Kenny Hickey: Silvertomb Album Resolved Feelings Over Peter Steele’s Death
Silvertomb's Kenny Hickey was the guest on Full Metal Jackie's weekend show. The singer-guitarist is also known for his time in Type O Negative and during his chat with Jackie, he reveals that Silvertomb's current Edge of Existence album has resolved many of the feelings he had about the death of his Type O Negative bandmate Peter Steele.
Hickey also discusses the evolution of the band, which had its roots in the group Seventh Void that he also played with after the dissolution of Type of Negative. He also pulls back the curtain a bit on his songwriting approach as it pertains to his mindset of recording. Check out more of the chat below.
Lyrically, the Edge of Existence album reflects pain and loss, especially concerning Peter Steele. What's left those feelings unresolved within you for so long?
I think that things are a lot more resolved now that they have been put on this record. It kind of recaps everything that I have been through over the last 10 years. I think that, lyrically, this is an album that I needed to do for a long time and I probably should have gotten it done a lot sooner. I feel like now I can move forward from it.
Silvertomb evolved directly from Seventh Void. What made it necessary to rebrand the band as a completely different entity?
Well we added two new members. Joe James is now my second guitar player and he's a great guitar player. He did eight years with Agnostic Front and I think [James was] the longest-standing guitar player in that band. He's another Brooklyn homeboy from the neighborhood. He certainly brought a different element into the mix.
Then we added a keyboardist/guitar player/vocalist Aaron Joos into the band. He is just our go-around guy. The guy has so many talents. Adding those two elements, especially the keyboards and all these different new tones and piano and strings and all types of orchestra sounds, it's starting to become something different. I felt at that point we needed to just move on and to move forward as a totally different entity.
There are natural similarities to Type O Negative but there's also a more straight-ahead rock dynamic to Silvertomb. How does integrating different musical styles sharpen your creativity?
I think it is like fertilizer for creativity because we have older musicians in the band and we are all a little bit older so we have probably a longer lifetime of musical tastes in places that we come from. I think that all of the music we listened to in our life is lying somewhere inside and waiting to come out.
I don't want to put a damper on any of that. I just want to keep the door open to any possibilities that come up style-wise and genre-wise. I don't just want to be closed down and hold tight towards metal or any one style. I think the guys feel the same way. If you have a piano part that's gotta come out, if you got a ballad that has to come out. If you have a hardcore song that's going to come out, I want to have the door open for that to happen and to come out. I think that lends the band more originality.
Aaron Joos brought keyboards to Silvertomb. How do you approach songwriting differently when keyboards are available to you?
Well it is like anything else. Anytime you approach songwriting from a different instrument or just lyrically or just write from lyrics, it is going to come out differently. It is going to spark your imagination differently. If I am always going to write from an electric guitar then I am always going to end up with some big riff song, you know. The more instruments you have to start from, to write from, the wider the possibilities are. What you are going to come up with, the spectrum of styles that you are going to come up with? For me, starting out with something like piano or strings or some creepy sound effect it's very refreshing for me. For most of my career and most of Peter's career and most of all our careers we just blasted at 10 and started with a riff. Starting with a riff with a different tone on piano or a different instrument just widens the possibilities of where we will end up.
Musically you're typically associated with heavy doom and dirge type of music. How does that contrast with music you listened to growing up and what do you like to listen to now?
Doom is in me because I've had anxiety and depression problems my whole life. I could tell you that the first time I ever heard the beginning riff of Black Sabbath - the song "Black Sabbath," I was changed forever. I was like, "Jesus! This is how I feel alright here!" I preoccupy myself and spend too much time listening to music like that.
The Wall is probably one of my favorite or in the top two of my favorite record of all time from Pink Floyd, but I can't really sit down and listen to it, because it's depressing. It's hard to listen to because it really rings a bell with me. It really gets me down, so I think that what I create and what I listen to are two different things. I'll listen to more Beatles than I do Black Sabbath because it makes me feel good. It makes me laugh. It makes me smile more than Sabbath or Floyd. But if I'm gonna play something it's gonna be more Sabbath or Floyd because it's how I feel. It speaks to my experience.
Thanks to Silvertomb's Kenny Hickey for the interview. The band's 'Edge of Existence' album is available here. You can also keep up with the band via their Facebook and Instagram accounts. Find out where you can hear Full Metal Jackie's weekend radio show here.
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