Type O Negative’s second studio album (third if you count their fake live album, The Origin of the Feces), Bloody Kisses, was released August 17, 1993. (Buy it from the Roadrunner webstore!) It's one of the most important albums in Roadrunner's history, and a crucial metal release, period. It was also a creative and commercial breakthrough for the band, bringing them two actual radio hits in “Black No. 1” and “Christian Woman,” and featuring classic tracks like “Too Late: Frozen” and the organ-driven “Set Me On Fire,” not to mention their ultra-heavy cover of Seals & Crofts’ early ’70s soft rock staple, “Summer Breeze.” (Interestingly, not long after the original album’s release, it was reissued in digipak format with all the intros and interludes—“Machine Screw,” “Fay Wray Come Out and Play,” “Dark Side of the Womb” and “3.0.I.F.”—and two songs, “Kill All the White People” and “We Hate Everyone,” removed. The track listing was also shuffled. All this was done at the band's request.)
The band spent two years on the road supporting Bloody Kisses, during which time the media took notice of their powerful blend of Gothic metal, ultra-heavy doom, and dashes of psychedelia. They were featured in Rolling Stone and their videos were frequently seen on MTV's Headbanger’s Ball, as well as Beavis and Butt-Head (see clip above). Bloody Kisses was the last album with original Type O drummer Sal Abruscato, who left to join Life of Agony. (It was also the last Type O album to feature live drums until 2007’s Dead Again; all the drums on October Rust, World Coming Down and Life Is Killing Me were programmed.) It went gold quickly, and a few years later went platinum as well—the earliest Roadrunner release to achieve that status, even if Slipknot’s 1999 self-titled debut beat it to the mark.
Legendary Roadrunner A&R man Monte Conner recalls the excitement in our offices when Bloody Kisses first appeared on the horizon:
“Prior to each album, Type O Negative always recorded very fleshed-out pre-production demos at [keyboardist] Josh Silver’s home studio, Sty In The Sky. The demos they sent me contained most of the songs that were on the final album. Maybe a couple were missing. And most importantly, these demo tracks very closely match what became the final album versions. One song was demoed that did not make the album—“Scream Because I Can,” which was later re-worked with new lyrics to become the Bloody Kisses B-side ‘Suspended In Dusk.’
“Myself and the bosses at the label were immediately blown away by the huge progress and the reinvention in sound from their debut Slow, Deep And Hard, which still bore a bit of a resemblance to Peter Steele’s past in Carnivore and the NYHC scene. This was a whole new lush, layered, epic, goth metal beast. We zeroed in on ‘Christian Woman’ and ‘Black No. 1’ immediately as the two key tracks—and it wasn’t rocket science, because the demos of these songs had all the same magic you hear on the final album versions. These songs came to us fully formed, and that shows just how strong the band’s vision was right from the start.
“In fact, we were so excited that we immediately made Type O a priority and told the band we would like to up the recording budget and bring in a big-name producer to insure that the record would reach its full potential, both artistically and sonically. I can’t recall if the band resisted this idea or not. I believe they did. Actually, this is Type O Negative—of course they did! After all, we were the label (The Enemy) and, to quote Josh, we had ‘ears of corn.’ But we convinced them to let us approach a few people, one of whom was Jim Steinman (of Meat Loaf fame), who was the one guy the band respected enough to be excited about. I can’t recall if we were successful in reaching Jim, but we did get feedback from a few producers, who all came back with the same response: ‘There’s nothing I can add to this—it’s all there.’
“The band, of course, gloated about this unanimous conclusion and felt very empowered. They made it clear to us that they would self-produce all their albums moving forward. We went along with the plan. Of course this tied our hands to a degree later on when the hits stopped coming. But even on the albums without actual hits, Type O continued to create a masterpiece each time out. Maybe not commercially, but artistically. They never made a bad record. Each and every one is a work of genius with its own charm. Some people feel October Rust was their ultimate triumph, but Bloody Kisses will always be my go-to Type O record. I would put it in the top five of All-Time Greatest Roadrunner Albums. It is certainly the most artistic record the label ever released.
“As for my A&R involvement in the record, it was limited to back-end duties like helping oversee the mastering, credits and packaging. That was it. Sometimes the best service you can provide for your band is let them do their own thing and not fuck it up! A good A&R guy knows when to get involved and when to stand clear. Unfortunately large egos often keep A&R guys from doing the latter.”
Of course, even an album as undeniable as Bloody Kisses doesn’t just magically reach the public’s ears all by itself. Roadrunner embarked on a heavy promotional campaign on the record’s behalf, and our VP of Promotion (and podcast co-host) Mark Abramson was a huge part of that effort. He recalls taking the band to radio (literally):
“Taking Type O Negative to radio was a very cool and unique part of Roadrunner (and my) history. We really didn’t exist in that big commercial radio world as a company, and this was really the record that put us on the map. To do this with a band as unique as Type O was quite the challenge. I was new to that world and didn’t know what I couldn’t do, so I just knew that I was going to succeed. Type O was such a life-mission for me. They are truly one of the greatest bands ever and the world needed to hear it!
“We took ‘Black No. 1’ and ‘Christian Woman’ (an 11-minute and a nine-minute song, respectively) and cut them down to radio length and went station by station looking for a shot! People thought I was insane for even suggesting they play it—it was so incredibly different from everything on the radio! When it got on the air though, wow! Phones would explode, and sales would explode—it was immediate! You just couldn’t deny Type O Negative. We actually worked ‘Black No. 1’ for a while, then moved on to ‘Christian Woman,’ and then went back to ‘Black No. 1.’ The whole process was amazing: It launched the band to a whole new level, gave the label its first gold record (and second platinum), established us as a big game player in the radio world and, on a personal level, launched my career and established me in the radio world. We would travel around going to radio stations and doing things like blood drives and other radio promotions that people still bring up to me to this day—mainly because of Peter. He was a force of nature. A true artist, with immense talent, but the nicest guy in the world. But meeting him was something you did not forget.”
Stream Bloody Kisses on Spotify: