Hairy Sphincters and Fake Audiences: Tracing Type O Negative's 'Origin of the Feces' | Revolver

Hairy Sphincters and Fake Audiences: Tracing Type O Negative's 'Origin of the Feces'

Kenny Hickey and Monte Conner remember oddball second album
Type O Negative early 90s 1600x900, Jeff Kitts
Type O Negative, circa early Nineties
photograph by Jeff Kitts

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"I can't remember the guy's name, but the truth is he doesn't want me to remember his name." This is Kenny Hickey talking about the photographer responsible for the image on the cover of Type O Negative's second album, 1992's The Origin of the Feces. As the guitarist recalls, it was all very spur of the moment.

"We're in the studio doing some photos for the record, and Peter turns to the photographer and says, 'Come here.' They go behind the baffle where Sal's drums are set up, and I hear the guy go, 'Oh my god!' Then they come out dying laughing. And the guy goes, 'You can use the photo only if you absolutely do not mention my name in the credits.'"

Thus, the extreme close-up of Steele's hairy sphincter was immortalized — and the courageous photographer remains anonymous. But the photo was just one bizarre aspect of The Origin of the Feces, which was essentially a re-recording of Type O's 1991 debut, Slow, Deep and Hard, repackaged as a fake live album.

"Peter basically wanted to redo Slow, Deep and Hard," says Monte Conner. "He was notorious for that. That's also why Bloody Kisses came out as a digipak with a different tracklisting after the original album was released. He always wanted to improve things after they were already out."

But re-recording Slow, Deep and Hard as The Origin of the Feces actually served two purposes. One was refinement of the material. "I don't believe any of the songs on Slow, Deep and Hard were played live before they were recorded," Conner observes. "When the band started playing them live, they evolved a little bit."

The second was the sheer novelty. "What band makes a live record their second album?" Hickey asks. "Not many, right? And then it was Peter's idea to start the record with the audience chanting, 'You suck!' Again, the opposite of every live record you've ever heard, which was brilliant. And it was a canned record: Not Live at Brighton Beach."

"It's a fake audience, which is genius," Conner enthuses. "It totally fit with Peter's self-deprecating sense of humor." As did shouting down nonexistent hecklers and dodging imaginary items thrown onstage by a surly — and fictional — Coney Island crowd.

Though a brief glance at the tracklist might make it seem like a different record — or a genuine live album — Type O simply renamed the Slow, Deep and Hard songs using their own setlist shorthand. "Unsuccessfully Coping with the Natural Beauty of Infidelity" became "I Know You're Fucking Someone Else." "Xero Tolerance" became "Kill You Tonight." "Gravitational Constant: G = 6.67 × 10−8 cm−3 gm−1 sec−2," always a mouthful, became "Gravity." And "Prelude to Agony" became "Pain."

Within two years of its release, the photo of Steele's anus was replaced with a green and black manipulation of German painter and printmaker's Michael Wolgemut's 1493 woodcut, Danse Macabre. But no amount of 15th century artwork could hide the truth.

"That photographer deserves a medal," Josh Silver told me in 2011 when I interviewed him for the None More Negative box set liner notes. "And a scuba mask."