Photos by: EvAl
EvAl: Thanks for taking the time to talk to me Johnny.
JK: Absolutely. Thank you.
EvAl: So you’re a busy guy these days. You’ve got Type O, Seventh Void and Danzig all
going on. Anything else?
JK: I play in a Led Zeppelin tribute band at home, too.
EvAl: Right on. What’s the name of that?
JK: Earl’s Court.
EvAl: So before I get into the Seventh Void stuff, I have to ask … I know you’re playing on the new Danzig record. Anything you can share without getting busted by Glenn?
JK: [Laughs] Actually I’m pretty psyched about it. It seems like it’s a little more of a rock record that what he’s done with the last few.
EvAl: Meaning less industrial?
JK: Yeah, it’s a little bit more rock-based. There’s this one song on it that I heard in the studio, I don’t know the name of it or anything, but I think it’s just going to blow people away. It’s something that the engineer was just playing while we were setting up, you know getting ready to record and stuff and I was like, “what the hell is that”? Glenn was like, “it’s something that I’ve had in my head for like six years. I finally just got it out.” And it’s just amazing. Like really classic Danzig and people are going to freak the fuck out.
EvAl: I know people are really anticipating this record.
JK: Yeah, myself too!
EvAl: So you guys have been playing, what, four or five years together now?
JK: Kenny and I started working on this in 2003.
EvAl: So why did it take so long to finally get a disc out?
JK: Just between everything else that was going on. And there really wasn’t any rush to get the record out. It was one of those things that, you know, we worked at our leisure. I guess there was a combination of both our schedules, Vinnie Paul’s schedule, ‘cause he’s been pretty busy the last couple of years, too. You know, he got on board pretty early with the mixing and stuff like that and then things got pretty busy for Hell Yeah and after that he had some issues that he had to take care of as far as his record label with things like distribution. That took an additional six to eight months. So the record had been done for almost a year before it got released.
EvAl: So how did you get hooked up with Big Vin?
JK: Really it started out innocently enough. Damage Plan was in New York for a show and anytime Vinnie and Dime, whether it was Pantera or Damage Plan, whatever band came through town, any time they were in New York we would always go and hang out. And the same thing any time Type O went to Dallas or Danzig came to Dallas the guys would always come down and hang out. We were hanging out after a Damage Plan show in New York and just hanging out on the bus and they were playing for us stuff that would have been the next Damage Plan record. And then I went to the car and pulled out the CD. Kenny and I, we only had a couple of songs at that point and we were like, “this is what we’ve been working on.” Dime and Vinnie just flipped out over it. They really dug it. And then unfortunately everything went down with Dime but whenever I would be in Texas, Vinnie would come out and would always be, “what’s going on with the band? What are you guys up to?” At that point, we had kind of hit a rut with mixing. We couldn’t find a place to do it and I was telling Vinnie we were at the mixing stage and having a little bit of a hard time. I said, that’s pretty much where we’re at and he said, “let me take a crack at it.” And I was like, “really?” And he was, “yeah sure. Dime was so into you guys I would love to give it a shot.”
EvAl: And Vinnie was pretty involved in the process from there on out?
JK: Yeah. From that point we had sent him Shadow on Me to work on. And so we just left it at that and he got back to me a couple months later. We gave him a song, a few months later he give it back and it just sounded phenomenal. It seemed like he was very much in tune with what we were trying to do with this band and how we wanted it to sound. ‘Cause in a situation like that … Vinnie’s a very talented guy and his resume speaks for itself as far as production and stuff ... You listen to all the records that he worked on, you know the Pantera Records, Damage Plan and Hell Yeah and he’s a very very talented guy and so is Tony Winfield, his engineer. And we were a little skeptical at first because we were like, we’re not really Pantera, we’re actually the furthest thing from it. Is he going to try to make it sound like a Pantera record? We just weren’t sure how it was going to work out. But he dialed it in like he was definitely in tune with what we were trying to do.
EvAl: When you and Kenny got together and started talking about Seventh Void, what was it that you were going for? Because it’s definitely not Type O.
JK: Well no, why would we want to do something that sounds like Type O? We do that with Peter and Josh. We wanted to do something different, something for starters a little more bare bones. ‘Cause with Type O, there’s so many things going on in a song at any given moment. There’s always tons of layers, all kinds of lush things. Even when we’re playing really heavy there’s a million things going on behind that simple, whatever, Sabbath riff.
EvAl: Plus Peter’s vocals are very distinctive.
JK: Right. But also his whole delivery. He does a lot of unique things and it’s also become like another instrument with all these different harmonies, different phrasings going on simultaneously. It’s like OCD overload. When Kenny and I started doing this we wanted to do something more about things we grew up listening to. You know, things like Led Zeppelin and Black Sabbath.
EvAl: There’s definitely a Sabbath vibe in there.
JK: That’s going to be hard to get away from.
EvAl: And I mean that in a very good way.
JK: Of course. But it was one of those things, we wanted to do something that didn’t have fourteen minute songs … simple song structures, simple melodies, just a straight up rock record like what we thought would be a really good rock record. Something really heavy. Good melodies in it. This wound up being the end result. And it took a while for us writing and rehearsing; it took a long time just to find our identity. What would be where this band feels comfortable working? That environment. And it seemed like once we finally got everything recorded and after it got into Vinnie’s hands and it seemed like, alright we found our place. We found our place, we found our team and everybody works great together and everybody busts their ass ‘cause it’s only us. It’s the four of us and Vinnie and Sterling. That’s it, nobody else, no outside influences or anything. And everybody’s pretty comfortable with what the end result was. We’re all pretty proud of it.
EvAl: It sounds great. I know that people are a little bit surprised by Kenny’s vocals on the record because they’re not used to hearing him sing.
JK: Well he’s done some singing with Type O. He gets a little here and there. And this thing to me, it’s not, I mean, certainly my approach to it is not, “well I can play more drums.” I look at it as a showcase for Kenny’s vocals. ‘Cause to me that really puts the band over the top. That’s what really makes it stand out. So, hearing the end result is like, “wow.” And even Vinnie, while Vinnie was mixing it, I think initially he just thought it started out as doing us a favor ‘cause we were friends and stuff, you know, looking to help us out. And as he was mixing it I remember him turning to me. He goes, “I never knew Kenny had pipes like this.” I told him, “Neither did I!” But it wound up turning out really good and it’s tough like the music is really more of a vehicle to showcase I think Kenny’s singing abilities.
EvAl: Now when you start up a new band, come out with a new record do you feel like you’re starting over again?
JK: Initially I thought that it would be a little bit easier to gain a little ground in it because of what we’ve accomplished. I didn’t think that it would be where we would be starting totally from scratch; where it would be a brand new band with a bunch of unknowns trying to get a record deal. Basically the band had a record deal in place while we were in the middle of working on the material so that was out of the way. But all the other aspects of it have been definitely starting from scratch. It makes it more of a challenge and, if it does wind up becoming successful, then it will be that much more to appreciate because we really are, like out here now, we’re doing everything ourselves. Pretty much everything the band and Vinnie from trying to get tours, from working to get press and things …
EvAl: And for the record, I did see you carrying drums earlier.
JK: Oh yeah. I’ve always been a hands-on person. Now I don’t have a choice in the matter because we can’t afford to bring anybody but at the same time I haven’t had any problems with my gear the whole trip [laughs].
EvAl: So in terms of the song writing process, how does that work for you guys? Is it different than what you’ve done before?
JK: No, it’s just like there’s a different guy driving the bus. With Peter, with the last record that Type O did, me Kenny and Peter spent months in the rehearsal studio. Peter would come up with a riff and we would all jump in on it, just to see where it would go. It’s the same thing with this; Kenny will come down with a few riffs, he and Matt do a lot together as far as that. Matt [Brown, guitar] has a very abstract way of seeing stuff. He’s the guy like our producer in a way. So with his way of seeing it, he has the ability to be objective about it and put different twist on it and say, “well alright you’ve got the skeleton here, let’s try it this way, let’s do this and that.” And then the same thing when we have the basic riffs; they’ll give me the material and then I’ll put my thing on it. If it works, that’s great, and if it doesn’t then we’ll all work together to come up with something that’s more suitable for the song.
EvAl: What about the lyrics side of things?
JK: Kenny pretty much writes all the lyrics.
EvAl: There’s a lot of dark stuff in there.
JK: No happy songs, that’s for certain. [laughing] There’s a little bit of continuity with Type O Negative . Well, you know, art imitates life.
EvAl: I think that it’s definitely different enough that it’s going to get people coming out.
JK: I hope so. I think it has a certain appeal to it. I just don’t want people to expect it, you know, well “it’s not Type O Negative.” It’s definitely not!
EvAl: From what I’ve been reading, the reviews have been really positive.
JK: I’m really shocked at the reviews. I mean, the press that the band has received, it’s like 99% of it has been very positive. For the most part, it seems like there were a couple of people that reviewed the record that were very die-had Type O fans and I think they were just expecting an extension of that. Instead of saying, these are two guys from Type O doing something like, as Monty Python would say, “now for something completely different.” There’s definitely derivatives of it in there because you have half of Type O Negative in it. But for the most part we didn’t want it to be Type O Negative.
EvAl: And I think the fan reviews have been very positive.
JK: It seems like the people that get exposed to the band, they seem to have a pretty positive attitude towards it. I guess that’s a great way to … it’s a great first step as far as building a foundation and stuff. That’s exciting itself.
EvAl: So speaking of first steps, what’s the next step?
JK: Right now, we’re just trying to get on different tours and trying to make it all work within the schedules, you know. We have to go back home, we gotta start working on the Type O record. It’s been two years since the last one and it’s definitely time to get back to work. What’s going to happen with Danzig right now I don’t know ‘cause his schedule’s kind of up in the air. Type O’s is up in the air, right now had a pretty significant setback as in SPV just went into insolvency which is Germany’s equivalency of chapter 11. We were right in the middle of renegotiating the option on our contract. So now we have to go get a new record deal. So that’s been a pretty big setback too and we were just about to sign the contracts and then we got word that they were going belly up so that was tough. So now we’re talking to different labels and trying to find a new home for Type O. Type O definitely wants to keep making new records, you know we want to keep going. You get a lot of that, you get a lot of questions, “well now that Seventh Void is doing whatever, is that it for Type O?” And we keep on saying, “No.“ Even a bunch of journalists … “I’m sitting here talking with Johnny and Kenny formerly of Type O Negative …” We’re like, wait a minute, we’re not “formerly,” we’re very much a part of Type O Negative still. Type O has a track record of doing a new record every three to four years and that’s not enough anymore. You got to do something else. I’d go out of my mind. Thankfully Danzig was able to keep me busy in between those records and the schedules always worked out. I always got lucky on a break, like you know, one band wasn’t working Danzig would keep me busy. The same thing: Type O would pick up, Danzig would go on a break so it would always balanced out. There were a couple of times like last year, both bands went out simultaneously and I couldn’t do both but that was the only time in the 7 years, on and off, that I’ve been playing with Glenn.
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