Dee Snider: Twisted Sister Shouldn’t Be in the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame
Dee Snider was the latest guest on Full Metal Jackie's weekend radio program. The Twisted Sister legend discusses his new solo record, For the Love of Metal, which was produced by Hatebreed's Jamey Jasta and features a number of notable guests. He also muses on retirement and how this album was not part of his post-Twisted Sister plan as well as his legacy and what it means for future generations. Check out the chat below.
Dee, you're a metal guy and always have been but metal evolves and changes. What was necessary to make a contemporary metal album that doesn't alienate the old-school metal you're known for?
Jamey Jasta. Somebody said that to me like, "What is your recommendation to me for other heritage artists who want to make a more contemporary sounding record?" I said to hire Jamey Jasta. I mean he puts so much after his initial challenge, which you may have heard about on his podcast. He challenged me to make a contemporary metal album and I said yes. He said, "Well I have challenged a lot of people and you are the first one to say yes. Now I have to deliver." He really took it as a responsibility and I’m, as much as an egomaniac as I am, I certainly am narcissistic. I am still not that bad that I am so full of myself and I think that I walk on water — I don’t. But Jasta, he views me as one of those voices and he felt this responsibility to make sure he did the right thing by me and I think he did. I am so happy with the record.
What does Jamey Jasta understand about you that maybe other people don't get?
I didn’t really see a place for myself and Jamey said, "Dude, while you weren’t looking you kind of became iconic and I’m like, "What?" He's going, "20 years have passed since you stopped. So you sort of like left mentally" and he goes, "In that time it just has become one of those people in our world." I said, "You think so?" and he said, "I know so man. Your voice is strong, let’s do it" and we did!
Dee, throughout your career you've been a prolific songwriter who always wrote by yourself. What is liberating singing something written by someone else?
I can’t say it’s liberating. I can say it was unnerving at first because I always been so hands-on with the stuff I sang. When we started this, I didn’t have a record deal and we didn’t have a budget. The title of the album is For the Love Of Metal. That’s it, it was a passion project but as we went song to song, I started to realize Jamey was really climbing in my skin. Like Buffalo Bill in Silence of the Lambs, you know. He was really understanding me and I was feeling all of these songs. It was unnerving at first but liberating at the end because I feel like I have given people stuff that doesn’t sound super dated.
Dee, Twisted Sister played their final show in 2016. Did you ever consider retirement or was continuing on your own always the plan?
I was retiring. I was done, I wasn’t planning on continuing on my own. I got challenged by this pop producer to do a mainstream rock record and I love a challenge. I am just grateful nobody said to do a children's record because I probably would have said, "Okay I’ll do it." So I did this mainstream rock record and that didn’t go anywhere and I am like, "Cool, I’m done." Then Jasta challenged me to do a metal record, so I really thought when the ends twisted that I was really done but somehow I am not.
Dee, you have been singing nearly all your life. What have you come to learn about techniques that might have been useful when you were a kid playing clubs night after night?
That's an interesting question that nobody has asked me. I think I actually learned the secret for me to longevity and success vocally, very early on. I crashed and burned back when Twisted was playing four shows a night five nights a week in the bars and my voice left me after only six months. I went to a voice coach and she said, "Listen you have a choice to make. You're either you're going to be hanging out and partying guy or you're gonna be the guy that's able to sing night after night after night, but that means separating yourself from that lifestyle because you cannot sustain both." I know there are people who would argue that, but for me, I couldn't do it. So I learned very early on that I was going to have to compromise my lifestyle if I wanted to be able to sing rock 'n' roll.
Making For The Love Of Metal with people from bands like Hatebreed, Arch Enemy and Killswitch Engage, what do you now realize about the impact Twisted Sister has made on younger generations of metal bands?
I've been realizing it for a while, but again, I am an egomaniac and a narcissist but not to the point where I think, or if people say, if Twisted Sister should be in the Rock and Roll Hall Of Fame? No we shouldn't. They say, what? No, we don't make that mark. But we had an effect and with me personally, apparently it goes beyond. Things like creating what became Headbangers Ball and going to Washington and fighting censorship. All these things together have made an impression on a lot of young musicians, and I've met so many of them - mostly courtesy of my daughter dragging me to festivals and hardcore shows - and it's amazing that all these young people wanted to work with me. I said "young," compared to me they're young. [laughs] It was just an incredible outpouring and very touching honestly.
You've touched on things that you've done over the years including sitting in courtrooms and fighting against censorship. I've always thought it was amazing when guys like you got up there and spoke. I think people who are not around metal or don't know who they're dealing with are surprised. You came out and you knew what you were talking about, you were elegant in your arguments and I just loved seeing people's faces when they were like, "Oh, this guy knows what he's talking about."
You know, Jackie, it felt like I was - I wasn't just representing myself, but the community. Because I know better. I know we're not idiots because we like heavy metal. This was a misperception. I just did an interview with Psychology Today who are doing a piece based on a study that showed that metalheads become better adjusted adults than non-metalheads. They felt that the moment where I spoke before - fighting censorship - was a turning point to people's perceptions of heavy metal. I'm very proud of that, but again, until you opened your mouth and people just thought they got it. You know, Jackie. You know the community. The fact that we love this aggressive music has nothing to do with our IQs.
Dee are you going to do a proper tour for this album? I know you've got some festival stuff happening around the world.
I was blindsided by this record. There was no grand plan. As you know, normally you plan your album and your tour at the same time. It's a game plan. We have no game plan. Hence July 27th release, [laughs]. It was like - when is the worst possible day to release this thing? I know, the middle of summer. We are just sort of playing catch up now because the response has been great. Reviews are great. It's just - I was not expecting this. I plan on supporting the record, you'll see more and more dates added. This isn't a hit and run for me, this is a hit and stick.
Thanks to Dee Snider for the interview, Grab your copy of 'For the Love of Metal' here and follow Dee Snider on Facebook to stay up to date with everything he's doing. Find out where you can hear Full Metal Jackie’s weekend show here.
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