Dee Snider is vitally important if you’re a young musician.
Dee Snider is obviously a legend in rock and metal circles, but he’s always been someone just below that top tier of “Rock Gods” like Lemmy, Dio, Ozzy Osbourne and the like. Right now, however, he may be one of the most important people in rock and metal.
Younger metallers may not be familiar with Snider at all as Twisted Sister called it a day in 1988, a few years before grunge decimated the scene. While they’ve had a resurgence and reunion tours, beyond ‘I Wanna Rock’ and ‘We’re Not Gonna Take It’ I can’t imagine a large number of people in the 14-28 demographic being avid followers of Dee Snider. If you’re in a band, you need to be.
Dee isn’t just another 80’s star still trying to be relevant like so many of his peers, he’s always been one of the most intelligent people in rock as his testimony in the 1985 senate hearing regarding the censorship of music perfectly illustrates.
‘What’s that got to do with now?’ I hear you ask, In support of his recently released solo album For the Love of Metal, Snider has been doing the expected round of interviews to promote the album, but his interviews have been incredibly honest and open revelations about himself and the music industry.
He sensationally declared on Rock Talk with Mitch Lafon that he didn’t write a thing on his solo album, said that some of the songs included on a Twisted Sister remastered album are embarrassing and revealed that he’s sold his rights to the Twisted Sister back catalogue. He’s also said that neither he nor Twisted Sister deserve to be inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, despite Dee being the one who created Headbanger’s Ball for MTV and’We’re Not Gonna Take It’ and ‘I Wanna Rock’ being two of the first rock songs to be played regularly during prime time on MTV.
A lot of the music industry involves smoke and mirrors where musicians want to portray themselves as being rich rock stars but the reality is often very different as the Ghost trial has shown – musicians unable to pay their rent despite playing to large audiences and being a hot commodity.
At 63 years of age Dee Snider has a lot of experience as Twisted Sister started out in the late seventies. He’s able to admit that the early material he wrote wasn’t all good and that some is mortifying when looked back on and he’s confident enough to admit that he no longer is involved in the creative process. A lot of bands use songwriters but either don’t admit it or will attempt to minimise their contributions as rock has always had that ‘real’ feel to it. While pop acts mimed or had songs written for them, rock was written and played by the people in the band and that feeling of it being “real” music still stands. Except that times have changed and it’s very common for writers to pen songs for rock bands now. It’s also common for rock bands to have backing tracks live to pad out the sound.
Snider’s admission that he sold the rights to his music would horrify most artists who struggle to retain or regain the rights from the record label they’ve been signed to. It was a huge deal when Metallica regained their back catalogue as it is to most bands. Snider, however, is a little more shrewd. Right now rock and metal is thriving but in the 90’s it was absolutely dead and bands like Twisted Sister made very little from their royalties. By selling his rights when his music is still making money, Snider gains an upfront lump sum for something that is paying out at a decent rate, whereas if he’d have sold up in the 90’s he’d have made very little. This way he can invest the money into something that pays a better return and it’s better in terms of tax for him. Snider has clearly balanced the long term gains and what works out as a better legacy for his children.
Dee Snider’s interviews are musts for musicians who want to make it in the music industry. There’s no BS, no pride, just straight honesty that you need to get writers and producers on board and that what everyone else is doing, may not be right for you. He’s a breath of fresh air and sharing some exceptional insight which people would be wise to pay attention to.
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