Being Sober Is Like Being Addicted to Life

Alas, here is what Nikolas Kolenich turned in for his "newswriting" class on December 9, 2009. Thank you Nikolas for sharing your article and allowing us to peek into your Flickr account for show photos:
Thanks Brenda for the Photo

Front man Peter Steele has quit drinking and put down drugs as the 20-year-old Brooklyn doom-metal band Type O Negative takes a new approach.
            Standing at 6 foot 8 inches, with fangs and long jet-black hair, Steele is definitely the man people notice on stage.  After 10 straight years of playing intoxicated during shows, Steele admits it’s been his own faults that have held the band back from achieving great success.  Running into trouble with the law 5 months ago, Steele is now sobering up and kicking the use of drugs in order to make amends with the group.
            “I’ve made it a point to come sober and hopefully stay sober,” says Steele,47, who’s had troubles in the past coping with addiction. “I’ve done a lot of stupid things when I was drunk and high and I regret that.”
            Having formed the group in 1989, Steele is the bassist, vocalist and songwriter of the heavy-metal quartet.  Creating the group from a previous project known as Carnivore, a thrash-metal band from the mid to late ‘80s, Steele and his childhood friend Josh Silver formed Type O with previous experience in the industry. Silver, having past experience as a keyboardist for a metal group known as Fallout, went on to create Silver Records where he learned how to engineer recordings.  Producing records in his private studio for other groups, he began a name for himself as he helped get Type O into the national spotlight in 1992 with a faux live album titled The Origin of the Feces.
            Now, with 20 years of experience playing together, Type O has 7 full length studio albums including one platinum record (Bloody Kisses, 1993) and one gold album (October Rust, 1996).  Coming out amidst a new wave of gothic influence in pop culture, Bloody Kisses put Type O over the top in terms of success.
            “Bloody Kisses was a landmark album,” said Steele.  “I consider it to be our first album because Slow, Deep and Hard was actually left over Carnivore songs.”
            Leaving Roadrunner Records in 2005 and signing with the German metal label SPV, Type O released a live DVD titled Sympathy for the Devil in 2006. They followed the DVD with their latest album, Dead Again, in 2007.  Reaching the highest rating of all their albums, the new release hit number 27 on the U.S. billboard top 200 for the year. With the optimistic look towards another album, SPV hit a hang up as it filed for insolvency this past summer (similar to America’s chapter 11 bankruptcy in the U.S.).  No longer under contract with the record label, the company is still talking to Type O claiming they’d like to work with them.
            “We’re going to sign a deal with somebody,” said drummer and vocalist Johnny Kelly. “If it’s [SPV] we just hope they put their best foot forward.”
             Currently looking for a new label to sign with, there’s still uncertainty as to where it will come from. “We met with some people last night,” said drummer Johnny Kelly, 41, of Staten Island. “Right now we’ve got to find what the right home for Type O [is] and then we’ll go from there.”
            Still hopeful about the future of Type O, the members of the group have taken on other jobs as they await their front man’s next move.  With Steele moving from Brooklyn to Pennsylvania to escape his unwanted fame of being a rock star, the other three members have grown to accept that they need to occupy themselves with something to do in the mean time.  Throughout the past 20 years, Type O has been known to take upwards of four year breaks in between records.  Josh Silver, 47, currently lives on the same street where he grew up with Steele and lead guitarist for Type O Kenny Hickey.  With a wife and 2 children, Silver has decided to take a different approach to the hiatus of the band.
            In a press release from mid October this year, Josh announced he currently has been attending school for certification as a paramedic. Being in the heart of the program, he was unable to tour with the band during their October Tour for the first time in the 20 year history.  The press release stated that “Josh remains a member of Type O Negative and will continue working with the band going forward.”
            “Josh has kids and a family,” said Steele.  “If I was him, I wouldn’t wait around for me either.”
            Also needing to support their families, members Kelly and Hickey have put together a heavy metal group known as Seventh Void.  Being produced by Big Vin Records, the group’s first album was released in April, 2009. Keeping busy over the past 5 years is nothing new for Kelly and Hickey who have toured either together or individually for groups such as Danzig and a Led Zeppelin tribute band called Earl’s Court.
            Having over 15 years experience touring Europe and the states, Type O has touched the lives of many people around the world.  For the past 9 years, countless followers have dedicated their time to an online forum at Typeonegative.net to discuss everything and anything in relation to the band.  Many people discuss what they would like to see change and also stay the same with the future of the group.  The key concern on most people’s mind is Steele’s health.
            “They’re stellar musicians with enough life experience to inspire another album,” said Michael Effertz, 22, Minneapolis, MN. “Provided Peter can stay clean and win back the trust of his fellow band members.”
            Playing hockey in the street together as children, all the members of Type O have known one another since they were kids.  It’s that perseverance that has allowed the members to overcome their troubles and continue to record new material, said 7-year fan Matthew Politi, 24, Howell, NJ.
            Switching over to a more “jam session” like album, Type O’s latest album has brought something new to dedicated fans.  According to sputnikmusic.com, Dead Again is comprised of elusive guitar riffs, solos, haunting lyrics, psychedelic sounds and a dark dirty bass foundation.  Allowing other band member’s talents to stand-out a bit more, Steele has taken a step back from the spotlight bringing Hickey’s guitar into more solos and free rhythm. 
            “I’d like to see them divert back to their past style – not that I don’t like their newest album,” said Jeffrey Gray, 29 of Roan Mountain, TN. “I would welcome change from Type O.”
            Like Gray, other fans suggest a change for Type O.  Few suggest they move to more of a moody goth-driven sound such as what was found on October Rust.  Others want to hear a more ‘80s like punk sound with the new material.
            Some members of Type O frequent the online forum, reading and responding to fans’ posts.
            “I think they shouldn’t really complain so much,” said Kelly.  “There’s a bunch of whiners on there and they’ll always complain about something.”
            Referring to a topic posted only a couple months ago, Kelley says he wishes he has the five minutes of his life back after reading a bunch of fans accusing peter of drinking on stage during the October Tour.
            “Right now Peter’s sober,” said Kelly.  “He’s giving 110 percent every night and they’re still complaining ‘what’s he drinking?’ If they had it all figured out, why aren’t they all in bands [and] touring the world?”
            For Steele, being sober is like being addicted to life.  He sees the world completely different and for the past few months he says he hasn’t felt numb.  As for his past, “if I could change one thing, personally, I [wish] I had gotten closer to my faith sooner," said Steele.


Darcie's Note: There are a few incorrect items in this piece, but they are too minor to point out. Hope you enjoyed.


  1. Good detail and to the point, very well done Nikolas. I gotta say though that heart-shaped pillow on his crotch had me crying with laughter! Betcha the women are gonna love this pic, lol! (-)

  2. There was so much hope in this piece. Loved reading it. Full of hope, but also very sad. Peters prescens in this is obvious. Thank you Nikolas.

  3. Really good Nikolas. You have done a great job of covering their history without babbling on and making it too long. Although I can read Peter related items all day, you know what I mean when I say babbling and too long, some people just make you want to yawn!
    Jeffery Gray..I LOVE Dead Again.
    Love the picture of Peter.
    Nikolas thank you for writing about Type O Negative and thank you for sharing this with us.

  4. Boy, reading through this again I have to agree with Alexandra that it is pretty sad...knowing what happened. I was so glad to hear though that Peter was clean and sober when he passed, although I wish he was still here. 'Being sober is like being addicted to life', INDEED! (-)

  5. I think this piece that Nicholas wrote was awesome.Only thing that bother's me in these articles,I never hear them talk about The Other Band Members drug problems! Peter was'nt the only one doing drug's that needed help! What about Kenny's Coke problem? Or Johnny's Ectasy day's? Or Josh's obbession with Weed?? I think it's very sad that all they ever talk about is Peter's Drug and Alchol problem. I'm sure they all needed help at sometime in their own lives.. Just brakes my heart that Peter looked like the drug addict out of the bunch! But we all know diffrent.

  6. I praise,admire,love peter for realizing his addictions and wanting to get himself cleaned up cause lord knows it's one of the hardest things to overcome. This is a wonderful blog..Thank you for posting this and the picture as well.

  7. wow...this was so hard to read. all the future plans that were going on with Pete and the band...makes me so sad that it all had to end so suddenly. This was written in such a positive and respectful manner. Great job Nikolas. I agree with Alexandra, Pete's presence is definitely felt here.

    Oh how I hate, the mourning...

  8. Great Piece Nikolas. Thanks for sharing and I hope you received a good grade. It really brings to light once again what we lost when Peter passed and what might have been. :*(

  9. Thank you Nicholas, and you definitely earned that 'A'! The fact that Pete took ownership of his behavior in the interview showed his determination to improve his life and allow the world to learn from him. It's a shame that Pete ended up bearing the brunt of TON's issues. Kenny and Johnny did bring their struggles with substances up in interviews, but the press and fans paid less attention. Part of being a band's vocalist does seem to involve standing under the spotlight and the microscope at the same time, handling the press, which can be harsh at times.
    I have to admit to a certain curiousity about Pete's legal issues in PA. The living conditions he dealt with were clearly not of his choosing, and may have ultimately been his undoing. Seems like Pete was biding his time, trying to tough it out and make a few new friends, but the legal system put him in a very difficult situation. It's natural to wonder why.
    As for the red-heart photo, Chris, you're right. Okay, I am female and do love that photo, but not because of some sort of girly 'aw, it's a heart' thing. I think he placed the pillow there to cover his private areas. He probably got tired of having women stare at his crotch post-Playgirl and didn't care to add to the problem. The photo is very artistically shot and catches his facial features dead-on and face-front in what seems to be a relaxed moment. Nice to see.
    Glad Pete became addicted to life. Wish he'd had a chance to continue to feed that addiction at least a little longer. Seems like he gave, and gave, and gave, and was finally able to allow others to give back in return when... well, it's just a real shame he's gone.
    Thank you for posting this, Darcie.

  10. Hi All,

    These last couple posts were really interesting. Thank you Nikolas for this interesting paper and the great photos. It is sad to think of what Peter would have gone on to sober and drug free. I myself wish he did do another album similar to October Rust and I know many Type O fans who wish that. He seemed like he was in an amazing writing and creative place at the time. I would love to hear more about what inspired him during that time. Even so I love all Type O works equally. The only thing I noticed a miss from the paper is that Johnny did not grow up with the band members. He came in the picture after Sal. So interesting and sad. Miss you Peter especially this time of Year! Turn up October Rust and give a shout out to Peter!---Thanks Darice for keeping this going. It is really a highlight to my days.---Jessica (Black Number 1)

  11. @dunnebuggy. Good point bout pillow. That comment was just the first thing that entered my mind when I saw the picture, but you didn't aww at all, not even a little...come on! ;)

  12. I was very pleased to once again hear Peter talking of His faith. It makes me feel so much better knowing that He turned back to where He should have been all along. Like a sheep a stray, the Master lead Him back home. His heart was in the right place and He finally is home where He belongs. We do not understand The Masters plan but we know His ways are perfect. Peter is home with His lost family members, those He grieved for. He is happy again, runnng in fields of gold...

  13. @ Chris: Perhaps a small hint of an 'aww' because of his facial expression, yes, okay, busted! LOL! :)

  14. Peter with his "heart on"...lol hilarious!
    ~Jessica B.

  15. Hi all--

    I can see why you got an 'A' grade Nikolas. Good detail, and just enough history of the band without dragging it out. I too have often wondered why the press always focused on Peter's problems, and either ignored or swept mention of Josh, Johnny and Kenny's problems under the rug. But I guess when you're someone of Peter's stature you will be the focus of attention, positive or negative, wanted or unwanted. I am glad though that Peter took responsibility for his own actions and didn't put the blame on anyone else; he's not the type to do that (at least, that's my impression).
    To echo dunebuggy4, I too, again, have my doubts about his living conditions in Pennsylvania. That move was his downfall. If he had stayed in New York...
    As for the picture...this is GREAT! :) Very relaxed, at peace with himself and the world. Addicted to life--absolutely. It's too bad he couldn't hang around a little longer to enjoy it. It's ironic about the pillow. Putting it there to draw attention away from his groin--I don't know--all it does is draw the attention to where (I think) he doesn't want it! Still, very cool. Thanks for posting this Darcie.
    Love & Gratitude--Patty P

  16. Good story, mon. Well written and a decent read. In Sacred Space, Leslie R. Marini

  17. Thank you all for the positive comments, much appreciated. We will all miss Peter for the rest of our lives.

  18. Great post - thx Darcie & thx Nikolas for your great work - was good to read. 'Being sober is like being addicted to life' is such a true sentence & once again it makes both happy and sad at the same time. Happy for knowing that Pete really was sober and on a good way back to life .. & sad because of the circumstances of his passing, for not being able to enjoy a sober life for a longer time & for maybe egoistic reasons like not hearing new music from him. I love DEAD AGAIN as well as all other albums but
    DEAD AGAIN is special to me because of the lyrics, the sound structures, the driving bass, no jokes, fillers etc. like we knew it from other albums. So I would have been so curious to hear what would have come up next ... well egoistic reasons as stated above ... *sigh* And I am so sad for all his personal disappointments - for being a giving person & getting back well sometimes just crap - for fighting his way back to a sober life but not really getting his life back ... I love the picture but not only for the heart-shaped pillow :-) I just love the way he looks on this pic - his eyes & it somehow seems peaceful to me. Once again many thx for sharing.
    Much love & respect to you

  19. You saved me from the same addiction, and when you passed, I won't lie, I wanted to pick up the old needle and straw. The reason I didn't was because it would have been a slap in the face. Though I have permanent damage to my heart now, I am so thankful that I got a chance to even be here to type this. I get to be a mom now because of the life your music saved! Thank you!