Whether you know him as one of the founding members of Type O Negative, the former drummer with Life of Agony, or as the vocalist and guitarist with A Pale Horse Named Death, if you’re into metal, you’ll know the name Sal Abruscato. Over the years, he’s been instrumental in some of the most acclaimed albums to ever emerge from the genre, including the phenomenally successful Type O Negative LP, Bloody Kisses. Now he’s back with Infernum in Terra, the fourth album from A Pale Horse Named Death. Find out more about his life, his career, and his influences with these 10 things you didn’t know about Sal Abruscato.
1. He fell into drumming as a kid
Abruscato didn’t grow up in a musical family. He didn’t take music lessons and he wasn’t pushed to take up an instrument at school. Instead, he simply ‘fell’ into drumming after he discovered how much fun bashing a screwdriver against a bucket could be. Eventually, he managed to convince his parents to exchange the bucket for a mini drum kit for his birthday. After that, he saved up his money to buy one new piece after another. By the time he was 16, he was playing with his first band, Toximia, and had released his first independent record.
2. His first tour with Type O Negative was a nightmare
Abruscato’s first tour with Type O Negative for the album Slow, Deep and Hard was a Class A nightmare. By the time the band arrived in Europe, half of the tour had been canceled after the venues had received bomb threats from left-wing extremists who’d mistaken the sarcasm of singer/songwriter Peter Steele’s lyrics for racism. “In Berlin, it was the worst – there were flyers with Peter’s picture saying “If you see him, kill him,” he recalled to MetalGeek. “The press was accusing us of being nazis. In one interview, Josh said “But I’m Jewish“, but the interviewer was like “but there are Jewish nazis!“ It was really absurd – I was like “Don’t you get it? It’s just music! It’s just a crazy idea from a crazy guy in Brooklyn!“
3. He regrets leaving Type O Negative
Abruscato was one of the founding members of Type O Negative, but departed the band after the release of Bloody Kisses. At the time, he was fighting constantly with Peter Steele, had just finished two badly received tours, and had no idea of how much Bloody Kisses would blow up. It’s a decision he’s had cause to regret over the years, as he explained to Blabbermouth. “There were times after I left that I thought “Ah man, now they decide to do all these big tours,“ he said. “The Type O albums after Bloody Kisses started to sound a little bit the same, but that’s just how Peter wrote. What I regret about it is that we were immature, me and Peter. Both too proud to give in.”
4. He equates songwriting to wrangling wild horses
Peter Steele may have taken primary responsibility for Type O Negative’s lyrics, but since leaving the band, Abruscato has come into his own as a songwriter. It’s an experience he equates to “wrangling wild horses,” saying that while he goes into the process with a certain vision, he never allows himself to be constrained by it. “What happens naturally is very important, because you don’t want to force anything,” he’s explained to Metal Magnitude. “What feels right is what feels right. It’s like wrangling wild horses, you just don’t want to confine them too much, you want them to have that spirit, but you do want to be able to reel them in a little bit and direct them the way you want them to go.”
5. He’s never seen the Eiffel Tower
Abruscato has toured Europe extensively over the past few decades, but despite visiting Paris around 17 times, he’s never seen the Eiffel Tower. In fact, he doesn’t see very much at all on tour, bar the hotel, the venue, and the other members of the band. “It’s bittersweet, because you’re like, “Wow, this is a cool country. But I ain’t got time, because I’ve got a soundcheck and we’ve got to build our gear,” he’s said.
6. He prefers touring in Europe to America
He might have been born and raised in New York, but Abruscato is more concerned with being successful in Europe than he is in his home country. “People are more into music (in Europe),” he’s said. “When people in Europe get into a band, they get into a band. They love the band and they follow you, they scream for you. In America it’s like one week they love you, next week it’s somebody else …”
7. He found stepping away from the drums hard
Abruscato first came to our attention as the drummer of Type O Negative, but he’s since stepped away from the drumkit to take up a guitar and a mic. It wasn’t a transition that came easy to him at first, even though he’s described being upfront as “exciting.” He’s not averse to laying down some beats in the future though, saying that it’s all about self-expression and doing what feels right on the night.
8. John Bonham was one of his main influences
Led Zeppelin may be a world away from A Pale Horse Named Death, but Abruscato cites their original drummer, John Bonham, as one of his biggest influences. Other artists that have inspired him over the years include Jim Morrison, Trent Reznor, Layne Staley, Bill Ward, Tony Iommi, and Jimmy Page.
9. Touring with Ozzy Osbourne was one of his career highlights
Back in 1996, Life of Agony was invited to tour with Ozzy Osbourne, something that Abruscato has since described as a career highlight. Other key moments include having dinner with Black Sabbath bassist Terence “Geezer” Butler, jamming with Metallica at the Download festival in 2004, and touring with Danzig in 2013.
10. He’s a multi-millionaire
Abruscato has performed with some of the most influential bands in metal, and clearly, it’s paid off, at least as far as his bank account is concerned. According to networthpost.org, he’s now worth the phenomenal amount of $10 million.