Dee Snider Interview

July 1, 2009

Interviewer: Ruben Mosqueda

Dee Snider has done everything from hosting the original hard rock and metal video show on MTV (Heavy Metal Mania the pre-cursor to Headbanger’s Ball), he’s done reality TV, he’s done radio, he’s acted, he’s written a screen play and over the course he’s also fronted one of the most well known bands that came out of the 80’s, Twisted Sister. Recently Sleaze Roxx had an opportunity to chat with Dee for a few minutes and we talked about the newly remastered and expanded 25th Anniversary Edition of Stay Hungry among other things. We didn’t get to everything because of time, but there’s always next time.

Sleaze Roxx: Twisted Sister went into the studio and re-recorded Stay Hungry in its entirety and released it as Still Hungry. If I recall the band wasn’t happy with the original Tom Werman mixes. Why another Stay Hungry version now?

Dee Snider: It was way more than that. Now we’re talking about Still Hungry. Still Hungry was an exercise in repairing the relationships in the band. Still Hungry was our Some Kind of Monster if you will, we were going to do it for ourselves, because that is when the band started to come apart.

I said to the guys, “We should go back and re-record that record, because that’s when things began to fall apart.” I saw it as therapy. So when our then label said they’d finance we were like, “Shit, they’ll pay for it and it’ll be like therapy. Let’s go for it.” So it was going back to re-record an album that began the end of the band. Now I didn’t expect it to go on to be a big seller or anything but it was cool and the label funded it and look where we are now.

Sleaze Roxx: Are you worried since the 25th Anniversary Edition of Stay Hungry has come out so soon after Still Hungry that fans will see it simply as their favorite bands seeking a cash grab?

Dee SniderDee Snider: You’re talking to the wrong guy! You’re talking to the wrong guy! (laughs) Meaning, I love my past, I love my past, but I don’t understand the whole re-issues and redos and stuff like that. I guess I do… I went out and bought a New York Dolls album with the bonus tracks and stuff. I think the bottom line is that the diehard fans won’t complain about this, because that’s who this kind of stuff like the remastered Stay Hungry is directed to. It’s no different like with me and Alice Cooper and The New York Dolls I think. I just don’t view the remastered Stay Hungry as a mainstream record.

Sleaze Roxx: Where did you find all the bonus tracks to include on the 25th Anniversary Edition? Is there enough material left in the vaults to give your other albums a similar treatment?

Dee Snider: Well I always overwrote for every album, so I’d always bring in more than what was need for each record. We’d demo everything then we’d bring in the band, the road crew, management and a couple of people from the label would listen to everything and we’d take a vote. So we’d take a poll, pick the ten with the most votes, and that would be the album. The rest didn’t get past the demo stage and they’d go into the vaults. So I’d forgot about all the extra songs. Jay Jay French was going through some stuff and he came across all of these demos and that’s where all the stuff on second disc on Stay Hungry came from. If there were to be more remastered Twisted Sister albums in the future surely there’s demos from the era in the vaults somewhere.

Sleaze Roxx: Twisted Sister is doing a one-day-only promotion you’re calling Twisted Sister’s Declaration of Independents Day. Fans purchasing Stay Hungry at participating independent record store in the U.S. will receive a free gift from the band. Sounds like a killer deal for the fans. What inspired you to do this?

Dee SniderDee Snider: There’s a really cool bonus, it’s a really cool bonus. Yeah, we’re calling it Independents Day and it’s a reference to independent record stores. It’s a sad sign of the times that record stores are disappearing. And the mom and pop shops, which built heavy metal, they supported independent music and they are the first to go. Any sort of tipping of the hat to the stores that made us we are offering an MTV concert. But this is the uncensored version, because after all you know that I like to… run my mouth. This is completely uncut.

MTV showed this concert about 18 times, censored of course. Marty Callner, the director, was going through his archives and he came across the uncut version. So the fans picking up a copy of Twisted Sister’s Stay Hungry at an independent record store will be getting a copy of this DVD concert. When we issued our Twisted Sister DVD a few years back the major complaint was that this MTV concert wasn’t included. People were like, “Where is that concert, that’s what got me into Twisted Sister.” Well now you have it here for free and it’s a tip of the hat to the die-hard fans as well as to the record stores that helped support Twisted Sister from the beginning.

Sleaze Roxx: I remember seeing that concert on MTV myself, I can’t wait to see the uncut version.

Dee Snider: Well, you know I was talking to Sebastian Bach about when the first time he heard Twisted Sister. He was telling me that he was in a local record store and they were playing the flip side of the single for “I Am I’m Me”, which was our live version of The Rolling Stones “I Know It’s Only Rock ‘n’ Roll.” He was like, “What the fuck is that?!” It’s really a shame that so many of these independent stores have gone away because it’s stuff like that that kids are missing today. It was about the community, that’s just not the same as being online.

Sleaze Roxx: Looking back at the 25 years since Stay Hungry was released, how has the music industry changed for the better and for the worse?

Dee Snider: You know what the music industry got what they deserved, they fucked with the bands and they fucked with the fans. They took advantage of everyone and now they are suffering. Unfortunately the bands are suffering more. I was having a conversation yesterday about records sales, just how does one sell half a million albums or go gold in this market place? It’s virtually impossible. The bands are suffering the most I think economically, but it is what it is you know. The record companies killed the goose that laid the golden egg by pushing the fans up against the wall. When that happened the fans said, “Hey we’ll take your shit for free then.” The fans are smarter than the labels gave them credit for, they know it cost the labels $1.00 to make a CD, how dare they charge them $18.00?! What a nice mark-up.

Sleaze Roxx: With performing albums in their entirety becoming the new trend what are the chances of Twisted Sister playing the Stay Hungry CD live from start to finish?

Dee Snider and Twisted SisterDee Snider: We’re doing it, we’ve done it. We just came back from Sweden where we played it live start to finish. We did it a couple of years ago at Bang Your Head, we’re doing it at Rocklahoma and Rock Gone Wild. That is how we are positioning the Stay Hungry tour at this point in time, we are doing the entire Stay Hungry album and then we finish with a few other nuggets. We’ll do “It’s Rock ‘n’ Roll,” “Under The Blade,” “Come Out And Play” and as of June we’ll be adding out new track “30” into the set so people can go to the use the bathroom or grab a beer. I was doing my House of Hair show and I saw where they were recording a new album and I thought ‘music to go to the bathroom to when you’re at our concert!’ I’m sorry, but that’s how it’s like in most cases, fans don’t want to hear the new shit. The minute a new song kicks in you can actually see the bodies making their way out to the bathroom. It’s like, “Hey, I’m going to take a shit, or hey anyone want a beer?” The new song in the set is the new drum solo. So don’t be surprised when you hear the singer say, “Here’s one from our new album” and people make their way out to take a piss, buy a t-shirt or a beer.

Sleaze Roxx: I read in an interview where you stated that you didn’t know ‘if people really want to hear new Twisted Sister music’ and you used Kiss as a band that should perhaps not record new material. You followed it up by saying that the lukewarm sales of Psycho Circus are evidence of this. Do you feel like Twisted Sister will record new music in the future?

Dee SniderDee Snider: Well I have said no to new Twisted Sister music for years. First “30” is a new song; I haven’t written new material in years, I just haven’t thought that there has been much of a market for years. “30” is actually the song that I wrote for the Gone Country show that I was in. If you saw the show it’s basically just a rock song with a banjo in the background. One thing that I’m really excited about is the musical based on the Christmas album, that thing has taken a life of its own.

The musical incorporates most of the Christmas album, select Twisted Sister songs both famous and infamous, but it needs another 8 to 10 new songs to help to tell the story, so we have been writing at the present time. The new material will be for a new record that will be a companion piece to the Christmas record. A Twisted Christmas the musical will launch in 2010, it’s new material but not new music, it’s much bigger, and it will be part of the bigger picture. Ultimately we won’t even be in it, because it is about a fictitious band, loosely based on us. I hope to create something that will be free standing, alternative holiday entertainment but that can go on long after we’re done performing.

Wait till you hear the storyline, it’s fucking amazing! Before you ask I’ll tell you. When you do hear it I guarantee that you’ll be like “oh shit! That is a motherfucker!”

Sleaze Roxx: Watching music videos that are being released these days, how insane does it now seem that the video to “Be Chrool To Your Scuel” was banned by MTV?

Dee Snider and Twisted SisterDee Snider: It was insane then! It was insane then! Here you have MTV who was cooler than cool and hipper than hip, who were living in fear of the ultra conservative elements of the Reagan era and the Gores and the rest of them. I remember hosting Heavy Metal Mania and I wanted to play Motorhead’s “Killed By Death” and they wouldn’t let me play the video. I was only given the okay to play a piece of it during the credits. I had Lemmy on the show as a guest and they wouldn’t let me. It was because of some of the content of the video where Lemmy rides out of the grave in the cemetery on a motorcycle and a chick in the back. I was like “you have to be kidding me?” It is mind blowing that the music that was on the Filthy 15 from the PMRC is easy listening by today’s standards. Fuck they played “I Wanna Rock” on the Tony Awards for Rock of Ages! These times have changed.

Sleaze Roxx: I might be in the minority, but I liked Love Is For Suckers. I think there are some pretty good songs on there. It was pretty polished the songs weren’t bad at all. What are your thoughts on that particular album? And what would you change about that record knowing what you know now?

Dee Snider: There’s some great shit on there man! The thing is, that was supposed to be my first solo album. The thing was the record company and management pressured me into making it a Twisted Sister record.

There’s some stuff that was in the Twisted vein but it was supposed to be a solo record, that album was meant to give the band the break we needed. I felt that by releasing a solo album I could put that out there, get it out my system, and then after a short break we could regroup and work on a new album. The recording, the promotion and touring of Love Is For Suckers went on to kill the band. Management and the record company in their infinite wisdom know best. Oh let’s put five guys who can’t stand each other in a studio for three months!

Sleaze Roxx: You’ve proven to be multitalented in that you’ve made a living in the music business; you have done radio, reality shows, screen plays, acting and now a musical. What’s left for Dee Snider to do?

Dee Snider: A lot of writing, I hopefully will be doing a book, that will be down the road. My production company’s focus has slowly been moving toward helping my kids. Aside from doing Twisted, we’re working on a pilot for A&E called Dee Snider’s American Dream. The premise is that you want better for your kids than you had growing up. I’m trying to move more into the producer’s role. One of my sons is an aspiring film maker, another is a comedic actor, one is an aspiring musician and my daughter is twelve and she has a band. I’m trying to support them and that’s what my ultimate role is as a producer and helping launch their careers. Dude I appreciate the opportunity to talk to you, I’d be more than happy to pick this up at another time. Keep up the good work spreading the word and supporting this music.

Thanks to Dee Snider and Ruben Mosqueda