DEE SNIDER – “For The Love Of Metal In London”
June 6, 2018, a year ago
London, Ontario, that is. Yep, Dee Snider is going to be one of the featured guest at Rock ‘n’ Con in London, Ontario, Canada, a different kind of rock convention around these parts, featuring vendors, talks, autograph and photo sessions and concerts both nights (I’ll be there as well, with a table full of my books plus a one-hour tackling of the question: “Who invented heavy metal?”). The event is three days, June 8th through 10th and it’s gonna be a blast—see RockOnCanada.com for more.
“Well, I know this,” says the voice of Twisted Sister. “It’s unique, and I do a lot of conventions. Especially now with the 20th anniversary of Strangeland, I’ve always done horror conventions more than anything else, but the rock connection has always been there. Particularly with metal. You know, guys from KISS will be at these horror conventions, or guys in metal bands will be showing up there, and me being a horror and a metal guy, you know, I’m unique there. But the idea of really mixing the rock strongly with the convention thing, and having an actual concert, musical element to it? With the artists that are appearing? That’s unique. And I look forward to it. You know, usually, while there are meet-and-greets from time to time, for the most part, we don’t get to really see the people who we entertain through our music or our work on stage. And here you are literally going to be rocking with them at one point, and talking to them, chatting, shaking hands, and signing autographs and taking pictures with them the next moment.”
“A lot of these people are old friends,” continues Dee, on the lineup, which includes Lita Ford, Dan Spitz, Danko Jones, PR heavyweight Eric Alper and cover artist Ken Kelly (check site for full list), “and so it makes it even more fun to reconnect with them.” And then there’s Peter Criss. “Yes, well, the KISS guys, they are at another level. I remember the first convention I ever did was with Ace and Peter and me; we literally had a table together, which was really cool. So they were sort of my introduction. I got see firsthand that the KISS thing is just a different level of fandom. And the outpouring for, not just the original members of KISS, but anybody affiliated… I just did a convention this past weekend in Charlotte, North Carolina, the Days of the Dead convention, and Vinnie Vincent was there, and the lines are crazy for this guy. I mean, I’m certainly not saying they shouldn’t be; I’m just saying again, a KISS member sure, but a makeup-wearing KISS member?! And Vinnie’s been out of the scene for decades now. So people were very excited about his return. But Peter just really, really just brings them out.”
Dee will also be speaking as well, on the Saturday afternoon. “And I’m really good at it,” cracks Snider. “I’m uniquely qualified. I mean, because over the decades, my career has gone from… you know, those who know me tell me their favourite parts of the Twisted show is the talking in between the songs. And this led to a radio career and TV, reality TV, Broadway, so many different things. So I’m uniquely really good at these kinds of Q&A things. So I promise you—come out. Even if you’re not a fan, I’m entertaining (laughs). I’m often been told I should do stand-up comedy. I know a lot of stand-up comics—I wouldn’t dare. That’s a different level of commitment. But I know that I can be entertaining up there.”
What’s cool also, Dee will be at Rock ‘n’ Con just in advance of his new album, For The Love Of Metal, on Napalm Records, who are issuing the album July 27th. As Snider explains, the project took shape from a challenge Hatebreed’s Jamey Jasta made to Dee on Jasta’s podcast.
“Yes, and I gotta tell you, it’s been inspiring from day one,” reflects Dee. “You know, Jamey is inspired by me and my work and my voice, and he challenged me on his podcast to do a true metal record. And I in turn was inspired by his enthusiasm and his excitement. And here’s the thing: we go into the studio on our own dime—we’ve got nothing. Except Jamey’s challenge and my willingness to accept the challenge. And we go in, and we’re working with Nikki Bellmore and Charlie Bellmore. Nikki is from Toxic Holocaust and Charlie is from Kingdom of Sorrow. We start working, and from the minute we start working, the songs that they’re bringing are inspiring me.”
“I go in singing and my voice is there, lighting them up,” continues Dee. “And we’re going holy, this is even better than we expected. And then Jamey says his phone is ringing off the hook. I said, ‘Who is going to contribute songs for this?’ And he said, ‘Everybody. People from Disturbed and people from Lamb Of God and people from Killswitch and Arch Enemy; they’re coming out of the woodwork to work with us on this project.’ And again, out of pocket. We’re not… we don’t have a deal yet. We’ve got nothing. And then when Jamey says, ‘You know, I’ve got the title for this record: For The Love Of Metal,’ I said, ‘Well, that is the best possible title because that is really the truth.’ Everybody’s love of metal made this record.”
At this point, things start falling into place. “We had multiple metal labels literally in a bidding war and fighting for this thing. This deal I signed, I’m not going to give you details, but it’s ridiculous in this day and age with the state of recorded music. It’s not the ‘80s, it’s not the ‘90s—it’s 2018. And, you know, I got a real deal. And so like I said, everything about this record has been inspired. And now we’re just super excited to go to the next level. Music is coming out and we’re going to start doing videos and things like that. Everything about it has been for the right reasons.”
So to recap, this is Dee teaming up with some of the best practitioners of true metal today. But I had to wonder, were these guys writing specifically with Dee in mind? What is old school about For The Love Of Metal? What is new school?
“Old school about it is me,” says Dee. “You know, at some point I started kind of singing like Jamey (laughs). If you call what he does singing? And he goes, ‘Dude, dude, that’s not you.’ He goes, ‘We want you to be you. We want that voice. People love your voice. You sing melody.’ He’s like, ‘You know, you’re like Halford. Not like the same voice as Halford, but you’re known, you have this great voice, and you sing melodies. Do what you do.’ And the songwriting, because I’m working with these contemporary songwriters… I love contemporary metal, but I don’t understand how to create it. Like, what makes it new and old. And I certainly recognize, because I’m a fan of some these bands, how different it sounds from the old stuff. I come from an old style of writing. I wrote all the Twisted stuff. I told Jamey, I don’t know how to write a new song that is genuine, where it doesn’t sound like some old guy trying to write a new song. So, you know, bringing in the songwriters working with all these guys, they are in the world of contemporary metal. So that’s where the newness of it is. But the messages are mine and they still hold up. The Dee Snider messages, the fury that I have, the anger that I have, it still fits perfectly in the world of new—not NU—but new metal.”
“And Jamey was very involved in the writing process too,” continues Dee. “With pretty much everything, actually. I mean, he’s such a—and I’m not blowing smoke here—the more I’ve come to know him, and I’ve known him for years, the more talented I realize he is. People don’t realize it, but we put ourselves into corners. And Hatebreed has a certain sound and a certain expectation. But Jamey’s really got a chance to show what he’s capable of with his producing this record. And he’s already getting more offers from people in the industry. Labels are saying, ‘Hey, we love what you did with the Dee record,’ and it’s not even out yet. So they’re asking him to work with other artists. But to his credit, he told me he listened to everything. You know, he’s a fan, but he didn’t know everything I did. He said, ‘Dude, I listened to everything. Everything, everything. To sort of infuse myself with Dee and your attitude and your spirit and your vocal style, your vocal range.’ And so he was bringing me stuff and it was like I had written it myself. I had no problem. Every word that I ended up singing was so genuine and so heartfelt, because he channelled me in the process in working with these other songwriters. So again, I’m just kind of stunned. I don’t know; I really am. I’m kind of stunned.”
Sound interesting? Well, grab a ticket for Rock ‘n’ Con and you can ask Dee more about it yourself, or for that matter, pose to him that burning question you still haven’t got answered about Twisted Sister. See RockOnCanada.com for more information and hopefully we’ll see you there!
(Top photo by: Tim Tronckoe)