Twisted Sister frontman Daniel "Dee" Snider could be considered a man of the people. In the 1980s, he challenged against then-congressman Al Gore on censorship in rock music. And Recently, he was at the Standing Rock Reservation with the demonstrators who are currently fighting against the construction of the Dakota Access Pipeline.
In between, he's supporting local charitable events. On December 4, Snider will be the Grand Marshall for this year’s 29th Annual South Florida President’s Council Toys in the Sun Run in Hollywood put on by the Mardi Gras Casino in Hallandale Beach. The event is meant to raise money for the Joe DiMaggio Children's Hospital.
Starting at 9:45 a.m. from the Mardi Gras Casino, Dee Snider will lead the world’s largest motorcycle parade with over 30,000 motorcyclists escorted by 250 police officers from the tri-county region. He finishes at Markham Park in Sunrise, after which Snider will headline an outdoor concert at 3 p.m. to include a stripped-down version of his best-known song, “We’re Not Gonna Take It” from his new solo album.
The song was the band's only Top 40 hit single, but it became an anthem for the ages. President-elect Donald Trump used it during his campaign for a bit until Snider cut him off.
While Twisted Sister is all but history, Snider is still making music. He recently came out with his latest solo album, We Are The Ones, which he calls a manifesto for the common man. It's an album that he says departs from metal and returns to punk roots.
The New Times caught up with Snider to talk about Standing Rock, Trump, and fair pay for struggling musicians.
New Times: Tell me about the event on Saturday. Have you grand marshaled before?
Snider: I've done a lot grand marshaling all over the country for different charitable events. This is the biggest one that I've ever done. It's being able to ride with one hand and wave like the queen. but I approach it a lot differently. I love the bike community. And I know a lot of grand marshals and they basically do a drive-by. I pride myself on getting there early, hanging out, walking around, meeting people, taking pictures, and talking, and riding, and really being a part of the event. I love the community, it's one of things that appeals to me so much. And the generosity of the biker community is so unparalleled. They're such giving people. Nobody should fool themselves and think they can show up and do one ride.
It sounds like you're a real man of the people.
I always try to be. The "down to Earth" phrase is used on me quite often and I pride myself on that. Try not to forget who you are. I did a little bit in the '80s when things exploded and I thought I floated. I came crashing down to Earth when reality set in that I wasn't floating, I was actually walking. I got my head on straight and I've tried to keep it on there that way ever since.
You were recently at Standing Rock doing some filming. What's a documentary rock video?
We went there to shoot a rock video but it turned into more of a documentary on what's going on there. It's not a tribal fight. People should be clear on that. The tribes are taking a stand for everybody. When you go up there, one of the first things you realize is there's all kinds of people there, all races and people from all over the world. I figured it would be a good opportunity to shine a light on something that's not getting the media attention it should. People think it's getting media attention. That pushed me over the edge. I think it's governmental and definitely on the oil companies to silence the media. The media is being targeted up there. Literally, our [director of photography] was aimed at and fired upon with rubber bullets when they saw him. At that point, he dropped the camera and ran. He was up by the front line.
I understand your son came with you?
I filmed myself during the day and my son was the director, Cody Blue Snider. He got called that there was some action happening. This was his first opportunity. When I arrived, it was literally a war zone. There was tear gas being thrown and there were concussion grenades. They call those flash-bangs. They're designed to stun you and blind you. They were firing on the crowd with rubber bullets and shotgun bean bags. They have shotguns that fire beanbag loads, so when it hits you it really knocks you off your feet. And to top it off with 18 degree weather, they had a water cannon. They were hosing the crowd down with the water cannon. These were people that who were just unarmed, praying, kneeling on the front lines. They're literally carrying on for hours. People were just covered in ice, frozen, loaded on a truck, and then hundreds more come through the front line and just stand there to be shot and tear-gassed and hosed. When you're there and you witness this and you see this—you realize that you're no longer making a rock video.
Weren't you afraid that you or Cody would get hurt?
When there's a danger up there, you don't want to look like you're trying to be the savior. I was very conscious of that—the rock star showing up and walking amongst the people. We didn't even want to suggest that in any way. We were there to help bring attention. When we went there, there were no major media outlets there. You have this war zone and NBC was there and that was it. No CNN, no Fox, no Associated Press, and then a bunch of smaller outlets. That's why you'll see this incredibly weak coverage. Occupy Wall Street had media coverage up the ass. And it's the same kind of civil disobedience and peaceful resistance. But out there in North Dakota with big oil at the helm, there's a very different event and it's not getting the attention that it should.
What happened with Donald Trump using your song during his campaign?
He used it in the very beginning with my permission then he stopped when I asked him to stop. A true friend. He called and asked if he could use it and I said yes. When he started endorsing a lot of things I can no longer stand with, I called up and I said listen man you got to stop, I don't endorse these things. He said OK and that night he stopped using it. That's a class guy there. Very few people actually ask and very few people respect your wishes when it comes to that.
Are the haters wrong about Trump? Should they give him a chance?
That remains to be seen. At this point, he is the president-elect and he's going to be president of the United States. So there's no choice there. So we have absolutely no choice to give him a chance and hope that some of the rhetoric was just that. My biggest thing is that people need their voices heard. That's what We Are the Ones, my new album, is about. You said that I view myself as a common man and I do. These are the ones working the jobs, paying the taxes, fighting the wars. Yet so often these voices are not heard. I try to tell people to make your voice heard and the Trump people did.
In regards to your new solo album, you've said you've abandoned the past to move forward. Does this mean you're abandoning metal?
Oh definitely. It's not a metal record. My producer came to me and said the world needs the Dee Snider message, that stand up and fight for what you believe in. So I took the challenge. That meant going in and doing music that was alien to me as a performer, but not as a listener. As a performer, this record is way more Foo Fighters and Thirty Seconds to Mars, and even Imagine Dragons. It's more punk influenced. There is no metal influence I would say.
Why the interest in politics?
It's not politics, it's firing up the masses. My thing is pro-choice on every level. I'm a gun carrier, I'm not anti-gun. Like most motorcycle riders, I wear a helmet, but I believe it should be your choice. To me, it's fighting for people's rights to freedoms and constitutional rights. If that's political, then I am political. I just want people to stand up for their freedoms and I just think too many of us think that it's a foregone conclusion and that our voice doesn't matter.
So Dee Snider for president someday?
Fuck no. I've been very close to the firing line, so to speak, politically. Some of the scummiest people in the world are in politics. It is the most self-serving, not-for-the-people job. It's just manipulative, it's ugly, it's dark, and it's been like that forever.
What is the Fair Play Fair Pay Act?
Simply, recording artists have never been paid by the radio industry. They are paid minimally from satellite radio. It's shit, it's terrible what they get paid, but it's something. Everywhere else in the world, radio pays the artist. Hundreds of millions of dollars sitting in accounts, waiting to be given to american artists, but they won't release the funds until American radio starts to pay artists from outside the country. Radio has claimed that they've been promoting albums. Like Fleetwood Mac needs their promotion. We want to get them [radio] to acknowledge the artist, that the music has value, and to pay something. This doesn't affect me. This really affects the up-and-coming artists.
The Mardi Gras Casino is located at 831 N Federal Hwy. in Hallandale Beach. For information, call (954) 924-3200. The parade leaves the casino at 9:45 a.m. on Sunday, Dec. 4. Dee Snider will lead the motorcycle parade with over 30,000 motorcyclists escorted by 250 police officers from the tri-county region. He finishes at Markham Park in Sunrise, after which Snider will headline an outdoor concert at 3 p.m.