Remembering our friend, Peter Steele (1962-2010)
We were lucky enough to be part of Type O Negative's last tour, along with Kenny and Johnny's side project, Seventh Void. The memories of that short run in late October of 2009 are heartwarming and joyous, and for me that includes getting the opportunity to work alongside and befriend an icon of mine, Mr. Peter Steele.
The most important thing that I want people to know about Pete is how humble and kind he was. Although his 6 foot 7 inch frame took up most of whatever room he was in, he seemed more comfortable being in the background and supplying choice witty commentary, most often self deprecating and always hilarious. My manager, Damon Moreno, became friends with Pete early on in the tour, and arranged for me to come onto their tour bus to meet him for the first time after a show in Hartford, CT. His gentle handshake belied his massive frame and he offered me a slice of pizza and tried to make me as comfortable as possible, amid the bedlam of a tour bus crowded with bands and supporters. I told him what a fan I was of his work and our talk ranged from music to his physique of old, which he was anxious to return to. He would intersperse between jokes, over and over, with a serious voice and deadly serious tone, "if you guys need ANYTHING- if you're sick- if you need any help- come over I'll take care of you." I walked out of the tour bus with my manager excited to have met the legend and come away even more impressed with his kindness.
The next show, in Cleveland at the House Of Blues, afforded me my fondest memory: working out with Peter Steele. After soundcheck, Peter popped his head in our dressing room bearing a gift of some red wine. In fact the wine had been given to him, but he was to be completely sober and drug free during this tour and offered it to us. He then offered the use of his free weights if we wanted to use them and motioned to come next door. He had a couple 50 lb dumbbells that they were using to exercise with, and I was overjoyed at the opportunity to talk fitness with one of the people who inspired me to be a frontman with an intimidating physique. We picked up the dumbbell for a bit and spoke about his physical ailments- his knees and back, and how he always wanted to develop his shoulders more. I brought up my infamous kettlebells, which like Pete had a Russian heritage. He was very interested in them and I could tell he had a great respect for traditional strongmen and the proven techniques of old. In the meantime, my guitarist Bruce and Damon had gotten one of the kettlebells from the van, and started shooting some video while I showed Pete how to properly swing and press it. He picked it up and exclaimed just how heavy and "dead" the weight was and lifted it a few times, very reverential toward it as a true strongman's tool. I never had a chance to really train him and he was timid to go all out with any of the weights but afterward we all sat down and he told stories about working out in the back of his bus on the Danzig tour. As he was doing bench presses and the Type O bus was clipped and tipped slightly by the Danzig bus. Mid rep, he watched helplessly as the room tilted, causing the weight to shift to one side and fall off the bar. This caused the heavy side to fall through the floor of his room, nearly destroying the engine.
Pete loved to poke fun at our haircuts. When asked about us on the radio, he said: "Destrophy. Great guys with bad haircuts." He would always yell at Joe when passing him in the hall: "Ay- when are ya gonna get a real haircut??" Phil, who has a shaved head, told Pete he'd pay for Joe to get an appointment with his barber. Pete said: "You pay him too much!"
I remember with great pride the feeling of having Pete come watch us side stage on one of our best nights on tour, in front of an initially hostile crowd in Clifton Park, NY. Everyone had arms crossed and could have cared less for an unknown band that was getting in the way of them watching their boys in Type O; but we did our thing with as much intensity as we could muster, and I remember looking over at the side of the stage and seeing my hero right there, watching us do our best.
One of the last days on tour, at the Rave in Milwaukee, Pete asked if he could come hang in our room for a while, just to get away from the noise and the smoke and the drinking. He was outfitted with a sensor on his leg that would detect any alcohol in his body, even to the point of certain perfumes, and this would have violated the terms of his parole. He seemed to enjoy the relative calm of our dressing room, content to tell a few stories and jokes, always making fun of himself. He talked about how he used to drink a bottle or two of wine to get himself ready for stage to deal with his nerves, and how now he understood as a sober person what it's like to deal with people that are drinking.
Damon had become quite close to Pete during the tour. In fact, Damon had been the most passionate Type O fan, having seen them 12 times on his own before going out on tour with them. He wanted people to see the new Peter Steele- the newly sober man, fighting to get his life back on track, and offered to shoot a question and answer session with him so that Pete's fans could see where his head was at and to talk about his plans for the future. Pete was very excited about this idea and did the video, and the footage is wonderful and gives great insight into Pete as a recovering alcoholic, his thoughts on religion, and in general gives an endearing profile of a very penitent man.
It was the scary times of H1N1 and Phil had become very sick, in fact having to leave the stage during our Chicago performance on October 30th several times to throw up into a trashcan (while still playing the bass parts). Noticing that Phil was ill, before the show Pete snuck in our dressing room with a pile of Pepto and allergy meds and said that Phil could ride in the tour bus if he needed. Pete repeatedly asked us to all come onstage and "help them" with the chorus to their finale, Black No.1. It took me until that Chicago date, the second to last show, to finally have the courage to get up there with Joe and the other guys from Seventh Void and gang vocal it, but I always appreciated how emphatic he was and how gracious he was to share the stage with us.
Our last show was at Harpo's in Detroit, and by then we had all caught that nasty cold, complete with coughing, nausea, and overall horribleness and decided to head home as quickly as possible, so I never got to say a proper goodbye to Peter. I saw Johnny Kelly on the way out and told him thank you for the opportunity and what a pleasure it was to meet everyone. Johnny lamented that I never hung out enough, and this was very true as I'm actually a very shy person and have difficulty mingling with the partying alphas and adapting to their world. But I am thankful that I was able to spend a great deal of quality time with a fellow shy guy; a humble, respectful, and wonderful human being; our friend, Peter Steele.
Grab Big J a cappuccino, cause it's been a looooong winter!
Sometimes, when it gets cold enough (and it has been), I like to imagine Jesus, thumbing through a paperback edition of the Bible, browsing the Bargain Books section at Barnes & Noble.
Surely, this statement shocks you, and I thought the same as you do: How did that paperback end up in the Bargain Books with all the surfboard sized cookbooks and kitch-y calendars? Clearly a stocking issue, but for the purpose of moving forward (and somewhat less sideways), imagine big J in a calm moment of reflection, a Kohl's shopping bag in the crook of his arm (always lookin' for the sweet sales, big J is), picking up the Good Book, and observe as curiosity becomes chagrin and his bearded lips form: "WTF."
Yes, the same WTF that we all experience when we see great ideas twisted and perverted into weak, distorted doppelgangers with freaky teeth. Like when I saw Spider-man 3, or when the dude in Something About Mary hears about 6 Minute Abs. That moment of, "What? Wait... No! Seriously? Come ON!! Why???"
Institutionalized sacred beliefs and philosophies notwithstanding, sometimes people just miss the mark entirely. G.W.'s favorite sleepy-time stories of cultural conquest and power struggles in his Good Book belie the peaceful philosophy put forth by the original Dude who abided (Apparently, also a tremendous fan of supper, parties, and liked wine a hell of a lot more than water). G.W. even cites big J as his favorite philosopher, but judging by his actions, he must have swapped his King James for like, the Rick James version.
"I don't get it." Fair enough.
The point is: great ideas rarely survive incompetent interpreters. And when incompetents become standard-bearers, and when the standard is distortion, the original idea becomes early 90's mom pants, left hanging in the back of the closet or thrown away, thought about with a brief, horrific shudder then immediately forgotten. The best lies are deeply rooted in the original truths, and there's the rub - the distortion is so close to the original that if you move fast enough (and we all are), you can easily mistake a Hydrox for an Oreo. Who would rather have Oreos? Scary fact- Hydrox was first and Oreos ripped em off and killed them!!!
"Did Lard Ass have to pay to get in the contest?" What? Not... that's just... That's not the point, son. You have missed the point. "Well, that dude's not real, and Mel Gibson killed him anyway." Yes. You win. Personally, I would be first in line to see his take on Michael Jackson and maybe even Santa Claus, but that's just me.
Anyway, I hope that we (you and I) made some sort of connection here, and the next time you go to Barnes & Noble and you see someone dressed straight out of the first century in the Bargain Books section with a look of dismay, maybe you'll casually guide him over to the music and DVD's where our real contributions to history and culture can be found! Order him a cappuccino and take him to the relative safety of the Disney collection where he can purchase The Chronicles of Narnia and High School Musical 2! Hey... who put that People Magazine with nude pictures of Vanessa Hudgens over here... No, Jesus, NO!!!
What's up everyone????? I'm writing this to you from a lobby at our hotel in London, where my friend Kareem Salama and I are about to perform tomorrow. Well, we're not performing in the hotel, it's actually in Wembley Arena, opening for Sami Yusuf - A Concert for Peace in Darfur.
The plane ride over here- turbulence over Canada- we're talking shaking from side to side like Airplane, a couple Aliens style drops and rattling. I kept thinking the oxygen masks were coming down. Kept thinking about Lost. I was thinking- hmmm... finished the album and won't get to see what happens next. Trite, but serious!
So- the album is done! And it can be in your hands or computer soon! If you come to see us perform at the House Of Bricks in Des Moines, Iowa on Oct. 27th (5-9, all ages- $10) with Mindrite, Sidewise, and Cassandra Disease, you will walk away with a free copy of the album, fresh off the presses. We will have an order form up at Destrophy.com as soon as they are available for purchase.
We're very proud of our latest studio work, and also of the story behind the album. Bolstered by Ryan Berrier's amazing artwork and design, "The Way Of Your World" is much inspired by Plato's: The Allegory of the Cave. The idea that often times we are shown things and told what they are as opposed to seeing and divining what they are for ourselves. It is an album composed of questions, introspection, and ultimately perseverance (like William Hung!). Seriously- thought was put into every word, every mark on the album, and it means a lot to us. We hope you enjoy the work, and perhaps derive from it some inspiration and satisfaction.
In addition- there are some re-records of the songs we still play live from Chrysalis, and I was happy to finally sing and reword Rise Again to represent the tribute to the gladiators it was supposed to be! With the 4 songs from Pray included, you have this album: you have Destrophy in your hands. Watch out!!! We're hungry and squiggly!!!!
With that, I will return to my room to get a meager helping of food, as I have challenged myself calorically, in preparation for donning the unforgiving garb of King Leonidas on the Oct. 27th Halloween show. We promise it will be a show you will enjoy and remember fondly:) Keep writing- I'm sorry I've been pretty much holed up for the past few weeks, but will be back at the boards when I get back to the states. Thank you all for caring, and hope to see you soon!
To the Members of the Destrophican Republic (accent "STROPH". Like - where you gonna eat? "At BENnigans." The longer the intro, the more you are wondering what I have to say? Let's just settle down here...):
We will be releasing a new album, including "This Is Not My Life" and "Empty" and "Losing Everything" as well as re-recorded versions of selected songs off both the Chrysalis and Pray CD's. I'm very excited to do some things that I've always wanted to on those songs, so expect some surprises. The cover songs will not be included on this new disc. We will have a CD release show on Saturday, October 27th, in Des Moines at the House Of Bricks with our friends in Mindrite, Cruciful, and The Cassandra Disease- early (5pm) and all ages. Each attendee gets a free copy of the new CD! We will be in costume... wait, it's Halloween, too? OK, cool- then being in costumes will make sense! Anyway- we've got some cool promotional things coming at you for that show- some stuff to win- some stuff to eat- maybe even some stuff to eat to win... I'll figure it out soon.
So- that's coming up in October, and we'll also be at the House Of Bricks on Sept 14th opening for Mindrite's CD release- so hope to see you there at the early show. My summer has been occupied with recording quite a few other projects, including that Mindrite CD, as well as working with hometown heroes, Index Case, on a new song, "Blood And A Siren" that just debuted on their MySpace page. Also our good friends in Cruciful, and Goodbye Vienna have new songs recorded here at Inner Light Records (my 8 x 10 cell). I have also been occupied with my Country-Western-Muslim artist (what?), Kareem Salama, who I produce and write music for, as well as perform with as acoustic guitarist. There's some youtube footage out there, as well as his website if you want to hear what my brain sounds like, filtered through the Dixie Chicks: www.kareemsalama.com
Well, that's pretty much my life recap for the past few months- just to explain to you all who lovingly ask: "where the hell is the CD, buttface?" I am also totally recovered from the herniated stomach and back to my old tricks- again thank you to all who have written and wished me well.
We want to wish Mr. Jesse "Turff" McInturff well as he takes over full time as guitarist for Screaming Mechanical Brain in his home state of Minnesota. We have enjoyed playing with the bottle of greased lightning and he was very much a part of getting the old dog back out of the cage, but making the poor guy drive 6 hours to play for 30 minutes was just getting to be too much, as well as the fact that SMB is pretty much on tour through 2011! Anyway- big mad love to 'Turff!
And thank YOU for reading this far;) We're very much looking forward to this CD release and to play for you and eat ice cream. Thank you, and goodnight!
My dear friends. I regret to say that I will be unable to perform for the next 6 weeks due to an umbilical hernia as a result of my zeal for lifting heavy items. First of all, if I may address the word, "hernia". Calling a rupture or a protruding organ a "hernia" is like calling a bullet wound a "sally", or calling a beheading a "rodriguez". I don't think that the name captures the nature of the affliction. In my case, due to constant strain and exertion, a weakening in the area just above my belly button resulted in a tear and a poking through of some fat tissue, accompanied by a good amount of old fashioned pain. So, I saw a surgeon today, and he tells me that they are going to knock me out, slice me open right there and remove the piece of fat, and sew me up as well as leave a mesh piece there to help protect that spot in the future. I had 2 suggestions. Suggestion the first: While you're in there doc, how about you remove ALL the fat, and spare me the future efforts that caused the hernia in the first place? Suggestion the second: Why use mesh, when we could easily put in the kevlar piece that I always wanted? I'm hoping the fact that he left the room as quickly as he did meant that he was rushing to the kevlar factory before it closed. Either way, I'm an extremely squeamish fellow. You know the people that eat a big plate of spaghetti and meatballs while watching Animal Planet's "Dog Heart Transplant" marathons? That's not me. The last time I had an I.V. in me, the doctors tripped over it. TWICE.
Anyway- humor aside, I'm really sorry about letting you all down and letting the bands that we were playing with down. I certainly didn't plan for something like this, and this "time off" will be nothing of the kind. I'm already plotting ways of hooking up a series of 9 Volts to get muscle stimulation while remaining motionless. I have a Rube Goldberg-like contraption cobbled together from pots, pans, and an open door microwave, set up to bathe my body in different kinds of radiation, in case one of them yields a Wolverine-like healing factor. We'll have time to get the new material finished and ready to perform when we come back, so I can truthfully say that the next Destrophy show (March 31st at the House Of Bricks) will be brand new material and a brand new stage show!
In the meantime, I appreciate everyone who's contacted me and wished me luck, and to everyone out there, friends and bands, I'm sorry about this and promise to make up for it. In these final hours before they gut me, I will enjoy one last ColdStone, and whistle the theme to M.A.S.H. Remember you can get at me on myspace or e-mail me at: firstname.lastname@example.org. Until next we meet, so long!