Wednesday, April 21, 2010

Peter



Peter Steele during the final concert of the Type O Negative/Celtic Frost US tour, photographed by Tammy Renée Guillen at the Fillmore East/Irving Plaza, New York, May 8, 2007.


It is superfluous and, on account of the multifarious nature of his personality, utterly impossible to attempt to describe here just how extraordinary a human being and artist Peter was. Those who have heard his music, those who have seen him perform, those who were fortunate enough to meet him, know as much at any rate.

The news of Peter's death reached Triptykon in Essen, Germany, where we were playing the second warm-up concert before departing for Tilburg to play at the Roadburn festival. I later discovered that a good friend, who had been part of the Type O Negative/Celtic Frost crew in 2007, had also called me and left the news on my voicemail. Our first reaction was one of complete disbelief, even though we instinctively knew it to be true.

At the time Type O Negative toured the United States with Celtic Frost as their special guest, in April and May of 2007, both bands found themselves facing unique and serious circumstances. Celtic Frost had degraded to being a band only towards the outside, by then... and, indeed, sometimes not even to the outside. Type O Negative, meanwhile, fought their own demons. Or, rather, Peter’s demons. It is not my place to comment on that, nor would it be appropriate to do so at a time when we all struggle to come to terms with the fact that we will never again experience his presence, witness his performances, and feel enlightened by his intellect and humor.

There were moments on this tour when Peter was as inspiring, sharp, and gifted as ever. The were a number of utterly stunning conversations we shared, the contents of which I will never forget for the rest of my life. The contrast couldn’t have been more pronounced: while one of the members of Celtic Frost was consumed solely and completely by fostering his own, self-absorbed, utterly ignorant and miserable universe without even the most meager regard for anything around him, other musicians on the tour, including Peter, did not lose sight of the big picture and the larger context of it all, in spite of the fact that they were dealing with their own substantial challenges.

In spite of repeated attempts to derail the tour (which, in San Francisco, almost succeeded), the actions of said member of Celtic Frost never quite achieved the desired impact. This is, for the largest part, due to the amazingly supportive and tolerant demeanor displayed by Type O Negative and Peter.

A perhaps most poignant example of this occurred on the afternoon before the concert in Dallas, Texas, on April 25, 2007. The exact details of what took place shall be explained some other time and place, but the personal relations within Celtic Frost had deteriorated to a point beyond any comprehension. I was struggling with a heavy case of the flu, and it was made clear to me in no uncertain terms that even my very existence had been all but forgotten.

While these were the conditions within my own band, it was Peter, whose presence, by means of his deeply personal and completely unexpected and unrelated gesture towards me (and with words that surpassed anything I could have ever imagined), served to make this day one of the most important and most magnificent I ever experienced in my life as a musician.