Dee Snider Reveals His Fiction Novel Is About Toxic Masculinity + How It Affects People
Dee Snider was the latest guest on Full Metal Jackie's weekend radio program, divulging a wealth of things he's got planned for 2023, including a Twisted Sister reunion performance at the Metal Hall of Fame as well as a fiction novel centered around toxic masculinity and some work on a pair of animated kids' TV shows.
It's a lot of work for anyone, nevermind a legendary singer who will turn 68 in March of this year. But this is exactly what fuels Snider, who likens himself to certain breeds of sharks, which 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 the co-opting of Twisted Sister's anthem "We're Not Gonna Take It" turns dangerous, even though it's a song Snider intended to be sung by anyone who feels it echoes certain sentiments from within.
Read the full interview below.
I want to celebrate Twisted Sister being inducted into the Metal Hall of Fame, which is so great. Congratulations, Dee! What do honors and accolades mean to someone who was relentless to succeed such as yourself?
Twisted are one of those bands that people could have easily dismissed anywhere in our career. Going back to when the band formed in '73 (I joined in '76), we spent another eight years slogging it out and we just refused to take no for an answer and refused to be dismissed or ignored. It was sort of our mantra — you will pay attention to us. And even after the rise and fall of the band by the late '80s, we got back together, got out on the road and reminded people that we did something special and unique and that we did it really well.
So, to be acknowledged and recognized, it means a great deal to the band over the years. The Heavy Metal Hall of Fame is certainly a place we're happy to be.
Dee, the way you sing and perform is confrontational, almost like warfare. What's changed over time in terms of your onstage mindset?
Because it's confrontational, aggressive and hostile, the toughest thing to change was to accept that people liked me liked the band — to go into situations where people were cheering for us, not not jeering us.
I spoke 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 guy that people crossed the street to get away from. Now they cross the street to come to see me."
He said, "They got used to you, Dee. When you stay around long enough, like you and me, people just expect you to be there." And I said, "You mean like Norm from Cheers?" He said, "Exactly."
So, when I walk into a bar, everybody goes, "Dee!," and I just accept that people like me now.
Between music, film, books, radio, and voiceover work, creatively, you've always been extremely prolific. Why is artistic self-expression integral to your wellbeing?
I am like a shark — if a shark stops swimming and moving forward, it will die. And it doesn't necessarily have to be in a concert scenario. For me, it's anything that's new, exciting, artistic and challenging.
In 2023, I'm releasing my first novel — a fictional novel called Frats and we'll talk more about that in the future — it's nothing to do with rock 'n' roll either. I'm also directing my first movie, one I've written called My Enemy's Enemy. I was supposed to be directing it last year, but it's going in that direction.
These are new challenges and I'm much more excited to tell people about what I've got new happening that matters more to me than something that I did decades ago. I'm proud of the past, but I'm always moving forward.
Social media different kind of stage for interacting with an audience. What do you like and dislike about the ability to make that direct connection?
Somebody once asked me to define social media in three words. I said, "verdict's still out."
I'm not really sure what it does. I know it doesn't sell records or tickets. That's a proven thing, but certainly it's a unique opportunity to directly connect with people and, for me, it keeps me in the conversation. Since I'm very outspoken and I'm ashamed to speak my opinions, people react to them positively or negatively.
Right now, there's some craziness going on because I defined [the difference] between a frontman and a singer, and people are up at arms. I said that Robert Plant is not a frontman. I'll say it again — he's not a frontman. [He's] one of the greatest singers, one of my heroes and a friend, but not a frontman.
Whenever I talk on social media, it basically reminds people I'm still alive.
Now, American politics have basically become a sideshow. Why is it dangerous when "We're Not Gonna Take It" in particular is co-opted for political agenda?
The key word there is "co-opted."
It's not that the song is played by any particular party or side or group — that's fine, that's freedom of speech — but when it gets to the point where one side or one group have made the song their own and others feel 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 out.
People ask me you, "Why don't you stop them from using the song?" First of all, I technically can't, but more importantly, that would be censorship. But there's times where I do to speak out and say that we do not stand with this group and they do not speak for Twisted Sister or Dee Snider. And I want it to be clear this song is not for them — I didn't write it for them, I wrote it for everybody. So, when a song starts getting just connected strongly to one group or organization, that's when it's dangerous.
For people who don't understand how that works, it could be interpreted that you approved it, you're okay with it and you're supporting it. How frustrating is that for you when that happens?
People make the assumption that because somebody is singing your song, you and your band support their cause. It's a ridiculous assumption. Just because someone wrote a song, they think, "Oh, they must stand with these people." It's very frustrating and we will often speak out.
"We're Not Gonna Take It" is a very broad song that I deliberately wrote so that anybody could sing it for any situation they were in. But that goes for both sides of the aisle. If you're mad at your boss or you're mad at your girlfriend or your teachers.... Cancer victims... anybody can sing it, but no one group can claim they own it. Well, except Twisted Sister. We can claim we own it.
You mentioned earlier that you're going to be directing a movie and seems like you've got a lot going on. What else can we expect for 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 all about toxic masculinity and growing up in a very toxic environment and how it affects people.
I'm involved with two animated kids shows [laughs]. I have to laugh because if you had told me 40 years ago that one day I'm going to be making animated kids' shows, I would've literally had a fist fight with you.
There's so many things I've done. Broadway, writing a song for Celine Dion... I was the hothead as a kid and now these things I've done, I go, "Oh my God, what does that 20-something think of me now?"
[Also, next year] Twisted Sister are planning on reuniting, 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're going do a few songs that night. I'm really looking forward to being with the guys — we're friends, but playing with the them is going to be great.
Do you think that'll lead to any additional performances?
I know some of the other band members are hoping so. I'm one of those people that say, "Once you say you retire, you retire. That's it. There's no coming back."
Oh, come on. Nobody really retires when they retire.
Once you sell the 'No More Tours' shirt, you're out!
And I say also, you don't have to leave! Blue Oyster Cult have jackets that say "on tour forever" — God bless you! Alice Cooper says he's looking forward to singing, "I'm 80" — God bless him! The Rolling Stones? Keep going, baby! Scorpions... they changed their mind. Metallica? Keep going!
But don't announce the retirement. Don't take the payday and don't come back three years later and say, "We changed our mind," 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 'He's Not Gonna Take It' graphic novel at this location. Follow Dee on Twitter, Facebook and Instagram and find out where you can hear Full Metal Jackie's weekend radio show here.