on, we’ll hang out and chill, it’ll be fun. I even know what drinks to buy you guys now…
If you’re buying drinks, we’re hanging out all night! I’m not sure when we’re going to be back in Montreal though. We still have to finish the recording before we start planning for a tour. I was definitely a Lamouron. I can’t tell you how many times I went there but it was plenty. Kenny and I used to go there every weekend when we were younger. I played there a few times in bands I was in when I was younger also. They would always have national acts and the place would be packed. I’ve seen so many bands there. Some amazing, some not good at all. Type O started there and used to play there quite often in the beginning. They opened up for a few big bands at the time. Carnivore used to do well there and that carried over to Type O. We were the favorite house band so to speak.
Can I ask you how many cd’s Type O’ Negative has sold over the years? I’ll sincerely respect it if you prefer to not answer this, but at least tell me to fuck off and don’t give me that “Uh, we have no idea!” bullshit since nobody wants to hear that. I don’t mean to sound like a dick or anything, but come on, we’d really like to know…
Worldwide, I think it’s somewhere a little bit over two million.
Well, thanks for sharing that with us Johnny. I promise I won’t download the new album. Ok, it’s time to share some of your thoughts on these 10 bands/artists:
Guns n Roses: “Appetite For Destruction” is one of the greatest albums of all time.
Talking Heads: I recognize their place in rock history but I missed the boat on them.
David Bowie: Genius.
John Coltrane: Missed it completely.
The Smiths: I find them too whiney.
(Note by the mane: Morrissey a whiner? Of course not.)
Black Sabbath: You need to ask?
Depeche Mode: I liked their later stuff a lot. Their earlier stuff is a little fruity for my taste.
Devo: Beyond innovative. Too ahead of their time.
Faith No More: I only know the songs that were on MTV.
The band that you really like but the rest of the guys can’t stand:
There is usually at least one other person in the band that would like what I would listen to. If I threw on any hair-band, I would probably make the guys annoyed.
Even if it was Ratt? Ok, to finish things off, give us a quick outlook for the future of Type O Negative. Have you ever woken up one day and said “Man, I just need to quit this music thing and get a “regular” career”? I fucking hope not since in my opinion, you guys are one of the most talented bands out there. Let us know in your words what Type O has in store for the masses.
I’ve had mornings like that as I’ve gotten older but then I realize that I’m not really qualified to do anything else. Without a doubt, there are times when I take a hard look at myself and wonder where my life is headed. With this kind of lifestyle, the ups and downs tend to be extreme. There really isn’t too much middle of the road going on. It’s either great or it’s the last place on earth you want to be. I love doing this so much and I have a strong passion for playing and that’s what keeps me in the game.
And by the way, I lied about 20 questions, so here’s another one. What would be your all-time favourite and least favourite moment while playing in the band?
There have been times when the band didn’t have a good show and the train derailed and that’s never a good thing because we’re very critical of ourselves. Being in the studio working on new songs can get really frustrating and it takes a lot out of you. I truly enjoy the live element and nothing compares to being in a crowded venue with everyone singing your songs with you. When everything is going right and the band is firing on all cylinders, there’s nothing that tops it. One show that stands out to me was when we played The Palace in LA in 99 when “World Coming Down” had just been released. The place was sold out and there was this energy in the building. The band came out and kicked ass! It was one of the few times where we all walked off stage in agreement that it was a great show.
I’ve decided to throw in one last extra question since I know you’re having a ball, Johnny. What would be the one and only, single, most valuable life lesson you’ve learned as an individual in the past X years.
I’ve never felt like that I know everything and I try to find lessons in all my experiences. I just try to live my life to best of my abilities and I try to treat everyone I meet with respect. I don’t think that I’m above anyone and I don’t appreciate it when people do that with me. I would say that I’ve learned to make the most of what you have while you have it because it’s not going to last forever.
That being said, thank you very much for your time, Johnny. If you’ve made it up to here, cheers to you and the guys, and I truly appreciate the time and effort you put in to this. Respect goes out to Luna for hooking me up with your e-mail.
Thanks for the support and again, I apologize for taking so long to get this back to you. If you need anything else, please let me know.