TYPE O NEGATIVE Guitarist KENNY HICKEY Finally Got Sober Less Than Three Years Ago

November 17, 2022

In a new interview with the "Behind The Vinyl" podcast, former TYPE O NEGATIVE guitarist Kenny Hickey remembered TYPE O's late frontman frontman Peter Steele who passed away in April 2010 from heart failure at the age of 48.

"For a long time, I was the one most likely to die, and then it switched over to him," Kenny said (as transcribed by BLABBERMOUTH.NET). "So we were always waiting for somebody to die. After a while, it starts feeding into this mythology of 'Maybe he's indestructible.' That's what gave birth to the cover of [TYPE O NEGATIVE's final album] 'Dead Again', of [the now-infamous Russian self-declared healer and holy man, Grigori] Rasputin. I used to call him 'Rasputin.' Because he'd get drunk and you [couldn't] kill him. He had a foot-long penis and he was dancing on the table. That was Peter. So I just called him Rasputin. That's how it ended up becoming the cover. And then that starts feeding into this mythology, and then suddenly, reality check, then you realize we're all mortal and everyone can die, and everyone will. So it's a shock."

Asked if he was sober at that time as well, the now-56-year-old musician said: "No. I just got sober. I have two years and nine months now. I was more… I can't say I was more controlled. I was off the rocker a lot, but there was times when I had to be more controlled 'cause I had kids and a wife. Peter didn't. So I would come back home and I'd on like a beer-only diet, something like that. And when I was away, I'd lose my mind. I'm lucky to be here too. And I'm grateful — grateful to be here. And I love being sober. I should have [done] this 20 years ago. [Laughs]

"I think you get used to being a certain way," Hickey added. "You build a reward system in your life, whatever it is — sex, food, whatever, beautiful women, rock and roll. For most of my life, since I was 12, one of my main reward systems was booze. So to change that is a very, very, very hard thing. It's a very big thing. Look at me. It took me 54 years. [Laughs] But you can — you can switch your reward system to other things."

Earlier this month, former TYPE O NEGATIVE drummer Johnny Kelly was asked by Germany's Sonic Seducer magazine if there has ever been any talk of staging a tour in honor of Steele. He responded: "I don't know if I would ever wanna do something like take it on the road or… It could never be a reunion; Peter's not there, so it's impossible to call it a reunion.

"I think that Peter's work deserves some kind of celebration," he continued. "And how that can happen, I really have no idea. But we've never seriously considered doing any kind of reunion or putting something out there as TYPE O NEGATIVE without Peter. Peter, his musicianship, his character — without him there, you can't call it TYPE O NEGATIVE."

This past February, Kelly confirmed to the "Loaded Radio" podcast that there has been "coffee talk" about a possible Peter Steele tribute concert. But, he clarified, "There was never any serious consideration, like, should we do something? Is there even a point of doing it? Or also, is it just a blatant cash grab? So all these things go through your head.

"People celebrate [Peter] all the time," he continued. "They do it daily. I see it online all the time and the impact that he had.

"Maybe somewhere down the road there may be something that's… I don't know. But I know that for me, it would have to include Kenny [Hickey, guitar] and Josh [Silver, keyboards] as well. Anything that we do, it would have to be the three of us. And there's no way you're getting Josh to do anything like that. [Laughs]"

Asked who would handle Peter's vocal parts if they ever did end up doing a tribute concert, Johnny said: "I don't know. I'd want a girl to do it. I'd want a female vocalist — like Ann Wilson [HEART] or something like that. [Laughs] But even so, that's the first thing. When you think about doing some kind of tribute show, you're just gonna get all these people… Yes, Peter was very highly regarded by our peers and stuff like that, and you'll just get a bunch of dudes up there just trying to sound like Peter. And you can't do that. And it's, like, all right, so what's the most remote thing from Peter? You'd have to do something completely abstract. And I would say get a female vocalist. I think Peter would get a kick out of… He would get off on seeing a girl sing his songs, seeing a female sing them. And it would really stress the point of doing something as a tribute instead of trying to recreate something."

Born Petrus T. Ratajczyk on January 4, 1962 in Brooklyn, New York, Steele stood 6' 7" (201 cm) tall, and had a low, bass-heavy voice, which was one of the most recognizable features in TYPE O NEGATIVE's music.

Before forming TYPE O NEGATIVE, Steele played for the metal group FALLOUT and the thrash band CARNIVORE.

"Going through a midlife crisis and having many things change very quickly made me realize my mortality," Steele told Decibel magazine in 2007. "And when you start to think about death, you start to think about what's after it. And then you start hoping there is a God. For me, it's a frightening thought to go nowhere. I also can't believe that people like Stalin and Hitler are gonna go to the same place as Mother Teresa."

In a 2020 interview with Meltdown of Detroit's WRIF radio station, Kelly said about Steele: "Peter, for the most part, he was a clown. He was always joking around — sarcastic, very self-deprecating humor. Just the opposite of what the music portrayed. When we were working on music and stuff, the end result, he was very serious about what he wanted, how he wanted something to sound. Other times, he was a clown.

"I always said that he wanted to be a normal person, but because he was Peter, that was just not in the cards for him; it was completely impossible," he continued. "I bet he would love to just be able to hang out, go to the bar, have a few drinks. And we would try to do that, and the minute he would come out to the bar, everybody gravitated towards him. He couldn't go to the store by his house without something happening to him."

Asked if that was because of Peter's size, Johnny said: "I think so. He just had this very striking look. He didn't look normal. And he had fangs. [Laughs] He was six and a half feet tall, [had] long black hair and fangs. You're not gonna get the normal response when you're going grocery shopping."

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