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“How great does it feel to be at a rock show again?” rock and metal radio and talk show personality Eddie Trunk asked a jam-packed Stereo Garden last month.
“And not just any rock show, your hometown boy, Dee Snider.”
Long Island’s most notorious metalhead, Dee Snider, performed at Stereo Garden on June 11 to record a concert film promoting his new album, “Leave A Scar,” released Friday on Napalm Records.
Produced by Sexy Wings Productions, the concert boasted several tracks off “Leave A Scar,” plus fan-favorite tracks from Snider’s previous solo endeavors and Twisted Sister hits.
Then Thursday night, Stereo Garden hosted a record release party, during which the concert film, which can be streamed here, debuted. Before the airing, Connecticut’s Kings and Liars and Long Island’s Holy Mother, both of whom contain members of Snider’s current band, played to a crowd of nearly 200 metalheads.
Before the June show, Greater Long Island interviewed Snider about his new album and his Stereo Garden performance, as well as other career highlights and his time living on Long Island. Click here for 10 things we learned talking with Snider. Scroll down for photos and reporting from June 11.
‘It’s time to roll again’
Several hundred people crammed into Stereo Garden for Snider’s June 11 performance, the rocker’s first in nearly two years, during which time he said he contemplated retiring from touring. Then came the COVID-19 pandemic, which he said “served as incredible inspiration for the new record,” and rekindled a desire to get on stage.
“It made me say, ‘Alright, I am not done,'” Snider, said. “I thought I was done, I’ve got something to say and I need to make a record. I need to communicate these feelings reflecting the world we’re in at this time, the COVID world, the political world. I need to speak out.”
Perhaps Snider’s feelings coming out of the pandemic are best summed up by the lead single off the album, and his concert opener, “I Gotta Rock (Again).” During his performance, he said he couldn’t wait to sing the third song of his set, Twisted Sister’s “You Can’t Stop Rock And Roll,” after the pandemic.
The feeling appeared mutual among his fans, old and new, as the crowd eagerly sang along.
At the front of the crowd, leaning on the barrier and pumping his fist during the show was Mike Pacos, 45, donning a Twisted Sister vest signed by four of the five band members.
Pacos said June’s concert marked his 10th time seeing Snider live, his third seeing him solo.
Pacos and other Twisted Sister concert-veterans were treated to a familiar face when Snider introduced Mark “The Animal” Mendoza to join him on stage to play bass on “Under the Blade.”
Far behind Pacos was a first-time Snider concert-goer, Chris Gandolfo, joined by his younger brother, James, and his father, Mike.
“I grew up with Twisted Sister,” Gandolfo, 20, said. “When I was six, my dad first showed me ‘We’re Not Gonna Take It,’ and I thought, ‘What the hell is this?’ It was such an iconic image.”
“Leave A Scar”
“Leave A Scar,” Snider’s third full-length solo release in five years and the heaviest release of his entire career, fuses his time-tested, mother-disapproved lyrical themes of rebellion, good and evil, self preservation and rock and roll, with the detuned guitars and thick and rich production of contemporary metal releases.
The album conjures characters who routinely wrong others and ultimately themselves. The central figure on “Crying for Your Life” is doomed by their poor choices, but on “Time to Choose,” akin to the characters of Twisted Sister’s “Sin After Sin” of “Burn in Hell,” Snider leaves room for redemption.
“Down But Never Out,” the third track off the new album, like many of Snider’s hallmark anthems, offers optimistic and uplifting lyrics cloaked in aggressive vocal delivery and thunderous riffs.
“Even though my songs are very rebellious in nature and speak out angrily sometimes, there always with a side of hope,” Snider said. “‘We’re Not Gonna Take It,’ I believe there’s hope in that. We’re not putting up with this… it’s inferred we’re gonna do it our way.”
In the case of “Down But Never Out,” Snider said he sought to offer hope to the world during the COVID-19 pandemic. “It talks about how we got our ass kicked during the COVID times, but never out,” Snider said. “It says we’re not gonna beaten by this thing, we will return. So I always do balance, I wanna lift people up. At the same time, they need someone to scream for them. They need someone to express the frustrations there feeling, and I realize — and that was part of the reasons for coming back — that that’s my job. I’ve been blessed with the platform, I’ve been blessed with the voice, I’ve been blessed with people paying attention to the things I say.”
An OG metalhead fitting in today
Snider, a self-proclaimed “OG Day 1 Metalhead,” honors the metal-forging icons who came before him, from name-checking Judas Priest and Dio tracks on the opening verse of “For the Love of Metal,” to penning “Hard Core (Lemmy’s Song),” a tribute to Motorhead’s mole-faced, gravel-throated, Rickenbacker-wielding frontman.
But over the past few years, he has also championed and collaborated with metal’s trailblazers who formed bands after Twisted Sister first disbanded in ’88. This chapter of his career showcases his willingness to evolve with heavy metal.
Cannibal Corpse’s George “Corpsegrinder” Fisher provides throaty screams on “Time to Choose,” the second single off Snider’s latest album. Fisher, a death metal trendsetter, might seem like an out-of-left-field choice for the man who’s makeup covered-face was regularly seen on MTV, but he blends well into the mix of the Baldwin-raised rocker’s newer, heavier sound.
“I love hardcore metal and I love poppier metal, because I think its all part of the same family, and it should all be supported and championed,” Snider said. “With Twisted Sister, we were a metal band, but we became known for more anthemic sing-along kind of fun things, and it came to define us.”
Jamey Jasta, vocalist for Hatebreed, helped Snider forge his heavier contemporary style as producer on “Leave A Scar” and 2018’s “For the Love of Metal.
“At my core I’m a metalhead and I continue to grow and change with the community,” Snider said. “With the help of Jamey Jasta, I’ve found — I like to think — it’s a middle ground. I’m sure there’s fans of mine from the ’80s going ‘no, you went off the freaking ranch on this one! You’re way too heavy for us now.’ But for me it’s finding a place where I still have my voice, but it’s contemporary enough were it fits in with what’s going on today.”
Last year, the veteran rocker turned to another one of the genre’s younger revered flag-waivers, Lzzy Hale, frontwoman of the Grammy-Award winning Halestorm, for a holiday duet, “The Magic of Christmas Day.” Snider wrote the track, originally titled “The Magic of Christmas Day (God Bless Us Everyone)” as a Christmas present for his wife, Suzette, but he never released his own version until Hale lent her signature vibrato for the record. However, Celine Dion recorded it for her 1998 Christmas album, “These Are Special Times,” which has sold over five million copies.
He’ll be back on LI soon
Long Island headbangers that missed the hometown hero’s performance and his album release party will get another chance to catch Snider on the Island.
He will be doing an album signing at Looney Tunes, the oldest record store on the island, on Tuesday Aug 17 at 7 p.m.
As for when fans can expect another live performance, Snider could not say when he might hit the stage next.
“I’m involved with so many projects, it’s not even possible for me to say I’m hitting the road, 150 shows,” Snider said. “You’re not gonna see one of those tour shirts, but I do plan on doing more live shows. It just felt good to rock again, hence the song.”