Friday, 20 October 2017
Home / Interviews / Interview: Johnny Kelly of SILVERTOMB

Interview: Johnny Kelly of SILVERTOMB

Formed in the wake of Type O Negative and Seventh Void, SILVERTOMB is the latest musical endeavor of guitarist-vocalist Kenny Hickey (Type O Negative, Seventh Void, drummer Johnny Kelly (Type O Negative, Danzig), bassist Hank Hell (Seventh Void, Inhuman) along with New York City hardcore veteran Joseph James, (Agnostic Front, Inhuman) on guitar, and Aaron Joos (Awaken The Shadow, Empyreon) on keyboards, guitar, and backing vocals. Silvertomb combine the musical styles of bands such as Pink Floyd and Black Sabbath with a bone crushing, mind blowing sonic experience. Kenny Hickey describes the sound of Silvertomb as “heavy, dark and spiritual – like a dark gospel.”

ANTIHERO: For the people that are not familiar with who you are, can you tell me a little about yourself?

Johnny Kelly: I played in Type O Negative from 1993 until Peter passed away in 2010. I started playing in Danzig in 2002. I’ve done a few other things, other projects, playing in different groups. I’ve been playing with Kenny from Type O since we were teenagers. We went from teenagers, then playing in Type O together, then we did Seventh Void, and now we’re doing Silvertomb. Silvertomb started off as working on Seventh Void music and it turned into something else. We felt that it needed a name change instead of continuing as Seventh Void.

ANTIHERO: Is it basically Seventh Void, with a different name?

Johnny Kelly: No. There’s three of us from Seventh Void in it. We added Joseph James from Agnostic Front in the band as a second guitarist. We then added a keyboard player who also plays guitar and sings backups, and his name is Aaron Joos. Since we added two new members to the band, it kind of changed what we were doing. We felt that the band deserved a fresh start.

<ANTIHERO: Can you describe the sound for Silvertomb?

Johnny Kelly: I’ll try to put it in a couple of sentences. There’s elements of what we were doing with Seventh Void. It seems like it’s a continuation from that. But the songs and the song structures really took a life of its own. It’s more layered and textured. Not to the extent that we would do in Type O Negative. But it has a little bit of that flavor to it. It doesn’t sound like Type O but … Obviously, you have two guys from Type O Negative in the band. It’s going to have resemblance. It’s still a more rock oriented approach than the slow paced, doomy aspect that Type O had. Now that we’ve added a keyboard player, there’s a lot more layers and textures to it than what Seventh Void was.

Silvertomb

<ANTIHERO: Is Kenny going to continue being the vocalist for Silvertomb, as he was in Seventh Void?

Johnny Kelly: Yeah. Kenny is singing and playing guitar. Joos is singing … Nobody in Seventh Void really sings backup vocals. When Joos came into the band, he got nominated for that because he can carry a tune a little bit better than the rest of us.

ANTIHERO: After Peter died, was there ever any talk about keeping Type O Negative still going, or did Type O die when Peter died?

Johnny Kelly: Yeah, it died when Peter died. How do you replace somebody like Peter? That’s a tall order, no pun intended. The conversations that we had regarding the band was just reaffirming that it was finished. You know? It’s impossible to replace Peter. It would have been nice to play with the guys again, to play with Josh and Kenny, in some capacity, but you couldn’t call it Type O Negative. That was four specific people.

ANTIHERO: Yeah, that’s true. I always compared Type O Negative to the show Seinfeld. You can’t really replace anybody in that. It wouldn’t be Seinfeld without Kramer, or without George.

Johnny Kelly: Newman!

ANTIHERO: I also felt, with Type O, Peter was so unique. I don’t think there has been or ever will be anybody like Peter.

Johnny Kelly: For sure, one of a kind, without a doubt.

ANTIHERO: Can you tell me a little bit more about how Silvertomb started?

Johnny Kelly: With Seventh Void, the record that we put out, that came out on 2009. It’s been eight years. There were points in time where there really wasn’t anything going on. The last couple years things started moving a little bit. We got a solid lineup. We had the guys that we knew that were going to be in the band and stuff. It started moving along a little bit. Some of these songs were written quite a while ago. Once we added a keyboard player … He’s been in the band almost a year. That kind of changed everything. The music that we were writing was starting to go more towards that kind of stuff, and then we were revisiting songs that were written a while ago that didn’t have keyboards in them, then we started adding stuff to that too. It’s like, “Oh, wow. Now it’s really becoming something you can … more special to us. “The music that we have now is all demos and stuff like that. The next thing for us is to find a label to release the record on. We know how it wants to sound. Now we just want to do a better recording of it. It’ll just be a matter of going in and reproducing the parts on better equipment, not something that we did in our living room and in the garage.

ANTIHERO: How is that coming along, with finding a label?

Johnny Kelly: We have management now. We have a booking agent in place. Now that we’ve been starting to get a little more aggressive about going forward, it’s starting to … some labels are showing interest. We haven’t decided on anything yet. We’re just seeing what’s out there. All this time that’s gone by, there really is no rush to jump on the first thing that comes our way.

We’ll see what’s out there. We’ll see what is the best move for the band long term. We could put a record out ourselves. That’s easy to do these days, but we’re more concerned about what is in the best interest of the band long term.

Silvertomb

ANTIHERO: Can you tell me a little bit about the songwriting process?

Johnny Kelly: There are parts of my life that I’ll never get back from that. Type O was the same thing, you know? After we would do a record, we would go without talking to each other, we would take some time because everybody was so fried. It really was a painstaking task. It’s the same thing with this: hearing the songs so many times and trying different things. Let’s try this. Let’s try that. Even with drum parts, “That doesn’t feel right. I want to try this. I want to use these sounds. I like these sounds better. These drums sound better. I want to do it again with this. I want to change this up. This sounds too fast. This is too slow.” You know?

“That’s out of key. Why has it been out of key for so many years?” (laughs),”We’ve got to fix that. “There’s a lot of that, a lot of scrutinizing everything. When you do it for a long period of time, it really takes its toll on you, mentally and physically. It takes a chunk of your existence away from you.

When it’s finally out, you exhale. Hopefully people like it, but you’re just so relieved it’s finished. Now you’ve taken the whole emotional element … You’ve completed that task, and then it becomes business. You try to come up with strategies. A lot of that stuff becomes so calculating. It doesn’t have that emotional component. It becomes business. It’s like trying to sell a car. You get to perform and then it becomes fun again.

When you’re out performing … I’ve always enjoyed touring and stuff. I don’t enjoy it as much as I used to because I really like being home. I hate the traveling aspect. I love touring on a bus. If a bus came to my house and dropped me off at my house at the beginning and end of each tour, I could do it forever. Airports and all that stuff, I can’t stand it.

ANTI HERO: Would you say that the songs you have written, you originally wrote them when you were with Seventh Void?

Johnny Kelly: It started there, yes. Some of the songs were at that point. Joe’s been playing with us now for years. We were talking about it the other day, and I was like, “Joe” … We were talking about some song. He was like, “What song was that from?” I was like, “This is before you.” He was like, “I’ve been playing with you guys now for four years. “I was like, “Oh, shit. I had no idea.” I didn’t realize that it was that long. I was digging up files or whatever for some song. It was one of the first ones that Kenny had shown me, that we did a demo for and stuff, and there was. There were solos on it that Joe did and things like that. As the band became more of a unit, in my opinion, the songs started getting better the more that we would write. The songs … They got better. I like it.

As we were working on other songs, other things would be written. Stuff was getting put together. Then it’d be like, “Alright. We’re going to stop working on that song and we’re going to go ahead with this.” This is what we were becoming as a band. There’s that whole creative process, like finding yourself. Discovering who you are, what the band is, how the band should sound and stuff. There was a lot of that.

ANTIHERO: Do you feel it’s important to step out of your comfort zone when it comes to writing songs?

Johnny Kelly: I don’t know if it’s important to do it. It’s a more honest approach. You get a better song if you’re more honest about it. If you’re baring yourself, you’re exposing yourself. It’s the same as being in a relationship. You run that risk of getting hurt. You put yourself out there and it’s bare. It’s a raw emotion. I think it’s important. People can read through bullshit. You can tell when something’s genuine and when it isn’t. If there’s something that you can identify with, normally it’s through something that’s honest and soul baring. It’s not bullshit.

Who wants to identify with bullshit? I think that was part of the charm with Peter’s songwriting. I think that’s what people identified with. He would expose himself. Once you put it out there it’s forever. You must live with it from then on in. You must own it.

ANTIHERO: Sorry, I keep jumping back to the Type O Negative questions. If you don’t mind.

Johnny Kelly: That’s fine, yeah.

ANTIHERO: People saw how Peter was on stage. How was he offstage? Was he the same onstage as he was offstage, or was it like a persona onstage and a different persona offstage?

Johnny Kelly: The level of sarcasm was always there. That’s who we are. That’s who we were. There was no pretension. There was no like, “Alright. Got to get your game face on,” you know. Time to get on the field. It was nothing like that. That’s how we were as people, whether we were onstage or offstage. Peter could turn that around, make it part of his stage persona, but that’s how he was offstage. There was always the sarcasm. There was always the humor. I thought he should have been a stand-up comedian. For him, to have that very self-deprecating approach to things … He could turn that into something, and it was genuine. Everybody was the same. There wasn’t any preconceived … “This is how we’re going to perform. These are the stances that we’re going to take,” or whatever. That’s us.

ANTIHERO: The thing I noticed about Type O Negative was, people either loved Type O or they hated Type O.

Johnny Kelly: The band always seemed to be like trying to fit a square peg in a round hole. Whatever various levels of success and popularity with the band and … The fans that got it, they understood what we were about and where we were coming from. They were really committed fans. I never really came across too many casual listeners of the band.

ANTIHERO: I don’t think anybody really hated Type O. I just think it wasn’t really their cup of tea. I have a friend of mine that saw you guys when you opened for Nine Inch Nails in San Francisco. He’s not really a Type O fan, which is fine, but he said that the last song Peter came out and said, “I have some good news and some bad news. The good news is this is our last song. Bad news, it’s a 15-minute song.”

Johnny Kelly: (laughs)… You must be able to laugh at yourself. We’re not coming up with cures for cancer or anything. We’re playing music. Especially when we were supporting, hopefully people were entertained by it. Opening for Nine Inch Nails, that was tough. When we toured with Nine Inch Nails, we were playing small rooms. These are the most diehard Nine Inch Nails fans that existed. It was a real tough uphill battle. They didn’t want to hear anybody. They weren’t interested in anything except Nine Inch Nails. Anyone that was on stage, they were suffering through it.

Silvertomb

ANTIHERO: Years ago, I went to a Slayer show and Slayer was small, played at clubs. They had Overkill open. Just like you said, Overkill came out. The minute they got on stage, the middle fingers were flying. Overkill’s a good band, but people want to see Slayer. They don’t want to see an opener.

Johnny Kelly: Right. They’re there for one thing, and one thing only. I understand that. We were okay with it. Thankfully it was only ten shows that we were doing with them at the time. Also, doing tough shows like that builds character.

ANTIHERO: Exactly. If nothing else, it’s exposure. Maybe there’s 100 people that didn’t like you, but then there’s 100 people that never heard you before that got turned on to Type O Negative.

Johnny Kelly: That was the thing too. Maybe they weren’t interested in it that night, in that setting, but right after that tour ended we went back out. We were doing our own club tour, and there were more people there, so some people took notice. They obviously just weren’t interested that night.

ANTIHERO: You guys had some great exposures on tours you were on. You played with Nine Inch Nails, Pantera and Motley Crue. At that time those were 3 of the biggest bands going. I guess you could have done worse.

Johnny Kelly: Yeah. It was. I’m grateful to all of them because those are the bands that helped us get on the map. Like Motley Crue, that was one that was strange because we’d just gotten home from Nine Inch Nails. Our manager tells us, “You guys are going to go out with Motley Crue this summer.” We were like, “Motley Crue?”

We were all like, “Why are we going out with Motley Crue? We don’t fit with that. People are going to hate us.”

“What’s the joke?” (laughs) “Where’s the punchline in this?” Our manager was like, “Trust me. This is going to be a good thing for you guys.” We did it. That was the tour where the press and radio and things like that started taking notice. That was the one that really helped us get on the map. We went out with them for a whole summer.

That was the beginning of it. After that tour ended, we stayed on the road. We did a club tour, and there were people coming to the clubs. We were like, “Wow. Our manager was right.” After that I would question him, but I wouldn’t fight him on any decisions. (laughs)

ANTIHERO: I always thought that was a major head scratcher: playing with Motley Crue. Do you remember offhand what tour it was for Motley Crue?

Johnny Kelly: That was when Corabi was in the band, the record that he did, the self-titled one, yeah.

ANTIHERO: I think that was a great period for Motley Crue. Corabi had a heavier edge …

Johnny Kelly: I thought so too. It’s my favorite Motley record for sure. Even their managers and stuff, they didn’t want to take us out. They were like, “Why don’t you get a band that draws, a band that could bring a thousand people to the show every night? Why give this stage time to an unknown band?” They were like, “We like the band. We want them on the tour with us. Make it happen.”

ANTIHERO: Was that during Bloody Kisses or what album were you on?

Johnny Kelly: Yeah, Bloody Kisses was out for like a year!

ANTIHERO: That’s a classic album in the Type O Negative catalog. You have the two different versions of Bloody Kisses.

Johnny Kelly: Yeah, the digipak.

ANTIHERO: It had different tracks and stuff.

Johnny Kelly: Yeah. “Suspended in Dusk.”

ANTIHERO: What’d they take out?

Johnny Kelly:We Hate Everyone,” and “Kill All the White People,” I think this week would not be a good time for Kill All the White People to come out. (laughs)

ANTIHERO: That’s what I was thinking. If that was to come out right now, that wouldn’t go over well. People would be like, “Okay. What are they, neo-fascist, Nazi”?

Johnny Kelly: That was in response to a similar situation. Peter was being accused of being a neo-Nazi and a fascist and all this stuff from the first record. Then he wrote “Kill All the White People” and he was like, “Well now what? “It was a social experiment. “Now what do you have to say?”

ANTIHERO: Who are some of you and the band’s musical influences?

Johnny Kelly: With Type O? The common denominators, for certain, were The Beatles and Black Sabbath. Those are the two bands that everybody agreed on. They were favorites. Everybody was into different, various things. Those were the two that there was never an argument when one of their songs was being played.

ANTIHERO: What about with Silvertomb?

Johnny Kelly: The Beatles and Black Sabbath part is always going to be with us. We’ve gotten a little bit more Led Zeppelin in there. Basically, leaning on the classics. There’s a bit of Soundgarden and Alice In Chains. A little bit of the Seattle vibe going on. Those were bands also that we’d listen to all the time. Alice In Chains is easily one of my top five favorite bands of all time.

ANTIHERO: Oh, yeah. Can’t go wrong with Layne Staley. Easily one of the top 5 vocalists of all-time.

Johnny Kelly: Yeah. Same thing with Soundgarden. Badmotorfinger is one of the greatest records ever. I’m a huge fan of the album ‘Superunknown’ too. When that record came out, we were just starting to tour. We were on the bus, listening to that record constantly. Some of that has bled off into what we’re doing currently. Even Josh is a big Soundgarden fan. Peter wasn’t so much of a Soundgarden fan. He wasn’t really into that. All that kind of stuff getting thrown into … That’s what made it what it was. I would say the main ones were … With Silvertomb, not so much of The Beatles. There was some stuff that we think is influenced by it, or like, “Where was your inspiration?” The result, I don’t think you’re going to hear something and say, “Wow. That sounds like The Beatles.”

ANTIHERO: To be honest, when I listen to Type O, I don’t hear too much Beatles in there.

Johnny Kelly: It really is in there. It is. A lot of it.

ANTIHERO: I guess I just don’t listen to enough Beatles to catch it.

Johnny Kelly: Yeah. For instance, “Pyretta Blaze,” to me, is a perfect blend of Black Sabbath and The Beatles. From the World Coming Down record, the whole inspiration for the choruses and stuff, that all came from … I know the drums parts, it was like … not “Penny Lane” … like “Lovely Rita” from Sgt. Pepper’s. That’s what I was trying to go for in the chorus of “Pyretta Blaze.” A lot of the approach to stuff, background vocals we used and things like that, it played a big part. A lot of melodies and secondary instruments and things like that, those were things that came from our Beatles influence.

ANTIHERO: I was listening to the Roadrunner Collection by Type O Negative. I heard some sitar. Did Kenny play the sitar?

Johnny Kelly: The sitar that we used on those records, that was Paul Bento. He would do the sitar tracks because Paul was an accomplished sitar player. They’d bring him in. We’d have him come in and do a track. They’d set up the studio for him. So, he could get his vibe on, he’d smoke a bunch of pot, get into that headspace. He would do his thing. He played on a lot of our records. I think from Bloody Kisses on. I’m pretty sure he didn’t play anything on the first record, on Slow, Deep and Hard. On Bloody Kisses, he played on it, and I think every record after that.

ANTIHERO: If I am correct, Sal Abruscato was the drummer prior to you.

Johnny Kelly: Who’s now the drummer for Life of Agony. Josh produced the Life of Agony record. He brought Sal in to do the drum tracks. After the record was done and completed and stuff, they asked Sal to join the band. He left and then I joined Type O … I mean, I joined after Bloody Kisses was released because both Life of Agony’s record River Runs Red and Bloody Kisses came out around the same time.

ANTIHERO: Do you have a specific Type O album that was your favorite?

Johnny Kelly: I’ve always been a fan of the first one.

ANTIHERO: Slow, Deep and Hard?

Johnny Kelly: Slow, Deep and Hard, yeah. Like I said, I’ve been playing with Kenny since I was a teenager. I was friends with everybody in the band. I’ve known Sal since he was like 13 years old. When I joined the band, it was a little bit of an easy fit because we all knew each other. We’d all been friends for a long time. Even a couple of times I’d worked for the band. When I first heard Slow, Deep and Hard, that to me was such a game changer as far as … Period. I was a big fan of Carnivore, Peter’s old band. When Kenny joined Type O, first thing I’m hearing what was going on. I was blown away. It was just so heavy. It sounded a little bit like Carnivore, but it was a step up.

ANTIHERO: Yeah, I agree. It was very raw.

Johnny Kelly: It was. At the same time, it had a lot more texture to it than Carnivore did. Carnivore was even more raw to me than Type O’s first record. When I first heard it, I was blown away. I used to listen to the demo before the record even came out. Before they had a record deal, I used to listen to the demo constantly. I was completely blown away by it. When people ask me, “What was your favorite one? I was like, “Wow. This is special.” Being in the band for so many years after that, and making records with the band, that was the one that was always the most impressionable to me.

ANTIHERO: Do you have a favorite Type O album that you played on?

Johnny Kelly: It’s easier for me to pick the least favorite one, which was ‘Life is Killing Me. The records that we did, to me, they’re points in time. It’s hard to look at them objectively and say, “These songs are … whatever. These songs are my favorite.” They’re snapshots of our lives. When I hear these records, when I hear songs that I was a part of, to me they represent points in time. I’m not really thinking about the song or whatever … the lyrics. It plays a part, but it’s not the thing that I gravitate towards when I hear it. I think about what we were going through, what our life experience was, what I was going through as a person, the process of making that record. ‘Life is Killing Me’ was a turbulent time for the band, personally, professionally. It just seems like a disjointed record to me. It didn’t feel complete, and that’s because all the other things that were in it, that were around making that record. It just feels kind of disconnected. The other records, to me, were more labor intensive. They were more … more emotional input in it. I thought that there was a better record in us to do than what the end result was. Songs like “Anesthesia” is a great song. That’s a great Type O Negative song. It became very clear once the song was written and stuff. It was recorded and that song ended up staying in our live set since, up until the end we played that song every night. Some of the other stuff, it was cool that there was a little bit more of the humor in it because World Coming Down, to me, is the most depressing Type O record. At the same time, it’s very honest, but the lyrics and everything … That was the most soul baring record. That’s the part that I like about it. Life is Killing Me just seemed like it was kind of disjointed. I thought ‘Dead Again’ was a good record. I thought it was a great record for a band that had been around for so many years. It still felt like there was something to prove. It had more of a jammy element to it. We put a lot of rehearsals in on that record. It was cool to go in there. To me, it seemed like a very raw record.

ANTIHERO: At the time of Peter’s death were you working on any new material?

Johnny Kelly: No. No, we were getting started … Peter was living out in Pennsylvania when he passed away. Peter died in April. He was moving back to New York May 1st. He had a place picked out. He was getting it on May 1st. Kenny and I, the night before he died, we had just found the studio where we were going to work, to start writing the record and everything. All that was going to take place on May 1st also. We were getting that room May 1st, and Peter was moving back to New York on May 1st. It never happened, obviously. The next day, after we left the studio … I tried calling Peter the night we were at the studio to tell him that we found a place. Then the next night I got the call saying that he had passed away, so none of that happened. When we talked to him on the phone I would ask him, because we were getting ready to start working … I asked him, “Do you have anything? Do you have anything prepared? Have you been writing or whatever?” He goes, “I have a couple of ideas, but I don’t have anything concrete. We’ll wait until we get in the room and see what happens.”

That’s how he was writing after October Rust. That’s how all the records came together. October Rust was when Peter was the most prepared, where he had a lot of stuff written. When we got in the room, we could get pretty much right to work. After that, we would go on tour, we would take our breaks, and then when it was time to get back to work, that’s when Peter would start working on new ideas. We’d all be in the room together and his ideas would come out that way, and then the songs would get put together, then. There wasn’t anything that I was aware of when I spoke to him. He didn’t have anything written. He just had some ideas.

ANTIHERO: Are there any unreleased Type O Negative tracks that are going to show up at any point?

Johnny Kelly: No. As far as I’m aware of, there was one song that didn’t make it to October Rust. For Dead Again, we did basic tracks for a version … We did a cover version of Bad Moon Rising from CCR. We used to play it live. We tried recording it. We did the basic tracks for it. The next day, we came back to the studio, didn’t like it, and scraped it because we felt that … We had a lot of material for Dead Again already. The songs that we had, we had to cut down. We edited them down. It was like, “Let’s not even bother going ahead with this because we already have enough for the CD.”

All it was is basic tracks. All of us were unhappy with the way that it turned out. We scrapped it, but that’s it. The only other songs that were left over, we put on The Least Worst Of. There was “12 Black Rainbows” and “It’s Never Enough. “Those are the only songs that had been anything left over.

ANTIHERO: That’s amazing. You’ve had a history of doing quite a bit of covers, like Summer Breeze. You did “Cinnamon Girl.” A great twist on the song. I never thought that I would hear a Neil Young song done that way.

Johnny Kelly: The approach that we had to our cover songs was not so much just to replicate them, just to play a cover of it. We wanted it to be like had we written it. We wanted it to be Type O Negative’s interpretation of these songs, had Type O Negative written “Summer Breeze.” This is what it sounded like, instead of just doing a cover band cover of it and trying to replicate every note and every nuance and trying to execute it the way it was originally done.

ANTIHERO: You made it your own. If I wasn’t to have known that those were done by other bands, it would have fit right in when everything else Type O Negative did. It felt natural.

Johnny Kelly: Right? That was our intention. That’s what we wanted, even with the Black Sabbath covers that we did. We did Sabbath Bloody Sabbath, and we did “Paranoid.” Paranoid” sounds nothing like the original version.

ANTIHERO: Origin of the Feces was a live album recorded in a studio?

Johnny Kelly: It’s not live at all. It’s live playing but it’s not a live performance. It’s a reenactment of the band’s first European tour. Almost all the stuff, like all the jokes, all that shit that’s on the record, that really did happen. (laughs) I’m glad that I wasn’t there for that. I’m glad I wasn’t there. I almost went as a tech, but I didn’t go. In hindsight, smart decision. (laughs)

ANTIHERO: Did you know Peter back then? If not, when did you meet Peter?

Johnny Kelly: I knew Peter a little bit. I wouldn’t say that we were friends. I knew him. Carnivore would rehearse at the studio that I worked at. Where we came from in Brooklyn, there was only a few rehearsal studios that bands could go to practice. Pretty much everybody knew each other. You’re talking a radius of just a couple miles. Brooklyn had a small music community as far as hard rock and heavy metal bands and stuff. I knew Peter for years before I joined Type O. I wouldn’t say that we were buddies or anything. I knew him. I used to go see Carnivore a lot when Carnivore was active. I would go see them play. It seemed like it was them and Overkill playing every couple of months together. At least, that’s what it seemed like. When one of the national acts that was … like a thrash band or whatever came through, Carnivore was the opening band. They were one of the house, opening bands. Then they would do their own shows sometimes. I got to see them perform a lot. Anyway, I was a big Carnivore fan. Peter and Josh, I could walk to their house from where I lived. They were within walking distance. All of us lived within walking distance of each other.

ANTIHERO: Speaking of Josh Silver, what’s he doing now?

Johnny Kelly: He’s a paramedic for the fire department in New York. Yeah. He started going to school to train to be an EMT when Type O was still active. When we weren’t on tour, he’s enrolled in classes and stuff like that and going to school for it. That’s why he wound up not doing the last tour that we did.

ANTIHERO: Who did you tab to be the keyboardist on the last tour?

Johnny Kelly: We had Scott Warren from Heaven & Hell and Dio. He played with a bunch of other bands. Scott came in and did the last tour with us.

ANTIHERO: Is Josh completely out of music now?

Johnny Kelly: Completely. I still talk to him. We text a lot. We’re in touch, but he’s out of music. He hasn’t played a note in years. That’s the kind of person that he is, though. Josh is an all or nothing person. When he got into being an EMT, that was it. He’s an EMT now. It was all in and now he’s a paramedic for the fire department. That’s his job. That’s his passion. When I speak to him, most of the conversation is about what he’s seen at work, all the crazy shit that he experiences. Some people could do that. I’m happy for him because he’s happy. He says he doesn’t miss it, so more power to him.

ANTIHERO: It’s funny how originally this interview was set out to talk about Silvertomb, which I wanted to talk about Silvertomb. I’m very interested in Silvertomb. Then it ended up being a whole big thing on Type O Negative.

Johnny Kelly: It’s all encompassing.

ANTIHERO: What is your opinion of online streaming such as Spotify?

Johnny Kelly: It has advantages and disadvantages to it. It’s cool that you can have access to that vast catalog of music. You feel like hearing something, whatever it is, those obscure songs. You have access to it instantly, on your phone, or your computer, whatever. At the same time, it screws artists. We hardly get anything for a play. Somebody made money off it. These companies are worth millions of dollars … That’s on the backs of artists. Artists, they’re getting screwed from it. Even super successful, pop music and things like that, they’re not getting what they should be. They’re getting crumbs compared to what … The money that’s being generated for all of this, it’s not going to the people that deserve it, which are the song writers and the people that created it.

Silvertomb

ANTIHERO: When you were in Type O, obviously streaming sites didn’t exist, maybe except for Napster for a short time. At least back then, you made your money on album sales.

Johnny Kelly: Yeah. You could control your content. You had a little bit more say in the matter on how your music was distributed, how it was presented. Now, with like YouTube, and other streaming sites like Spotify and things like that, once you make a record, you put it out, that’s it. It’s gone. You have no control over it. You have no say in the matter. Nothing. It’s gone. It doesn’t seem like it has that emotional component again. It doesn’t seem like it’s part of music anymore. It’s become so devalued, and it’s disposable. It’s not like when you bought a record. I didn’t have a lot of money growing up. When I could buy a record that was like not being able to have lunch for a few days because I was buying a record instead. You went to the record store. You bought the record. You went home, and you listened to it. You listened to it constantly. You looked over the liner notes. You looked at all the artwork. It was like a religious experience. Now it’s just a byproduct to get people to come to a show to sell them a t-shirt. I don’t see people getting blown away anymore.

ANTIHERO: Yeah. That’s true. It’s good for new bands, like Silvertomb. Unfortunately, you kind of fall into that category. Since people aren’t really buying CDs as much, anymore, unlike with Type O Negative. I’m sure people are still buying Type O Negative albums. People have streamed a lot of Type O. People probably buy a lot of Type O still. You’re still making money off that at least.

Johnny Kelly: Of course, it’s not like the money that we used to earn. It’s literally a fraction. Like I said, it’s just become devalued. It’s disposable. It’s cool. People are still discovering it, which is great. The band isn’t active, anymore. We’re not out touring. We’re not out promoting the band, but people are still discovering it. We are fortunate in that way. If we had a new record out, I’m sure people wouldn’t be grabbing onto it the way that older fans … When the band was new and that place in time. If Sgt. Pepper’s came out today, it wouldn’t have the same impact. It wouldn’t be regarded the way that it is now.

ANTIHERO: Yeah. I used to buy CDs by the handful. I had like thousands of CDs. I buy albums by certain bands. Every time Type O would come out with an album, I would make a point of buying a Type O because the liner notes, and just having the hard copy.

Johnny Kelly: Yeah. I buy records on iTunes and stuff like that. I do that. The media that’s being used is not the issue. It’s the fact that people feel entitled to get it for free, that it should be given to them, instead of there being a value on it. It’s gotten to the point now, people expect the music for free. They expect to get into the show and buy a t-shirt cheap, and then they feel like they’re entitled to record the whole show and distribute it themselves. That is not how it used to be. This is goods and services. This is commerce. That aspect of it … You can’t get your gasoline for free. You can’t get your rent for free. The guy can’t come to your house and give you cable for free. But the music that you listen to, that should be free. The concert that you’re going to should be cheap. People got mad at bands for being successful. They turned around and said, “We’re screwing the record company. “No, you’re not screwing the record company. You’re screwing the band with them. (laughs) As far as doing videos, or to release whatever home videos, or a live … Josh was always against bootlegs and stuff like that. A concert was supposed to be an experience. It wasn’t supposed to be a distributable, tangible item.

ANTIHERO: Bootlegs used to be a big thing. People used to bootleg every show and sell it on tape. You used to be able to get bootlegs from any band. Back in the day, any band you wanted a bootleg of, you could get a shitty recorded bootleg.

Johnny Kelly: Right?

ANTIHERO: That’s not what you want to be represented by. It sounds like shit. You don’t spend all your hours, all your days, to make an album, to spend time in a quality show, for a shitty sounding bootleg.

Johnny Kelly: Yeah. That shitty sounding bootleg now becomes a representation of what your live show is about. It is it. You missed the whole experience, you know? Now people feel like they’re entitled to do that. People lose their shit when you tell them that they can’t record the show. Every concert that I went to always had on the ticket, “No cameras. No recording,” except for like two. I went to see The Black Crowes, and I went to see Gov’t Mule You could bootleg the show.

ANTIHERO: Jam bands really encourage it (if it is done right).

Johnny Kelly: Yeah, but the people that were recording it, they were standing in the back. While I’m trying to watch The Black Crowes, I didn’t have to look at a thousand little phone screens lit up in front of my face. (laughs)

ANTIHERO: I’m sure you know well enough Glenn Danzig’s take on all of that.

Johnny Kelly: Yeah. That’s it. When you first walk in, they tell you, “You can’t record the show.” This and that. “No cameras.” People still do it. They get caught, they get thrown out, and then they get upset. You were told before you went in, “You’re not supposed to do this.”

ANTIHERO: People watching shows, they’re holding their phones up, they’re watching a show through their camera or their phone.

Johnny Kelly: I know. I think it’s rude to the people around you. The performance that you’re attending isn’t just for you. It’s for everybody. I find it incredibly disrespectful. Especially, the people that fucking show up with fucking iPads, recording the show. I’m trying to watch Black Sabbath and I’m looking at this woman’s iPad. You couldn’t find something a little more inconspicuous to do this with? It devalues what you’re doing as well.

For More Information Please Visit:

https://www.facebook.com/silvertombmusic

https://www.instagram.com/silvertombmusic/

About Scott Martin

Photographer - California - Bay area

Check Also

Europe

Interview: John Levén of EUROPE

Walking the Earth with Europe Bassist John Levén  To many rock fans Europe solely represent a band …