Dee Snider, known from being the lead singer of the 80's cartoon rock band, Twisted Sister, is quite the busy man these days. This month (May) Dee is releasing his first ever solo album, "Dee Does Broadway" (a 12 song disc of metalicized show tunes) and is also releasing his autobiography, "Shut Up and Give Me the Mic." While Twisted Sister is mostly on the back burner these days, Dee has no signs of slowing down. From TV to Broadway, and even the possibility of a sequel to his "Strangeland" film, Dee keeps his plate full. Before taking another bite, Dee took some time out to speak with us here, at RMS.
RockMusicStar: Your latest CD, "Dee Does Broadway," seems like a very natural progression from the "A Twisted Christmas" album you released in 2006. Do you see the relation?
Dee Snider: The Christmas record definitely led to this for sure. And hearing the rocking-ness in the Christmas stuff, which I always did - I've always heard (potential) heaviness in non-rock stuff. I've always believed that if Bach and Beethoven were alive today, they would be in Slayer and Metallica, respectively. At a young age, I heard these show tunes because I was in the choir, and my parents would always take us to shows. I always loved hard and heavy music, but even this stuff seemed powerful tome, even more powerful than the way that it was being presented.
RMS: And this is the first CD you've done outside of Twisted Sister since Widowmaker, correct?
DS: Actually the last thing I did (outside of TS) was a minor release, where I did a bunch of demos/outtakes from Widowmaker and Desperado. Somebody offered me a lot of money to record them, and it's called, "Never Let the Bastards Wear You Down." And that came out several years ago. I really view this ("Dee Does Broadway") as my first solo effort. This was something really focused, and that I was passionate about doing. There wasn't a lot of money to do it. I'm out of pocket on this thing. I don't know if I'm gonna make 'penny one' back. I don't care. I'm excited about it, and that's what is important.
RMS: It obviously makes a much more defining point as a solo artist to do a record like this, than to do a straight forward rock record, which ultimately would not be much different than doing a new Twisted Sister CD.
DS: People have been talking about doing a new Twisted record. Which I feel is like going "Back to the Future." You'd be making an old record in contemporary times. And I really have no passion in doing that. And there really isn't a marketplace for it. Those records really don't sell, and people have shown that they're not really interested in old bands making new music. If it sounds like new music, they think you gave up and sold out. And if it sounds like your old stuff, they're like, "Yeah yeah, we've heard that already, we just want to hear the original stuff (we know)." This record is definitely a degree of a career move for me in a way, but it's also something that I felt passionate and excited about, and wanted to do it.
RMS: Over the years, you've been pretty critical of KISS, yet for "Dee Does Broadway," you chose to work with Bob Kulick, who is part of the extended KISS family, so to speak. How did you wind up working with Bob?
DS: If I've been critical of KISS, it's as a fan. I'm not a 'KISS Army' guy, but I definitely have the first three records, up to "KISS Alive!" I definitely love them and they're still great to see, except for when they go to play, "I Was Made for Loving You." (We both laugh) I mean, really?? Really? We're gonna break that old piece of shit out? It was a mistake the first time. You sold out you fuckers. We shouldn't have forgiven you. But I've got no problem there.
I've worked with Bob Kulick on a number of tribute records, and the last thing I worked with him on was the (Frank) Sinatra CD. When I came up with the idea to do my CD, I was thinking of who I was going to get to produce it. Bob clearly got it. He had taken those Sinatra songs and made them rock. I knew that working with him, we could come up with the proper arrangements and get the right take on the different songs.
RMS: At the same time that your CD comes out, you also have your autobiography, "Shut Up and Give Me the Mic" being released. What's your angle with the book?
DS: First of all, I wrote every word myself. Simon & Schuster (the publisher) didn't want me to do that initially, because nobody does. And if you believe the heroin addicts actually took notes.....Really? They couldn't find their dick, let alone a pencil. I never did any drugs and I've never drank. So I'm really a clean and sober participant, and observer, of the 'decade of decadence.' The book for me, deals with my rise and fall. It starts with the day that I decided I wanted to be a rock star, and then ends with me at my lowest point in my life/career, post Twisted Sister, when I lost everything (in the 90's). I was completely down and out. They made me put an epilogue on it, but I was like, "Everyone knows that I'm doing well now." But yeah, the ending is so depressing. The epilogue skips ahead 15 years, where I'm taking my final bow on Broadway, on opening night, reflecting on how far that I've come back in the past few years. The book is really the story of my struggle, my perseverance, and it sort of examines how things happened, for better or for worse.
RMS: You mentioned that you have no desire in creating new Twisted Sister music, can you tell us what the status is of the band?
DS: They haven't read the book yet, and I hope they'll survive that. I didn't talk any dirt about the band, and didn't expose anything personal, it's not my place. But I do talk about the inner workings and relationships, and there's some things in there that they may not be happy that I'm speaking my feelings about. But we have some festivals booked around the world, a couple in the US, about 6 or 8 for this summer.
RMS: And will you continue to perform without the makeup and costumes?
DS: Yeah. About 2 or 3 years ago, we had a situation that happened, where my plane got delayed severely. I arrived at a major festival in Holland, literally 5 minutes before show time. And the choice was for us to go on in street clothes, or not play. It was a big festival. KISS was there, Whitesnake was there, Motorhead was there, Def Leppard, so it was a big festival. Twisted had never been about hiding anything, the makeup was just a special effect. So I said, "Fuck it. Let's do it." So we went out (on stage), in literally just jeans and t-shirts. And the next day, the front page of the newspaper was a picture of me, saying we were the biggest sensation of the festival. So we picked up on the fact that people were shocked that we could rock without the makeup. So we thought that maybe it was time to show people that, and take off the makeup and costumes. So we started doing those type of (non makeup) shows, and we have never had one complaint.
RMS: What ever happened with the "Growing up Twisted" reality show, starring your family?
DS: We did 7 episodes and there was a question of if they (A&E) were going to pick us up or not, and it was up on the fence, and we said, "Let's help you out here.....NO." It was a cool experience, but it was a little tough on my daughter, who was 14 at the time, and she started getting jail mail to our house, unsolicited. We felt maybe we were a little too exposed, as we had prisoners who knew our home address. In the best interest for my family, it made sense not to fight hard to keep more seasons on. I'm happy people got to see my family, and some people said, "Your family really isn't that outrageous." You know what? That's good! I don't want a fucked up family life. I have a great family life.
RMS: Most of us know that "Reality TV" isn't exactly 'reality.' With that being said, did you like the way you and your family was portrayed as characters on national television?
DS: Our reality TV was way more reality than most of the shows out there. I'm not going to mention any names....Coughs <Gene Simmons> Yeah, his son was actually carrying an open cake on his lap, in the front (seat) of the car, and his daughter, just happened to slam on the brakes, and he just happened to put his face in it. I saw that on "I Love Lucy." We insisted on our show being real. Now before filming, they would ask, "What's happening in your lives?" So we'd say, "We got this happening, we have a graduation, we have an anniversary, etc," They would say, "We'd like to cover - this, this and this." Then they'd ask, "Can we film your anniversary in May, instead of April?" We were like, "OK." So in that regard, it was not 'real,' timing wise. But we insisted that they just roll the fucking cameras, and in this day and age, they don't do that a lot. There were very nervous, having on a call sheet, "Six hours of Snider reality."
RMS: I heard you had some other TV stuff in the works. Can you tell me about that?
DS: Well, I really had my full of reality television, but I'm on a new sitcom, on a new cable network called, Fearnet. The show is called "Holliston," and I play a reoccurring character named, "Lance Rocket." He's a 50 something year old guy, who's still living in the 80's. He walks around in spandex and makeup all the time, and plays in a Van Halen cover band named, Diver Down. He still thinks he's gonna 'make it' and is the manager of the cable station where the lead characters work. We finished shooting 6 episodes and it was just announced that we've been renewed for a second season: 10 more episodes.
The funny thing is, when I was offered the role, I thought it would be great that I'd be able to make fun of all of these wanna-be motherfuckers, who still walk around looking like they're living in the 80's. It would be my chance to goof on them. So day one, I'm on the set lot, wearing cowboy boots, a red pleather sleeveless leather jacket, studded leather bracelets - all tacky looking shit that I would have never been caught dead in - and wearing Poison style women's makeup. While I'm walking to the set,a grip from another show that's filming goes, "Yo Dee!! Still rockin' the outfit!!" And I was fucking mortified!! I'm like, "Oh no! I hope this isn't what I do, this is a parody!!" And I just realized, to the average person, we're all the same. We all look alike. Nobody's gettin' that this is a goof. So then I was curled up in the fetal position under the dressing room table, and Adam Green, the director/writer/star said, "Dee, I promise you, after they see a few episodes, they'll know it's a joke."So hopefully by season 2, they'll get the joke.