Dee Snider’s latest solo album started the way I imagine lots of good things start: from a challenge by Hatebreed vocalist Jamey Jasta. Jasta convinced the legendary Twisted Sister frontman that he’s become an icon in metal and that he needs to do a contemporary metal album. Snider accepted, although even he admits he was a bit shocked that For the Love of Metalended up happening as well as it did.
“It’s a surprise to people; believe me, it was a surprise to me,” says Snider. “Jamey’s challenge… I’m all about accepting a challenge. I’m glad nobody challenged me to do a children’s record, because I would have done it [laughs]. Jamey said, ‘Think Halford. Think what he does.’ Somebody likened it more to Halford’s Fight than Halford, which they felt is more of a Priest record. So that was the challenge. I had my doubts. Especially with other people writing music, because I knew I’d have to sit there and imitate to write something contemporary. I said, ‘Who’s writing?’ and Jamey said, ‘Everybody is going to want to write for you, Dee.’ There was an outpouring, and Jamey produced it and guided it.”
Unlike when some old rockers make a “contemporary metal” (shudder) album, For the Love of Metal sounds genuine, sounds like Snider’s heart is still in the right place. Because it is.
“I love contemporary metal and I think that’s why it sounds so genuine,” he says. “I go to shows. My kids are all metalheads, especially my daughter, she’s hardcore. Over the years, because she was so young, I had to escort her to these shows, so I was exposed to all these hardcore bands. I love the passion, and I love the ‘I got nothing to lose’ attitude that these bands have. That’s what you lose when you’re successful. You lose that fearlessness. I’d much rather listen to bands that have that heart and that passion than listen to people who have lost it. I’ve always been in tune with that and have loved it. Jamey, in writing, we sat and talked endlessly about what matters to me now and about what I wanted to say now and where was I at emotionally now.”
One of the greatest moments on the album is when, during the title track, Snider belts out the words “We are all fucking metal.” It’s true, and it doesn’t sound forced or eye-rolling in the least; it sounds like words with a meaning, because they are.
“Thank you. I’m getting chills because it was such a fucking moment in the studio,” says Snider. “We were looking for that proclamation. And it was right before the breakdown. My daughter [Cheyenne] was like, ‘Dad, you’ve got to give me one fucking dirty breakdown on this record’ [laughs]. There’s some smaller breakdowns on the record, but she was like, you’ve just got to give me one dirty breakdown, and I need the ting.’ I said, ‘The ting?’ The ting is right before the breakdown, they hit the bell on the ride cymbal. There’s always the little ting. She said, ‘I need the ting!’ Cheyenne is like the judge. She’s so hardcore, she’s so judgemental; Jamey was in fear of her. She is the judge of all. But back to that statement—Rob Halford said being a headbanger is like being in the Marines. Once a Marine, always a Marine. Once a headbanger, always a headbanger. It’s always in you.”
And it’s true that it’s always in you, always in me, and always in Snider and his crew, as a story he tells about an incident with a former bandmate illustrates.
“I remember being on a flight with [Twisted Sister drummer] A.J. Pero before he passed. Here we are, I had just turned 60, A.J. was like 55. We’re both plugged into the same metal album on a plane flight. We’re in first class, and we’re thrashing in our seats. I’m going, okay, if you don’t know who the fuck we are we’re just two crazy old fucking dudes, silently… I’m sure it wasn’t silent, I’m sure there was a lot of, ‘Yeah!’ Like, too loud with the headphones on, singing but not realizing you’re singing… it just doesn’t go away. It just doesn’t go away. But I’m glad it doesn’t go away,” says Snider. “We are all fucking metal.”