Veteran guitarist and accomplished musician Kenny Hickey of Type O Negative stopped in for a conversation on Mosh Talks to revisit the chronology of one of heavy music's most important, enduring bands.
Beginning with an update on his current project in Silvertomb, Hickey discussed how he has navigated the pandemic by staying creative, piecing together a studio at home, and working on new material to maintain his connection with fans.
Hickey then took it back to the earliest days of working with Peter Steele, even prior to being known as Type O Negative. The guitarist talked about some of the band's first shows and the culture clash that ensued when the band, then Repulsion, hit the stage to play 15-minute dirges to tight rooms packed with skinheads looking to mosh.
It was the beginning of a cultural shift in heavy music that would see unconventional bands, bands well outside of the big hair, arena anthem format, score big successes while maintaining a cult like following. Type ) Negative were among the trailblazers in that respect. Hickey would cite bands ranging from Jane's Addiction to Nine Inch Nails as contemporaries that he loved and respected that were also ahead of the curve.
Acknowledging how Type O Negative undeniably thrived in the fringe, Hickey attributed the band's ascension to timing and circumstance. It was different enough to be intriguing to people and yet had familiar elements that we're readily recognizable. Hickey cited that an album like Bloody Kisses was multi-faceted enough to fit everywhere but different such that it didn't fit anywhere.
In challenging the status quo with their music, there were instances that the big machine of the industry did make an attempt to tame Type O with into something more conventional. Hickey joked about how the ask of them was to create singles that could be purposed for radio and the result was October Rust. Such a stretch from a radio-friendly record, the conversation broke into laughter at the thought.
The exchange would dig deeper into the dynamics of albums bookending from Bloody Kisses to World Coming Down. Hickey would explain that there was an identity to each record that galvanized the band's most ardent supporters but might have warded off the casual listener. Particularly on the ominously prophetic World Coming Down, the changing landscape of music and the emergence of a new era of artists positioned Type O Negative as particularly fringe - a reality that worked in drawing a line in the sand between the fans and those that were just familiar.
It's that 'all or nothing' quality that is particular to Type O Negative and at least part of why the band is experiencing a resurgence among a modern era of fans and bands.
There really is no such thing as a casual Type O fan and that is consistent with a collective of musicians that never created casually. The goth metal pioneers that weren't afraid to be romantic, defy the expectations of masculinity, and think outside of the confines of genre specific songwriting, never chased trends, they set them. That kind of art is both fearless and timeless - endearing and enduring.
Watch the complete interview with Kenny Hickey of Type O Negative on the Knotfest interview series, Mosh Talks.