JESSE BLAZE SNIDER INTERVIEW:
Interviewed by Kathy F
February 28, 2008
Jesse Blaze Snider is one of the bright new stars you’re going to hear a lot about. He is the son of legendary Twisted Sister frontman Dee Snider, but Jesse is his own man. He has many projects going on in his life, from voiceover acting to writing comics and fronting his own rock band. Jesse has accomplished a lot in a short period time. Kathy got a chance to speak with him about music, love and life as a Snider.
Sleaze Roxx: I’m talking with Jesse Blaze Snider, thanks for joining me.
Jesse Blaze Snider: You’re very welcome.
Sleaze Roxx: I wanted to talk a little about your band Baptized By Fire (BXF). How would you describe your sound?
Jesse Blaze Snider: I have a hard time doing that these days. No matter what I hear, people tend to walk away with it sounding ‘Old School’. I think it’s because of the Dee Snider connection. I don’t think it’s that much of a throw back. I always felt we were a combination of punk, metal and a little bit of big rock. People sometimes hear more big rock than I’d like them to, but why don’t you go listen and tell me what you think.
Sleaze Roxx: I understand you do a lot of writing for the band.
Jesse Blaze Snider: I’d say a lot of the direction comes from my melodies. When I created the band BXF I gave up a lot of control. I did that because I found musicians I felt were really talented and wanted to continue working with them. I had a problem with Blazed and the Jesse Blaze Project because the other guys wanted to do their own thing so they’d get antsy and leave.
When I finally found the right musicians I decided to change the name of the band so it would be our thing, not just mine, and it has worked out a lot better. There’s a lot more group creativity now. I lot of songs we started with, like F/U and Juggernaut, were the templates for Baptized By Fire. We’re all working within a similar vein. Certainly The Phoenix started with Danny Wacker’s guitar part.
Sleaze Roxx: Benjamin Clapp was with you in Blazed as well, right?
Jesse Blaze Snider: Yeah, technically Dan Carlisle was in Blazed for a short period of time too. Danny was the last piece to the puzzle. Once I found him I said, “lets form a new band.”
Sleaze Roxx: What were your favorite shows with BXF?
Jesse Blaze Snider: Most of our shows we have a good time. It’s even better when you have a large turnout. The club scene on Long Island, New Jersey and Philly are really awful. People don’t go out to see as many shows and its soul sucking to go out and play and not have anyone there. We play with some great bands and don’t get the kind of turnout you would have years ago. It can be very depressing. We play the Crazy Donkey a fair amount of time. Since they are a bigger place they tend to get a larger audience so we really enjoy it. We do a song called F/U and it requires audience participation. It’s so much fun when the crowd is into it.
Sleaze Roxx: Do you think people live in virtual space more than real space these days? Baptized By Fire has thousands of friends yet the club scene is dwindling.
Jesse Blaze Snider: As with many bands on Myspace the fan base is from all over the world. Most of the people that come out to see us are in Jersey, Philly and Long Island which is pretty spread out. The scene on Long Island used to be huge. It was a given on the weekends that you went out to see a band, it was just a matter of which one. Nowadays people have so many choices they don’t always come out. The clubs are closing down left and right or becoming dance clubs. That’s where they are making their money. I feel really bad about that. The few clubs that are thriving are duel purpose. The owners tell me they have the dance music to keep alive but they still have rock because they love it. It’s an unfortunate state of affairs. I’ve become a bit disillusioned with it.
Sleaze Roxx: You have a lot of different things going on. Let’s talk first about your voiceovers. How did you get into that?
Jesse Blaze Snider: I’m originally a broadcaster. I hosted “MTV2 Rock” and “The MTV2 Rock Countdown.” And I’ve done hosting for FUSE which is a music channel as well as HBO and AOL Music’s Top 11 Countdown online.
Sleaze Roxx: And you were a DJ on WLIR as well?
Jesse Blaze Snider: Yeah on radio too, but I started as a TV broadcaster. I work for a big agency in the city. They represent Howard Stern and they used to represent my Father. My Dad had a lot of success as a voice over actor, though he did it in a limited capacity. He was the voice of MSNBC; he did Kit Kat commercials and the Quick Draw from the NYS Lottery. He did a lot of stuff.
There is an old saying about the five stages of your career. The five stages are: Who is Dee Snider (for example)? Faze two is get me Dee Snider, then it’s get me A Dee Snider, then its get me a young Dee Snider and finally it’s who’s Dee Snider? So I thought well I can be a Dee Snider and I can also be a young Dee Snider so there’s no reason I shouldn’t be able to get work in voiceovers. I went on auditions for like a year and didn’t get anything. Finally I got my first one and it just started happening from there. Now I am the voice of Pizza Hut nationally, the voice of Game Stop nationally, and the voice of Cheetos.
Sleaze Roxx: Are you the voice of the cheetah?
Jesse Blaze Snider: No. I’m not Chester the Cheetah, I’m the announcer. Although I was told recently they will be fazing out the voice of the cheetah. I will still do the slogan voice.
Sleaze Roxx: The Pizza Hut campaign is very successful. I hear those commercials all day long.
Jesse Blaze Snider: Yes, Pizza Hut is very good to me, they pay my bills. I love you Pizza Hut.
Sleaze Roxx: You mentioned working with your Dad, Dee Snider. How is that? I know you are doing several projects with him. How is it being on stage with him?
Jesse Blaze Snider: We have done that twice now and it’s interesting. I’m not the kind of guy who wants to steal someone’s thunder, so when he’s on stage with us I kind of bow out. I pull back and let him do his thing. He sings lead and I come in for the gang vocals and the chorus. It’s fun and kind of surreal cos I never really thought that I would do that. I used to be very, very hung up about the whole thing, but I’m working on it. It’s actually been a lot of fun.
Looking at each other across the microphone and singing We’re Not Gonna Take It is something I never thought I would do or want to do. We’ve done it twice now on stage and we did a commercial for a video game called Singing Star, it’s a singing version of Guitar Hero. It was pretty funny because we were in my parent’s living room with my Dad in full make up. I was a random kid doing karaoke when Dee Snider shows up and we end up singing We’re Not Gonna Take It once again. It was me and my brother Shane, my wife Patty and Shane’s girlfriend at the time. It was fun and quite bizarre.
Sleaze Roxx: Just your average family gathering?
Jesse Blaze Snider: Right (laughs). I’m also a writer and he edits all my work. I write comics and I’m working on a few other things. He’s the first person to get my scripts. For years now he has talked about starting a production company as an outlet for the creative minds of his children. We’re in the process right now of getting the funding. I love working with him on other levels than music. He and my brothers have a lot of great ideas.
Sleaze Roxx: You’ve done a four issue comic version of Strangeland?
Jesse Blaze Snider: Unfortunately, Fangoria Comics lost the funding for it but fortunately we own the comic. The first issue was done, illustrated and everything when the funding was pulled so what’s probably going to happen is the entire series will be released in one volume as a graphic novel. We’re still looking for a company to release the book. It’s really great, vicious and sick and totally Dee Snider approved. He’s given it his thumbs up.
Sleaze Roxx: The art work is amazing.
Jesse Blaze Snider: If you like the first issue you’re going to love the book. The illustrating just gets better and better. You can see the progression of the art work. He really got the feel for the characters and the look for the book as time went on. Hopefully it will be coming out very soon.
Sleaze Roxx: You did the music consulting for the movie Strangland as well?
Jesse Blaze Snider: Back in the day, I must have been about 15, I basically picked every song that was on the soundtrack. I went through band after band after band and my Dad brought me some as well. I picked way more songs than were actually used. It was really gratifying. It was my own personal 90’s mix and it was very well received. What’s funny is some of the lesser known bands at the time went on to become huge stars. Some of these bands didn’t make it on to the soundtrack like Incubus. I wanted them on the sound track before they got huge. Rammstein was another one. System Of A Down DID make it on the soundtrack, but my dad didn’t want them on the soundtrack, because he didn’t get them. Turned out I was right.
Sleaze Roxx: Would you like to write for film and TV?
Jesse Blaze Snider: I’m most interested in comics. I’ve written one for Marvel Comics that should be coming out in February or March and something else that isn’t in the pipeline yet. I love writing about Super Heroes. They’re larger than life and bigger than myself. I get bored when I have to write drama. My Father thinks one of the other comics I wrote could be an animated series so he’s working on making that happen. That would certainly interest me, to keep writing that. I have a movie script I’m working on too. It’s an excellent idea but I’ve had such a hard time buckling down and writing it. It’s a lot of drama and all I want to do it have someone fly in the air and punch a bad guy in the face. I’m a big kid at heart.
Sleaze Roxx: That must be why you love the Muppets so much. Jim Henson is one of your big heroes right?
Jesse Blaze Snider: Oh I love The Muppets. Jim Henson and Gene Roddenberry are my idols. In both cases these men lived there lives creating very positive visions, trying to make a better future. Jim Henson created Fraggle Rock with the goal being “World Peace” and Gene Roddenberry is the creator of Star Trek which is one of the few POSITIVE visions of the future in Science Fiction.
Sleaze Roxx: The music on that show was great.
Jesse Blaze Snider: They wrote really beautiful and complicated tunes. I don’t know how recently you’ve watched Fraggle Rock, but the music rocks. It really holds up very well. It’s fun stuff. The whole purpose of the show was to bring people together and I’m a big fan of everybody getting along.
Sleaze Roxx: I understand you have a big collection of toys as well.
Jesse Blaze Snider: Oh, absolutely. I’ve been playing with them since I was a little kid, real young. As I got older I started building a city. I made this complicated landscape of New York City. I still have it in my office. It takes up one whole side. It is a 6-8 inch scale and I have my action figures in it. It’s great for working on my comic books. I was just recently working on a pitch for Marvel Comics and I pulled out an action figure and started messing around with it until I came up with a couple of ideas. So I use it now as a work oriented thing. My gal has caught me late at night mashing them together and whispering, “Take that.” “Oh, no.”
Sleaze Roxx: As a voice over artist you are acting, but would you like to get in front of the camera?
Jesse Blaze Snider: The thing that appealed to me the most about voiceovers was doing a series. The reality is they don’t pay as well. I love to do that kind of stuff. I always wanted to be the voice of Johnny Storm from the Fantastic Four. I’d love to do some acting. I am interested in doing films. I’m naturally pretty good at it. I’m going to take some classes and pursue it a little more. I have so much going on its hard to find the time now. I think I’ll get the opportunity when my brother Cody, who is an aspiring director, and my brother Shane, who is a comedy writer, progress. I think I’ll have a better shot at working with them.
Sleaze Roxx: You’re also an athlete, right?
Jesse Blaze Snider: Yeah I am, but I’ve had a few injuries and I’m starting to feel like I’m falling apart. I still do gymnastics and play semi-pro football. I love playing sports much more than watching them.
Sleaze Roxx: So are you still playing with the Brooklyn Mariners?
Jesse Blaze Snider: Yeah I am, but I am sitting out this season, due to the injuries and my wedding. I don’t want to make it any worse. But once you’re a Mariner, you’re always a Mariner. I plan to go back next season. I got a great knee brace cos I hurt it on stage doing back flips.
Sleaze Roxx: You mentioned you got married. I heard a lot about the wedding, everyone had a different take on it from the food to the amazing location. What I heard most about though were the vows and song you wrote for Patty. I understand there wasn’t a dry eye in the house. Even the men were crying.
Jesse Blaze Snider: I’m proud to say that all of the men were crying. My Father was even misting which I’ve never seen before. He’s usually too cool to cry. That was the goal. I’m a big softie. I cry during Bambi. I think being empathetic is a requirement to being a good writer. I already knew I was going to cry because I was so happy to be getting married.
My wife and I have been together for almost eight years now. She’s my high-school sweetheart. I really love her so I spent a long time on my vows. I figured if I was going to cry so was everyone else. It was really amazing though, everyone there was in such good spirits. I believe the vows kind of started that. People were so touched by how much in love Patty and I are. The whole vibe of the wedding was just so warm and wonderful. Everyone came up to me and told me it was one of the greatest weddings they ever went to.
I had written a song for Patty called A Girl Named Story. The guys from Baptized By Fire helped me put it together. It’s a total departure from what we do, a kind of sweet rock song. People really seemed to like it, but I wrote it for her. And it’s now her favorite song of all time.
Sleaze Roxx: She said you really took her by surprise with it. Normally you consult her when you are writing something. It made the wedding so amazing for her.
Jesse Blaze Snider: Yeah, it was driving me nuts. She is the first person I run my songs by. So I’m writing something for her and hoping she’s going to love it, but I’m trying to keep it a secret and I’d find myself singing it around her. Usually I like to plan surprises at the last minute because I can never sit on them. If I buy her a present she has it within hours, so it was really hard to keep that song under wraps for a month.
Sleaze Roxx: The last thing I wanted to ask you was what’s the most rock star like thing you’ve ever done? I heard your Father answer that once. He said he went out with a sixteen year old girl when he was twenty one.
Jesse Blaze Snider: (Burst of Laughter) That’s my Mom! There was this time a guy was throwing ice at us while we were on stage in Philly. After the set I went up to him and asked him why and he said, “cos you suck!” I pushed him and he threw two chairs at me so I dove on him. The next thing I know there are three bouncers on me. It turns out he worked for the place. So I get kicked out of the club. The owner invited me back in two hours later when he found out what happened. What was really funny about that was it was my bass player Dan’s first (and only) Blazed show and it was also our booking agent’s first show. What a great first impression to make.
Sleaze Roxx: Anything else you’d like to tell us.
Jesse Blaze Snider: If you want to check out the band go to www.baptizedxfire.com
Sleaze Roxx: Thanks a lot Jesse.
Jesse Blaze Snider: Oh no problem Kathy.
For more info on Baptized By Fire you can visit www.myspace.com/bxftheband and www.baptizedxfire.com
Thanks to Jesse Blaze Snider and Kathy F