Patrick Prince of Powerline magazine recently conducted an interview with TWISTED SISTER singer Dee Snider. A couple of excerpts from the chat follow below.
Powerline: METALLICA opened for TWISTED SISTER [in 1983] and that was an amazing show.
Snider: You were at the Fountain Casino show?! [December 30, 1983 in Aberdeen, New Jersey]
Powerline: Yeah. What were you thinking about METALLICA at that time? Did you think, “Wow, this band is going to be huge?”
Snider: I didn’t even know they were on the bill. I didn’t even know they existed. And Jonny Z [of Megaforce Records], who was a big supporter of TWISTED, crammed them on the bill. When we toured with METALLICA in Europe, they said, “We played with you guys in Jersey. And I was like, “You did?!” I didn’t even know. I was oblivious to the opening band. In effect, it was like a “no-name.” And I was never out before the show. I was always in the back getting ready. You never saw me. You didn’t see me walking around the club. You only saw me on the stage and then I disappear. I’d get there before the doors opened and I left when the doors closed. You weren’t supposed to see a rock star walking around like a human being. So I had no idea METALLICA played. But during that tour , I remember clear as a bell when we arrived in Holland we see these posters that had a huge METALLICA with like a troll head — an early symbol they used — and on the bottom it said “…and TWISTED SISTER” in little letters. So I said to our tour manager, “Tell METALLICA they can close. Obviously people are coming to see them.” And my tour manager comes back and says they said no. I said, “No?” He sai, “Well, they said it seems suspicious. They are confused. Why would you give up the headline slot? What are you up to?” I went into their dressing rooms and said, “Guys, the people are clearly here to see you. I’m not a complete asshole. I’m not going to sit here and pretend I’m the headliner. It’s obvious you’re the guys that everyone is coming to see.” So they closed the show. As a result, it was the one time I got to see them. And I still remember standing on the side of the stage, watching their set and I turned to Mark [Mendoza] and I said these words, “These guys got a lot of heart but they’re never gonna go anywhere.” So that’s what I thought of METALLICA. (laughs) I just thought they were too heavy. It’s so heavy, there is no commercial accessibility, there’s nothing for them to get through to the mainstream audience. They would just be one of those great heavy bands. … You know the OVERKILLs, the CARNIVOREs, one of those bands. I admit saying that. (laughs) Nobody hears it all, all the time. Nobody sees it all. You get it sometimes, you completely miss it other times. Who knew that people’s taste would become acclimated to that much heavier of a sound.
Powerline: There’s that great debate about whether bands should carry on or should they just rest on when they were at their best and leave it at that.
Snider: Yeah. You know what?! I’m sort of with that. I’m asked, “Why aren’t you doing new music?” I’m like, “I’m not driven. I’m not motivated to do the music anymore.” I don’t feel it, I don’t have… I mean, I’ve seen this quoted and it’s true. After “Stay Hungry”, I was declawed … well, not declawed. I remember this moment: I was sitting poolside in the ’80s in a million-dollar house with five cars, two boats in the driveway, and I’m sitting by the pool with a fucking full wallet and I’m thinking about the next song of teen angst. And I’ve got nothing, I’m literally sitting there going. “I’m not mad.” I’m not screaming about we’re gonna make it, and we’re not going to take it, and I wanna rock. I made it, I didn’t take it, and I’ve rocked! And I’ve got nothing. And you continue to write for a couple of years and the song quality was there — no doubt about it — my craft was there on DESPERADO and WIDOWMAKER, but what drove me and TWISTED SISTER to the heights was that gnawing, that fire, that frustration, it was the message in my music. I’ve talked to a fan who became a big record executive for awhile, now he’s a big Hollywood movie writer, his name is Brian Kauffman. He had seen TWISTED SISTER 45 times, and I asked him, “Why did you come to see us 45 times?” And in a moment of idiot savant, he goes, “Because I believed you believed.” I was like, “What the hell does that mean?” He said, “You were so convinced when I saw you on that stage. You were so convinced you were going to be the biggest thing since sliced bread. I had no choice but to believe in you.” And, again, going back to what I like about these bands, hearing that moment in time when they believe they have nothing to lose, and will take out anybody who tries to get in their way.
Powerline: Are you going to continue to tour under TWISTED SISTER?
Snider: I want to. The guys know that. I mean, I love the guys and it’s fun, but gravity wins. Eventually gravity wins out over all. We will all be pulled down into the earth and gravity will take us out. Last year at 55, TWISTED SISTER got some review, they were the greatest reviews we have ever gotten. I don’t know if you saw our reviews from Bloodstock or our reviews from the French festival we did. It said that we set the standard by which all other bands performances should be judged. So for guys in their middle 50s to get that kind of review on a bill with all younger bands — not all, but the range of black metal, hardcore metal and nu metal and old metal bands — and to headline events like that and get that response? What more could you ask for? But eventually I’m gonna to get beat by gravity. Eventually, I’m going to slow down and I don’t want to be on stage when that happens. I don’t want to disappoint people. Eddie Trunk once said, “I understand what you’re saying. You kind of put yourself into a corner with your performance style.” And I said, “You’re right.” He said we defined our style with this aggressive, physically demanding performance. I’m still doing it. If you see the band now, you go, “Holy shit! How old is that guy?” That’s exactly it — how old is that guy? It’s not like he is an old man, but 55? There’s not a 25-year-old on the bill that can do what he’s doing. So the point is, I don’t want to be up there when that fails. That is my fear. I also do a lot of other things. I’m always looking to the future and moving on to new projects and new endeavors, like doing Broadway for three months. I like surprises. I didn’t plan life at 30, so everything is a surprise to me. If you told me 25-30 years ago I would be doing Broadway, I would’ve punched you in the face. But 25-30 years later, someone says, “You want to do Broadway?” I’m like, “You know what?! Yeah!” What the fuck! … to challenge myself and feel like its new and fresh. It’s not the same old thing. I’m more challenged to do a Broadway show. I had butterflies for the first time in 30 years. I had an upset stomach the morning of the first show — “I’m Dee Snider. I don’t have butterflies!” I had butterflies. It was Broadway, that was not my element and after the first show, I rocked that, too, because that’s what I do.
Read the entire interview from Powerline magazine.