Fireworks Magazine

Fireworks Magazine Online 85: Interview with Red Dragon Cartel


Interview by Ian Johnson

Red Dragon Cartel's new album 'Patina' is about to hit the streets. Featuring Jake E Lee on guitar, who as you will know has a very impressive CV, this album is a real throwback to how Rock records used to sound. Fireworks talks with Jake at his Las Vegas home about the new album, its in your face attitude, what's behind its odd title and why being a proper band is a very important thing.

Red Dragon Cartel - Interview Fireworks Magazine

This new Red Dragon Cartel album has certainly reminded me a lot of Badlands. Was this intentional when you wrote it? To go back to that kind of Blues Rock Badlands were famous for.

No not at all. I didn't have any thoughts of Badlands in my head when I wrote this album, but I understand what you mean. A lot of people online have been referencing Badlands on our video comments section but definitely there was no conscious thought behind writing it that way. I think what people are hearing, apart from the fact that I wrote the music for both bands, is the process behind the writing. The first Red Dragon Cartel album was, shall we say, a piecemeal affair, with this singer brought in for this song and that drummer brought in for that one, you know. So that album had a different feel to it and didn't really sound like a band. This new record sounds like a band though. Just like those albums this Red Dragon Cartel album was done with the band all in the same studio at the same time. Then we'd work on the songs from there and put the music together that way, just like we did for Badlands. Also the production on the first Red Dragon Cartel album was by an outside producer and it sounded good, but smooth, if you get my meaning. This album is all us and it's a rawer sound which I've always like better for my music.

There's a real groove to the music, a real attitude to the songs, a kind of "go fuck yourselves if you don't like it" thing going on. Was this what you were aiming for?

(Laughs) Yes, I think so, yes. I've always kinda been that way. Not in Ozzy's band obviously, I was a hired gun but when making my own music yeah, there's that attitude and groove you mentioned. But when you're the boss of your own band you can have that attitude about what you do. That, I don't give a shit thing, although you do give a shit but yeah I get what you mean. I do read all the comments people post online about us, good and bad, and I do take on board a lot of what our fans say, but in the end it won't change how I write and play my music. You have to be true to yourself.

So apart from the attitude, what kind of album would you describe 'Patina' to be?

Good question. If you take, say, the last song on it, 'Ink & Water', it has a Doors Jazz thing going on. Then it goes into a Dick Dale Surfer Rock riff and then there's some 70s Rock in there and then a Johnny Thunders solo; and it's this mix of styles that as a musician keeps me interested. What I like to do is throw in what I call seasonings, I love to add different things into the musical mix: Jazzy parts, weird time signatures, you know, stuff like that. The album is, of course, a Hard Rock album but these seasonings keep the songs sounding fresh and add something to the music. I hope this doesn't scare people off who say to themselves, "Oh no, Jake's done a Jazz record." We haven't, we've just added things that help to make this album and its music more interesting for ourselves and I hope for everyone else.

Fireworks - The Ultimate Magazine for Melodic Rock Music

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The dictionary meaning of Patina is 'a thin layer that forms on the surface of copper, bronze and similar metals'. It's a strange title for an album...

It actually came from Anthony, our bass player, who loves to get his hands dirty fixing things, and he watches those shows where you get an old thing and repair it. He comes into the studio one day – which is on his ranch – and says "I'm so sick of the word patina! It's patina this, patina that on all those shows and if I hear it one more time I'm gonna shoot someone." And I knew right then we had to call the album 'Patina' [laughs]. Also, when I was in Ozzy's band I was this new shiny piece of bronze, say, and over the years since then I've matured and grown as a person and musician, so this patina has rubbed off on me.

How long did 'Patina' take to record?

Actually what happened was after the last tour, when Anthony took over as our bass player, he asked, are we going to do another Red Dragon Cartel album? And to be totally honest I didn't know if I had it in me to make another album, I really didn't. So he suggested that we come to his ranch studio and get the band together for a week or so to see what would happen. He knew that if we did do another one, that I wanted it to be more organic, more old school. So we got together, I had no pre-written stuff, and what we did is what you did in the old days, which was have a few guys jamming in a studio to see what you could come up with. After a few days of doing it this way I knew we had something. All I did say to the guys then was we have to do this to the best of our abilities, because if we do, I'll be happy. So I treated this record as if it was my last one, which who knows it may well be, but I wanted to make the songs as good as I could and not just a lot of 'that'll do' songs. There was no settling on the album, so that's why this album took us a while [laughs].

How did you persuade the Legendary producer Max Norman to help out on the album?

I didn't persuade him. To be honest, I'm not a big social person, I'm not anti-social, let's get that clear, but what I mean is I haven't really kept up with everyone over the years or stayed in contact with them. I've never fallen out with anyone who I've worked with but as the years go by you lose track of people. So we're in the studio and Anthony, who is very social and keeps in contact with everyone, was one night talking on the phone and said to me, "Hey Jake, do you want to say hi to Max?" I say Max who? He says Max Norman. So I go yeah, and I hadn't seen or talked to Max in around twenty years. So we had fun catching up and he asked what the new songs sounded like and I said you should come over and listen to them. He only lived about an hour or so away in New York, so he hopped on a train and came to the studio. He loved what we were doing and we realised that Max had broken my recording cherry with 'Bark At The Moon' and he'd done the same thing for Anthony with Lynch Mob's first album. So to have him like what we were doing was great and we knew we'd love for him to help us out. And let me tell you ... should I? Yeah, I will. He did it for us on the cheap, friend's rates [Laughs]. I mean he probably blew off some really well paid jobs to work with us, which says everything about the man.

So finally what about the touring side of things. When can we see Red Dragon Cartel on stage again?

Well I've decided that when we tour this time it's just going to be Red Dragon Cartel songs. Before when we toured, to flesh out the set, we did some Ozzy songs but I always felt we were cheating ourselves and the fans. Don't get me wrong, those Ozzy songs are all great songs but now with having two Red Dragon Cartel albums to choose from – and we can play the whole of this new one straight off – I don't think we need to play covers anymore. And if we had to add an older track in, I think I'd go with a Badlands one now. But the actual tour, well we're working on it now but the market out there for people and bands like us isn't great. In fact I'd say it's worse now than four years ago. And let me say this, I have never done what I do for the money, I do it for the love of music but I also have to be practical and I don't want to do a tour and lose money, no-one does. So we've managed to put on a five or six week tour for February in the US, then it's off to Japan for a week or so, then hopefully instead of going home to the States we'll be able to come to Europe for a few dates. This isn't written in stone so keep a watch out for us – if we can we'll definitely be there.

Fireworks Magazine Online 85: Interview with Inglorious


Interview by Fabiana Spinelli

Having released two highly lauded albums of epic 70s flavoured Hard Rock, Inglorious have been heralded as one of the brightest hopes for the genre here in the UK. But just as their new album, 'Ride To Nowhere', is about to be released, there have been massive upheavals in the ranks with guitarists Drew Lowe and Andreas Eriksson leaving the band, along with bassist Colin Parkinson. However, band leader Nathan James remains calmly unperturbed, the singer being steadfastly upbeat and confident as he sits down with Fireworks to discuss the new album and those particularly thorny band issues...

Inglorious - Interview Fireworks Magazine

Right, I guess we really have to address the issue of the line-up and the departures...

I've had a hell of a month to say the least! But life goes on. I started this band so I will continue it. They all auditioned for my band in the first place and now some other musicians will. All my favourite bands have had line-up changes and sometimes they are necessary to keep the band going.

Inglorious fans are worried about the future of the band. What can you tell them to alleviate their fears?

We will continue to tour, make music, rock and continue with the success we have had so far. The new line-up is fantastic and the songs will be played true to the recordings. We have a new album coming out and a lot of touring in the diary. We'll be playing many festivals this year and going to places we haven't been before. Phil our drummer, and myself are super excited about the future and also very, very excited to be on stage with our good friend, and one-time tech for Inglorious, Danny Delacruz. At 19 years old he wipes the floor with most guitarists around now!

So onto the new album, 'Ride To Nowhere, which in my opinion is your best yet; being so intense and mature. Can you tell us about the making of the album?

It was lyrically very tough for me to write, as I had a tough year with the loss of my grandfather and one of my best friends. It was so tough and sad but I found great comfort in writing songs for them. As always, I wrote about people in my life – whether I love or hate them they are always good topics lyrically. The album was tracked mostly live by the guys and was mixed by Kevin Shirley, who I love as a mixer; he gets my vocals just right. The artwork for this album is special too. I commissioned a friend, a tattooist, to draw a piece for each song and I gave him free reign of what he heard and imagined for each tune. It's a much darker record in sound and lyrical content. I hope people enjoy it.

I'm really impressed by the songs 'Queen' and 'Liar'. What inspired those two real Rock anthems?

'Queen' is about my mother, who I have never written a song for before. I figured it was time to let people know I love my mum, haha. 'Liar' is about an old friend who has been caught lying too many times and is going through some trouble. But ultimately the joy of song-writing is that I can channel my feelings and experiences with these people into songs.

Fireworks - The Ultimate Magazine for Melodic Rock Music

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Inglorious are inspired by iconic Rock albums from the 1970s, but today we often see the trend to slavishly follow the footsteps of vintage rockstars. For you, what's the main difference between being inspired by an idol and simply copying someone else?

Being authentic to who you are and what you write. Usually it's people that see and follow trends that copy – I don't do that. Yes, listen to your heroes, but I ask what made mine good, what did they listen to? That way I can come up with my own influenced version of what they are. We don't rip-off one band. We don't dress like one band. I don't think of others when I write, I think about what we are and how the song can tell people we are real and different to the rest. It's amazing when your heroes think you are great and are doing something right. Also, I think the public know when it's real or not. But not being ashamed of your influences is cool. People can also try too hard to be too original and too cool.

What do you view as the most original Inglorious trait?

The way we write and record, all in one room. It wasn't original in the 70s, but it is now in 2018! I also think that skills are original; in an age where it's easy to cheat, we never have. We are not like that. This band will always be made up of great musicians that love to play and practice to be the best. Music second!

I have to mention 'Glory Days', an amazing closing track. Is it a hope for the future?

It was actually written about the breakdown of a relationship. I am so glad I was able to write this song and almost let go of the emotions I held with it. I cried whilst recording it. Whilst in the studio our A&R guy was there and we nearly stopped the take but I kept going and I think we kept most of it; if you listen to the track at the end you may hear it. That period of my life was so wonderful but we move on and have to understand there is more to life. Life is beautiful and too short to be unhappy.

How does it feel to be 'The Voice Of Humanity' in Jeff Wayne's The War Of the Worlds?

I am so excited to sing the song 'Thunderchild' and to work with Jeff! He's such a nice guy! I have played arenas in America with TSO but never here on home turf, so that's gonna be a lot of fun. I can't believe I will be singing at the O2 arena, where I have seen U2, Metallica, Kiss, Bad Company, ELO, Queen... I will be backstage at that venue and I am so proud that my family will get to see me on that big stage. It's gonna be a tour to remember for sure!

Fireworks Magazine Online 84: Interview with Creye


Interview by Richard Epps

Initially formed in 2015 by Swedish guitarist and songwriter Andreas Gullstrand as a classic Pop/Rock act with a retro AOR sound, their debut single 'Never Too Late', released in 2016, certainly grabbed the attention of the Melodic Rock community. The following EP, 'Straight To The Top', attracted the attention of Frontiers who promptly signed the band to a mulri-album deal, and after a nationwide search, a permanent vocalist was found in the form of Robin Jidhed. With their self-titled album due for release on October 12th, Fireworks caught up with Andreas for some further background details...

Creye Interview

So how was the band conceived?

The band was created officially back in 2015 by me as a project to kind of highlight up and coming Swedish musicians. After the success of the first single 'Never Too Late' in 2016 I knew that I wanted this to become so much more than a studio band and officially started looking for full-time members.

How did you come up with the name Creye?

I was looking for a unique name that wasn't already over-used by bands and I had narrowed it down to three names that I felt were strong. When I presented them to the logo designer he simply presented me with an additional name for the list, Creye. The name was a play on the words "Cry" and "Eye" and I simply liked it straight away and decided to go with it.

The album is a superb slice of Swedish Melodic Rock. Who were your musical influences, as it has a distinct eighties feel to it?

First of all thank you for the compliment! There are of course quite a few: H.e.a.t, Giant, Work Of Art, Survivor and FM would definitely be at the top of a very long list.

One of the highlights of the album, for me, are the vocals of Robin Jidhed. A new name to me, so where did you find him and is he related to Alien frontman Jim Jidhed?

Robin was found by our manager after a long period of searching for a permanent frontman for the band. And yes, haha, he's the son of Jim Jidhed.

The album has been on non-stop rotation with me; you must be pleased with it? Did you write all of the tracks or were outside writers used?

Very happy to hear that! We are extremely pleased with it of course and couldn't be more eager to get it out there for the world to enjoy. There were two tracks that were written entirely by external writers. One is a co-write with me and Erik Wiss (Producer) and one with Ulrick Lönnqvist (Code Red). The rest of the songs are written by me or Fredrik in the band.

Fireworks - The Ultimate Magazine for Melodic Rock Music

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One of my favourite tracks on the album is 'Christina'. Is this song about a real life lady called Christina?

This was one of the songs that was entirely written by external writers (Mike Palace & Sören Kronqvist). I've asked Sören about it and he doesn't know either, haha. When the lyric video was made by Wayne Joyner he portrayed Christina as a car, which was a twist that we absolutely loved. It's up to the listener to interpret it I guess. Change the name and I think it's a story that most people could relate to.

You recently made your live debut at Melodic Rock Fest Sweden. How was that experience?

It was a great experience for sure! It went as great as a live debut could possibly go. I mean there we were with a whole show of songs that nobody had ever heard before —except for the EP songs and Holding on — and still we had a whole room filled with people screaming and shouting Creye, singing along whenever they could. What an amazing welcome from the audience!

Are there plans for any more live shows? I know you are playing in the UK at Rockingham in October? Are you looking forward to playing in the UK for the first time?

We are of course always working hard on getting more gigs to continue expanding Creye but nothing that is ready to be released officially yet. We are, as mentioned, playing Rockingham in October, which we are really looking forward to —the first time ever playing in England for us. That show will be extremely exclusive as well since we are having our producer Erik Wiss joining us on stage playing keyboards. As well as producing our album, Erik played keyboards on the first single 'Never Too Late' as well.

I'm not ready to bet my life on it but this will for sure be a very rare and unique experience. The week before we're playing the Frontiers Rock Sweden event in Stockholm together with all our amazing Scandinavian label buddies. This might in some ways be considered our unofficial release party as we are releasing the album the day before, haha.

It's a real coup to have your debut album released by Frontiers, one of the leading Melodic Rock labels. How did they get to sign you and wwhat's in been like working with a top label?

Frontiers was one of many labels to offer us a contract after the success of the EP in 2017. But we immediately felt that Frontiers was the only label with big enough ambitions for Creye to match our own future plans. So, Creye signing a multiple records deal with them was a no-brainer.
Working with Frontiers have simply been amazing, they've been super supportive of us since day one so we couldn't really ask for more.

Why do you think that Sweden is such a hotbed for Melodic Rock these days?

Very interesting question for sure. One that we get a lot actually and It's really hard to answer it. To be honest I couldn't even begin to speculate, haha.

So what is next for Creye?

Next for Creye is the release of the album on October 12th and then we're focusing on the shows following. After that we're hoping that we get the opportunity to do some touring and meet all our amazing fans.

Fireworks Magazine Online 84: Interview with Gio Spanó


Interview by Rob McKenzie

Giovanni Spanó, or Gio to his friends, has two notable strings to his bow. First, he is the lead singer of deVience, a London based hard rocking band with a self-titled debut album under its belt. Secondly, and prominently with a #1 UK Soundtrack album in the bag, he is one of the stars of Jim Steinman's 'Bat Out Of Hell The Musical'. Fireworks Magazine got to meet up with Gio between shows in London to find out more about the singing workaholic.

Gio Spano Fireworks Rocktopia Interview

The sound of deVience is very much heavy Aerosmith with a dirty Guns n' Roses' edge – is that a fair assessment?

That's the vibe we are going for. When a riff goes through your body, you can feel it and then start to go with it. That's what makes you feel good and when you get a melody to fit with it, that's the whole package. I love being able to move to a track and being moved by one as well. I think our album does that and does it well – I am very proud of it.

The album starts off with an 'Eruption' themed bang?

The introduction to the album, 'Ignition', just gets me fired up and it does ignite you and prepares you to take on the album. That's what every album should do whether it is Metal or Hardcore; it serves its purpose.

Even though the majority of your album is full-on Rock, you have some big power ballads on display.

The ballads are really my thing; you have to empathise with people around you and be in touch with your own emotions. I was with a girl who I found incredibly easy to love but the rest of the stuff that came with it was difficult and that's the background to the track 'Easy'. For me it is the standout track, it's my baby, the one I cherish the most and invested myself in; it is basically about a love life past. There is a prelude to it that we wrote after the original song because I wanted people to ease themselves into 'Easy' with an acoustic piece.

I notice deVience have got a lot of shows lined up this year.

It's going to be a lot of fun – Isle Of Wight festival, HRH, Hair Metal Heaven for example. We are finally getting the recognition I believe we deserve and it's lovely to do what we do best – provide a great face melting Rock n' Roll show for the crowd!

We have a new single out called 'Beyond The Bounds'. We are doing it ourselves now; we used to have a label but it didn't work out and I am really happy with the gigs we have got at the moment. Next year, I hope we will be doing the Download festival.

Fireworks - The Ultimate Magazine for Melodic Rock Music

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How did you start your professional career?

When I was fourteen I was in 'Whistle Down The Wind' written by Jim Steinman and Andrew Lloyd Webber. Jim was around all the time. We were mesmerised as kids knowing he was there – it was great to be inspired by someone and get to hang out with them. He was such a nice character, in fact I am one of the few members of the cast who has had contact with him recently. It was truly an honour to get an email from him.

Unfortunately, Jim Steinman has had some ill-health recently. What involvement has he had with 'Bat Out Of Hell The Musical'?

He was a massive part of the process in the rehearsal period. He had a live video relay the whole time we were doing auditions and he was up to all hours analysing everything. He wanted perfection for this show and with the people I am on stage with, I don't think we are too far off! We get a standing ovation every night. I enjoy the whole thing, you can see it in my face. It is an honour to be on stage and sing those songs every night.

Your rendition of 'Objects In The Rear View Mirror...' brings depth to your character.

It's the time when the audience can relate to my character rather than being the bruiser running around beating up people. For the rest of the show, I do quite a lot and people know who I am and how much the other characters mean to me. I've got a New York accent for the show as the story is set in a dystopic Manhattan. My part is a brawny, bruiser character and the accent makes me stand out a bit. Andrew [Polec, the lead] is from Philly, so his accent is a bit different.

How do you keep your voice in shape for eight shows a week?

Steam, sleep and good vibes! When you do the show, you can't eat too much – you have seen how physical it is. I look after my body; this morning I went to the gym, then did West End Live and then onto the show. However, my brother and sister were the performers growing up − I used to like football instead! One day I heard 'Bohemian Rhapsody' and I knew music had to be part of my life. I would start singing and my mum said, "If you want to sing, do it properly" and so I started singing Opera first. I then found other styles of music and I seemed to lean towards Rock. I wanted to be a Swiss army knife so having this career in the West End and having a band as well means I have several strings to my bow. Life is hard for a singer; but if you do something you love every night – why not?

Sandy Robertson from Sounds was the first journalist in the UK to discover Meat Loaf and the music of Jim Steinman. He wrote of Steinman's plan for this Peter Pan of the future story way back in the 70s. It's fantastic how it has come together now.

It was originally a concept album for a show – 'Dream Engine'. If they turned it into a movie, it would be so cool, who knows? Mick Wall [colleague of Sandy Robertson] came to the show and loved it. He gave me a copy of his Meat Loaf biography ['Like A Bat Out Of Hell, The Larger Than Life Story Of Meat Loaf'].

Being part of the soundtrack which has done so well must have been the icing on the cake?

The recording was up in Manchester; we were doing the show there and we got the green light for the cast recording. We were number one in the soundtrack charts; eventually when it is released digitally we can get into the regular chart.

Back to deVience, when is the next album going to be released?

Album two is in progress; ideally I would like it out by the end of the year but the reality is more like the beginning of next year. In the meantime, we will be releasing singles as I want the second album to be even better than the first.

Finally, how did the band name come about?

Two of my favourite words are Vie and Defiance. It's an analogy for anybody who doesn't think they can achieve anything – so you Vie to reach a goal, like get a band together, and you Defy expectations and smash people's preconceptions of you. Vie to defy!

Full details about deVience and upcoming tour dates can be found at the band's official website .

Click HERE to read the review of DeVience - 'DeVience'

Fireworks Magazine Online 84: Interview with Dee Snider


Interview by Sonia Waterfield

Dee Snider: Icon, Metal Legend, and a man who has lived a surprisingly healthy and honest life-style considering his long career at the forefront of the American Heavy Metal scene.

Fireworks hooks up with Dee as he shares everything from the his time in Twisted Sister and the 'intimate parts' of his life — in more ways than one — to discussing his brand new solo album 'For The Love Of Metal' and working with producer Jamey Jasta (Hatebreed).

Dee Snider Fireworks Interview

So how did you first get into Metal?

The Metal journey? Not the Rock and Roll journey, the Metal journey. The birth, the ugly breach birth of Heavy Metal. I'm old, I'm an original head-banger — day one Blue Cheer, day one Grand Funk, day one Black Sabbath, day one Led Zeppelin first album ... wasn't even called Metal, it was called Hard Rock and it was the first music form that actually alienated certain music fans. Up to that time in Rock and Roll — and Woodstock is a perfect example — everybody listened to everything. Everybody listened to everything and they shared, watched Richie Havens and they watched The Who and Ten Years After, Crosby, Stills & Nash and they'd cheer as loud for everybody. And then came this music that some people didn't like and then others of us, these angry young men and women, mainly men from suburban and rural areas, were like no, we like this, fuck Richie Havens — and I proudly swung a sledgehammer to destroy the Woodstock nation. And I just turned from Hard Rock and became more and more focused as Heavy Metal. I was right there at the forefront of the movement.

Before Twisted Sister, you were in bands that were not really, well, Metal...

Yeah, I have been in bands since I was 9, sort of Beatle bands, you know. I always leaned towards the things that had a harder edge. I remember when Sabbath arrived, I was in a band that only played Black Sabbath, that's all we played. It was because they took it to another level, defining the genre, which by the way should be pointed out, they didn't know they were defining. They were a Jazz Blues fusion band that went horribly wrong. They were like, "Oh shit, we have created a new genre of music", but you would see them live and in the middle, Tony would go into like a little jazz break and the audience would sit there and go "What's going on?" He was still in the Jazz Fusion band.

None of these bands that have made the big changes in Metal think of themselves as Metal bands. AC/DC, they wouldn't call themselves a Metal band, they think of themselves as a Rock band. Metal absorbed elements of their style but they themselves don't consider themselves to be a Heavy Metal band and neither do Black Sabbath nor Led Zeppelin.

So what lessons do you think you learned from your time in Twisted Sister?

That's a very interesting question that I've never been asked. Twisted Sister was the greatest chapter of my life and certainly the vehicle that allowed me to realise my dreams, and then subsequent other dreams. I've done so many things since then but it all would never have happened. I wouldn't have been on Broadway or Rock of Ages if not for Twisted Sister, I wouldn't be doing a National Radio show if not for my time in Twisted Sister. So it started everything.
The greatest lesson learnt from it all I learnt very, very, late. Don't wear pastel Spandex on stage. I learnt this only recently, years after I stopped wearing pastels. I met some girls who used to come see us and the boys, because my wife would make me pink and yellow and baby blue Spandex which I would wear proudly. And these girls said, "You know that we can see your penis?" [laughs]. I was like, "Yeah, the outline, sure".

And they said, "No, no. You would sweat and the lights would hit the pastel yellow and blue and you can see entirely through your pants." I said to my wife, "Did you know you can see through my fucking spandex?" She said, "Yeah, you didn't?" [laughs].

Moving on from that valuable lesson, how did you manage to stay out of the stereotypical sex n' drugs part of the business?

The drugs part, and alcohol ... my very first drinking experience was so bad. I was 14 and the first time I drank, I couldn't just have one drink at 14, I drank until I was practically paralysed on the floor vomiting and I just thought, "You can't do this because you will die. You may be that guy." So if I'd had a different experience I may not have stopped but fortunately I had that really bad one.

As far as the sex part, that is weird. Certainly I'm a dude and I had fantasies that any dude had, but I always knew that I was going to be successful. I was convinced, and I always had this concern that when I'm famous, how am I going to know if a girl likes me for me, or for my money or my success. I met this girl in the very, very, early days, literally; we had no following, no popularity ... just a weird band. Not only did she have no interest in me, but she didn't own a stereo, didn't own a record, didn't care about music. And for some reason I said, "This is my girl." She's extremely hot. You'll find her on any top ten Rock stars' wives list. I just thought, "If I can win this girl's heart, I'll know it's for all the right reasons, because she loves me and I'll know that I have someone who is there for the right reasons". Forty-two years later ... she was there when I had nothing, there when I had everything, there when I lost everything and I never thought for a minute she would leave. She just went back to work and is still here with me today. She did the costumes, she did the makeup, she did the hair, she did the bone logo for the band; she became the woman behind the man and look, if I was screwing around on her by this point it will be on YouTube, Facebook, or something [laughs].

Moving back into history, when the notorious PMRC targeted Twisted Sister, what were your thoughts at that time?

Long term it's made me into some kind of folk hero, honestly. It's added to a legendary career and it's historic and now encourages any course of censorship chapter of that moment in time. It turned out to be great long term. Short term it was not the best career choice. You know I was always open about my clean and sober lifestyle, in my belief system, in being married, having kids. You know I was on a world stage, and for the first time on a grand scale a lot of fans found out these things about me. I always thought that's the beauty of Rock and Roll, you can be what you want to be. I found out, guess what? You're not allowed. They want you to be a certain person. They want the life-stylers, the people who are just as fucked-up off stage as they are on-stage. That was disheartening for me, hurtful to our career. My phones were tapped, my mail was checked, my packages were checked. I became public enemy number one for a short time within the government. They hated the fact that I went there and made it look foolish. I'm not saying that's the only thing that damaged the band, but MTV banned one of our videos as a token gesture.

I remember after a show, meeting a fan who was wearing a Dokken shirt, saying, "Twisted Sister is my favourite band, I love you guys, almost everything blah blah blah." I ask, "Well, what are you doing wearing a Dokken shirt?" and they go, "Oh, my parents can't know that I was here." My parents can't know that I'm here?! As far as the parents were concerned we were public enemy number one, as far as the kids were concerned we were kinda the least bad of the bunch. Short term it was not a good thing, long term, I've never been one to do the smart thing, I do what I believe to be is the right thing, the thing that I want to do. So long term, I'm proud of that moment in time.

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I remember Ronnie Dio and others, particularly Ronnie Dio. That crushed me. In a Rock magazine he went off: "Who the fuck is Dee Snider to speak on our behalf?" and the first words that I said in my speech were, "I cannot speak for the others." He didn't even hear. Ronnie Dio, one of the smart ones, didn't even listen to my speech and just passed judgement on me. That's the kind of stuff I was suffering through; no support from the community, the fans were apathetic. It didn't seem like a big deal to most of them, and they just didn't get it. Ronnie probably apologised when he found out the truth, but it was just hurtful when I thought I was doing a service and my own community, for the most part, just turned their backs on me.

No interview would be complete without talking about your infamous and iconic track 'We're Not Gonna Take It'. Did you ever think it would ever be as big as it was?

No! I thought it would be a hit. I mean I didn't know what kind of hit, but a Rock hit. I remember, we were working, we're recording a song called 'The Bad Boys of Rock & Roll' for the 'Under The Blade' album and I was telling the guys, "I've got another one, it's a killer. It's not ready yet but I already have the chorus". I didn't know it would become so big ... it's practically a Folk song now. Everywhere in the world they know the song. A lot of people don't know who recorded it, they just know the song. So it's amazing as a songwriter to see a song take a life of its own, but was it expected? No.

Moving on to your new album, 'For The Love Of Metal', how did the relationship between you and Jamey Jasta (Hatebreed vocalist) start?

I was on his podcast and he said, "I have a challenge for you." I asked what, because as far as I was concerned, I was done. Done recording new music. He said, "I challenge you to do a contemporary Metal record. Think Rob Halford 'Resurrection'. Your iconic voice with new sounding Metal" and I asked, "Who's producing?" Jamey said "I am". I asked, "Who's writing?" You see, I wrote every Twisted song. I stopped writing in the 90s, so we sound like a 80s Rock show. As much as I love new bands, I couldn't write new sounding music unless I was imitating them and that's not genuine. Twisted Sister worked because I wasn't imitating, I was in it, in the thick of it and at the forefront and it helped me to create what became a time in the music scene, the Hair Metal era. I was a part of it; it was very real, very genuine. Here, I can't do that anymore. Jamey said, "Dee, everybody's gonna wanna write for you."

So we went into the studio, recorded song one, no recording budget, no record deal and it just started to gel. It was better on both sides; better than I thought it was going to be as far as me fitting with these newer sounding songs, and better than they thought it was going to be with me fitting with these songs. Then suddenly, as Jamey started playing it for people, friends of his, people from Lamb of God, Disturbed, Killswitch Engage ... they started to think, "We want to get involved in this. How about we have some song ideas for Dee?" Everybody started contributing and working. Alissa White-Gluz (Arch Enemy) duets with me, Howard Jones (Killswitch Engage) duets with me and it became this passion project, again with no record deal, no budget, just for the love of Metal. That's where the title came from, because it couldn't have been more genuine. There was nothing in it but the passion of making a great record and hopefully we did.

You did. I have listened to it several times and it's fantastic.

You know what? People, many people are pleasantly surprised! [laughs]. The biggest compliment, and I take it as a compliment — "I wasn't expecting that."

Jamey really thought this record out. He said, "Dee, this is important to me on many levels. You're a hero of mine but I challenge many people to do this, you're the first person to say yes." [laughs]. I was like, "Oh shit, alright, you got to deliver on this."

I see it, I got the idea for it. I want it to be amazing. He wanted to bring in fans, wanted to bring newer fans, he wanted to cross-over whilst still being Metal, a real Metal record. He didn't want to just have one sound, which a lot of records do. So he worked so hard on this record, and I'm really happy that he's already been getting offers to produce other artists, major Metal artists, because people are hearing it. Somebody asked me, "What's your advice to a heritage artist who wants to make a new sounding record?" I said, "Hire Jamey Jasta" because he did not steer me wrong.

He's done an amazing job. The lyrics and the music itself are quite positive.

Again, this is the thing that I gotta be clear on. With Twisted Sister, I wrote every single song: every word, every melody, every guitar part, everything. This record I did not write one thing. Now I stopped writing in the 90s because I said I found myself trying to imitate instead of lead and I got called on it. On my last record with Widowmaker, one reviewer said "some guy's trying to sound like the younger bands," and I was doing exactly that! I thought, "Oh man." I was trying to sound like somebody else so I decided that I was just going to back away.

So I said, "Jamie, I can't write the songs". Jamey climbed in my skin. We talked a lot, we talked about what I wanted to say. He told me he listened to everything I ever did — everything. So he understood my voice, understood my range and understood where I came from. He asked, "What do you want to say now? Who do you wanna be? What are we talking about here?" I talked about bullying, I talked about being the voice of the oppressed, even though I'm a happy grown man now with family and success, I know I am the voice for others, I can be the voice for others. For the frustrated people, the angry people. I've got that tone. I've got that attitude. I can represent. There were political things I wanted to talk about. So Jamey brought songs to me. And just to show you how much he climbed into my skin, and this should blow your mind... [big intake of breath] During the making of this record, the recording which went from about September/October to January, my 85 year old mother, who was the epitome of health, as an active an old woman as you can imagine, was hit by a car, brain damaged, hospitalised, a vegetable for two months and then died. And Jamey said, "Do you want to pause all recording?" and I said, "No Jamie. Metal has always been this emotional outlet." That's the beauty of Metal, whether it's performing it or recording it or just rocking out to it. It releases these darker emotions.

The last song recording ... I'd just buried my mother and was recording a song called 'I'm Ready'. I'm recording, and suddenly I stopped recording. Jamey's not there. Nikki Bellmore (co-producer and engineer) is there. The line I was singing was, "Death leaves a sorry that no-one can heal, Love leaves a memory no-one can steal." I stopped and I go, "Nikki, did Jamey write this about my mum?" He said, "Yeah, he wrote that for you." He saw what I was suffering through and wrote a song, or a statement, for me about facing mortality and loss of a loved one. And that was the last song recorded. That's how much he was feeling Dee Snider. When he delivered this song to me, it was like his words were coming out, they were my own words, and I could sing them with such passion, which is important, and sing with such belief because there wasn't a lie on the record. There was no like, "What am I singing here?" Oh, I know what I'm singing, I believe every single word, this is Dee Snider. So Jamey Jasta, thank you.

So what is in the future for Mr Snider?

I'm gonna do some live shows starting in the first week of July, but this wasn't planned to be for the 'Love Of Metal' because there was no plan. Most record deals, albums are recorded with an entire game plan. This is what we are writing, this is what we are recording, this is the release, this is the promotion, this is the tour — a long range plan. We had no record deal. So that's why the record has been released on July 27th, what a terrible release date. We didn't plan Spring or Summer touring. So I have a handful of dates right now but with the positive reception of the record, the intention is to continue moving forward. I'm already booked for every Metalfest; Hellfest, Bloodstock, and everybody is like booking me already for 2019, because they know about this Metal record and Metal band and entering the contemporary world of Metal. There is so much interest in that album. There will definitely be a lot of live shows coming.

It has been so unexpected. I was done, I did not expect to see this happening at 63. I welcome it. It is exciting. I'm up for the challenge as I was in the studio. No-one will be disappointed. Anybody who sees me live is never disappointed. It's just unexpected. The record label has a two record deal. They've already said they are taking their option. So in our minds even though it's down the road, 'For The Love Of Metal 2' is somewhere on the horizon, so I think I found my place in the contemporary world of Heavy Metal and I couldn't be happier. I hope people enjoy the record.

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