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interview by alex zander, assisted by shelly z and jason meudt
Johnny Kelly, ya’ know ‘em, he plays for the drab four TON. The guys likes to keep busy and with that being said, what we decided to talk with him about was what keeps him rockin’. We’ve had dealings with this guy since 1994 when MK ULTRA interviewed Peter Steele for the debut issue. Johnny was backstage w/ us and Tommy Lee goofing off while Pete did his best to maintain his pseudo serious mannerisms.
Well 94 was a long fucking time go, and since then Type O has circled the globe and some other things I don’t particular care to mention.
In my first face to face interview w/ Johnny, a guy I feel like I’ve known longer than a lot of my friends in Chicago we talk about, Type O, touring, recording, Danzig, Earls Court, our mutual pal Thomas Victor and most significantly his side project w/ Kenny Hickey, known as Seventh Void.
(During the interview it should be noted that Jason Meudt of Vision4Films recorded the interview and concert, and Shelly Z was also in company)
Johnny Kelly (born March 9, 1968), he joined Type O Negative in 1994 to replace Sal Abruscato.
Alex Zander- The last time I saw you… You said, ”Hey, check out my new band Seventh Void.” Now that I have, I must admit, I like it a lot. Is there any kind of recording available other than what’s online?
Johnny Kelly- It’s one of those things, Kenny and I have been so busy in the last year and a half with Type O and Danzig and stuff. Whenever there are breaks in between we go in and try to finish what we are doing. We had this break in between the Type O tours Kenny was able to finish a lot of vocal s and most of his guitar parts. Now we have this other guitar player Matt Brown. He has to finish a few of his things and a few vocal things then we have to wait on Vinnie Paul.
AZ- Vinnie Paul is playing on it?
JK- Vinnie Paul is producing it.
AZ- Alright, I saw on the myspace page his label was one in the top of your friends list.
JK- It is looking like we are going to release it on that label.
AZ- Is that the same label that the collaboration with David Allen Coe “Rebel Meets Rebel” was released on?
JK- Yeah, “Rebel Meets Rebel”. Kenny really digs this band. We have been working on this band for the better part of four years, you know, when ever time allowed. One time just before Dime (Dimebag Darrell) the guys were in New York. Tommy Victor was there and we all just hung out on the at Irving plaza until 6:00 in the morning. We played a couple of track for Dime, and Dime flipped out about it and that is how this all started with Vince. Every time I’d see him he’d ask how the band was going and I told him it was going okay but we are really having a hard time with mixes. The recording is going well but it just isn’t coming through when we are trying to mix it. He said, “Why don’t you let me have a crack at it.” I was like… Really? It would be an honor. He (Vince) said when Dime heard that all he did was talk about you guys, saying how much he loved it, so it would be an honor for me to work on it. So I sent him a track and he sent something back to my house and said he only had a little time to work on it. It just clicked. He got it and knew exactly what to do to make it sound great.
AZ- How much do you have recorded?
JK- We have a whole album’s worth of material. But like I said between every ones schedules it has been really hard to just sit down and say it’s finished that is it. Now we are getting close and when this is done we will be able to finish the recordings, it should take longer than just a few days actually.
AZ- So then you can go to Best Buy and pick it up.
JK- Well no then we have to go to Vince’s house, which is always fun.
AZ- Yeah I’ve heard.
JK- We have to go there to mix it.
AZ- As far as distribution.. He doesn’t have bad distribution.
JK- No he actually has very good distribution. I forget who he is with…
AZ- I didn’t have any problem finding “Rebel Meets Rebel”.
So as far as live is thismore of a regional thing?
JK- Really it’s just local. We played in Brooklyn a couple of weeks ago. We’ve done a couple of show with Life of Agony. They did a couple of north east shows and wanted us.
Kenny Hickey (yells from the doorway) - In New Haven too.
JK- With Carnivore also. Anytime Peter plays with Carnivore he always wants us to play with him.
AZ - That’s great! That’s fucking awesome!
JK- I think we only have seven gigs under our belt.
AZ- That video, on your myspace, it looked like it was a pretty big venue. Where was thatfilmed ?
JK- That was at Toad’s Place in New Haven. That was when we opened up for Carnivore.
AZ- OK, That looked like a pretty decent sized venue.
JK- It holds about 1000 people.
AZ- It looked bigger than that from the film.
JK- Yeah, film kind of makes everything look bigger.
AZ- Let’s hope. (laughs)
JK- Including me.
AZ- So after the Halloween tour I’m sure there is going to be one of those legendary Type O breaks.
JK- I hope it’s not too legendary. (laughs)
AZ- As the space between releases gets longer it is becoming like Ministry the stretch during the heroine days, you know? What are the chances of Seventh Void playing Chicago?
JK- It depends on A) what opportunities come or way, B) the money, it costs a lot of money to get a band on the road and keep a band on the road. It’s something else entirely to throw our gear in a truck and just do something local. To actually get a band on the road, something like Seventh Void, we aren’t going o make big grantees and stuff we need to get tour support and that is kind of a gray area. If we go with Vinnie Paul it’s Just his money. I could be like, Vin, we need some money to get the band on the road. I don’t know what his business model is with Big Vin Records. I know that it’s not just him sitting in his garage printing shit up, and putting it out. That is all stuff that hasn’t really been discussed yet or explored. The whole foundation of what Seventh Void started as was to do something in between Type O Negative’s breaks.
AZ- I read that you do a lot of that. Earl’s Court… How often do you do that?
JK- I don’t know maybe once or twice a month. It’s just an excuse to go out drinking. (laughs)
AZ- All drummers love Bonham. I never quite pegged you as a Zeppelin guy.
JK- I wear it on my sleeve dude. (He shows his Zoso symbol on his shoulder.)
AZ-There we go.
JK- I was a huge Led Zeppelin fan as a kid. I still am, you know KISS, Led Zeppelin, Black Sabbath. It went from there, but those were the main ones that I remember. I was talking to my drum tech about it. I remember as a kid, my uncle used to played guitar and he lived upstairs from me. When I was younger I always remember him playing like Jeff Beck, the bass man, practicing. He was really into Led Zeppelin, and so was my dad. I remember I borrowed all of my uncle’s Led Zeppelin albums, and went to the guy who taught me how to play drums up the block. I must have been about 11. I went to the guy and handed him all the records and said I want to play like this (mimics handing off the large stack of records). (laughs) He said you’re kidding right? That’s pretty much where it started from. As the years went on and on I just became more into that.
AZ- Then your Danzig time; it’s one thing that I have wondered, as a fan who appreciates your work and your work ethic. Was that because you just can’t stand sitting at home?
JK- Part of it is that. I genuinely love playing, and it’s what I do for a living. When Type O is not doing anything for a couple of years, I’m not making any money. (laughs) And I have to work. It worked out great where Type O had such a long break the Danzig opportunity came my way. I thought this was perfect. Type O isn’t doing anything, I can go to work with Danzig and I don’t have to keep looking in the couch so much for change just yet. Save that for a rainy day, you know, the couch fund.
johnny in danzig w/ tommy victor
AZ- Then Tommy (Tommy Victor of Prong), of course you know Tommy and I go way back. See him not fitting in then leaving, and then have your friend and band mate Kenny play. Tommy obviously added his style to Danzig live and then when he finally did a record with him you could hear Tommy all over it just like you do Ministry. Tommy has his own style. I was not fortunate enough to see Kenny as part of Danzig.
JK- We only did thirteen or fourteen shows.
AZ- But did he bring his signature in? Was he all over the stage like he is with Type O?
JK-Yeah. Yeah, actually it seems like he was pouring it on a bit more when we were playing with Glen (Glen Danzig). Especially the shows where we did some Misfit songs and stuff. It seems like Kenny was pushing Glen to make him go further. Glen loved playing with Kenny, he loved it. He thinks that Kenny is, insane. He’s like , you know (mimics Glens voice) Do you take speed? (laughs, mimicking Glen again) Do you take speed?
AZ- (Mimics Glen in a higher voice) Do you take speed? (laughs)
JK- (Mimicking again) Do you take drugs? Glen fed off of that and the show ended up having this tremendous amount of energy. Playing wise Kenny also you know… It wasn’t like we were playing in a cover band where he would just come in and play the licks note for note. It’s impossible to do everything exactly the way it was recorded. Glen’s catalog now covers how many guitar players?
JK- Just in the Danzig band its-self. What, three have recorded with him?
AZ- At least.
JK- No, four including Jeff Chambers.
AZ- Oh alright.
JK- So there is a lot of ground to cover.
AZ- Are you part of the next Danzig tour?
JK- It’s impossible because Glen starts Tuesday. It’s his first show and we’re still going to be on the road with Type O. I’m totally bummed about it.
AZ- In the last decade it seems I’ve seen you more with Danzig then I have with Type O Negative.
JK- Yeah. With Glen in the last couple of years we were really busy, it was great. Unfortunately this time the schedules got in the way of each other. If I could figure out how to be in two places at once I’d definitely do it.
AZ- This tour looks like it has the potential to be exciting with Doyle.
JK- Yeah, what Glen’s tour he has Doyle playing with him and stuff. I don’t know if their doing anything together you go off and do a few songs or what.
AZ- I was under the impression that he was just a part of the band.
JK- No, no… he’s just..
AZ- DOYLE IS OPENING? OH SHIT!
JK- Doyle is opening for Danzig in his own band and has just finished a record. Glen produced it and I haven’t heard it yet. I asked Glen, “How’s the record?” He said you know what, it came out pretty good. It came out great.
AZ- Tommy… Do you have a funny Tommy Victor story?
JK- There is lots of Tommy Victor stories.
AZ- I’ve seen every side of this fucking guy in fifteen years and he’s got so many sides.
JK- Tommy was always stressed out. He would stress out about the song “How the Gods Killed” no matter how many times he played it. He played it fine, but he would always stress about it so much. Then we would always hear this little flub or something afterwords he would just shake his head and he would get so fucking aggravated for the rest of the night. He’d be all pissed off.
AZ- Did you have history with Tommy before the Danzig thing? Did you know each other in New York?
JK- No, no. He was telling me he used to work at CB’s (CBG’S). His sister lives in my neighborhood. When Damage Plan was around he was in New York for a christening for his niece. His sister worked underneath where we used to rehearse.
AZ- I just wondered because Tommy can be fun.
JK- I knew a lot of stuff, but I never knew Tommy.
AZ- Did he live in Brooklyn?
JK- No, his sister lived in Brooklyn. He lived in Manhattan. His sister lived where we all grew up. Other than that I didn’t get to know him until I played with him.
AZ- In Danzig there is definitely the fun group of guys and the serious guy. We all know who we are talking about there. I didn’t know if you read the interviews that I did back to back with Tommy about and Al and his Grammy experience. Where Tommy was like “You’re (Al) going to get us in trouble,” and Al is trying to do everything he can to get thrown out of the place. You can hear his mood in the interview. There is that side of Tommy and there is the wicked side that I love even moreso.
So as far as Type O Negative what is happening after this tour, as far as the band? I haven’t heard anything about a record but obviously the label has been great to you.
JK- Yeah, they have done a really good job. They really put their best foot forward.
AZ- That last Roadrunner record I loved it, it’s one of my, vary favorite pieces of work that I own from you guys as a band. Roadrunner just dropped the ball on that fucking thing. They seriously did.
JK- The impression that I got from that is, because they knew we were at the end of our contract, they were just cutting their losses on it. Basically what they were telling us is that if you resign with us again we’ll work this record really hard. Which kind of goes against any business principle. You still invested in something. Just because you aren’t going to have the band back, why aren’t you going to maximize the return on your investment?
AZ- Jon at SPV couldn’t wait to tell me that you’d signed with them. He said Zander don’t tell anybody. We got them. They’re in good hands.
JK- From the get go we wanted to go with them in Europe. They’re pretty well established over there. They are a very good label and they want to use us as their cornerstone for making a presence in the U.S. They made us an offer for a worldwide deal and it was great. Compared to what everyone else was offering their offer blew it out of the water. So it seemed pretty obvious what we needed to do. So far it’s been pretty good. Any kind of record store I go into I see our records there. Before the record came out they did a ton of print ads.
AZ- The DVD, their press was insane on that. They had an ad on everything a good month before the release.
JK- The DVD they kind of helped us out on that. Initially they really didn’t want to. They were kind of like… We want the record. We don’t want your DVD; we want the record. We said the DVD is pretty cool it’s going to be a cool thing.
AZ- Jason and I had that video on video.
JK- I’ve had the bootleg for years. The other things that we did to it the other stuff in between the songs, you know the goofy stuff.
AZ- I don’t know how you got that shit off your face, man.
JK- It wiped right off. It did, I’m half Italian, man, I just walked right into the bathroom and wiped it clean right off.
AZ- There was no shame with you, when it came to putting that shit out.
JK- Some of that stuff is pretty objectionable.
AZ- It was like a frat party.
JK- Basically that is what it is. That is the high lights of what….
AZ- Nobody does that, everyone just wants to be “too cool”.
JK- You know what, I don’t believe that. Nobody will just document it and sell it to their fans. Most of these guys just won’t say here, this is what we’re really like.
AZ- Most bands don’t publicize it.
JK- I’ve been in enough dressing rooms form other bands there is nothing out of the ordinary.
AZ- Yeah bands like Pantera.
JK- That’s the school we went to.
AZ- I do want to tell you the part of the video other than the concert that I just loved was that fucking reel at the end of all your high school pictures. That just fucking killed me.
The hair and the suits.
JK- We’ve already exposed ourselves, now you won’t go to Metal Sludge. Now we can’t be exposed, we beat everyone to the punch line. Those are some of the pictures, we didn’t use everything.
AZ- The music.
JK- It’s like one of those movies that you get of your wedding or some shit. ( laughs)
AZ- I said look at that hair! Peter in a tux! (laughs) That was funny.
Back to Seventh Void, what’s going on? Is there talk about a record?
JK- Well we’re not really sure yet because of the way our contract was. For one record with the option of another so we’re waiting to see if SVP is going to want to pick up that option.
AZ- They don’t say… You have to have this out by a specific date.
AZ- That’s nice.
JK- Well It definitely took a lot longer to get this record out then they wanted. I think we delivered it a year late. They were still pretty cool to us after words.
AZ- It was a little late for a lot of fans too. (laughs)
JK- It was a little late for some band members. (chuckles)
AZ- There were a lot of things that happened in between now and then, but we dealt with that in our last interview.
JK- All that stuff that is just a part of it. Our goal is to not take such along time with getting another record out.
AZ- Is it one of those things where Peter writes and then tells you that he is ready?
What’s the whole process of it all?
JK- That happened with the October Rust record. He had quite a bit of material prepared and told us. This is what I have. For this record we walked into our rehearsal space in queens, and asked what he had. He said, “nothing.” We went all right lets start working. That is what we did. While Josh was working on the DVD, Peter, Kenny and I were sitting in a room five or six nights a week for hours working on riffs. We were stuff out of Peter. It’s like a skeleton a foundation. It went like this for months. When ever something would happen, like when Peter went to rehab, or something else came up and we would take a short break… or a 28 day break. Sometimes Peter wanted to go to Rikers. (laughs)
JK- A bit of culture. (laughs)
AZ- Some male company. (laughs)
JK- In between that, and because we weren’t under any pressure at the time that is just the way the record progressed. When we recorded it the basic tracks we’d done took two weeks that was in April of ’06 and we didn’t hand SPV the record completed until the end of the year.
AZ- do you think that process is going to be duplicated or do you think, Pete’s going to have a ready product and say lets crank this one out.
JK- I’d really like to just crank one out, get it done and keep going.
johnny, shelly, and az
AZ- “Life is Killing Me”., for myself, is a fun fucking record. It’s a roller coaster, I love it. It goes everywhere and it’s fun. Where the last record was just, I’m pissed and this is heavy. It is the Type O heavy we knew in the beginning.
JK- Yeah, with Peter and his song writing and what he wanted for an album, he’s been saying since Bloody Kisses he wants to make another hardcore record. Then we got October Rust.
AZ- It’s beautiful.
JK- Exactly… Not exactly hardcore though.
AZ- The production on that thing is amazing.
JK-That happened a number of times on that record
AZ- This is it, the hardcore record?
JK- This is the one that has those elements. . You know… I want to make a hardcore record and then you’ve got a song like “September Sun”, which was the first thing… he had the intro to “September Sun” (one of the first things he showed us). He didn’t want to record it.
AZ- Where did the Rasputin theme come from?
JK- Well the parallels between him and Peter are pretty obvious.
AZ- I had just watched that movie with Alan Rickman then I saw the video. Right after it the video. It’s a great piece of history.
JK- If you like Type O you listen to Music and get a history lesson too. Music that is multi-tasking .
AZ- How long is this tour? What is Seventh Void doing after it?
JK-This tour goes until November 2nd. November 1st is our last show.
AZ- Then you guys start playing out again?
JK- With Seventh Void? We might, Carnivore is going to Europe for two weeks. Peter just asked us the other night. He said, “We’re playing L’Amour, you guys want to do it?” (chuckles) L’Amour is like five minutes from his house.
AZ- Fuck yea you want to do it.
JK- Now L’Amour is on Staten Island. It’s a tiny little club. Not quite like the Liars Club, something a little…
JK- And cleaner. He said he wanted us to do it. I said just let us know the date. Really the thing with Seventh Void is we have got to finish this damn recording.
AZ- For people the best thing to do is just to go to the myspace page to hear your music.
JK- It’s the only thing we have up right now.
AZ- It sounds good, and the video is nice.
JK- I didn’t put it in my Ipod but I had a couple of the bare recordings. You know, the stuff that still has to go to Vinnie.
AZ- Do you have a time frame in mind?
JK- I’m not sure how long Vinnie’s tour is right now, and what his schedule is like, but after this tour we’re pretty much waiting on Vinnie to say he’s ready for us to come to Dallas.
AZ- All I’ve heard form everyone is that they treat you good and you have a really good time.
JK- Understatement… It’s a total understatement.
AZ- The guy I did my radio show with, really enjoyed his time there. They take care of you, in many ways I’ve been told.
JK- When we went down for the first mixes we were there for the record release party for Rebel Meets Rebel.
AZ- Did you get to meet Coe (David Allen Coe)?
JK- No I didn’t, He was there and I didn’t get to meet him.
AZ- He is in a different world.
JK- He has to be.
AZ- He says he doesn’t know what day it is, because he stopped counting time when he was left prison. That is what he told me when I first met him.
AZ- I grew up on his shit. He says I don’t know what day it is I don’t know what time it is I quit counting time when I was in prison, which makes a lot of sense.
JK- He was just hanging out at the record release party. People were pretty much just going up to him but he just stayed in the same spot all night.
AZ- That’s a good record, man.
JK- I love it. I love it.
drum-heads, johnny and jason showing off leather wristbands jason made for seventh void
(jason also video taped the interview and concert, coming soon)
AZ- Well, myspace for Seventh Void. Everyone should check it out. It’s good music and has a good groove to it. I don’t know how generalize anything but it definitely had the stone rock kind of Orange Goblin grove to it.
JK- It seems like it’s starting to get drawn into that category. That’s pretty good company so I’m not complaining. (laughs)
AZ- Thanks for your time..
JK- Type O has a video coming out.
AZ- Another one?
JK- We did one for “September Sun”. We shot it in Serbia.
AZ- What’s the theme on it? Can you tell us?
JK- It pretty much goes along the lines of the story in the record. It was kind of cool we did it all blue screen with the computer graphics around it. Visually it looks really cool. And we look ten years younger.
SEE THE BAND AND HEAR THE TUNES AT THIS LINK:
Heaven Is Gone
Shadow On Me
The End of All Time
As well as a live video are available at the above mentioned site.