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Dee Snider is a man with many laurels, a man without boundaries, and a man with a few bees in his bonnet.
He’s been the star of several televisions shows, hosted his own long-running radio show House Of Hair, been a voiceover artist, a Broadway star, public speaker, activist, and a writer—of course, you might know him better as the notorious frontman of heavy metal legends Twisted Sister.
Joining the tirade of great musicians undertaking such shows, Snider embarks on a special four-date spoken word tour in February next year, shaking up the format as he both speaks and shouts about his life and career. “The whole situation is just wonderfully unique,” Snider gushes. “We’ve got this shouted and spoken presentation and I love it.
“My book title is Shut Up And Give Me The Mic—I love the microphone! I’m comfortable in a spoken environment and in a concert environment–here, I get to do both.”
Comfortable with a mic, indeed, Snider is evidently also comfortable in conversation–you’ve never heard a brighter and warmer voice than this, chatting away like old friends, taking the reins on the topics at hand while staying open to any and all ideas put to him.
Last time Snider was in Australia was over 30 years ago, celebrating the release of Twisted Sister’s seminal album Stay Hungry. Having gone solo is a way at least for Snider to visit die-hard fans Down Under, particularly as he’s back on top with his own album, For The Love Of Metal. Indeed, Snider’s love of rock ‘n’ roll is a well-known sentiment that has followed him for many years and has afforded him many dazzling opportunities outside of music. Whatever he’s done, he’s never spoken sung or spoken about anything without a ferocious passion and understanding of his subject matter, and this album is no different, his approach being one of utmost honesty. “You know, credit to Jamey Jasta [Hatebreed] who produced the record and literally challenged me to take a chance and make a contemporary metal record,” Snider says proudly, not for the first time in an interview giving credit to his producer and friend. Jasta found a place for Snider in today’s world of metal, who was not interested in making what he calls a back to the future album. Snider wanted something new that would connect with a more contemporary audience. “Not just Jamey,” Snider adds.
I was always very honest and there were times I was rejected for it. I don’t drink, I don’t do drugs, I don’t fuck around, and I rock! There were certain parts of the rock community that rejected me for that.
[ Dee Snider ]
“Howard Jones of Killswitch Engage, Mark Morton from Lamb Of God, members of Disturbed, Arch Enemy, all these people coming together for the love of metal and for the love of Dee Snider, who could help find a place for me today. I’m very focused on the now. My glory days are happening at this moment, so for me, this is such an important record.”
Snider sounds like he couldn’t be happier, speaking with jollity, humility and excitement. “There’s a line from [National Lampoon’s] European Vacation where Chevy Chase says, ‘We’re gonna be having such a good time they’re going to have to surgically remove the smiles from our faces.’ I feel like I’ve made something that people are into now, not on a retro level. It’s great! I call it smiles at the speed of sound!
It’s not just that people are interested to hear Snider’s music, people are still interested in what he has to say across a plethora of topics. The spoken/shouted shows Snider will perform over four dates in only two cities will be a combination of stories from his past and a little mounting of the soap box. ”I do keynote speaking and I have a more organised presentation,” Snider explains. “I do these spoken word appearances, and I’ll walk out there and start talking.
“In the United States people are fully aware of my career–radio, Broadway, television, movies–I’m not sure how much of that gets to Australia. I expect it’ll be more heavily music driven than it’ll be about anything else. There’s so many things I’ve done [that] people want to talk about. I let the audience decide where they want the conversation to go.”
In the past Snider has been perceived to be outspoken, his reputation precedes him in that he is not afraid to speak his mind, treading on all those eggshells with vigour. Snider’s tenure has seen his reputation shift from being that of a more controversial nature to something more like a legendary persona. Stating this fact, mind you, is met with a Father Christmas-like chortle from Snider. “I’m laughing because you verbalise it, and you’re the first, but it’s true!
“I was always very honest and there were times I was rejected for it. I don’t drink, I don’t do drugs, I don’t fuck around, and I rock! There were certain parts of the rock community that rejected me for that. ‘You’re not a real rocker!’ I’m like, ‘Wait a second, are you fucking kidding me?! You’re telling me there’s rules?! I got into this because I thought it was express yourself, be who you wanna be, and now you’re telling me I’ve gotta look a certain way, act a certain way, be a certain way?! Fuck you!’”
Receptions to his candid attitude have changed over time–as Snider puts it, people have come to respect it and expect it. He’s often the black sheep speaking against the wrong or inappropriate, particularly if it involves KISS bassist Gene Simmons. “A story that set me off, he said rock ‘n’ roll is dead and if you’re thinking about picking up a guitar don’t bother,” cries Snider incredulously. “Gene Simmons said that to GQ magazine. I wrote a Facebook post and people were like, ‘Oh Dee’s speaking against Gene!’ It’s like, I’m not speaking against Gene, he said something fucked up!
“Our job as elder statesmen is to encourage not discourage! I’ve seen the passion and talent out there–it doesn’t get the spotlight like it used to but it’s still there! Don’t tell them not to do it, Gene! Could you not do it when you were 19 and you knew there was no money in it? No! You did it because it’s fucking in you, man!”
Snider is prematurely on his soapbox, laughing about the fact as he says, “Oh yeah, there’s gonna be some soapbox moments! I can’t help it!” This is awesome. You might wonder if Snider is in any way forced or artificial, or a gimmick, but in the short minutes Snider has been a participant of this conversation, he’s made an impression as one of, if not the only, honest person in rock ‘n’ roll today. “I always say, ‘the most dangerous person in the room is the one with nothing to lose,’” he says.
Catch Dee Snider Spoken & Shouted Tour at the following dates:
Thu 31 January // Manning Bar // Sydney
Fri 1 February // Manning Bar // Sydney
Sat 2 February // The Croxton // Melbourne
Sun 3 February // The Croxton // Melbourne