Dee Snider (who was born David Daniel Snider) is the lead singer for
the heavy metal act Twisted Sister, which achieved international fame
in 1984 with the rock anthem ?We're Not Gonna Take It.? The song may
have only reached #21 on the Billboard charts, but its
influence was far greater, largely because of its controversial video,
in which Twisted Sister help a beleaguered kid win a parent-child
battle. Since then, the opinionated-but-articulate native New Yorker
has become a rock icon, appearing on countless talk shows and VH1
Snider talked to Goldmine just before the recently reunited Twisted Sister began a run of live gigs to support its first-ever holiday CD, A Twisted Christmas.
Goldmine: So why a Christmas CD?
Snider: After much consideration, 30 years in the business and four years of reunion shows, we came to the conclusion this is our final year. We sat around and said ?What can we do that will definitely kill our career so there?s no coming back?? And (guitarist) Jay Jay French said, ?I know! Let?s do a Christmas album.? And we said, ?Oh man, that?s gonna go over like a lead balloon.? And it looks like it might be (an unintended hit like) ?Springtime for Hitler? in the movie ?The Producers.? We?ve shipped more copies of this CD to major chains and we?ve had more interest from television and radio outlets than in years. We?ve had (Jay) Leno call, we?re gonna be playing Giants stadium for the Jets game. It?s ridiculous. It looks like the thing people thought might kill our career might revive it.
And the real story is the band has been wanting to do another record. I?m not inspired in that direction creatively anymore. But Jay Jay remembered a Christmas back in the mid 1980s when as an angry young man I was stomping around the house saying ?Why do I have to listen to this Euro-pop Christmas stuff? Or jazz or folk? They?ve got every kind of Christmas album but not heavy metal! Where?s the metal Christmas album damn it? I?m gonna do a metal Christmas album!? I forgot about that and 20 years later Jay brings it up and I said let?s do it. Everybody smirks when they hear about it, but then when they hear it they start smiling. They go ?It actually works!?
GM: Did you really get your musical start singing in a church choir?
Snider: Yes. I sang in the church choir until I was 19 years old. I was a classically trained countertenor as well. In the 1990s, a guitar player friend of mine pointed out that ?We?re Not Gonna Take It? had borrowed some of its melody from ?O Come, All Ye Faithful.? So the years of singing in the church choir finally paid off! Besides, obviously the spiritual awakening.
GM: Who were your earliest musical influences?
Snider: I?m 51 years old, so like most guys my age, it was The Beatles, The Stones, on to The Monkees, and Paul Revere and the Raiders. I was there for the glorious destruction of the Woodstock Nation ? buying the first Sabbath album, the first Grand Funk album, the first Zeppelin album. And (I was) glad to kill it too, because who liked Country Joe and the Fish anyway? I?ve been a head banger ever since.
GM: How did you get your first big break in the music business?
Snider: By joining Twisted Sister. Even though it took eight and a half years to make it, that was when I finally found the vehicle that I knew was the one that could define me. They were an existing band, and I proactively went and approached them. Jay Jay was actually singing at the time ? doing his Lou Reed impression. And Jay Jay said, ?Well you know, we?re designing all th