A Pale Horse Named Death’s Sal Abruscato: The Gun Shy Interview

Sal Abruscato
On June 14, A Pale Horse Named Death will release their debut album And Hell Will Follow Me through SPV Records; a special vinyl version of the record will boast an additional track, called “Pick-Up Truck,” according to Life of Agony and Type O Negative’s Sal Abruscato.

He started A Pale Horse Named Death back in 2009 and on May 4, Gun Shy Assassin will be bringing you an exclusive preview of the APHND LP — in the form of a track called “Devil in the Closet.”

Last week, I spoke with Sal about the new band, the album, the sudden passing of Type O Negative’s Peter Steele [Edit: He brought Peter up…not me], and Life of Agony frontman Keith Caputo’s height — or lack thereof. That, I brought up.

I asked Sal — straight shooter that I am — about Keith and how short he is; I’d interview Keith in person during my MTV News days, and the dude made me feel like Kareem Abdul-Jabbar. Is he the shortest man you’ve ever met, Sal?

“No, NO!,” he insists, before the laughter kicks in. “I’ve met shorter people. He’s got fire, though. He’s a great performer and…I know Ronnie James Dio was pretty short. I’m 5’11” so he comes up to my chin or something like that.”

It wasn’t a fair question, but Sal handled it well. And yes, Keith is short. Like Sully Erna short. We actually began our conversation discussing the APHND debut disc, and how the band came into being. Sal said he basically started A Pale Horse to keep himself fresh; things were dormant with LOA and Type O, so he set out to “do music that I really wanted to do — on my own terms,” Sal tells Gun Shy Assassin.

He wanted to make songs that he could hear in his head, “without the interference or objections of others in a room. I’ve been playing drums for 30 years and was kind of bored with it. I have been playing guitar a long time. Starting this band helped build my skills as a writer, and I wanted to create something that combines the heaviness with a good melody.”

The man wrote the record while going through a divorce, and admits the material is dark. Real dark. “When I wrote these songs, I didn’t set out to say, ‘Well this has to make it big.’ I just went in to do what I like and do what I hear in my head and if the people embrace it, awesome! If not, great. At least I am still doing what I want and progressing.”

For those in the New Jersey area, you can check out A Pale Horse Named Death at their next gig — April 22 at Dingbats in Clifton, New Jersey.

Then, I ask Sal about Steele, who died nearly a year ago. I knew that Pete’s heart stopped, but don’t recall hearing what exactly happened. Sal explained: “His aorta expanded and blew up. It was like an instant, massive boom. They didn’t even get him on the ambulance. He died right as they were taking him through the doorway to get him out of the house and into the ambulance.”

Doctors had warned Steele his heart was weakened following years of substance abuse. “The sad part is he was nine months sober, working on getting everything together again, and working on getting his head together about a new Type O record, and that’s basically it. There was so much damage that he had done over the years, it was already in bad shape to begin with.”

The vinyl version of the album contains a special tribute to Steele, Sal says. He confirmed that no future Type O releases or re-issues are planned. Oh, and Life of Agony are just playing shows…don’t expect new tunes anytime soon.

Lastly, I ask Sal about his television habits. Does he watch “Dancing With the Stars” or some lame-ass show like that? Of course not. He’s a man!

“I love this one called ‘Holmes on Homes’ on HGTV,” Abruscato says with a laugh. “I’m always renovating and I do work on my houses myself. I own a ton of tools; I know carpentry and I know masonry. I love watching these homes and gardens shows. I’m also big on European soccer leagues — the Italian series. I watch that every weekend when I can. I was an aspiring soccer player until I messed up my knees, so I sit with my five-month-old daughter Elizabeth and we watch games and she roots for the team for me.”

  • http://twitter.com/texistential Scary Θ Carrie

    Always good to hear from Sal Abruscato. The circumstances surrounding Peter’s death are a mystery to everyone not right in close with the man. I suppose details help us understand what could possibly take him away, but change much of nothing.

    It’s every artist’s dream to write as we desire, without a full filtered edit to tame down the content. I’ve heard and own A Pale Horse Named Death’s album and it’s a historical tribute to Sal’s struggles. In its darkness there is beauty and so we identify with this night as similar to our own. Thanks Chris for a relatively short interview that accomplished in one page what many can’t in five. Well done.