Dee Snider: One for the Ages
Besides being the frontman for the 1980s rock band Twisted Sister, Long Island’s own Dee Snider hosts a nationally syndicated weekly radio show House of Hair, is the author of Dee Snider’s Teenage Survival Guide, and stars in the A&E reality show Growing Up Twisted. Oh, and let’s not forget he’s a Broadway actor now, playing nightclub owner and aging hippie Dennis in the hit musical Rock of Ages through December 24. TheaterMania caught up with Snider to discuss the show, his other projects, and his plans for 2011.
THEATERMANIA: Did you ever think you would be performing on Broadway?
DEE SNIDER: No! If you would have told me 30 years ago that I would be on Broadway, I would have punched you. That and if you told me I would have released a Christmas album.
TM: How did the role come about?
DS: I was invited to the premiere of the Off-Broadway production. I was watching the show and enjoying it. I told my wife that I wanted to play that part. It would have been challenging and fun. I told my management that I had an interest. That was two years ago. In September, right after my family and I got back from safari in Africa, I got the call; rehearsals start in a few days and I am on in two weeks.
TM: Do you think a lot of the younger audiences really appreciate the music of the 1980s in the show?
DS: The songs themselves are strong. It put a light on this period of music that is otherwise forgotten. There is one aspect of the 80s that I call the middle finger factor; people are partying, having fun, not giving a shit. With today’s music — and I love it — there is a lot of complaining.
TM: There are actually two Twisted Sister songs featured in the musical, “I Wanna Rock” and “We’re Not Gonna Take It,” but you don’t sing them. Are you ever tempted to join in — or to critique your costars?
DS: It’s so funny. My presence in the show is like having an actual Tyrannosaurus on the set of Jurassic Park. I was there, in that era, I lived it. I’m not acting! I am not there to critique. To me, it’s all about interpretation. I don’t expect people to perform these songs the same way I do it. I’m actually going to South America in a couple of weeks with Twisted Sister and I’m afraid that during “We’re Not Gonna Take It,” I am just going to stand there and not sing and my band will say come on, why isn’t he singing?
TM: How does performing on Broadway differ from rocking out in a club or at a concert?
DS: It’s like comparing apples and oranges. You have so many people making this machine work on Broadway – from the stage hands to wardrobe. Your job is solely to act. I remember, while on tour with my band, rinsing my stage outfit on the tour bus. I was thinking don’t we have anybody to do this? On another level, I was used to being very active to the audience and their responses. I have been known to stop songs if the level of enthusiasm was low. Here, I cannot do that.
TM: There are rumors that you will join the show’s national tour. Is there any truth to that?
DS: The idea has been thrown out there, but there is no formal offer. If this Broadway run works out, the idea is to send me to other cities and countries for limited runs. My band is big in Australia and Canada. There are also talks about London and Vegas. My manager told me to learn my lines in Portuguese. I would pass the offer for a tour though. I’ve done my days of touring. It becomes your life. At this point in my life, it’s not what I am about.
TM: What can you tell us about your nationally syndicated radio show, House of Hair?
DS: It started 13 years ago with 35 stations and we now have 220 stations in North America and we are going overseas. It’s prerecorded, so I have a flexible schedule. I work on it in between shows. You can listen online at www.houseofhaironline.com, if there is not a radio station in your area that is airing it. If you love Rock of Ages, you will love the radio show!
TM: Is it true that you are currently working on a memoir? What will fans learn about you that they didn’t know before?
DS: Yes, I am currently in negotiations with a major publisher. My plan is to hit the keyboard as soon as I wrap up Rock of Ages. It should be out next fall. It’s not a biography. It will be a collection of stories that have happened throughout my career or are happening now. I’m way smarter than people think. And what people may not know is that I did not do drugs; I did not drink, nor did I party. I have been with the same woman for 34 years. So I can offer a real birds-eye view of what was going on during that time.
TM: What can Twisted Sister fans look forward to in 2011?
DS: Not a lot [laughs]. I love the guys. We do occasional shows, about 25 to 30 shows per year, which are usually festivals, and we do not tour. Surprisingly, we still kick ass. The reviews are always great. So, it’s either new bands suck or we are on our game and do it well. It’s probably a combination of both.