Type O Negative’s front man sheds light on the dark subject of Depression.
© Heather King-Hammitt, 2003
In November 2002 I contacted Peter Steele requesting his participation in an anonymous research project regarding Depression. The interview was completed in a series of discussions from December 2002 to March 2003. Peter Steele has graciously agreed to share his responses with the public!
The song stylist extraordinaire is an incredibly remarkable personality. His swift and clever wit fused with moments of frank commentary provided amusing responses from a man revealing not only “the goods” (see Playgirl Magazine circa 1995), but also a notably intelligent psyche.
HEATHER: So Peter, have you been diagnosed with Depression, Anxiety, and Bipolar Disorder ?
PETER: I have come up with the ultimate super hero – “Bi-Polar Bear”.
That is not the one and only cut and dried diagnosis of any of these things, but yeah. I have, just for fun, gone to psychiatrists to be diagnosed and they have said this. And then I give them my report – of what I think about them.
H: At what age would you say you realized you had this illness?
PETER: Ice Age.
At what age did I realize I was insane? I suppose it was 18 but…I must say this: At this point in life I do not need anyone to tell me what to think. I refuse to go to therapy or any of this other sh*t, because I don’t want to pay people to tell me what’s wrong with me. Because I know what’s wrong with me.
H: Are you currently on a prescription(s) specifically to treat this illness and what is the Prescription?
PETER: Yes, Prozac. Prozac is the only one. It doesn’t make me feel good; it just helps me not to feel so bad. Bad means anxiety – means that I wish I was never born, that I wish I could dig a hole and go into the center of the Earth and die.
H: Are there any interaction warnings on the label, like do not operate heavy machinery, or …
PETER: Heavy machinery?! That’s what I live for! If it says, “Do not operate” I’m like “What the f**k are you talking about?” I cannot operate?!
There is this thing, prolonged erection…this is a side effect, either you get impotent, or a prolonged erection. So fortunately for me, I walk around with my f**king d**k hard. Washing the dishes, cleaning the house, boing boing boing…I’m not kidding you.
H: So on a 1 – 10 scale, if 10 describes a good day, and when I say good day, I’m not necessarily saying the day is devoid of stress or conflict, or unpleasant interactions, just a good day when you feel that your depression is under control, what number would you assign to your days generally?
PETER: Can there be negative integers involved?
H: No, you have to select a number from 1 – 10.
H: Generally, how are your days?
PETER: Uh, 665. No wait — that’s the neighbor of the beast. I would have to say 5 — they vary. I am hypoglycemic, so even the things I eat affect my mood. So everything is up and down.
H: Does that number change with different times of the day?
PETER: Statistically, it’s random but constant. I mean you speak of these terms in an x-y graph, and you need an x-y-z, it’s 3 dimensional.
H: So you’re not necessarily a morning person, or a night person or certain times of the day don’t make you feel happier than other times. How about the weather?
PETER: I do like the sun.
H: When you’re feeling anxiety or depression, do you find that you hibernate, or tend to be around people more?
PETER: I withdraw.
H: Do you think at times that you enjoy or wallow in your mood?
PETER: Not only do I relish it but I make money from it.
H: What kinds of sounds put you in a good mood?
PETER: The sounds of the wind, autumn leaves, actually rain, snow, anything natural.
H: Natural selections.
PETER: Natural erections.
H: How about music – does music put you in a good mood?
PETER: No, no – I need total silence. I will punch myself in the face for snoring, because I will wake myself up. That explains my face.
Light, I can deal with. I’m a vampire but I have a green card, and so like you know I can go out, if it’s morning, I can go to the blood bank, blah blah blah – I can handle light, but the sound, no way man. Mechanical repetition, actually, is not so bad, like white noise, which is not a racial term by the way, because there’s also pink noise.
H: You said that you suffer from anxiety. What kinds of events are likely to make you feel anxious?
PETER: Interviews. No, let me answer this question totally seriously for once. When I try to explain to others why I have anxiety, and I tell them I don’t know…they don’t know how to deal with that and there’s a sense of anger or like they just abort the whole situation. The thing with anxiety is the more you worry about it, the more it comes upon you – and there’s really nothing you can do.
H: Your best coping mechanism for that is…
PETER: To never go out of the house. No that’s really honest – I go food shopping, and sometimes I like dance around the neighborhood naked, I’ll take my car around, flip it over a couple of times, show off, I go buy some out of season fruit, if I’m in the mood, but that’s it.
H: So you don’t think your medication necessarily puts you on that even keel, so you don’t feel the high highs, and the low lows?
PETER: I don’t think that the Atkin’s Diet is working for me at all. I mean I ate 7-8 steaks yesterday –
H: Peter, do you consider yourself a perfectionist?
PETER: A percussionist? A perfectionist. Yes I do. You know that’s a big problem. It’s like people have asked me that question – (Imitates Freudian accent) “Peter, is this glass half empty, or half full?” and I say, “Yeah, I don’t even have a glass”. So – I guess I’m a glass-hole.
I don’t like gray qualities in life. The light has to be on or off, you know.
H: Do you forgive others easily?
PETER: Only if they’re dead.
Usually if someone transgresses upon me, 99 times out of 100, it could have been preventable had I been aware. Normally I blame myself, I just deal with that by writing worst songs than I did before, and taking it out on the public.
H: Do you think you have obsessive traits?
PETER: Yeah. Absolutely. When I say this to you, I am honest and I mean it and it’s not a joke. If I have somewhat of a disagreement with people, which usually means that they ran too fast and I couldn’t kill them, and I have to think about what I should have said — you know discussing things back and forth, that usually bothers me, and that to verbally make a point and not have said what I should have said. And also yes, locking the front door.
H: That’s a good obsession, though, locking your door.
PETER: But I don’t have a front door that’s the real f**king problem. I encourage intruders.
H: Do you practice affirmations, daily affirmations – words or phrases to harvest your mind?
PETER: This is new to me. I mean the first thing I say when I wake up is “Oh f**k, I’m still alive”. Is that an affirmation?
H: Do you practice mediation?
PETER: I have given up on masturbation — it doesn’t work for me. Oh…meditation. When it comes to mediation I think about like somebody with their arms outstretched, they look like they’re going to snap their fingers but they never do, and they have their legs crossed, I can’t do that. I cannot do that. My neighborhood is too noisy…what am I going to meditate on? Cars honking, people yelling, gunshots? Yeah, I f**king meditate, yeah.
H: Have you used illegal drugs?
PETER: Virgins you mean?
Of course I have. Rogaine — I’m hooked on it, it gets me high, the more I do – you ought to see my pubic hair – it looks like King Harod’s beard.
H: Do you think you have a close friend or confidant that you can call on that understands what you feel, and what you’re going through, when you’re feeling depressed?
PETER: That’s why I called you, Heather! How about that for an answer? Honestly – no. Even though I trust people, I know what I tell them they will use against me in the future.
H: Do you ever provide support to others?
PETER: Kill yourself! You’re ugly! You’re impotent! Your breath stinks! Nobody likes you! You haven’t bathed in a couple of days, and I can smell it! Here’s the knife, I won’t look – go ahead! I support them.
H: When was the last time you laughed so hard it hurt?
PETER: Listening to the first Jerky Boys album with my friends. I always find it extremely hilarious. It’s like the funniest thing in the world to me, and it’s so juvenile – all men are just 12, 13 year-old boys. Their b*lls get bigger, then they grow hair and they get stronger, but they’re still little f**king d*cks. And you know what? I’m one of them. Hanging out with my friends, 41 years old, and my friends around the same age – listening to this and just laughing at it — but at the same time it’s very innocent laughter. Usually when people laugh, especially men, it’s at the expense of someone else. Putting someone down or seeing someone get hurt. I hate to disassociate myself with my barbaric past, but I don’t find these things funny. I am sympathetic to these people who f**k up. I’m not kidding you when I say that.
H: But like Jackass for example…
PETER: I saw the movie, I laughed and laughed and laughed – I mean honestly, I have to say I was in awe. This guy must have such a high testosterone level to do these things. A couple of months ago I got blood work done, and I have a high testosterone level too, but this guy – there’s something wrong with him. But I commend him for it, because this is what men should be. Okay, so you’re going to go off a cliff in a shopping cart. Laugh about it. That’s cool. Some women are like, “What’s so funny about this”? It’s like, “I did that when I was 14!” I mean I did things like that when I was 14 f**king years old.
I’m not going to say he’s one of my heroes, he can’t last long, the way he’s keeping it up – but I think it’s brilliant, I can’t believe he’s not dead – I think it’s like “schizo-funnia”. You know like doing crazy things and watching people’s reactions to it. Because nothing is funnier than human nature – doing something out of the ordinary and just filming it…that’s the funniest thing in the f**king world.
People are so used to things working a certain way – especially if someone does something out of the ordinary with confidence – the world stops. Time stops. The train stops. Clouds stop moving. The planets break a-f**king part. The Sun explodes because some idiotic male with a high testosterone level goes into the Brooklyn Aquarium with a fishing pole. Which is what I have done, just to see what would happen.
H: like you belong there?
PETER: That’s another point, I know so many idiots with confidence, and I’ve seen this, the ugliest guy in the world, and I can say this because I’m ugly too – goes up to women, “Hey, whattaya doing, baby?” It’s like this fucking attitude like he’s the shit – and like all these hot women flock around him like “woo woo!” Baby female gorillas jumping all over him. Then I see somebody you know with a 160 IQ, like the Nutty Professor who has no confidence, who may also happen to be good looking as well, but the women are like, “ehh.” It’s like not giving a fuck, and you know why is that – it goes a long way. That has not changed over 500 thousand years. Except you can’t do it in supermarkets…I’ve tried it, and you don’t get a discount.
H: no discount, that’s it. Well you’re done. You did good.
PETER: I did good.
Interview by Heather King-Hammitt