Dee Snider was the latest guest on Full Metal Jackie’s weekend radio show, where he revealed a ton of things he had planned for 2023, including a Twisted sister reunion performance at the Metal Hall of Fame as well as a fictional novel centered around toxic masculinity and some work on a couple of animated children’s TV shows.
That’s a lot of work for anyone, regardless of what a legendary singer turns 68 in March this year. But that’s exactly what fuels Snider, who compares himself to certain breeds of sharks that will die if they stop moving forward. And while he’s thrilled to be inducted into the Metal Hall of Fame with his bandmates, he’s not entirely focused on past glories.
He also took the time to clarify when co-recording the Twisted Sisters anthem “We’re Not Gonna Take It” becomes dangerous, even though it’s a song Snider intends to be sung by anyone who feels it reflects certain feelings from within.
Read the full interview below.
I want to celebrate Twisted Sister being inducted into the Metal Hall of Fame, which is so awesome. Congratulations, Dee! What do honors and accolades mean to someone who was relentless in their pursuit of success like yourself?
Twisted is one of those bands that people could have easily dismissed at any point in our career. Going back to when the band formed in ’73 (I joined in ’76), we spent another eight years hammering it out and we just refused to take no for an answer and refused to be rejected or ignored. That was kind of our mantra – you want to pay attention to us. And even after the rise and fall of the band in the late ’80s, we got back together, hit the road and reminded people that we were doing something special and unique, and that we were doing it really well.
So to be acknowledged and recognized means a lot to the band over the years. The Heavy Metal Hall of Fame is certainly a place we are happy to be.
Dee, the way you sing and perform is confrontational, almost like warfare. What has changed over time in terms of your mindset on stage?
Because it’s confrontational, aggressive and hostile, the hardest thing to change was accepting that people liked that I liked the band—going into situations where people were cheering us on, not mocking us.
I talked to Alice Cooper about this one time and I asked, “Dude, what happened here? People like me! I was the guy that nobody liked. I was the one that people crossed the street to get away from. Now they cross the street for to come and see me.”
He said, “They got used to you, Dee. When you stay long enough, like you and me, people just expect you to be there.” And I said, “You mean like Norm from CheersHe said, “Exactly.”
So when I walk into a bar, everyone says “Dee!” and I just accept that people like me now.
Between music, film, books, radio and voiceover work, creatively, you have always been extremely productive. Why is artistic self-expression an integral part of your well-being?
I’m like a shark – if a shark stops swimming and moves forward, it will die. And it doesn’t necessarily have to be in a concert scenario. For me it is everything that is new, exciting, artistic and challenging.
In 2023, I publish my first novel – a fictional novel called Frats aand we will talk more about that in the future — it has nothing to do with rock ‘n’ roll either. I’m also directing my first film, one I’ve written called The enemy of my enemy. I was supposed to direct it last year, but it’s going that way.
These are new challenges and I’m much more excited to tell people about what I’ve made new happen that means more to me than anything I did decades ago. I am proud of the past, but I am always moving forward.
Social media is another kind of stage for interacting with an audience. What do you like and dislike about the ability to make that direct connection?
Someone once asked me to define social media in three words. I said, “The verdict is still out.”
I’m not quite sure what it does. I know it doesn’t sell records or tickets. It’s a proven thing, but it’s definitely a unique opportunity to directly connect with people, and for me, it keeps me in the conversation. Since I am very outspoken and ashamed to speak my opinions, people react positively or negatively to them.
Right now, something crazy is going on because I defined [the difference] between a lead singer and a singer, and people are up in arms. I said it Robert Plant is not a frontman. I’ll say it again – he’s not a front man. [He’s] one of the greatest singers, one of my heroes and a friend, but not a frontman.
When I talk on social media, it basically reminds people that I’m still alive.
Now American politics has essentially become a sideshow. Why is it dangerous when “We’re Not Gonna Take It” in particular is included on the political agenda?
The key word there is “co-opted”.
It’s not that the song is played by a particular party or side or group – that’s fine, that’s free speech – but when it gets to the point where one side or group has made the song their own and others feel that they can’t sing that song anymore because it makes them look like they’re part of that group, that’s when I have to step up and that’s when I speak up.
People ask me, “Why don’t you stop them from using the song?” First of all, technically I can’t, but more importantly, that would be censorship. But there are times when I speak out and say we don’t stand with this group and they don’t speak for Twisted Sister or Dee Snider. And I want to be clear that this song is not for them – I didn’t write it for them, I wrote it for everyone. So when a song starts to become strongly associated with one group or organization, that’s when it’s dangerous.
For people who don’t understand how it works, it can be interpreted as saying you’ve approved it, you’re okay with it, and you support it. How frustrating is it for you when that happens?
People make the assumption that because someone sings your song, you and your band support their cause. That is a ridiculous assumption. Just because somebody wrote a song, they think, “Oh, they have to stand with these people.” It is very frustrating and we often speak out.
“We’re Not Gonna Take It” is a very broad song that I deliberately wrote so that anyone could sing it for any situation they were in. But it goes both ways. If you’re mad at your boss or you’re mad at your girlfriend or your teachers… Cancer victims… anyone can sing it, but no group can claim to own it. Well, except for Twisted Sister. We can claim that we own it.
You mentioned earlier that you’re going to direct a movie, and it looks like you’ve got a lot going on. What else can we expect this year?
Expect the unexpected from Dee Snider. I’m always creating, and it’s not always what you expect. The fiction novel is a 70s period piece coming of age story, but it’s about toxic masculinity and growing up in a very toxic environment and how that affects people.
I am involved in two animated children’s shows [laughs]. I have to laugh because if you had told me 40 years ago that one day I would be doing animated children’s shows, I would have literally had a fist fight with you.
There are so many things I have done. Broadway, writing a song for Celine Dion… I was hot-headed as a kid, and now these things I’ve done, I’m like, “Oh my God, what does that 20-something think of me now?”
[Also, next year] Twisted Sister plans to reunite, not just to accept the induction, but to perform a few songs for the first time since 2016. I’ve always said that for a special event or occasion or charity or something, Twisted Sister would play together again. Certainly not a two-hour set, but we’ll do a few songs that night. I’m really looking forward to being with the guys – we’re friends but it’s going to be great to play with them.
Do you think it will lead to further performances?
I know some of the other band members hope so. I’m one of those people who says, “When you say you’re retiring, you’re retiring. That’s it. There’s no going back.”
Argh, come on. Nobody really retires when they retire.
Once you sell the ‘No More Tours’ shirt, you’re out!
And I also say, you don’t have to leave! Cult of Blue Oyster have jackets that say “on tour forever” — God bless you! Alice Cooper says he’s looking forward to singing,”I am 80” – God bless him! The rolling stones? Keep going, baby! Scorpions… they changed their minds. Metallica? Continue!
But no notice of retirement. Don’t take payday and come back three years later and say, “We changed our minds” when you wrote it in blood.
Thanks to Dee Snider for the interview. Get your copy of his latest album, 2021’s ‘Leave a Scar’ here and get the graphic novel ‘He’s Not Gonna Take It’ on this location. Follow Dee on Twitter, Facebook and Instagram and find out where to hear Full Metal Jackie’s weekend radio show here.