This past Wednesday, I had the honor of having a phone call interview with one of the Metal Gods: Dee Snider. You may know him from Twisted Sister, Widowmaker, his solo career, or his radio show, The House of Hair.
I talked to Dee Snider for 20 minutes and we discussed his new record, time management, his favorite tour story, favorite country to preform in, how he go into metal, and his opinion on the direction that metal is going today.
Below is a transcript of the interview, and you can click here to hear the audio.
Me: I want to introduce myself and let you know a little bit about me, so I am a DJ at NC State’s college radio station, WKNC, and I am known as The Saw and I run The Saw’s Butcher Shop and I play all types of metal, and I am also the metal director, so I’m logging and finding new bands all the time. I first want to congratulate you on dropping your new record, For The Love Of Metal, I’ve really been digging the new record and I’ve played my two favorite songs from it these past couple weeks which are “I’m Ready” and the title track, “For The Love Of Metal.” I’ve really been digging it.
Snider: Ah, thank you so much, you have no idea what that means to me. Honestly, I didn’t want to make some old sounding record that only appealed to my fans in the ‘80s. I love heavy metal and contemporary metal and I wanted to make a record that would have a contemporary appeal and thanks to Jamie Jasta he helped me deliver something that is being received so wonderfully. It’s great.
Me: Yeah, I wanted to get into that it was produced my Jamie Jasta from Hatebreed. How did you get in contact with him to make this record?
Snider: He really got in contact with me. We knew each other as friends, he was a former host of Headbangers Ball and I created Headbangers Ball in the ‘80s. It was originally called Heavy Metal Mania, and when I left it became Headbangers Ball. So, we became friends and he has a podcast and he invited me on the podcast. He completely surprised me and blindsided me when he challenged me on his show to make a contemporary metal record.
Me: How was it working with him throughout that record?
Snider: At first I was unsure just ‘cause Jamie is Mr. Hardcore and I love hardcore but he was producing and guiding me on this record and I wasn’t sure where he was going to take me. But then I realized that he really got into Dee Snider. It sounds crazy, I make jokes like Buffalo Bill from Silence of the Lambs wearing a Dee Snider flesh suit. He studied me and we talked too much and I realized that he was not looking to make Dee Snider into Jamie Jasta. He was just looking to help Dee Snider create… I’m talking about myself in 3rdperson. Erika, this is getting weird now. But he helped me create a record that I’d be proud of and he said that the metal community needs your voice, and with the right music your voice is powerful. With the right music your voice can connect with the metal community and not just your older fans. So, he delivered and brought in his team of people and it was just incredible. I owe him for this, really.
Me: Like he said, you have an amazing voice. My dad is a big fan of Twisted Sister and so I grew up listening to you guys and your voice sounded the same and sounded so strong since he showed me old videos of you guys.
Snider: That’s what Jamie said and tell your dad that he did a nice job raising a metal head. He did the right thing, he raised you properly. Jamie has seen me in concert and he said my voice is as strong as it ever was and my performance is stronger than I ever performed. He said I just needed the right album to connect into the conversations that are going on now with heavy metal. And I said dude, I’m a fan of metal, I love contemporary metal, my kids are all metal heads and I’m connected to the community, I go to shows, but I don’t know how to create that music that would be the right fit and he said trust me. And I did.
Me: That’s so awesome! So, on this record, I was researching it and there are some heavy hitters that are on this record. You have people from Killswitch Engage, Lamb of God, and Arch Enemy. How was it working with different musicians and tell me the whole experience whenever you would work with them.
Snider: The first word that comes to mind is flattering. I am an egomaniac and a narcists. It’s in the job description of a front man in a rock band. But, I’m not so full of myself that I would just assume that people would care that much. Yeah, people like to throw around that I am an icon and a legend but that’s old. The fact that they agreed with Jamie and agreed with my value now and agree that is a place for me today, that was just incredibly flattering. There was no recording budget. It was all for the love of metal, out of pocket. It was all on spare time and it was a passion project.
Me: What would you say your favorite song off this record would be?
Snider: Honestly, I wouldn’t put a song on the record that I wasn’t in love with. Every song has a place and one of my favorite comments that I’m getting repeatedly is that it’s one of those records that they put on and they just play through. There are certain moments, like the song with Allissa White-Glutz. It starts as a ballad and then goes into a heavy anti-bullying song. I really wanted to make a statement about that. It’s a unique track on the record. American Made is the single we are pushing right now, it’s an anthem, and I love anthems. It’s a song about unity and right now people need to be reminded that it’s not just here, but things are going on all over the world. What we see in the United States we see it like it’s us against them mentality. This exact thing is going on in England, Spain, Italy, Greece, and Brazil. It’s all over the place! People are just fed up with politics as usual and the choices they are making aren’t necessarily the best choices, but they are just looking for any kind of change. So, I just wanted to remind people that we’re all brothers and sisters. I was inspired by the Olympics. I noticed there was no separation in the stands: no Republican/Democrat section. Everyone is cheering for their country together and when it comes down to it, we are all on the same side. And the song For The Love Of Metal is a really unique song because it started as a game we were playing in the studio. Like “hey we should try to write a song for the love of metal and we should see how many famous metal song titles we can put into the lyrics.” We all just started shouting out song titles and then the song was created, and it’s a special song. It turned into being people’s favorites and it turned into such a great song. It was just a fun moment in the studio.
Me: That seems like so much fun!! There was Twisted Sister, there was Widowmaker, and now your solo career. But you also have a radio show called House of Hair, and your also an actor and a screenwriter. So, for me as a college student I have a lot on my plate as well, how do you manage to make time for your family and friends while still doing the business side and all the band stuff?
Snider: I do it like a college student!! Somehow we manage to get it all in, you know, and people say that if you want to get something done, give it to a busy person. Because busy people just seem to know how to compartmentalize. My kids are amazed that I can switch and wear so many hats. I’m doing so many different things and I have learned how to change hats, flip the switch, and get in there and do it. I’m better because of it. People should not be afraid of challenges and not be afraid of “oh I got so much to do.” ‘Cause you know what? You’ll figure it out. The skill that you will develop is the ability to change gears. It’s tough at first but to be able to say, “okay, time to move over to this project and focus on this.” The more you do it, the better you get at it. You gotta be doing something you love. It’s easy to do things that you like. It’s all passion.
Me: Out of all the tours that you have been a part of, do you have a favorite memory that sticks out?
Snider: I’m going with the first thing that pops into my head and when we were touring with Anvil in 1983 and it was a night off and we were in Holland. And we decided that we wanted to go out for a nice meal. We picked a restaurant and as we are approaching the restaurant at like 8 o’clock, it was packed and the workers cut the lights, and put the closed sign out. They are waving us off saying “we’re closed!” And we are pointing in the window at the people sitting in the dark eating their meal! Back when I was a scerge to society, now I show up and they say, “oh we’re not closing yet. We will leave the doors open.” But back then they were locking doors to keep me out.
Me: Do you have a favorite city or country that you have always loved playing at?
Snider: You know… Twisted Sister was a reasonably huge band before we even had a deal. We were playing for thousands of people every night and it was an odd thing. There is a documentary called, “We are Twisted fucking Sister” that talks about that and shows that. But we couldn’t get a record deal and we had to go to England to get a record deal and leaving the New York, New Jersey, Connecticut area where we had a huge local following but the record companies in America didn’t believe we could have international appeal, and we were starting to believe it. We went to England, and they were so welcoming to us, even to this day it’s just something about here is a country so far away that took these 5 guys from New York and said, “Yeah, we’re down with you guys.” We got a record deal over there and that was where we broke out at first. So, England will always have a special place in my heart.
Me: Wow, that’s so cool. How did you get into metal? What was your first experience with metal that you realized that you wanted to listen to this, perform this, and like your record says, for the love of metal, how did you get that love for it?
Snider: I am old. And I am a day one, OG, original metal head. I had the first Black Sabbath album day one, first Led Zepplin album day one, etc. and it wasn’t even called metal then, it was called hard rock. I came out of the ‘60s and it was the Woodstock nation and everbody liked everything and I was one of those people who didn’t like it. I like the hard bands that were more powerful sounding. I was part of that movement away from the Woodstock nation and towards the segregation of music and metal as it started to get more and more a thing it started to become the music that people rejected. People would say that they didn’t like metal and I would say, “well I don’t like any of this shit that you’re listening to.” I was there day one and I was there at its birth and I’m still jamming it today.
Me: Speaking of that, like I told you, my dad grew up listening to Twisted Sister and he is actually from Binghamton, New York and in 1985 he was there when Twisted Sister made the music video for The Price. He remembers it (RIGHT ON!!!) and I grew up listening to Twisted Sister and Widowmaker and with that foundation it helped me develop my taste in metal and now I’m mainly into metalcore, deathcore, death metal. With metal evolving and being passed down from generation to generation, what’s your personal opinion on the evolution and direction that metal is going today?
Snider: I think there are people that say rock n’ roll is dead and metal is dead and they aren’t paying attention. I’ve been to the shows, I’ve been to the clubs with my kids, I’ve been to Vans Warped Tour, and I’ve seen the passion from the bands and fans and I am proud to report that metal is alive and well and thriving. Unfortunately, it doesn’t get the same spotlight that it used to get back in the day because things are different now. Everything is target and marketed and promoted but within these communities, some people may not know Bring Me The Horizon, but within the metal community in that community they are freaking huge!!! With MTV and adverstising back then, everybody knew KISS, Motely Crue, Iron Maiden, and Twisted Sister, cause radio was broader back then and now everything is very targeted but the audiences are there, the passion is there, the talent is there, and I am here to let everybody know to have no fear, meatal ain’t going nowhere.