Dee Snider Talks Revolver & Guitar World's "Rock & Roll Roast"
Tue, 22 Jan 2013 08:25:45
Dee Snider is placing himself on the chopping block for Revolver & Guitar World's second annual Rock & Roll Roast. Last year, Zakk Wylde got it good from a team of metal's fieriest roasters, and this year the Twisted Sister frontman has the bulls-eye on his back. However, Snider's known for being quick with a comeback, which should make this the hottest roast yet.
In this exclusive interview with ARTISTdirect.com editor in chief Rick Florino, Dee Snider talks the Roast, his book Shut Up and Give Me the Mic, and looks back on Strangeland.
Revolver & Guitar World's "Rock & Roll Roast" will be broadcast live on AXS TV on Thursday January 24, 2013 from The Grove in Anaheim, California January 24, 2013.
What made you agree to do the Revolver & Guitar World Rock & Roll Roast?
I'm a bit of a self-loathing masochist [Laughs]. When they first offered me the opportunity, my manager said, "I think Dee would be happy to be the roastmaster on something like this". I've hosted many things, and I'm good with a comeback. They came back and said, "No, we really want you! We think you'd be perfect for this second roast we're doing". I thought, "You know what? I'm the guy whose own band literally had a meeting and voted for him to not be able to interact with the other guys with sarcastic comments". [Laughs] I was so brutal and vicious, and they couldn't get my goat. Nothing they could say would upset me, yet I felt like "Dead mama" jokes definitely weren't off limits when you're having playful banter on the bus. I documented all of this in my book Shut Up and Give Me the Mic. Yes, that's a shameless plug. I was banned by my own band from doing this so I said, "Alright, I can take it and give it. So I'll sit there and take it. Then when I step up to the mic, you can hold on for dear life!"
Have you watched all of the classic roasts with Dean Martin?
Yeah, I'm an old guy so I saw them when they happened [Laughs]. Those were amazing with Red Buttons and Don Rickles. I'm a fan of the Jeff Ross roasts on Comedy Central. I enjoy the format of making fun of people—even if it's me. That's why it sucks so bad when my band stopped me from doing that. It caused a real problem. Imagine all of those hours sitting in a dressing room and touring, and you're not allowed to participate in the playful banter? I guess I wasn't very playful. The band broke up for fifteen years, and we reunited but I forgot about the ban [Laughs]. So I started in. One of my guitar players nearly quit the band! I said, "Oh my God, I forgot I can't make fun of people!" Apparently, I can now so I'm back in action.
Did you go to the Zakk Wylde roast?
No, but I heard about it. He bravely went out there and did the first one. I heard it went well, so I have a feeling it's going to be a great event. I know exactly what I'm going into.
Have you met all of the roasters?
Well, there are a number of videotaped people I don't know about. I know they've got a lot of surprises for me. I did ask for them to be fair and at least let me know who my opponents are. The other day, Sebastian Bach tweeted something about me. I asked, "Is he going to be there?" I keep finding out new people, but I think I know most of them.
Your book stands out.
Well, it's different on two levels. For one, I wrote it—every single word. It's also a very different take on the traditional rock 'n' roll book because I wanted to offer more since I didn't really have the sex, drugs, and rock 'n' roll aspects. I wanted to give people a little more insight into what I went through and what I experienced.
The perspective is much clearer for sure.
People get upset when I say this. Did these heroin addicts really document their trials and tribulations? I have friends who were heroin addicts and they've said they can't find their dicks let alone a pencil to jot down notes [Laughs]. The memory on these completely wasted people amazes me. The detail is staggering. What's odd is that most of the detail is from the third-person. It's like they're viewing themselves in the situation. You're like, "Really? So you were out of body and you watched as you were put in the dumpster?" Don't worry man. We'll fill in the blanks. Give us some general shit.
Was there anything you knew you had to include from the start?
I asked the publisher, "How many words do you want?" They said, "Give us 70,000". I had a quarter-of-a-million written. I'm not a writer in the traditional sense. I needed to put it down and let them chop it up. It's hard to be objective. You might think something has value, but it's really just you blowing smoke up your own ass. You might think something is valueless, but it turns out that it actually means more to people on the outside. I've got a tome at my house that my kids can read with a lot more detail. I don't remember specific things, but I really loved the process. It was cathartic in a lot of ways. It was amazing to me to look at timelines. When you're in the middle of something, it feels like it's dragging on forever and then you look back and go, "That was six months! It wasn't really long at all! At the time, it was six months of hell!" Six months in a hospital as opposed to six months on vacation are two different things. I enjoyed the process itself. I stepped back and was able to be that third-person in my own life. I realized this is how it all happened and why it happened. It gave me some interesting perspective.
Do writing a book, making music, and working on movies all require different creative mindsets?
I feel satiated from each. People ask, "Don't you want to go back out on the road?" I go, "No, I don't want to be the road". We play occasionally. Then, they ask, "Don't you need the outlet?" I have it writing, acting, and doing other things I get satisfaction from. I feel just as satisfied writing a screenplay or a book as I do going out and performing. It may be a different form of expression, but it's creative and expressive in its own way. I find it very satisfying. I've gotten the chance to do so many different things like star on Broadway, which was just insane. It's something I never even imagined in my wildest dreams. I've been fortunate to do so many things. Even something like this Roast, you're being torn to shreds, but it's an honor. It acknowledges you have value to be roasted. There's interest and something to be roasted.
What comes to mind now when you think of StrangeLand?
It's interesting you bring it up because it's been on IFC recently. The tweets and comments I see online about it amaze me. It's a cult film, and people love it. I'm pleased people have discovered it and realized its value. It was ahead of its time. It was the first of the "torture" film genre. I get credit for that actually [Laughs]. I did a horror radio show for a while. We'd interview the guys who did Hostel and Saw. The first thing they'd say was, "Dude, loved StrangeLand!" It inspired a lot of other sick fucks. It's nice people recognize it and appreciate it a lot of years later. It's been a while.
The film holds up though!
Thank you! The only thing that doesn't hold up is the technology. At the time, that was the beginning of that stuff. It's funny. When AOL came out and I saw what they had, I thought, "Man, you could really do some fucked up shit with this if you were of the mind." It's not that I am, but I could write a character of that mind. While we were producing the movie, I saw in the news that some guy at Columbia University used the internet to lure a girl in, hold her hostage, and torture her. I called my wife said, "Some guy stole my idea!" [Laughs] She goes, "Really? You're upset about this? You want to be known as the guy who invented it? Do you think they would've named it after you?" Today, another Snider was committed. I said, "Okay, good point. I don't want to be the guy who invents it". Now, you hear about that all the time. Back then, it was cutting edge. As I was writing it, the technology was changing. The modem speed was increasing. Technology changes, but the story holds.
What are you listening to now?
I discovered Volbeat. I know I'm late to the party. They're like five albums in. They're a great band. I'm also a huge Foxy Shazam fan to the point of being a childlike groupie. I have five t-shirts. I go to their concerts. Eric [vocals] looks out there and goes, "I think that's Dee Snider going nuts". They turn me into a kid. I love the new Lit record. It's so tough for a band to come back. I discovered Ignite. Those four bands put a smile on my face.
What's next for you?
I wrote a musical. It's called A Very Twisted Christmas. It's inspired by the Twisted Christmas album and utilizes a lot of Twisted Sister music. It's in development now. Hopefully, it will have its debut in 2013.
Will you be watching the roast?