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Dee Snider: the soundtrack of my life

Dee Snider
(Image credit: Paul McGuire)

It takes more than a global pandemic to slow Dee Snider down. The former Twisted Sister frontman has a lot going on these days, among them a new solo album called Leave A Scar due for release this month. 

He also plays with Matt Sorum’s band Kings Of Chaos, and hosts his long-running radio show The House Of Hair. This autumn (subject to COVID) he plans to star on Broadway in Rock Me Amadeus, a new musical that includes classic songs from different centuries.

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The first song I remember hearing

First song that I can remember hearing was She Loves You, The Beatles.


The songwriter

That is a tough one. I’m gonna shock everybody and say Holland/Dozier/ Holland. When I was thinking of my first songs, well, I loved hearing R&B songs and fifties songs… I was hearing great melody writers out of Motown and Stax, and Holland/Dozier/Holland were a group of ’em.


Favourite contemporary band

Monster Truck, a band out of Toronto. They’re like five albums deep. One of those bands that have great influences. You hear Deep Purple, you hear Lynyrd Skynyrd, you hear Alice In Chains, you hear Grand Funk Railroad, but it’s mixed together to form a unique sound. So they’re honouring the past but creating new music.


The most underrated band ever

Wow. Besides my own? [laughs] There’s a litany of these groups that deserve so much more respect and appreciation than they get. But in honour of my dear friend, I’ll go with Motorhead. While they’re greatly appreciated, and Lemmy’s iconic, he was very frustrated that he was reduced to a song. And I don’t disagree with him. That’s why in Twisted Sister we paid tribute to him. Everybody else did Ace Of Spades, we did Born To Raise Hell.


The guitar hero

Leslie West. Leslie and I were friends. I treasured him. He was the first guitar player that spoke to me as a singer – because he played melodies. You know, he wasn’t gonna waste a note.


The best record I ever made

Desperado. Ill-fated supergroup with the late Bernie Tormé, an Irish guitar player, the late Clive Burr, from Iron Maiden, on drums, Marc Russell was on bass. I put three years into that project – heart and soul, all my money from Twisted Sister – only to have it shelved at the eleventh hour, just before release, by [record executive] Bob Krasnow. My greatest songwriting and some of my greatest vocal performances were on that Desperado album. It was released, like, twenty years later. A small company finally put it out. But a very sad story in my life.


The worst record I've ever made

Never Let the Bastards Wear You Down. I wasn’t recording at that time [but] a company wanted me to do something and pursued me relentlessly. Made me an offer I couldn’t refuse. I had all these out-takes that I hadn’t used for Desperado, Widowmaker, Twisted Sister. So I said fuck it, okay. I went in there with a group I was playing with, the SMFs, and we just banged it out. I phoned it in, you know? The songs were great, but I didn’t put any real care or heart in it – regrettably.


Favourite live album

Live And Dangerous, Thin Lizzy. It’s on my list of ten desert-island classics. It was just so amazing, top to bottom.


My guilty pleasure

My singular guilty pleasure song is Dancing Queen by ABBA. I mean, just that transition, the opening. As a songwriter, it’s amazing.


My favourite Broadway musical

I’m gonna say West Side Story. I know every fucking song by heart! My father had three albums, one was West Side Story, and he played them pretty much on a loop [laughs].


The song that makes me cry

Love Hurts by Nazareth – which I get to sing [in Rock Me Amadeus]. It’s such a performance by [singer] Dan McCafferty. And I tried to honour him in my performance on that track. I really do not like vocalists who feel obligated to change the melody because they don’t wanna do what the other guy did. If the other guy killed it, don’t fuck with it! You’re not changing the guitar solo on Highway Star, okay? [laughs]. McCafferty’s performance, I consider it to be the first power ballad.


My Saturday night party song

Boy, that’s a tough one as well. But I used to say that when you walk into a club and Fire Woman by The Cult was playing, you knew it was gonna be a good night. There was just something about the way it built up. And mind you, you don’t hear that one playing too often any more. But it still has that amazing trigger for me. I don’t think many of the bands [of that era] hold up today – including my own. I listen to that stuff, I think it sounds dated. But Iron Maiden and The Cult are two bands that still sound fresh to me.


The song I want played at my funeral

Well, it’s getting closer, so I better start thinking [laughs]. I want something defiant, not maudlin… Let’s go with Born To Raise Hell by Motörhead. If it worked for Lemmy, it’ll work for me.

Dee Snider's Leave A Scar is due for release on July 30 via Napalm Records