The death of Peter Steele brought a permanent end to iconic gothic metal pioneers Type O Negative. Of course, the band was not only the product of its towering front man. Kenny Hickey was an integral part of defining this genre, with his guitar playing and vocals being an equal part of the dynamic. Forging ahead with his creative vision, Hickey formed Seventh Void. A promising venture, it eventually transformed enough that Kenny felt a name change was in order to reflect the new music (and new band members).
Enter Silvertomb. The band has released a new single “Insomnia” ahead of their upcoming tour. The song has all the best elements of Hickey’s music, heavy with a droning undertone that propels it forward. It combines the best aspects of early Soundgarden with later offerings by the Deftones. But this comparison is just for reference, as the members of Silvertomb have credentials reaching further back than those comparisons.
Kenny gives us some insight here on the inner workings of the band, as well as his early heroes and the surprises in store for us on Silvertomb’s new album.
1. You’ve always had a great sense of shifting dynamics in your music. Who were your early favorite bands?
Beatles, Sabbath, Pink Floyd, Kiss, Hendrix, Zeppelin, T Rex, early Alice Cooper, Elton John and Johnny Cash, plus many others. I was lucky to have become musically conscious around 7yrs old in the early seventies in a time when all this amazing rock was popular.
2. Were there significant changes in your creative process going from Type O Negative to Seventh Void?
There were major changes I had to go through. First I had to find a musical approach apart from Type O and identity, which was hard at first but then started to flow. The hardest transition was learning to be a lead singer instead of just singing parts of songs like in Type O. I had to learn to ad lib and fill in the spaces between lyrics and develop a style. As far as song development and structure I learned much of what I know from Peter Steele and Josh Silver.
3. When writing a song, what do you first “hear” in your mind? An overall atmosphere? A tempo? A melody?
All of the above. There’s seems to be no set formula, which is often nerve-wracking. If there was a blueprint I’d always know where to begin.
4. Do you tend to isolate yourself to flesh out a song, or do you take a basic idea or riff and work on it with the rest of the band?
So far it’s been isolation in a small walk-in closet that I turned into a mini studio. I have it sound proofed so I can scream my head off at 3am without waking my wife or kids. It’s been pretty much me, my computer, a microphone, a guitar, and beer.
5. Are you still tuning down to B for Silvertomb? Still using the heavy gauge strings?
Yes. The same guitar set up for most of the heavy stuff, but there are acoustic segments and 1 song on the record in 440.
6. Is your plan to periodically release individual songs, or release a full album at some point? Streaming platforms have changed the game!
We primarily released this single “Insomnia” to have something out that people can listen to and know for the Life Of Agony tour that we’re doing. We rushed that mix out and are still in the mixing phase for the rest of the record. We will release the record as a whole when we’re finished mixing and mastering.
7. With a fuller band sound (more instruments) do you keep track of everyone live, or do your monitors have say, just drums and guitar for reference points?
I’m a creature of old habits. I still put a bit of my own guitar, my vocals, but mainly kick and snare to keep me locked in with Johnny.
8. Do you ever come up with material that you like but feel it doesn’t necessarily “fit in” with your band’s sound? Do you set those songs aside, or try to alter them?
I think people are going to be surprised when they hear the rest of this record. There are many different styles of rock combined into it, including acoustic Segue-way’s. I feel like this band can open up to any style.
9. Was the addition of Aaron Joos a big creative shot in the arm? Were you able to arrange things more adventurously having him not only on keys but as an additional guitarist?
Yes-the Keys opened a whole new spectrum for the band. The idea originally came from a song we were working on that just called for orchestration-and Johnny and I just decided to go for it because it seemed natural and it was something we really missed about Type O Negative. It came out so good that suddenly we found ourselves in need of a keyboard player. Eventually I’m just going to take Joos’s guitar away from him completely.
10. If you were on a solo road trip right now, what bands or songs would you load up your playlists with?
Anything from David Bowie to Behemoth and all in between. I try to keep an open mind and love anything that moves me and is done well
Silvertomb is embarking on a tour with Life of Agony, find out more here: https://www.facebook.com/silvertombmusic/