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Fifteen Minutes In The Ladies Room With Type O Negative's Josh Silver
By Mick Stingley, Contributor
Sunday, September 7, 2003 @ 11:20 AM
JOSH SILVER: It would be much better if there was somebody in here! KNAC.COM: I know we don’t have a lot of time, so tell me, why did it take so long to get out a new studio record? The last one, World Coming Down was 1999. You put out a collection, The Least Worst Of Type O Negative. Did it have anything to do with “9/11”? Were you impacted by that? As a New Yorker, how were you affected?
SILVER: Not because of “9/11.” No. It definitely did impact us, of course. I actually did a piece that I intended to put on the record that was-- some of the band members found so offensive that I had to make my own website to put it up because they thought it was… it’s done tastelessly, but I didn’t do it to be tasteless or-- it’s actually an audio soundscape having a lot to do with, of course, September 11th. It’s on my website, joshsilver.com just because if I ain’t getting it out on the record, I’m getting it out some way. And, I didn’t really do it to be offensive, or to minimize the deaths of all those involved, because it actually had an incredible impact on me and, like a photographer takes pictures, that was my way of taking a picture. That’s the only way I have to express myself. So that’s what I did. KNAC.COM: It is a difficult subject: I want to ask you -- I don’t want to trivialize it…
SILVER: Right, well that’s what they felt my piece did, and, you know? So… KNAC.COM: But you don’t feel that.
SILVER: NO, I don’t. I was-- I get very angry every time I drive past the site. I mean, I live here, you know? So… KNAC.COM: Were you here for that?
SILVER: Yeah… I was pushing a baby carriage around, with the burnt papers flying over my house… Dude -- it was some harsh shit. Smelling that… it was pretty ill, I gotta say. So, yeah, it changed our lives forever. I’m actually surprised it hasn’t or didn’t happen earlier. That’s the truth. Every country takes black eyes; we’re one of the biggest countries, so why shouldn’t we take a big black eye? KNAC.COM: How was the band affected overall… did that slow everything down?
SILVER: No, it didn’t really slow anything down, because we weren’t really into it at that time. Four years in between records for Type O isn’t really a gigantic leap. It’s not a big departure from where we were, doing three years in between albums. A regular band, an average band I should say, time wise, that would be a long time, but for us, it’s only a little longer than usual. So, three years between every other record… what’s four? [Laughs] KNAC.COM: You think it will be that long for the next one?
SILVER: I don’t want to guess, you know? God knows… I don’t even attempt to predict the future to that extent. KNAC.COM: I was under the impression that you are at the end of your contract with your label, Roadrunner. Does that--
SILVER: It is. There is… this is the last record on Roadrunner, unless we “re-up” with them for some last minute reason that I am currently not aware of. So that makes it even harder to say when, you know? KNAC.COM: But right now, you have a stellar new album -- Life Is Killing Me. People love it -- it’s getting a lot of airplay; you charted Top 40 your first week out… that’s got to feel great, no?
SILVER: I don’t know… public opinion never really… I hate to say it, but it never really meant much to me. World Coming Down charted, and people look at that as this dismal thing that was unsellable, but to me it was one of the best pieces of art that we’ve ever done, so I don’t really care what people think -- that’s the truth. I loved it; I understand why it would be a tough sell because writing an album about depression, drug addiction and loss of family members during the Millennium celebration is probably not the easiest thing to deal with, you know? [Laughs] It had a lot to say, and to me that meant a lot. Again, I don’t judge my feelings about a record by how the world perceives it. I think it’s an okay album. Do I think it was THE BEST thing we’ve ever done? No I don’t. KNAC.COM: I liked it.
SILVER: I think it’s one of the more easily digestible things we’ve done. Do I think it’s the best? Well, that’s a touchy thing, man. KNAC.COM: It’s still a Type O record. I’m curious to know what you think, because to me you have such a signature sound, and I think -- correct me if I’m wrong -- but you obviously have influences that could be said you wear on your sleeves: Sabbath, the Beatles particularly, and I hear The Sisters Of Mercy all over the place…
SILVER: I think that’s just Peter’s range and melody and just the nature of being in that range and being melodic. I don’t really think it’s intentional, but-- KNAC.COM: Well, do you think that, do you see the influence of -- and what is your opinion on it -- when you see or hear other bands coming up that are so clearly influenced by you? Interestingly, Lacuna Coil, who is opening for you on tour tonight -- later on in September, Portugal’s Moonspell… Sweden’s Theatre Of Tragedy is another one I think of that really sound an awful lot like you guys in their own way. Where before there really hadn’t been that kind of sound -- that Type O soun -- suddenly, in the last few years, there is this advent of new bands -- a new genre that emulates you.
SILVER: Well, that’s debatable. And YES -- regardless of what our careers have done financially, or personally, I feel it is extremely important to me-- [The bathroom door swings open and a girl looks curiously inside. I am sitting on the vanity, and Josh Silver is facing the door.] SILVER: HI! Come on in... [Smiles] GIRL: [Laughs] Oh! This is a little weird… KNAC.COM: [Laughs]
SILVER: It’s very weird. You can use the men’s room, though. GIRL: Um… it’s all right. KNAC.COM: [to Josh Silver] I can stop-- we can… GIRL: No, it’s all right. SILVER: Ohh… all right… women have good holding power though. [The girl exits.] KNAC.COM: I guess I could just leave the tape on… [At this point, another girl looks in] SILVER: HI! We needed someplace clean, so we took the ladies room. GIRL #2: Oh, sorry… [At this point, both Josh and myself are laughing pretty hard, as this is so odd.] SILVER: This is hilarious. This is the best part of the interview! We should have done a video interview in here… just shot it in here… KNAC.COM: It’s not too late -- they still have those cameras outside…
SILVER: Oh, well… um… I think- we were talking about… I think it’s very important, and I feel like we have, regardless of public acknowledgement or commercial success, you know? I think we have pushed music to more of a degree than many bands that have as little commercial recognition as we do -- does that make sense? Because we’ve never really had this huge commercial success, but there is that… and I do feel that we’ve pushed the genre to a point. Maybe not totally invented it, but we left a mark. We pissed on the world and we stained it! We stained the world! [Laughs] KNAC.COM: [Laughs] and nicely, I would add.
SILVER: Nicely or not, even to have had that kind of impact on others is much more than I ever wanted, or anticipated. KNAC.COM: As the keyboardist, or pianist of the band, I’m curious to know what training or education you had, if anything, that helped form your development and the sound of Type O?
SILVER: Oh, no -- I’m actually a horrible keyboard player… I’m not lying to you. I mean, my real love is production and studio work. You know, I spent time on the usual piano lessons when I was eight, and like all little Jewish kids that get pushed into that by their mothers -- “Take the piano lessons!” -- and I did… I was classically trained, and I was a decent keyboard player when I was 15, but all that kind of went out the window, you know? Expression and finesse are vastly different things. I’m technically an atrocious keyboard player, but I can get my point across, so that’s all that matters. KNAC.COM: You brought up the point about production: since you guys produce your own albums and they’re so good, has anybody ever tapped you, or said, “Why don’t we get those guys? Look what they do to their stuff!” Would you pursue that?
SILVER: Yeah, well, I’ve done other people’s records. Did the “LOA” record years ago -- “Life Of Agony” -- their first album. I did a band called, “PIST-ON.” I did a band called “Sheer Terror,” and a couple of things here and there. I’m a real scumbag to work with. I mean, I’m hard to work with. And production is a very political job and I don’t play the game. You know, these bands, they want to hear, “This is great! You’re gonna sell a million! This is great! This is great!” And the producer takes his money and walks out the door and the band goes down the toilet and that’s it, you know; it’s the end of it. If I hear that something needs improvement, and I’m working with a new band, I’m gonna tell them, “Hey, that needs work.” They don’t want to hear that. They want the guy who’s gonna kiss their ass. Send them out to fail rather than the person that’s going to work them to death, and to really put an effort into making it better. So there’s not really a market for a producer like me. That’s the truth. I am very bad at political games. I’m crappy. I’m a scumbag, and I know it. I don’t care, you know? That’s just the way I am. KNAC.COM: Do you consider yourself an artist by that definition?
SILVER: Scumbag? [Laughs] KNAC.COM: Well, you test yourself, you test others -- you want the best…
SILVER: Well, I just think that’s a producer’s job. I think there is a confusion in what people call a producer these days. I think the word ‘producer’ now ninety percent of the time describes an engineer. An engineer is the guy that sits behind the board and makes sure the bass sounds are good, and the drum sounds are good. A producer, to me, is a guy who gets into the actual music, and the direction of a record and not someone that sits there and says, “Okay, you need more top on the kick-drum, man!” You know? Like who cares? There’s great, great music that sounds like shit, and there’s shit music that sounds great and it still sucks, so, you know… one thing has nothing to do with the other. The Beatles mixes are atrocious at moments, and it’s still great and it doesn’t matter. Like Meatloaf -- you ever listen to Bat Out Of Hell? Jim Steinman, a brilliant writer, and Meatloaf is an excellent performer. Ellen Foley is incredible, and man -- that fuckin’ drum set sounds like paper bags half the time, but you know what? It was done at Todd Rundgren’s home studio, but it’s so good, it doesn’t matter. You know what I mean?
It’s not about ‘sonics’; it’s about emotion. And that’s why I think producers today -- they just want the fuckin’ money, man. It’s like, “Gimme your money, I’ll tell you you’re great!”and they move on to the next project. Bullshit your way in, and put your hand out… KNAC.COM: Would it be fair to say that this business has left you more than a little jaded?
SILVER: No, I started jaded. I think I’ve always had a realistic impression of it. It’s human nature, you know? This business is probably no worse than most businesses. Wherever there’s money, there’s corruption. Some idiot is fucking right now building twelve buildings in Manhattan using screws he knows damn well suck, but he’s saving ten cents a shot, so he’s willing to risk people’s lives for his own fuckin’ pocket. So you know, I think it extends into human nature. It’s not just about music, there’s scumbags everywhere. There’s integrity -- there’s good people and there’s fucked-up people. That’s it. Same everyplace. [Pauses, then whispers] There’s good journalists -- people that want to hear the truth… KNAC.COM: [Laughs] Uh-oh…
SILVER: …they ask good questions, and there’s guys that fuckin’ just blow it by and don’t really put any thought into it, so… KNAC.COM: Oh, man… now I feel terrible…
SILVER: Why? You didn’t put enough thought into it? [Laughs] KNAC.COM: I’m wondering… worrying… I wasn’t even sure who I would be talking to today, if anyone… I wrote up a few questions for everyone… things never go the way you think…
SILVER: Well, you’re better than most people, I gotta tell you… some of these guys, you know… dude -- you can’t do the best job every time, you know? That’s the way it goes -- that’s life. Every song can’t be good. I know that. I listen to our records. [Laughs] KNAC.COM: Do you? Do you listen to your own music?
SILVER: Ah, no -- never! Once it’s done, that’s it. I never hear it again, until I have to play it… KNAC.COM: Okay… switching here… I was under the impression -- correct me if I’m wrong -- and only if you want to talk about it: that you’re a father. How is that on the road?
SILVER: It’s hard, uh… it gives me too much time to think about it. Probably, a necessary evil, I mean… it was very long… a ten-month death that was long and stressed out and uh… KNAC.COM: A ten-month death? I’m sorry, I don’t think I understand… I missed--
SILVER: Oh, what are we talking about? What are YOU saying? KNAC.COM: About you being a father?
SILVER: Oh, God, okay!
SILVER: No, no -- it’s okay…dude… I thought you were saying—[sighs] My father recently passed away. KNAC.COM: Oh, fuck… I’m sorry… I was asking about…
SILVER: No, dude, it’s cool. Shit happens. Life goes on. [Long pause] Ahhh…. Yeah, being a father is awesome -- the hardest best thing I’ve ever done, other than music. KNAC.COM: How old?
SILVER: Two and a half now. And she’s putting me through the ringer… [Laughs]. All the time! KNAC.COM: Did your father get to meet her?
SILVER: Yeah… not enough time, though. Not enough time. You know? He would have been a great grandfather… but for the little time he knew her, it was great. A terrible loss, unfortunately, for us. And his… a mutual loss. KNAC.COM: Oh, man… I don’t know why I thought this was going to be a happy and light interview. I have all these funny ideas about how things are going to go, and…
SILVER: [Laughs] That’s okay… it can be funny, too! [Laughs] KNAC.COM: No, no, no… be who you are…
SILVER: I AM funny, too -- sometimes! KNAC.COM: You ARE funny. I know, I listen to that stuff on the albums… I get it… And, well, I’m under the impression that Peter writes all the lyrics…
SILVER: Yes he does. We all have that stupid sense of humor, we’re all Brooklynites, growing up with all that sarcasm… KNAC.COM: Does he ever come to you with lyrics, and you’re just, like, “What? What?”
SILVER: Yeah… I mean, I don’t agree with, you know, a hundred per cent of the lyrical content. I think he does come up with some really good lyrics, and I can agree with some of them; I don’t agree with a hundred per cent of them, but this is America: you’re allowed to do things I don’t agree with. That’s fine. KNAC.COM: I’m curious, because you mentioned it and I won’t go into it if it doesn’t matter…
SILVER: Whatever you want, bro: I’m totally open to it. KNAC.COM: You mentioned about growing up-- you brought up “a little Jewish kid taking piano lessons” -- are you observant? Are you going to bring up your daughter…
SILVER: [Clears throat] I’m not observant, obviously. KNAC.COM: Well, I noticed the tattoos… I kind of had a feeling.
SILVER: Ah… yeah, and I live in a very Orthodox neighborhood, which is really funny. Uh… no I am not-- I don’t believe, actually, in God, or anything of that nature, but since going to Dachau, the concentration camp in Germany, I have become acutely aware of the cultural aspect, that whether I look like this or not -- it does exist. My wife, happens to be Jewish. I would have married her if she wasn’t, you know -- it has nothing to do with it. But yeah, I think, you know: you gotta know where you come from. It doesn’t mean you’re better or worse, but you should know. Every race and every culture has a history, and, yeah, you know, Jews have been pretty beat up [laughs] over the centuries, and still… I still hear shit all the time. KNAC.COM: I’m curious -- I don’t think this part will make the interview -- but I have been seeing a girl who’s… her parents are Orthodox. There’s a lot going on, since I’m Catholic.
SILVER: Just tell ‘em you’re “half Jewish -- only the good half!” like in Goodfellas! [Laughs] KNAC.COM: (laughs) If we were to go the distance- I’d have to convert… which is a pretty hardcore thing. I think it’s called a “Mikvah”…
SILVER: Nooooo… a “Mikvah” is when you’re done with your period you have to go clean up. [Laughs] A “Mikvah” is a building where an Orthodox woman goes after her period, because an Orthodox man cannot have sex with his wife until she has been “to the Mikvah” after her period… don’t make that mistake! [Laughs] You’ll be really sorry if you make that mistake… [Laughs] We have plenty of “Mikvahs” in my neighborhood, so… KNAC.COM: [Laughs] Oh, man… sorry -- I have a tendency to go off-subject sometimes. Let’s change the subject: you’re a New Yorker… where can you find-- who has the best pizza in the city?
SILVER: The best pizza? Brooklyn, of course. Frank’s on Flatbush Avenue in Brooklyn. I love it. Yeah… great pizza. We’ve got a big Italian community, so obviously you’re gonna get good pizza there. KNAC.COM: Okay. Speaking of Italians… Sal [Abruscato, the first TON drummer, now in Life Of Agony and Supermassiv] was on the album… on “I Like Goils”…
SILVER: He just happened to be hanging out. We had no one else there but Sal, Peter and me, and we needed group vocals, to get that “Hoo-hoo!” sound. It helped out… so we actually got in the room. He didn’t mind doing it, ‘cause, you know we’re all family. He’s working with LOA right now… we’ve always stayed in contact, we’ve always been friends, so, you know? KNAC.COM: Any chance for a family-style Type O – LOA tour, ever?
SILVER: Oh, well, I think it would be a great bill, actually, but-I think that they would need to be headlining for the money, and we would need to be headlining for the money, and, the way things are, there just isn’t that kind of money to support that kind of tour, you know what I mean? Like, somebody really has to be getting supported by a record company to take a lot less money if they weren’t headlining. We couldn’t go and do that, and split a headlining guarantee with somebody, and survive. We just simply can’t. It’s not fiscally a feasible thing. I would love to do that, though, because obviously I love them, love the band, produced them, and I pushed for their first record deal, and I was very involved with them. We’ll see, you never know, I guess. KNAC.COM: You mentioned tour support from the record company. I have been wondering lately how a band really makes money, especially when they’re not touring. There are different levels of success. And as far as Type O is concerned, does the record company actually help you out when you’re not touring?
SILVER: No. Not really -- not at all. No. You know, it’s really up to you and your management to plan how you’re going to make money. It is rough at moments. Spotty. There’s nothing stable about it at all. When are you going to get paid? When the next record’s done -- and when is that? As soon as we’re done, and that’s that. [Laughs] So… It’s scary. Especially when you have kids and you’re not-- we’re not twenty years old anymore, we’re in our forties… KNAC.COM: You’re 40?
SILVER: I’m fuckin’ 40, dude. So, I’m like… SHIT! [Laughs] It’s a little scary; but, I know how to work hard, and have always known how to work hard, so regardless of what happens, I’ll work. KNAC.COM: I saw your show at CB’s in June: that was your first show in about two years. And it was terrific -- especially to see you in such a small venue! And it was even more of a treat to hear all that old material… “Unsuccessfully Coping”…
SILVER: You’re gonna see it again tonight! It’s the same set! KNAC.COM: The same set?
SILVER: Same fuckin’ set! KNAC.COM: Not anything new -- you did “I Don’t Wanna Be Me”… but--
SILVER: Nothing. KNAC.COM: No “Electrocute?” “I Like Goils?” “Angry Inch?” Nothing?
SILVER: It’s a long story… [At this point, another girl enters the bathroom] SILVER: HI! We won’t listen to you! Go ahead! [Laughs] Girl #3: Oh… nuh-uh! THAT’S TOO WEIRD!!! SILVER: We’re doing an interview -- you’ll be in the interview! KNAC.COM: I’ll need your name, of course…
SILVER: C’mon in… Girl #3: I don’t want to be in an interview… SILVER: It’s only a “wee-wee” isn’t it? Come on! Girl #3: Ohh…. SILVER: I’m teaching my kid potty training -- this is nothing new. I know what it sounds like! And I don’t have to applaud for you! [Laughs] Unless you want me to! Girl #3: Nooo!!! SILVER: Okay, then just go in the corner… Girl #3: Uh-uh! SILVER: Jesus… are you a New Yorker? [Laughs] Girl #3: I’m a Brooklynite! SILVER: SO AM I!!! Do you want to bring some other girls in there, so you’ll feel like you have company? KNAC.COM: I can run some water… Girl #3: I’ll wait! I’ll wait! [Exits] SILVER: Unbelievable…. KNAC.COM: Well, I think perhaps we should wrap it up -- they’re going to accuse you of things… Let’s, uh… what are you listening to these days? Do you listen to the radio at all?
SILVER: No… once in a while. I don’t know, I guess I just want to see what the condition of popular music is in… I’m pretty disappointed these days. KNAC.COM: As a father, do you find yourself listening to a lot of Elmo and stuff like that?
SILVER: Oh, sure! There’s ‘Barney’ at our house. Barney’s the shit! [Laughs] She likes it, and you know… I hated Barney for so many years, but, you know what? It brings so much happiness to my kid, to see her smile -- then I don’t give a fuck, it’s worth it! If it makes the kid happy, then it works for me. KNAC.COM: All right, that’s nice. Let’s end on that….
SILVER: That’s it! BARNEY RULES!
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