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Silvertomb's Kenny Hickey: "...Peter was brilliant but he also tortured himself, hence “sleeping on nails”, and then he would attempt to kill the pain with wine"

Interview with Kenny Hickey from Silvertomb
by Lior "Steinmetal" Stein at 21 October 2019, 7:37 PM

Ending something old to start something new, that is the spirit reflected from the rising of Silvertomb. With the echoes of Type O Negative still hovering from above, a special bled was set in motion, to become special, unique and personal. With their upcoming debut just around the corner, Steinmetal had a talk with guitarist / vocalist, Kenny Hickey, also known from Type O Negative and Seventh Void, about the experience of the release, where does the album leads, musical development, Type O Negative and more…

Hello Kenny, it is a tremendous honor having you for this interview for Metal Temple online Magazine. How have you been doing sir?

Still alive and well

Earlier on when I first heard about the end of Seventh Void, it itched to be honest, as I have been quite a follower of Type O Negative, and wanted to listen to anything that was connected to it. However, two of your buddies and yourself rose from the ashes and emerged with Silvertomb. Was it always in the stars that this band would be formed? What exactly led to that decision to continue on as Silvertomb? Was it already set in motion in the final days of Seventh Void?

Nothing was set in motion. I felt like I wanted to give up music completely after Peter passed and tried to do so. Before long I was playing and writing again. I had a few songs and some great musicians willing to hammer them out with me. Johnny Kelly, Joseph James, Henry Belfor, and Arron Joos. We needed a new start, a new band with some kind of goal.

 “Edge Of Existence” is the title of your debut album, to be released via Long Branch Records, which appears to be the meeting ground for ex-Type O Negative musicians, along with Sal Abruscato’s A Pale Horse Named Death, which also features your drummer, Johnny Kelly. I can’t be too sure about the decision not to continue with Napalm Records, which was your label back in the Seventh Void days, yet how do you feel under the banner of Long Branch? Do you believe that there is a good promotion backing up “Edge Of Existence”?

I feel like Long Branch Records where into what we were doing and that counts more than a label who’s just going to throw the music out there and wait to see what happens

Let’s start with capturing on what is it all about. What is the “Edge Of Existence” for you? Whose existence, mankind’s? Or the picture is even smaller?

It’s a very personal view for me. I’ve felt that since Peter passed, and Type O Negative ended, I’ve been struggling to redefine my life and who I am as a musician. I feel like I’ve been dropped off at the periphery of life and music and left alone to figure out which way to go.

Sinking even deeper into the universe of “Edge Of Existence”, whether music or lyrical themes, it felt strange at first, as it aims to so many directions, at least how I interpreted it. Philosophy wise, what would you say is the unifying theme that makes the record attractive, and in the same breath, somewhat provocative?

I think it’s an honest search for meaning both lyrically and musically. It’s a first step in defining the next stage in the evolution of a group of musicians. I think if we keep it honest and real we will find our way to the answer

Strong expressions and comprehensions such as suicide, betrayal, true, lies. I can only sense anger and grief, going side by side. Were the life events that influenced, or might even call it inspired, the lyrical writing on “Edge Of Existence”?

All the lyrics are based on my own experience. Everything I do is personal. I’ve been through a lot in my life. This record is a purge of negative experiences and feelings for me. Anger is grief turned outward.

After blasting the album for a fair share of time, I was glad that it was not the continuance of Seventh Void, yet the musical direction as if attempting to find its edge by shooting arrows throughout the place. On the other hand, it somewhat came all together. A tight conjuration of Doom Metal / Hard Rock / Alternative Metal / Grunge, playing tricks on the listener’s mind. Was it your initial purpose with Silvertomb in general, and with “Edge Of Existence” in particular, to write music that has elements that are dear to you but also explore different realms?

I wanted to explore broader musical styles. I'm tired of playing just Metal. We’re going to keep blending our favorite styles and take it as far as we can.

After you listened to the album yourself, which I am positive that you did, to which part of the multiple identity of Silvertomb do you connect with the most? The heavier kind or rather Grungy / Rockier part?

If you sit with some wine and listen to “Right of Passage” through the end of the record it plays out like an emotional roller coaster for me. That’s my favorite part of the record-it’s like a journey to hell and back.

Since it appears that you guys in the band have different approaches, it would be interesting to know about the songwriting process of “Edge Of Existence”? Would you say that Silvertomb is a band that allows every member to contribute to the songwriting effort?

Yes.  I come up with the core of the song and everyone then contributes

As mentioned, “Edge Of Existence” is pretty diverse musically, however, in your opinion, which elements were given better attention while writing the music?

Getting the orchestrated parts to work took the most time and attention. Blending so many elements and still being able to hear them as separate instruments against heavy drums and tuned down distorted guitars was a real challenge

To which bands have you been listening to for inspiration prior to writing the riffs for this album? I can only imagine tons of Black Sabbath…

I don’t have to listen to Sabbath for inspiration anymore it’s just in me. Some of the other classic artists that inspire me are David Bowie, T. Rex (especially "The Slider"). Beatles, Pink Floyd, Smashing Pumpkins.

Although the song has quite contenders for the album’s finest, I found myself grasped by “So True”, which musically incorporates the varied kind of Silvertomb. For some reason, it felt to me like the little, and less provocative, brother of Type O Negative’s “Unsuccessfully Coping with the Natural Beauty of Infidelity”. What is your take on this song, both musically and lyrically? Furthermore, is there a connection between this number and its next in line, “Not Your Savior”? If there is, please elaborate on the connection

“So True” was one of the last songs we’d written.  At that point in the process I was really frustrated with writing songs with a beginning middle and end, and progressions that go where they’re supposed to. I really wanted to surprise the listeners' ear at every turn while also capturing the desperation, anger and remorse of a character that has suffered from a lifetime self-loathing, anxiety, and depression.

Another tune, short but sweet, yet no less intriguing, is “Sleeping On Nails And Wine”, which is no less than an Indie Rock type song. Can’t really say that it was a surprise, as with this album it is expect the unexpected. What there is to it with this song? What did it try to reflect?

This is the one song that is directly about Peter. I wanted to capture some part of him-he was too complex a person to capture I any 3-minute song so I just tried to define some of the things he seemed to do over and over again-especially when it came to women and wine.  Peter was brilliant but he also tortured himself, hence “sleeping on nails” and then he would attempt to kill the pain with wine.

Which of the album’s tracks are the most influential for you? Do you have a particular track that led you to sit down and think about things, maybe think things over? Please elaborate on your pick

I would say it is "Eulogy", which is obviously a funeral setting. The breakdown segment in this song which begins with the lyric “To brave the dangers” is the piece of music that moves me the most.  It’s existential and tries to determine what is actually important in life: success, survival, strength, or connection and the ability to love. The lead break that follows this piece is also very moving for me even though it’s devoid of lyrics

Earlier this year when I interviewed Sal Abruscato, I asked about a possible option for yourself, John and him to reunite under a title of sorts. He said that it can be considered to do something cool. Have you ever considered that option? Maybe to resurrect something that might be a follower of Type On Negative with the remaining members, including to put on an effort to bring back Josh Silver?

Josh Silver will never return to music. He’s made that clear to me. I don’t have any desire to resurrect Type O Negative without Peter.

Speaking of which, next yet it is going to be a decade since the death of Peter Steele. Will you be doing anything special for this occasion?

There are no plans no.

With 2019 coming slowly to a close, what are your plans to support the new album in 2020?

We’re going to tour. I still love performing so we’re going to get out there

Though life can be unexpected, for better or worse, where do you see Silvertomb is going? Let’s call it your five years' plan

We plan on taking the music to its apex. "Edge of Existence" is just the beginning.

Kenny, it has been an honor having you for this interview. “Edge Of Existence” had me twisting and turning, and I liked that it did. I wish you guys all the best. Cheers.

Thank you



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