by David Necro
Photos by: David Necro, The Pusher, Ken 9
Ah Halloween, that ever so festive time of the year where lust is in the air and creeps all around come out to play. Expecting nothing but treats, what I recieved from the publicity department at Roadrunner Records was a trick, or so I thought. I was told by said publicity department that I could only interview Johnny Kelly, Type O Negative's (and 1 time Pist.On and Danzig) drummer extraordinaire. Needless to say, I was just a little disappointed as I thought to myself, "Johnny Kelly! he's not 1 of the original members of Type O Negative, and he's a drummer for chrissakes! He's not going to have anything interesting to sat whatsoever. The interview will last 5 minutes tops."
To my surprise, Johnny Kelly proved not only to be very knowledgable and articulate, but completely shattered any stereotypes that I believed in. In interviewing Mr. Kelly, I found out that he is very much in tune with the music of Type O Negative as much as his bandmates are. I also found him to be a very easy going guy from Brooklyn that is not afraid to extoll his working-class values and his opinion on a wide variety of subjects. A modest individual (no rock-star egos here) that does not appear to be interested in the trappings of fame. However, he does enjoy the position that the popularity if Type O Negative has put him in. Who wouldn't?
Having said that, he does not wish to be any sort of role model and is very candid in admitting that he feels inadequate; in his own words, "I wanna to be a man." Like the old saying goes, you can't judge a book by its cover, and my trick turned out to be a treat.
David Necro: Do you expect anything out of your audience?
Johnny Kelly: I expect of them to just get what they seek. I want them to get what hopefully they enjoy coming to a show, listening to the records. See, I still call things records, I'm showing my age. Well, I just want them to get whatever it is they get out of Type O Negative. I just hope that we're able to continue to offer that, whatever it is they're getting out of the band.
D. Necro: Do you think your audience expects too much out of you? If so, why?
J. Kelly: I think if an audience is expecting a lot from us, I think we're certainly letting them down. I think the only thing they expect from us when they come to see us play and when they listen to our cd's is to be entertained to a somewhat certain extent. I know that's how I feel when I go buy a CD or I go see another band play that I like.
D. Necro: You don't expect that much out of them?
J. Kelly: I expect to entertained.
D. Necro: That's it, that's all you think there is to it. Some people, they think that there should be more to it. If a band doesn't do autographs, talk, and just go home, they (the fans) feel cheated. They feel like, "oh, they don't really care."
J. Kelly: Most of the time I never wanted to meet the people that I admired.
D. Necro: Really.
J. Kelly: Because I'm afraid that my image would be shattered of them. When you listen to a song it creates a certain image of somebody.
D. Necro: I see. Well, I wanted to the bands' perspective, becuase I've heard the fans' perspective for years.
J. Kelly: I mean really, what can somebody really offer, like a band? How accessable does somebody really have to be? Should I invite ever fan that's into Type O Negative...
D. Necro: Yeah, c'mon over for dinner! I'm having a buffet!
J. Kelly: Sunday, my mother's gonna cook and you're all invited.
D. Necro: Yeah, there's some security concerns and this sort of thing. Or do you even worry about people stalking you, and that?
J. Kelly: No, I don't worry about that shit. I mean, shit...
D. Necro: Do you enjoy fame? This is a moderately famous band.
J. Kelly: Well, to a point, yeah. Sometimes it's not the most comfortable thing. Sometimes you can't be famous enough. I don't know, it's just 1 of those grey areas. I mean nobody in this band actually sought out to be famous. I guess in this environment people will consider you famous or they won't, and we're not here to be famous. If we could do the same things we're doing without being considered famous, that would be fine. I really don't think I'd want everything in my life to be sprawled about like in all these papers or whatever sensationalizes it. Like who I had dinner with, who I'm living with now, and who I was hanging out with the night before.
D. Necro: Yeah, that's what happens with fame, they (the media) can start getting on your case.
J. Kelly: Yeah, you have to have your character on constantly. That isn't necessarily fun; everybody gets to go home at the end of the day at work. I think we would be more comfortable in that same kind of environment as everyone else.
D. Necro: Do you have your cake and eat it to at this point?
J. Kelly: No, I have a certain admiration for the position that we're in right now because we get to do what we want and we do have a certain amount of amenities.
D. Necro: Right, you have a lot of women thrown at you, you have all this booze and everything. Blah, blah, blah.
J. Kelly: But yeah, you do get somewhat pampered. You're paying people around you good money, they're out to take care of you, and they have to watch out for you.
D. Necro: Believe me, I'd trade places with you in a second! I'm telling you the truth.
J. Kelly: But that's part of it, it's not something we sought out. Like my goal in life was not to have a crew of 13 guys kiss my ass, and I still haven't had it yet. But the environment just dictates a certain hierarchy so to speak. you know, we're the band, everybody works for the band...
D. Necro: Everybody puts you on a pedastel; "oh you're so great," and everything.
J. Kelly: Yeah. All of the people that work with me, work with our band. It's like there isn't any ass-kissing or anything like that. It's just everbody has their job to do; like us, we're part of that job. They set up the band, we're the band, we go out and play, and everybody packs up and everybody does their part and we move it to the next city.
D. Necro: How was working with Ozzy for the song you did that's on the 'Private Parts' soundtrack?
J. Kelly: Quite honestly, we didn't really work with him (Ozzy).
D. Necro: Oh, he was not in the studio with you?
J. Kelly: Oh, not at all. We did the tracks in Brooklyn. Then Josh took the tapes, flew to L.A., and worked with Rick Rubin. Then Josh had to leave because the day Ozzy was coming in to do the vocals, we were starting another tour. So Rick Rubin worked with Ozzy, and then that's our affiliation with it. So it wasn't like we were actually sitting in the room. Even Ozzy with his own band; there's nobody in the room the day he does vocals, except for a producer and an engineer.
D. Necro: But how did that make you feel, doing something with Ozzy?
J. Kelly: It was an honor, absolutely. It was flattering, and I can't deny that it was a great opportunity for the band.
D. Necro: In your opinion, why is Type O Negative considered a Gothic or Gothic Rock band?
J. Kelly: Because we wear dark clothing and have dark hair.
D. Necro: That's it? there's not more to it?
J. Kelly: And Peter croons.
D. Necro: Because of his voice, his vocal stylings.
J. Kelly: Yeah, I think it could be associated to Bing Crosby also.
D. Necro: Or Frank Sinatra.
J. Kelly: Yeah. I think the imagery that is projected by Type O Negative is somewhat similar to Gothic. Some of the music has Gothic tones to it. I think that there's a lot more other aspects that influenced, not only Goth. But, that's the 1 that seems to keep on coming up.
D. Necro: Where does Type O Negative draw its ideas from, and why?
J. Kelly: It draws its ideas from a lot of old horror movies and lots of cartoons. Parts of it emulate from some of the things that we grew up listening to, which goes a long way. We're just a reflection of the environments that we came from; whoever has the circle around the television.
D. Necro: Are you serious, TV, pop culture?
J. Kelly: Yeah, all of us grew up in pop culture, you know. A lot of Honeymooners, Odd Couple...
D. Necro: Oh yeah, okay, werewolves and vampire chick girlfriends. Yeah, right.
J. Kelly: Absolutely! I mean between the 4 of us, we can name every episode. But yeah, Abbot & Costello meets the Werewolf, Lon Chaney Jr.
D. Necro: Okay, I see what you're saying. Maybe some of the Three Stooges?
J. Kelly: A little bit. Remember Monster Week when you were a kid, Monster movie week?
D. Necro: Yeah, correct.
J. Kelly: Godzilla, Rodan, Gammara; you know, shit like that. You mix that up with listening to Black Sabbath and KISS when you're a kid and this is what happens.
D. Necro: Do you think that Type O Negative has gotten the respect it deserves?
J. Kelly: I think its got more than it deserves; it doesn't deserve any respect. But the little bit that it has recieved is more than we expected.
D. Necro: Do you feel that you have accomplished the goals that you have set with this band?
J. Kelly: You always set goals for yourself just to become more of a person. If any of us in the band had reached all the goals that we wanted to reach by now, I wouldn't imagine there being any band, you know? We'd all be moving on to something else. I think we all have something to say and something to express with Type O Negative I guess that we still feel we're realy not getting out yet.
D. Necro: Do you guys still dislike touring, and why? for the same reasons you've stated in the past, or?
J. Kelly: No, Peter has a general distaste (for touring.) The other guys, yeah we would like to be home a little bit more than we are. there are things about touring that we do find that are a lot of fun; we enjoy playing every night. Maybe if we could play every night at a place at home and still be able to accomplish the things that touring constantly accomplishes, yeah we might take that road. But, sometimes it's fun, sometimes it's the last thing you want to do; like any job.
D. Necro: Who are your real fans? Do you know anymore?
J. Kelly: Well, I cannot paint a picture of a real Type O Negative fan. Every time we come to a city it seems pretty consistent. Some cities like Cleveland are pretty consistent places for us, and I think anybody that gets any enjoyment out of our music is a fan.
D. Necro: Have you had people stalk you guys, or don't you wanna get into that.
J. Kelly: Yeah, very little. Peter's found like cinderblocks through his car window and things like that.
D. Necro: Really? That's pretty wild. I think people are lonely and they look...
J. Kelly: Yeah, they're looking to grab onto something, they feel a lot of times...
D. Necro: I mean at 1 time yeah, I was lonely. I was basically a lonely little kid, and I kind of changed and said, "yeah, they're just doing their thing and that's it."
J. Kelly: Yeah.
D. Necro: And if they like you, they like you. If they don't, well whatever.
J. Kelly: That's fine. It's not like the electric company where they have a hold on everything. there's only 1 electric company you can use.
D. Necro: Right, you have no control over that.
J. Kelly: Now if you don't like a band you just listen to another band. I've always been pretty open about things like that.
D. Necro: Is money and material things important to you?
J. Kelly: I have a couple of things that I enjoy that require money.
D. Necro: Such as?
J. Kelly: I'm into old muscle cars. It costs money to have 1. But then again it costs money to have...you need money to get by in life. It's not really the most important thing, but when you have financial security it enables you to pursue other things, instead of just constantly going through the run of the mill. Like you know, with you just worrying about just getting by. I think everybody wants financial security. Or else everybody would be working at McDonald's or being the mail boy for some whatever, law firm or something. Everybody wants to do better in life than just get by.
D. Necro: So you could say that...
J. Kelly: I can pay my bills, but I ain't gonna sit home and I wouldn't feel completely content by saying "why, I have so much money, and that's it."
D. Necro: Do you like the travelling aspect of touring; seeing different cities?
J. Kelly: I like seeing different cities. I don't like the actual touring aspect. I mean it's nice, the bus is nice and stuff, but sometimes there are days where you'd rather be home.
D. Necro: So that's all you like about touring, seeing the different cities.
J. Kelly: Well, what I like aobut touring is like, you know, we get to play for people every night. And yeah, it's cool that every night it's a different place. A lot of times you really don't even get the opportunity to go out and actually see what the city is about and actually get a flavor for what the culture is in that place.
D. Necro: What is your favorite city to play in, and why?
J. Kelly: I don't know, Chicago is always a good city.
D. Necro: Really.
J. Kelly: Chicago, they've got very intense fans, very intense.
D. Necro: One of the big Type O bloodlines, 1 of your main arteries?
J. Kelly: Yeah, Chicago's always been good to us; playing in Detroit's always been good, playing in Atlanta's always fun. Dallas is pretty wild, there's so many of them.
D. Necro: You picked Dallas for a reason. Because of Debbie and her friends
J. Kelly: No, there's certain cities that you go there and it's hard to remember the night. Those are always good cities.
D. Necro: Do you see yourself as a sex symbol?
J. Kelly: No.
D. Necro: Not at all?
J. Kelly: Nah, I think the band has projected somewhat an image of eroticism and stuff.
D. Necro: Yeah, we're these big macho guys from Brooklyn with and long black hair, and we're really romantic.
J. Kelly: No, I really don't see it as a macho thing.
D. Necro: You know what I mean, very masculine.
J. Kelly: No, I see us a bunch of guys that have been hurt a lot.
D. Necro: Really.
J. Kelly: Yeah, absolutely. That's the impression I get from the songs that are written and the lyrics and stuff. A bunch of guys that feel they're very inadequate. We want to be macho.
D. Necro: Of course you like it that all of these chicks go crazy over you guys. Does it make you feel like "why us?"
J. Kelly: I think that in society men aren't allowed to express a sensitive side to them. If they are, they're instantly harassed and made a mockery of and aboused. It's like the kid that always got beat up in the schoolyard.
D. Necro: I didn't get beat up, I fought back.
J. Kelly: And as far as us having a large female fan base...
D. Necro: Yeah you do, let's not beat around the bush!
J. Kelly: I think that's the 1 thing that women can relate to, that they see that these guys aren't macho, they're not trying to be macho. They're sitting there, they're showing the scars, and they're laying them out on display. I think that's what they relate to and somewhat of a certain sensitivity.
D. Necro: Ok, that might be the superficial aspect that I touched on regarding the image. But, it is kind of macho, true?
J. Kelly: I mean the superficial part of it is.
D. Necro: Is the image a macho 1?
J. Kelly: Somewhat.
D. Necro: Ladies men type of image.
J. Kelly: Or wanting to be macho.
D. Necro: You just called yourself a wannabe.
J. Kelly: Exactly, I wanna be a man. That's it, we all wanna be men. Above all things, be a man. You know, you're trying to.
D. Necro: What is a saying that you live by, and which everyone agrees on?
J. Kelly: I don't know, Josh uses this quote a lot, "if you don't expect nothing, you'll never be disappointed." It's a common thread. Yeah, there's really no mottos; we're just trying to live our lives just like everybody else. I'm no role model, (laughs) nor am I trying to be 1.
D. Necro: You don't wish to be 1 either.
J. Kelly: No, not at all. I'd like to be a good role model for my children.
D. Necro: ...and that's it.
J. Kelly: That's about it.
For more on Type O Negative, visit: http://www.typeonegative.net
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