DEE SNIDER: “There’s Always A “Rock” Message And Now More Than Ever We Need A Battle Cry And It’s A Message I Want Everybody To Feel”

Dee Snider

Building on the major Metallic return to form of 2018’s For The Love Of Metal, former Twisted Sister frontman Dee Snider is back hitting harder and heavier than ever with his new album Leave A Scar. Mick Burgess called him up to talk to the singer, bubbling with excitement about his latest creation.

How have you been coping through this Covid situation?

I’m blessed with good health and we followed the protocols. I’m in the fortunate position where I could take the year off where other people can’t. The experience and seeing how it effects the world around us really inspired a lot of stuff on the new album. We got a lot of motivation and inspiration from that for the new record for sure.

Has the downtime created by the pandemic given you the time to focus on your new album, Leave A Scar?

I was definitely not sitting around binge watching stuff. I wrote a novel, called Fratz, about a gang in a High school using a fraternity to give them legitimacy and they walk around in their colours ruling the town. It’s an interesting story and very violent. I’m shopping for a deal for that and I was supposed to be directing a movie called My Enemy’s Enemy that I wrote last summer but that got postponed so I’ve been working on that and we should be filming that in the fall. I also spent a lot of time on the new record. For me, I used the time to be creative.

Leave A Scar has just been released. How do you feel about it now?

It’s a nervous excitement as we have put a lot of effort and work into it and you hope that people like it. It’s also unexpected, although I didn’t announce it, in 2019 I told all my people concerned that I was done and retiring. My last show was with Alice Cooper in Switzerland at a big festival and I had my whole family over. There I was in front of 25,000 people where I was special guest for my hero Alice Cooper. The show was great and it was a perfect night and I’d told Alice that I was done. He said to me to come out and do “School’s Out”. Mentally I thought that was it, I’m done. Then the following year and for a variety of reasons of what’s going on in the world, I felt like I wanted to say something. I haven’t written lyrics or been involved in the music on my records for a long time and now I felt that I had something to say. I got together with Jamey Jasta from Hatebreed and Charlie Bellmore and between us we created this record. When I told my manager, I was making a record he said to me that when I told him that I was quitting, he said he didn’t take me seriously. He said that I say shit like that from time to time. I went to my wife and said that my manager doesn’t take me seriously and she just said that she didn’t either. She said I always change my mind after a while. I just felt inspiration to make another record and I’m very excited with how it turned out and that people are going to be able to hear it.

Your last album For The Love Of Metal saw you nail your Metal credentials to the mast and restate who you are and what you’re about. Did the experience of making that and the reaction you received reinvigorate your passion for music again?

100% yes. I am a true Metalhead. I am a Day one Zeppelin, Day one Sabbath, Day one Blue Cheer, Day one Mountain and Day one Grand Funk Railroad. It wasn’t even Metal then, it was Hard Rock and I was the guy who made the choice between the Woodstock Hippy shit and Hard Rock, I was the Hard Rocker. I love it and I continue to love it in all of its varieties. My kids keep me connected with what’s going on and I love it all. I remember the day that I hung it up, so to speak and that was a review of Stand By For Pain by Widowmaker. The review said it sounded like somebody’s uncle trying to sound cool. That really cut me to the quick. I don’t usually take notice of reviews but I wanted to be part of the changing Metal scene and I was trying to adapt but it was because I loved it not because I was being a phoney. Somebody else said that nobody wanted their father’s band they wanted their own bands so I really felt that I was done. That’s when I stopped playing for a while then I did the Twisted Sister reunion but I never felt there was a place for me. It wasn’t until Jamey Jasta challenged me on his podcast and he really believed that I had a place so I asked him to show me how to get there as I’m a fan first and I wanted to be part of this community. He said he knew what I needed to do. When we did For The Love Of Metal everything just connected and I knew there was a place for me so that’s why I went back to Jamey to stay the course, so to speak, with Leave A Scar. It worked, we had a good team, so let’s just do it.

Do you feel that Leave A Scar is building on those foundations that you laid down on For The Love Of Metal?

I certainly do. I didn’t want to fix something that wasn’t broken but I also felt that we refined it a little bit and defined it a little bit more. In two years, my side men had turned into my band so we really are a unit now. Charlie and Nicky were there before and now we have Russ on bass and Taz on guitar so that was refined. With the writing before a lot of it was Charlie and Jamey with outside people. But this time as Charlie had so many great riffs and Jamey’s melody ideas were so on the money, which was so surprising for such a screamer, I said that we didn’t need to go outside. I wanted to join the process and Nicky helped out too with ideas so he gets a credit too. The process was the same yet sharpened and even more focussed.

In the past, especially with Twisted Sister you wrote most of the songs alone. Has this been something of a shift having people writing for you?

After Twisted Sister I wrote with Al Pitrelli and Bernie Torme and that taught me to work with other people. In Twisted Sister I’d just go in a room by myself and I wouldn’t even let people know what I was doing. I was very self-conscious. With Bernie I learned that I could work with someone and exchange ideas and it was better for it, whether it was successful or not, but the writing was better. With these guys, I love contemporary stuff but I still tend to sound Old School when I create so I wanted to make sure the riffs and melodies resonated with a more modern sound. I’m trying to have a broader sound that appeals to a broader section of the Metal community. Give me two more albums and I’ll end up doing the whole fuckin’ thing myself. I don’t need you guys I’ve learned how to do it. I’m just kidding.

When did you start the writing process for the album?

The guys were waiting for me. I told them that I was done. Charlie Bellmore was saying that he knew I was done but he was writing riffs and they are Dee riffs that he wasn’t sharing and he said he wasn’t putting any pressure on and if I decided to come back then we’d have some great riffs to work with. I really trust Jamey when he said that he promised that the songs they were working on would be in my voice so I said let’s do it. There were one or two that I didn’t think really worked but Jamey really climbed into my skin and lyrically when I sing “I am the storm” I mean every fucking word of it. They could have been my own words and that’s a good songwriter. Jamey said that he listened to everything that I did before he started work so he really knew where I was coming from. When I told the guys that I’d do it Charlie shouted “I got the riffs” and we call him the riff monster. Things started getting exchanged and fired up so I’d say we started towards the end of last year creating ideas and then we went into the studio in January to record them.

Do you have everything written before you entered the studio to record or were you still writing while you are recording?

The majority of the stuff was done but we were still working on a couple of ideas. The song “Time To Choose” came in at the 11th hour when Charlie said he had this great riff. It was going to be a bonus track but it was so good it ended up on the album.

It’s hard to think of a better opener than “I Gotta Rock (Again).” Was that your intention, to write a song that pretty much sums up where you are musically right now?

The inspiration came from this long hiatus due to Covid. I’ve also joked over the years that bands from the 2000s don’t use the word “Rock” much because I used them all up in the 80s and I always seem to have a song somewhere with “Rock” in the title, “I Gotta Rock”, “I Wanna Rock”, “You Can’t Stop Rock ‘n’ Roll” so there’s always a “Rock” message and now more than ever we need a battle cry and it’s a message I want everybody to feel. We’ve got to do this again as we’ve been held back. We’ve been down, we’ve been held back, but we are now fuckin’ back, shoulder to shoulder and we’re doing it again. I just wanted to make that statement.

What’s really enjoyable about this record is that it’s really in your face heavy yet retains a strong melodic edge especially “S.H.E” which has such a killer chorus. Is that melodic edge as important to you as the heavy weight Metallic punch?

I’m really glad you like that one. As I was writing this album and I don’t know if there’s going to be a follow up to this one, but every now and again something that’s popped up is, my Heavy Metal love song. I’ve been with my wife for 45 years and there’s been “You’re Not Alone”, “Hot Love” and songs like that along the way but this time I wanted to write one for her. Just on the chance this is my last record, I wanted to acknowledge her 45 years later, still shoulder to shoulder by my side in every capacity. She’s always been there for me.

You’ve got Cannibal Corpse’s George “Corpsegrinder” Fisher guesting on “Time To Choose”. How did he get involved?

When we finished the song, I said “Do you know who’d be great on this?” and I said Corpsegrinder and Jamey just said “Are you kidding me?” I was the one who wanted more gang vocals and I was pushing for more of the Hardcore vocals. I love how the gang vocals evolved with the Hardcore scene so I was pushing for more of that and I said we should get Corpsegrinder. When Jamey asked him, he got emotional as he couldn’t believe that someone from my era was reaching out to someone from his. There’s not a lot of that over the aisle stuff going on between the classic heritage guys and these guys and they tend to look down on the scream vocals but I see the value in it and I see it works and it has a place in this song. I think it’s very cool. He was stunned to be asked and everyone’s been stunned to see it. I think it’s so healthy for Metal for this to happen.

Do you think some fans of Cannibal Corpse who may not be familiar with your music may be taken by surprise at how hard hitting this album is and go back and explore your back catalogue?

My daughter is 25 and the most brutal Metalhead in the family, her playlists are like oh, shit. She’s the sounding board for a lot of things. My daughter is always going back to discover the roots of the stuff she loves. She’s super Death/Black/Hardcore Metal and she’s gone back to the 80s Hardcore scene like Murphy’s Law and Agnostic Front to bands like Terror and Judge and she’s gone back to discover bands like that. Bands like Anthrax and Overkill that used to come and see Twisted Sister in the clubs and those bands evolved from us so maybe those who like Cannibal Corpse will look back through the bands and see this is where they come from and find us. George is a fan, he’s definitely a fan.

A lot has happened in the world since your last album, we are in the middle of a worldwide pandemic, you have a new president, the Black Lives Matter movement has been growing and the world. You’re sounding in an angry mood throughout the record. Have any of these events shaped your lyrics?

100% yes but it’s not just about what’s happening in America. It’s going on all over the world and it’s not good. Songs like “Cry For Your Life” is an observation on a generation who seem to blame everyone else for their problems and they won’t own their mistakes. We come from a different time where to own your shit. A song like ‘Stand’ is about the vast majority who aren’t of the mind of the extreme Right or the extreme Left yet we sit there and think everything will be OK and will work out and we are so trusting. STOP! Stop trusting, it’s not working, stop hoping, stop assuming everything will be alright, we are the biggest section of society and we need to start to take control and not let the extremes steer the ship. We need to control our own lives and that’s why I’m here trying to light a fuckin’ fire, wake the fuck up people.

Back in the 80s you had a famous spat with Tipper Gore and the PMRC over censorship and I think you stunned them with an eloquent argument. You certainly have strong opinions on current affairs. Have you thought about entering into politics?

No because it’s one of the most disgusting businesses in the world. I’ve been up close and these people are not there for our benefit. They are very self-serving; they have their own agendas and it’s not for the greater good. The ones that are, die a death. If you are a fair, honest, honourable person they’ll have you out before you know what hits you so, not a chance.

Where did you record the album?

It’s a Covid recording and the technology was ready for Covid. The band hang in the studio and exchange of ideas has been gone for decades for me. People have been in different studios and have been sharing files and people at home recording great tracks with their laptops. I actually miss that band hang and that was my favourite part of being in a band. It’s one of those losses with technology that we don’t have to work like that anymore. We were able to record around Covid. I was on the West Coast and they were on the East Coast and we got it done well. It came out great.

It’s great to hear well established artists put out new music with recent releases by Blue Öyster Cult, Kansas, Styx and the guys from Dokken. Is it important for you to remain creative and push forward rather than just rely on your legacy?

I love the creative process but it doesn’t necessarily have to music. I was more than happy writing my book, writing screen plays, directing a movie and I’m working on a TV show and I created an animated kids show so to me it’s all creative and as long as I’m being creative and being challenged, I’m happy.

Clearly you don’t agree with Gene Simmons’s view that Rock is dead?

Anybody that thinks Rock ‘n’ Roll is dead, get out of your fuckin’ house and go to the smaller venue and go to the festivals that play new music and you will see those heartfelt passionate young musicians, talented people playing their hearts out without having a hope of making a living out of it, doing it just for the love of it. You will also see an equally as passionate audience singing every fuckin’ word. Rock is alive and well, take your blinkers off and take a look around and open your mind. It may not be the same exact Rock that you grew up on but it is fuckin’ Rock and it’s still alive and well.

Are you hoping to get back out on the road again and play live shows?

I don’t see me touring per se but I’d love to play some festivals and reconnect. They give you a chance to get to a lot of people in a short amount of shows as I’m still doing things like movies but I want to be out there when we’re back and alive. I want to be a part of that shared moment and I hope this album gives people something to Rock out to.

You were signed to Demolition Records in Jarrow in the early 2000s. How did a New York band end up signed to a label in the Newcastle area?

Because the owners Eric and Ged Cook were Twisted Sister fans. They saw us in the early days and then they grew up to have businesses and they wanted Twisted Sister on their label.

Newcastle, of course was the home of The Tube, a UK music show that that featured live music in the 80s. Do you think your appearance on that show helped to break you in the UK?

It was THE turning point in our career. We were hanging on by a thread. I knew it’d take something insane for us to make a connection. Somebody said that we left a scar that day. I remember going back to the Tube years later and the entire 25 by 12-foot wall wall in the green room was a blow up of the last moment on the show with us with Lemmy and Robbo and all the smoke. They said that was the greatest moment on the show ever. It was THE moment in our careers and without it, we would have gone the other way. We were on the end of a rope. Instead, it gave us the next step and Atlantic Records and the rest is history.

Interview By Mick Burgess

Leave A Scar is out now on Napalm Records

For more on Dee Snider visit:


  • Mick Burgess

    Mick is a reviewer and photographer here at Metal Express Radio, based in the North-East of England. He first fell in love with music after hearing Jeff Wayne's spectacular The War of the Worlds in the cold winter of 1978. Then in the summer of '79 he discovered a copy of Kiss Alive II amongst his sister’s record collection, which literally blew him away! He then quickly found Van Halen I and Rainbow's Down To Earth, and he was well on the way to being rescued from Top 40 radio hell!   Over the ensuing years, he's enjoyed the Classic Rock music of Rush, Blue Oyster Cult, and Deep Purple; the AOR of Journey and Foreigner; the Pomp of Styx and Kansas; the Progressive Metal of Dream Theater, Queensrÿche, and Symphony X; the Goth Metal of Nightwish, Within Temptation, and Epica, and a whole host of other great bands that are too numerous to mention. When he's not listening to music, he watches Sunderland lose more football (soccer) matches than they win, and occasionally, if he has to, he goes to work as a property lawyer.

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