Interview with SNAKERYDER (AJ FEDZ)


New Jersey’s Snakeryder recently released a very impressive sophomore release on Z Records entitled Back For The Kill. Many comparisons have been made to Y&T and Cinderella, but nevertheless, this disc is an impressive collection of traditional Hard Rock. The leader of the band, AJ Fedz, back from a recent performance at the Z Rock Fest in Dudley, England took some time out to speak with Metal Express Radio and Snakeryder fans!

MER: Hello AJ! Thanks for taking the time to speak with Metal Express Radio and your fans.

AJ Fedz: Hey guys, the interview is my pleasure. Thank you for the much-appreciated airplay at the station.

MER: What’s the origin of the band’s name?

AJ: Back in early 2000, when I signed a record deal with Metal Mayhem Music (MMM), I didn’t have a band. The label, “quite simply,” was interested in my music alone. It was my intent to build a band around my deal with MMM. At the time, I toyed around with calling the band “Reno.” It wasn’t until the album was finished being recorded that I came up with the name “Snakeryder.” When I was growing up, I was a big Kiss fan and I always admired their larger than life persona. And originally, I was going to be a solo artist (with a band) and like my idols I wanted to have a larger than life persona. When I was a kid, for some reason, my father would call me Snake. I thought back to my father calling me Snake as a kid, and it seemed natural to use the name Snake as my first name. I also love to ride cycles, so the last name “Rider” seemed perfect. I decided to spell the name Rider with a “Y” to make the name unique. So my solo artist name would have been – “Snake Ryder,” not “AJ Fedz.” Well, Metal Mayhem Music thought that the CD should be released as a band and that the band should be called Snakeryder. So, I let them do what they thought was best for the project. Honestly, I regret letting them release my music under a band name.

MER: Snakeryder doesn’t go out of its way to hide its support of “80s Hard Rock” sounds. Have you guys gotten a lot of flack for this approach and attitude?

AJ: First and foremost, with the exception of a few tunes, I am the songwriter for Snakeryder. If you take notice to the copyright on the songs, you will see that most of the songs were written from 1996 to 2000. When I wrote the songs featured on the albums, there was not any plan to support 80’s Hard Rock at all. My songs are a reflection of my personality and the result of years of me being influenced as a musician and songwriter.

We don’t play out live, so we haven’t gotten too much flack other than the people that think you have to do “what the majority does to fit into society.” In general, I don’t live my life trying to fit into society’s mold. That includes all aspects of life. I like to think of there being a threshold called “Societies Threshold.” The people that stay behind this threshold are the majority and the people that step over this threshold are the minority. We “old school” Rock n’ Rollers are the minority that have the balls to step over this threshold to live and breathe with the freedom to say, “f#@K you man,” we’re not going to change regardless of what the majority thinks.

When I played at the Z Rock 2006 show in Dudley England, I later saw a review of the show and the reviewer stated that, “AJ did all his 80s Rock hero poses.” Yep, guess I did. Funny, I play and move on stage like I always have. Nothing has changed on my end, just the year and the faces in the audience.

MER: With all the reunions (e.g., tours and CDs) of 80s bands like Def Leppard, Poison, Cinderella, etc. in 2006, it almost appears that there is a revitalized market out there for 80s Hard Rock. Are you guys seeing this? Do you have any thoughts into why this is occurring twenty plus years after the fact?

AJ: To tell you the truth, I am not really up-to-date as to what 80s bands are touring and putting out records. Once Rock ‘N’ Roll is in your veins, it never leaves. My guess is that some of the 80s bands still want to make music and may need the cash. Lets face it, the money that some bands made in the 80s is probably gone by now. There are also people that are still willing to pay to see these bands. It seems like whenever a band does a reunion tour, they always do well. Remember, there are older fans that miss seeing the bands that they grew up with and I am sure that most 80s bands have picked up some younger fans over the years.

MER: The band’s sound, particularly on the new release, has been compared to Dave Meniketti and Y&T. Did they influence the band or is it just a coincidence given your backgrounds?

AJ: We have never been (and me in particular) fans of Y&T, so the comparison is purely by coincidence. Don’t get me wrong, Y&T are a great band, I have just never listened to them, nor have they influenced me in any way. I grew up listening to bands like: Kiss, Aerosmith, Van Halen, Styx, & Boston. How Snakeryder’s music has been compared to Y&T is still a mystery to me. I think that Metal Mayhem Music started that comparison and it sort of brainwashed people. We could probably record an Elvis song and people would say, “this Elvis tune sounds like Y&T and Cinderella.”

MER: Back For The Kill represents Snakeryder’s second release. Looking over the liner notes, though, the credits read more like an “AJ Fedz Solo Album.” Among other things you’re credited with playing all instruments and performing the vocals. Why wasn’t “the band” involved as they were on the debut release?

AJ: Snakeryder has always been a project band. Since the band’s conception, I have always been the driving force behind the band. I am also the only one under contract with the label, so I was 100% obligated to produce a second CD. For the record, there has always been hope that we may do a tour in the future, and that is really what our plan as a band has been all along.

When it was time to start recording the second Snakeryder album, Dino and Mikk had just relocated to Florida to be with their families, and Karl was very occupied with his new wife and family as well. Honestly, it was cheaper and easier for me to do the complete project myself. Owning a home recording studio for many years, I have become very accustomed to playing all instruments on recordings and demos. It would have been very costly to fly Dino & Mikk back and forth from Florida to New Jersey to record. If there was more money on the table, I’m sure that the guys would have been there to cut their parts.

MER: It seems natural that a guitarist would be able to play bass, but you also played drums on this release. Assuming it’s not a drum machine, songs like “Can’t Stop The Insanity” sound impressive, as they don’t stick to a standard, basic 4/4 beat. Have you ever played drums prior to this release?

AJ: Well, just because you can play the guitar doesn’t mean that you can play the bass. I have owned a bass since I was 17 y/o and bass is actually my second instrument. Sure, anyone that plays the guitar can pick up the bass and make some sort of musical sounds, but the two instruments are completely different animals.

I have always loved playing the drums. As far as the drums tracks on the albums; for both the debut and Back For The Kill, it’s me playing on my Roland V Kit. Although Dino made the attempt to record drum tracks for the Snakeryder debut, sadly, his drum tracks were not used.

MER: Is Snakeryder planning on touring in support of this release?

AJ: We are always open for doing a tour. However, in today’s market, I now realize that it’s highly unlikely that we would do any type of serious tour. It cost a lot of money to put a new band on tour and unless you have a major label behind you — it’s not going to happen.

MER: So recently you played at the Z Rock Fest in Dudley, England. How did that come about and how did the evening go?

AJ: Z Rockfest is a festival held by Z Records twice a year, and to the best of my knowledge, it has taken place every year since the late 90s.

Being a Z Records artist, it was only natural that Snakeryder be asked to perform. Sadly, I was the only one from the band to appear. At the labels discretion, they hired the UK band “Crimes Of Passion” to back me. I flew into England a week in advance and met up with the guys. We got acquainted and then got right to business rehearsing as a band. Prior to the Z Rock show (and playing as themselves), Crimes Of Passion had several club dates, which I attended. This gave me a good feel for how they performed as a band on stage and the confidence in their abilities as musicians. These guys were total pros!

The day of the Z Rockfest show, I was up at 6:00 am and ready to rock. After a long morning of “pre show anticipation,” I arrived at the venue. The place was huge and the stage was packed with a wall of amps. There were eight bands on the bill and we were scheduled to take the stage fifth. Hitting the stage at around 5:00 p.m., we played to a full house and had a great time doing so. Surprisingly (with only two rehearsals) we were extremely tight as a band. I tell ya, it felt great to be in another country playing songs that I wrote in my home. It was a surreal experience – a rocker’s dream!

MER: Will it be a challenge for the rest of the band to support this release live? Any discussion on how true and faithful everyone will adhere to reproducing the release’s sound and spirit live?

AJ: If there are ever any live shows, the guys in the band would play the songs very precise to the recording.

MER: They album seemed to be ready to go months and months before it was actually released by Z Records. Any reason(s) you can talk about for this delay?

AJ: To this day, I am not sure. Mark at Z Records told me months ago that CD sales in general were a little slow and that he had a few problems on his end. I didn’t ask him for any details. I knew that the day would come when the CD would hit the shelves. I have learned to be patient in this business.

MER: The album’s tracks were available for listening on your Web site for months before its actual release. Do you think having these posted helped sales?

AJ: The Snakeryder Web site gets a lot of traffic from people doing searches for 80s Rock, Hair/Glam bands. To get people interested, I decided to put streams of all the songs from the Back For The Kill album on our Web site. I don’t know if this helped or hurt sales. The sales numbers haven’t been calculated as of yet, so we don’t know how many units have been sold. We will know in a few months how we did regarding CD sales.

MER: Before Back For The Kill saw the light of day, the band had a change in its line-up. Out was drummer Dino Castano and John Savage replaced him. What was the reason for Dino’s departure and how did you end up finding John? Was it a quick transition?

AJ: As I stated above, Dino didn’t play on either Snakeryder CD, plus the fact that his relocating to Florida made things tough for us to function as a band. The final deciding factor to replace Dino was when I was asked to play at the Z Rockfest in Dudley, England with a backing band supporting me. It was too costly for the label to book flights and hotel accommodations for all four-band members. The promoter’s offer to me was simple: “you come alone” or we will have to hire another act for the show. This arrangement was made only to stay within their budget. Dino wanted to take part in the Z Rockfest, so he had a problem with this issue among other issues. It had become clear to me that we had to part company with Dino.

I have been friends with John Savage since 1999, and he and I have always wanted to work together. So immediately after Dino left the band, I called John on the phone and made him an offer to join the band. He happened to be free, timing was right, so the transition was rather quick.

MER: Has the band thought about a third release yet?

AJ: At this point in the game, the thoughts of a third album are not a priority. After the Back For The Kill CD runs its course, we shall see how we feel then.

MER: Does the rest of the band have a back catalogue of songs and ideas waiting to be unleashed since they didn’t take part in Back For The Kill?

AJ: Mikk Black is the only other writer in the band. And yes, he does have a ton of stuff that he has been working on. I also have new song ideas and many older songs that have been collecting dust.

MER: Given everything this new release has gone through, are you still happy with the end results? Anything, other than the obvious, you’d do over given the chance?

AJ: The only thing I would change is by adding guitar solos at the intros and outros on a few songs and making my vocals a tad bit louder on a few tracks. Over all, I am pretty happy with the songs, my performance, and production on this release. I was going for a heavier vibe than the debut and I have achieved exactly that. What is important is that people that buy the CD enjoy it.

MER: What music is in your CD player now and why?

AJ: Honestly, I haven’t been listening to many CD’s lately. The most resent CD I listened to would have to be the Snakeryder Back For The Kill CD. After I had the recording mastered, I would give it a test spin by cranking it up in the car.

MER: Any last words for Snakeryder fans?

AJ: As always, thank you for supporting the band. We would be happy to hear your thoughts on the band, so please feel free to drop us an email at

A very special thanks to Scott at Metal Express Radio for taking his time to do this interview. You rock bro!


  • Scott Jeslis

    Scott is one of the partners at Metal Express Radio. He handles a lot of Metal Express Radio's public relations, screening of new music and radio scheduling. On occasion, he also does reviews and interviews. He has been a proud member of the Metal Express Radio crew since 2004.

    View all posts

Be the first to comment

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.


This site is protected by reCAPTCHA and the Google Privacy Policy and Terms of Service apply.

The reCAPTCHA verification period has expired. Please reload the page.