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Once banned in Bangor,' Dee Snider looks beyond Twisted Sister

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Rock legend Dee Snider. Rock legend Dee Snider. (Photo courtesy of the artist)

Talking the new album 'We Are The Ones' and more with the rock legend

After 40 years of fronting glam-metal band Twisted Sister, Dee Snider says he's looking forward to having time for other things like a solo career.

As his band winds down its farewell tour (the final U.S. date was on Oct. 22), Snider has issued his third solo record 'We Are The Ones' on Red River Records. Snider, as loose and funny as ever, checked in last week to talk about the new record, his radio days and the legacy of his old band - once banned in Bangor - Twisted Sister.

TME: 'We Are The Ones' has a quite modern sound to it. Is that what you had in mind from the beginning?

Snider: It is. I want to warn people that this is not an 80s 'hair metal' rehash record. I took the Dee Snider message and tried to do a contemporary-sounding record. Think Foo Fighters. Think 30 Seconds to Mars. Think mainstream contemporary rock with a Dee Snider message.

TME: Great job on the Nine Inch Nails cover ('Head Like a Hole') and the new version of 'We're Not Gonna Take It.' I never imagined that song as it appears here. Where did that idea come from?

Snider: The idea of 'We Are The Ones' was to take the Dee Snider 'We're Not Gonna Take It' 'fight for what you believe in' message and incorporate it throughout the album.

When my producer and I were talking about 'We're Not Gonna Take It,' we realized that the message in that song has gotten lost. It's so popular it's a rock n jock anthem and a karaoke favorite now and people have forgotten that that song was once dangerous! It was on the Filthy Fifteen, if you remember that!

(Note: In 1985, Parents Music Resource Center (PMRC), headed by 'Washington wives,' including Tipper Gore, compiled a list of what they determined to be obscene popular songs and successfully petitioned the RIAA to assign 'Parental Advisory Explicit Lyrics' stickers to those records as well as future offenders)

So we thought maybe it's time to pull it back and let people hear the words. So we did it with just piano and vocal and it's like being punched in the head with the lyrics.

When my friend (magician and illusionist) Chriss Angel heard it, he was doing a children's cancer charity event and he said Dee, I need this song to be my battle-cry.' He shot a video with me using this version of the song and it's incredibly compelling and powerful. It came out amazing.

TME: After listening to the album, it struck me that it's quite a varied collection of songs.

Snider: (Imitates Grandpa Simpson voice) I'm old! I come from a time when records would have that sort of variety. In the 70s, records had a mixture of flavors. If you listened to a Queen album, you'd find a real mix of things happening. Like 'Sheer Heart Attack' (1974) when they went into (sings) Bring back, bring back that Leroy Brown' and people were like What the hell is this?' and Queen were like Hey man, we just felt like doing a crazy little tune.' I grew up with that kind of variety and I wanted to make sure that the songs on this record didn't all sound the same. At the same time, I think the album is very cohesive.

TME: You were here in Bangor in the summer of 1984 when Twisted Sister's 'Stay Hungry' album was a big hit. After you guys played a show here, the city of Bangor banned Twisted Sister from future performances because of vulgar language. Did you ever hear about that?

Snider: Oh yes! Banned in Bangor!' Stephen King himself brought us there. His station (Z62 WZON AM620) was the first to add our record, which was amazing. I'm a big Stephen King fan. He invited us to come up and play this weekly or monthly concert event at the high school. (Note: Twisted Sister played the Bangor Auditorium on Thursday, July 12, 1984.)

So we came up and played the first show of the tour there and we just did our Twisted Sister thing [that] was pretty profane. I found out afterward that we were banned in Bangor. Which isn't quite as great as getting banged in Bandor (laughs).

TME: You did morning radio in Hartford, CT for about four years (2009-2013). What did you like about radio and what would you change if you could?

Snider: I ended up getting syndicated down in Richmond, Virginia, which was great. I love doing radio and I loved doing the morning show. It's the best audience. It's the time of day when you have their ear. I love talk radio. It's the best time of day to have conversations on the air and just have fun.

If I could change something about morning radio, I would put it on in the afternoon (laughs). Man, you know how hard it can be. You've been doing it for a long time. I started doing mornings and I remember we had a pod of stations and Ross Brittain (Philadelphia's WOGL morning host for 10 years) was this withered morning guy down the hall. It was my first week and I went down the hall and said Ross, when do you get used to getting up so early in the morning.' He said NEVER!' You don't get ever used to it. It just suuuuuucks (laughing).

TME: I think some people who saw the 2014 documentary 'We Are Twisted F***ing Sister!' were shocked to find out how long you guys slugged it out in the bars before you made it. Are bands today willing to work that hard to break through?

Snider: I think bands today have their own struggles. We've seen people on reality shows who thank their loyal fans for being with them for the last 12 weeks or something, but I know a lot of bands who work hard. They don't work as hard as we did. That's the amazing thing about the Twisted Sister story. We worked for ten years before the world became aware of us. But I don't want to discredit young musicians working today because it's so tough. They don't have a lot of the avenues for exposure that we had. Yet they're still out there putting their heart and soul into it. We really need to support new music and young artists.


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