As long new music is going to be bathroom music for the audience, I’m not playing it. I’m just going to play the stuff that’s going to keep you in the audience”
Dee Snider: Hello.
Wikimetal (Nando Machado): Hi, Mr. Dee Snider, please?
DS: This is Dee Snider, how are you?
W (NM): Great. This is Nando, from Wikimetal, Brazil I’m here with Daniel, one of the co-hosts of the show. How are you, Dee?
DS: I’m doing good, man.
W (DD): Dee, this is Daniel, I’m one of the co-hosts of the show, and I just want to start telling you that, the other day I was watching a documentary called “The history of Heavy Metal”, on VH1, and they show in great detail, all your speech at the Tipper Gore PMRC stuff, and man, I was thinking “If I ever have an opportunity to talk to Dee in my lifetime, I’m going to have to tell him ‘Thanks so much for doing that, that was one of the most phenomenal things anyone has ever done for the Heavy Metal community’”. So, in the name of all the Brazilian head bangers, thanks man.
DS: You’re welcome. Thank you for saying that, it means a lot to me. And really, it’s kind of amazing that in the States now, it’s part of history, they teach about it in classes on censorship in college, they teach about what I went through in my speech, and practically a day does not come by that someone doesn’t come up to me and say what you just said, which is really, really flattering.
W (NM): OK, Dee. We are very happy that Twisted Sister is coming to Brazil again to headline the Live ‘n Louder festival, in April. What do you think makes your show so unique and so relevant after such a long time that the band was formed?
DS: You know, that’s a really good question. It sometimes amazes me how much people are blown by Twisted Sister. I guess we are a unique performing entity, even at this age, which is crazy. Our energy surpasses the majority of younger bands, and we have a style that isn’t really done anymore – it went out of fashion in the mid 90s. And now it seems that very few bands really carry the torch for that reckless, intense – almost possessed – that’s how I like to consider my performances, like I’m possessed. Those possessed performances, you don’t see them very often, and people – especially young people, they flip out when they see that kind of performer. It’s great.
W (DD): Very good, Dee. In the beginning of your career, back in the day, you struggled for almost a decade to release your first album. How important was this period of your career to mold the style of Twisted Sister?
DS: I think… You know, it was really pretty cool… I recently wrote my own book, and I wrote every word myself, “Shut up and give me the mic” – unfortunately not available on Portuguese yet, and I had a chance to step back and look back at my life, look back at those years, and it really gave me an opportunity to get a better understanding of how things came to be. And I’m a big believer in things happening for a reason. And Twisted Sister, when we started, we were not just like any band, we were into glam and stuff, but we were more of a fun, “sex, drugs and Rock ‘n Roll” band. And I was young, and I was coming into the States, and I was sure like “Oh, man, I’m in this cool band, we’re going to get discovered any day now, and everything’s going to be crazy…” And as the years went on, an anger built in me, and a frustration built in me, it started to reflect, not just in the performances, but in the music, in the songs I was writing. So I don’t think “We’re not going to take it”, “I Wanna Rock” would have been written – I know they wouldn’t have been written in year one or year two of Twisted Sister. Those songs were written in year six, in year seven, in year eight, when just like, for years of fighting, the frustration just built, and the anger built. So I think it was important to go through that, for Twisted Sister to develop the type of act and song that people love us for.
W (NM): Great. Dee, I’ll ask you to choose a song now. We have a classic question on our show, that we ask every single person we interview, which is: imagine that you’re listening to your iPod on shuffle mode, or maybe driving your car, listening to the radio, in the shower or wherever, and a song starts that makes you lose control completely, and you start head banging wherever you might be. Which song is that so we can listen to it on our show now?
DS: There’s a lot of those songs… OK, there’s a lot of those songs… As a matter of fact, I was riding my stationary bike in my house, and we had construction workers working. And when I ride the bike in my house, or when I run, or whatever I do, I listen to songs. And I was in the middle of one of those songs, I think it was actually “Still of the Night”, by Whitesnake, and the constructor just opened the door and he saw some lunatic, on a stationary bike thrashing and making faces. And he just looked at me and he ran out of the room! But even though I love “Still of the Night”, the song that popped into my head while you were saying that is “Exciter”, by Judas Priest.
W (NM): Judas Priest, with “Exciter”, on Wikimetal!
W (DD): Why do you think that Hard Rock became so popular in the early 80s and lost its popularity so fast in the end of that decade, in the early 90s?
DS: Well, you know, I’ve given a lot of thought to this stuff. Metal and Hard Rock built their popularity quickly in the early 80s thanks to MTV. I mean, it’s always had popularity, it’s always had a following, but MTV started airing it in 1982. They were looking for visually compelling bands, and they discovered that a lot of the bands that were popular were really ugly, and didn’t have an act. And yet there were bands like Maiden and Sister, and bands like that, who were visually entertaining, had always been visually entertaining. So it helped to really launch the Metal movement. Now, what happened though, in the late 80s, was that once Metal became popular, the industry got their hands on the music. This is what the industry thinks: the music industry and big businesses think if one is good, a hundred is better. And that’s crap. But they go “Oh, Twister Sister and Mötley Crew, let’s sign a whole bunch of those bands!” So they started signing anything wearing a pair of spandex with a flying V guitar, and big hair. So at the end of the 80s, that Bon Jovi came out, and they’re smiling their Heavy Metal, and people liked that even more, “So let’s just sign happy Metal bands now!” So the record companies just formulated and destroyed and just over exposed it, and by the end of the 80s, early 90s, people were sick of it – it was phony, it was fake, it was planned. You had the same song writers, the same record producers, the same costume designer, the same video director doing all the bands. They were started to sound like each other, and look like each other, so people got sick of it.
Clive Burr worked up the lyrics, which helps explain his very unique style of playing. “
W (NM): Yeah. You reunited the band with its classical line up after a long time, how is the relationship between all of the Twisted Sister members nowadays?
DS: Well, you know, I don’t take credit for reuniting the band. First of all, I want to recognize AJ Pero, our drummer, as being the one person during the 15 years that we were broken up that was friendly with everybody and trying to get people back together. But the big thing was 9/11. When that happened, little things, the remaining differences… We all wanted to do something to help, and we were playing shows with Anthrax, and Sebastian Bach, to help raise money for the victims. And that’s what pushed us over the edge to reunite. And it was for a good reason, it wasn’t for money, it wasn’t for anything other than to help other people. And some of the first shows that we did were shows for the troops, and benefit shows. So we came together for a very good reason, and we realized that the shit that was really important when we were on our 20s, seemed so stupid when you’re in your 40s. I mean, you look back and you go “I was mad about that?” And I think you’ve heard that story from people like Steven Tyler and Joe Perry as well. You know, so when you’re younger, there are things that blow up in your mind, that are a big deal. And as you get older you think “That’s not a big deal at all. Cancer? That’s a big deal!” But not, you know, “Oh, that guy was whatever… Screwing the same girl that I was screwing, or something.”
W (DD): Yeah, that was a very nice motive to start Twister Sister up again. Now, can you choose a song from Twisted Sister that you feel really proud of, so we can listen to it on our show right now?
DS: Well, as the only songwriter in Twisted Sister, and I wrote every single song all by myself, I love them all, they’re like my little children. But when people do ask me, like “What’s your favorite song”, and… It’s not only one of my favorites, but also defined to me Twisted Sister, and it shows that at our core, we are a Heavy Metal Rock n’ Roll band, first and foremost. And that song is “You can’t stop Rock n’ Roll”.
W (NM): We just heard the sad news of Clive Burr’s passing. You had a great band with him, called Desperado. What can you tell our listeners about your relationship with Clive and why didn’t this band continue?
DS: Well, Clive Burr and I were in a band called Desperado, and we developed the project for about three years, it was a passion project for all of us. And it was just about to be released in 1989, I guess… No, 1990. And just before the release, the guy who signed us left the company in a bad way. And sort of, as a “fuck you” to him, they shelled every project he was working on. So he left to work in another company, and they were like “Screw you, we’re killing all your projects.” And I’m like “What do you mean, you’re killing all the projects?”, and they shelled, which means just stopped the Desperado project along with a number of others. And it was a terrible, terrible time. I’d put so much… They’d put half a million dollars in the project, I’d put three years of my life, I spent so much of my own money, I was going bankrupt for the first time after that… It just was a major blow to all of us, in a story about downhill spiral for me. But let’s not talk about that, let’s talk about Clive. Clive Burr was an amazing drummer, and he was a Metal defining… He helped define Metal drums, that guy. And his drumming defined Iron Maiden. Those first three records, I love Nicko, he’s great, but he’s just doing what Clive was doing on those first three records. Clive and Steve, and the guys, they defined the Maiden sound with Clive’s drumming. And Clive’s style is very unique. Clive is the only drummer I’ve ever worked with, the only drummer I’ve ever worked with, who could not finish his drum point, until he knew all the words to all the songs. And as a songwriter, sometimes we’d be working on the studio, and I didn’t have all the work done, because we were just experimenting, and he’d be like “Hey, what are the words to the next song?” and I wasn’t finished, and he’d be like “Dude, I need them!” And I’m like “Why do you need the words?” He said “Because that’s what inspires my drumming.” And he literally… If you watch Clive Burr, he’ll be singing along to every song. And that’s like no other drummer I’ve ever met, ever, worked that way. They work up the bass, they work up the guitar, but Clive worked up the lyrics, which help explain his very unique style of playing. Now, the answer I want to say is Clive was very sick for many years, and I feel blessed that I hadn’t spoken to him in a couple of years, and it was his birthday. And I saw it on my calendar, and I had also discovered some film footage of Deperado, which you can find on YouTube, rehearsing. We never did any live shows, except for one, but that’s a long story. And I wanted to tell him about it, so I called him up, and he was so… The Multiple Sclerosis had destroyed his motor functions so much that he couldn’t even speak, he was just making noises on the phone, and it was really sad. But when he gave the phone back to his wife, his wife said “I don’t know what you said to him, but he was smiling ear to ear.” And I said “I’ll tell you what I said to him, I said I just read a column from Bruce Dickinson, and it sad the best drummer that Iron Maiden ever had was Clive Burr. And he whishes they gave him time to go through his stuff, so he’d still be with the band.” So, Nicko was the only other drummer, and Nicko’s still there, so that was a powerful statement by Bruce Dickinson, and it made Clive so happy. And then two days later, he died in his sleep. And I’m just so glad that I was able to speak with him, make him smile before he went. It was just so sad.
Celine Dion recorded a song I wrote for my wife, the only song I never wrote to release. We call the house we live in, ‘the house that Celine built’.”
W (DD): Man, thanks for sharing that story, it’s really a great story.
DS: You know what? In honor of Clive, let’s play an Iron Maiden song. You were probably going to say that, right? But I know which one I want to play, because Clive was very frustrated that he didn’t get songwriting credits on this song. Because he said “This song started with me playing the drum beat. We were in the rehearsal, and I started playing… And that got Steve going… And the song is credited to Steve Harris, but I think an argument could be made that Clive certainly had a part in creating this – probably one of the most legendary Maiden songs “Run to the Hills.”
W (DD): We’re almost finishing the interview, but before we let you go, just out of curiosity, can the fans ever expect a new studio album by Twisted Sister, and what do you think about Celine Dion recording one of your songs? Is it true that she didn’t know that song was written by you?
DS: First of all, as far as us doing a new record: do not hold your breath, because there’s just no real motivation on my part, as a songwriter, to write a new Twisted Sister album, I feel like I’d be going back to the future, writing old music for today. And you guys, I’m talking to you out there, because you’re listening to me right now, you know who you are. You know what happens when an old band plans a new song? The minute the guy goes “This one’s from the new record!” we can see you! You’re leaving to go to the bathroom! And you know who you are! And I’m not just talking like one or two, I’m talking like a thousand people! They go get a beer… You want to go to the bathroom, you want to get a beer? Wait for the drum solo. That’s the new song. So as long new music is going to be bathroom music for the audience, I’m not playing it. I’m just going to play the stuff that’s going to keep you in this audience, keep you rocking, that you really want to hear when you come to see Twisted Sister, and that’s “Burn in Hell”, “You Can’t Stop Rock n’Roll”, “I Wanna Rock”, “We’re Not Gonna Take it” – that’s what you want, that’s what you are going to get, baby. So Celine Dion recorded a song I wrote for my wife, the only song I never wrote to release. It was originally called “God Bless Everyone”. Suzette, who I’ve been with now for 37 years, she made all the costumes, the make up, the hair, the logo, Suzette is the little woman behind the monster and the band, she’s been with Twisted Sister since the beginning. Anyway, she said to me one day “Hey, I want you to write me a Christmas song.” And I said to her “What are you, insane? I’m the head banger, I’m Dee Snider!” She goes “Oh, you’re a classically trained counter tenor – which I am – you can write me a Christmas song.” So one day, I’m working on other stuff, Twisted Stuff, and I get an idea. So I write this song, it’s not a long Christmas song, it’s a pure Christmas song, and I can’t even sing it, I hire musicians, and I record it as a present to my wife, and I gave it to her on Christmas that year. Well, one of the engineers of the studio, his name was Rick Wake, and he says to me “Hey, man, can I hold on to a copy of this? Because it’s a great song, one day somebody’s going to want to record this.” And I said “Sure, whatever.” Years later Rick Wake becomes a Grammy Award winning producer, big Mariah Carey, Celine Dion… You name it… Jennifer Lopez… Platinum albums, Grammy Awards. And he calls me up and he says “Hey, man, are you sitting down?” And I said “Yeah, why?” And he goes “Celine Dion wants to record your Christmas song.” And I said “Does she know who wrote it?” And he said “No, I didn’t tell her yet.” I said “Do not tell her that Satan wrote her Christmas song!” I was in a financial down period, and that record sold 8 million copies, then she and Rosie O’Donnel recorded a duet, that was covered by eight other people, and we call the house we live in, “The house that Celine built”.
W (NM): Thanks for sharing that, Dee, we’ve just reached the end of the interview, I hope we didn’t take too much of your time. Can you just leave a last message inviting all the Brazilian fans to the show April?
DS: Listen, you Brazilian head banging maniacs: I see your tweets, I see you facebooking or reaching out to me, saying “Come to Brazil! Come to Brazil!” Well, I’m coming to Brazil, with Twisted fucking Sister no less, OK? So you better get your asses down there, and I want you to live up to the reputation you have, you got a reputation, you know? As the craziest Metal fans in the world, and I’m one of those people spreading that word, OK? So don’t disappoint me, don’t let me down, be ready to kick ass with Dee Snider and Twisted fucking Sister.
W (NM): Twisted fucking Sister on Wikimetal!
W (DD): Thanks so much, man, it was great talking to you, I hope will have the chance to talk to you again, because you have so many great stories, so you’ll always have all the doors on Wikimetal open for you, man.
DS: Thanks, man, loved to talk to you guys, and I’ll see you backstage at the festival, I’m sure you’re going to be there.
W (NM): We’ll be there for sure.
W (DD): Thanks, bye, bye, Dee.
DS: Take care.
W (DD): Bye, take care.
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