Niclas Müller-Hansen of Sweden’s Metalshrine recently conducted an interview with TWISTED SISTER frontman Dee Snider. A couple of excerpts from the chat follow below.
Metalshrine: What was it that made you write [yout autobiography, "Shut Up And Give Me The Mic"] and why now? Is it something you’ve been thinking of doing for a long time?
Dee Snider: No, I wasn’t thinking about writing a book at all, but one of my friends, who’s now become one of my managers, said, “Man, you’ve got great stories to tell. You should write a book!” And I said, “Yeah, people keep saying that, but no one’s ever made me an offer.” He goes, “I’ll get you a book deal.” And so he got me a major offer from a major publisher in the States. They said, “What do you wanna write about?” and I said, “Well, I’d like to write about my rise and my fall.” They said, “Your rise and your fall?” I said “Yeah, I wanna tell the story of deciding I wanna be a rock star, struggling being a rock star, achieving stardom and then losing everything.” And that’s the story I told, which is a different story than virtually anybody else has told. I wrote it by myself and I don’t know. I mean, I think there are enough books out there about sex, drugs and rock and roll and god knows what’s true and what’s not. I think it’s important to share the real story with people. Share your struggles, share your dreams, share your pain and share your failures. It’s important for heroes to be fallible and it’s not to be more heroic. It’s just to let people know, you know, that people fall down, people screw up and we all have dreams, it’s not easy and maybe it’s through your success and your failure everybody gets something out of it. They learn something, get an inspiration or maybe they go, “Whoa, I’m not gonna do that! Man, he’s an idiot!” and that’s OK, too. You know, I’ve got a brother who swears that watching me crash and burn just sort of changed him as a person. He’s so cautious and he goes, “I never wanna see that happen to me. You were just so cavalier and I couldn’t live with that kinda failure.” Then I’ve done my job. [laughs]
Metalshrine: I interviewed Jay Jay [French, TWISTED SISTER guitarist] a few years ago and I’ve read recent interviews with you and you both keep saying that no one wants to hear a new TWISTED SISTER album, but have you heard VAN HALEN‘s new one?
Metalshrine: They took a bunch of old demos and it sounds awesome. Classic VAN HALEN and couldn’t you do something like that with TWISTED SISTER and give it that classic ’80s sound? Not trying to be like 2012.
Dee: I don’t know what VAN HALEN sold record-wise?
Metalshrine: I think it’s around 400,000 copies in the U.S. so far, which is pretty good these days.
Dee: Exactly. That’s VAN HALEN. They’re much bigger than TWISTED SISTER, so reduce that by the proper amount and you get down to 40-60,000 copies. Not that it’s all about money, but for me… I call it going back to the future. I expect the doctor, what’s his name, “Great Scott, Marty! They put an ’80s album in the 2010s. Let’s hope they don’t see each other, because it will break the space time continuum!” [All in the voice of Christopher Lloyd] I’m just so passionate about what I’m doing next that I just don’t feel motivated. Even if it was the biggest-selling record in the world. Well, if it was gonna be the biggest-selling record in the world, maybe. Fans don’t wanna hear a new record and then when you make an old-sounding record, they’re just like, “Eh, it sounds like the old stuff.” It’s not timely. You’re not gonna get radio airplay, you’re not gonna get TV or video airplay, there’s no stories to carry itself. You’ve got no outlet. I host an ’80s retro show and we never play new music. That’s not me. That’s the radio station and the producers. I say, “Just give them a taste! Just play the first chorus!” We talk about the new record, saying, “Well, RATT‘s back in the studio and they’ve got a new one called “Defecator” coming out. It’s a sphincter with some shit hanging out of the ass.” No reflection on the writer and they say, “Nobody wants to hear it.” And I’ve said it before, it’s the bathroom song. New material has always been the fucking bathroom song, even going back to seeing ZEPPELIN do “Kashmir” before the album came out. “This one’s off the new record. It’s called ‘Kashmir’.” [Dee stands up and walks away.] “You wanna beer?” It’s fucking “Kashmir”! You wanna go, “Where the fuck are you going? Sit your fucking fat as down!” I just don’t see it happening.
Metalshrine: But you did the Broadway thing? What was the thought and the plan behind that?
Dee: Sheer insanity. It’s one of those insane things. I got an idea and everybody said, “You’re fucking nuts!” and I said, “Maybe so, but I wanna do it if somebody is willing to put up a little money to have me do it.” I had more fun doing it… Again, something new, something challenging, something that allowed me to take chances and expand and you can’t really do that in TWISTED SISTER. People don’t wanna hear a more musical TWISTED SISTER, you know. They don’t wanna hear QUEEN vocals on a TWISTED SISTER record or orchestration and I wanna be able to challenge myself. Reviews of the record have been 99% positive and 1% I think haven’t even listened to it. People listening to it either love it or “I gotta admit, I like it. I’m surprised. I didn’t expect to like it.” And I didn’t expect everybody to like it. I didn’t know if anybody was gonna buy it or if they were gonna sell it or who would play it or what they’d do with it, but I wanted to do it. That was the challenge. It’s just a matter of what’s challenging.
Metalshrine: I was kinda wondering and it hasn’t really anything to do with music, but I just celebrated 10 years this last Friday with my wife. You’ve been married for 31 years and you’ve been in the rock and roll business longer.
Dee: We’ve been together 36 years.
Metalshrine: How do you do that? With all the temptations and the drugs and booze and rehab and you’re still there. One of few in the business I guess.
Dee: You know, actually, I have a list and I’ve been studying the subject and there’s a long list of entertainers with long marriages and there’s a commonality. One of the commonalities in this long list, which includes Bono, Bon Jovi, Brad Whitford, Dennis Dunaway from ALICE COOPER, Alice Cooper himself, but I’ve noticed in the entertainment industry that… Paul Newman with Joanne, Mel Brooks who was with Anne Bancroft, Kevin Bacon… 99% don’t live in Las Vegas, Miami or L.A.
Metalshrine: Well, that might have something to do with it. [laughs]
Dee: They live with a degree of normalcy and they remove themselves from temptations. That is the key. Not drinking… Look, I’m a dude. We’re all dogs and we all want to. It’s a matter of are we domesticated enough to not? By not drinking and not doing drugs, your resistance isn’t weakened by not accepting the invitation to the grotto at the Playboy mansion. You have a better chance of not fucking up. It’s boring, but I’ve opted to say, “OK, I’m not going to that party. I’m not gonna get high, because if I do, I’m gonna fuck everything in the room and that’s the end of my life.” It’s the end of my life, of my family, my relationship, the money I’ve earned, everything gone. So, I will tell you, young master, the longer you go without, the easier it gets. The less of a reality it becomes. You still see them and you still go, “Damn!” There was one at the book signing today and I turned around and said, “In another life. I’m not doing it, but in another life.” It does get easier. On a marriage level, my wife says the key for her is she is my wife and my mistress and she acts like it. 36 years in, she takes care of herself and surprises me all the time. As a matter of fact, she surprised me on my cell phone earlier today. “Oh, Jesus, this is awesome!” The toughest picture I’ve ever deleted. Can’t take a chance of that being discovered or hacked. [laughs] On your end, just say yes. It’s not masochistic, it’s not sexist. Women internalize, we externalize. We process and then we pronounce, they say it and wanna hear it.