Twisted Sister’s Dee Snider talks about the Rock and Roll Hall of Fames latest exhibit “Louder Than Words: Rock, Power and Politics”

Dee Snider is the out spoken, wild hair front man of the heavy metal band Twisted Sister. Dee is currently one of the subjects in a recent exhibit at the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame titled “Louder Than Words: Rock, Power and Politics”. The exhibit showcases some of the most important debates of our country through the lens of rock music. Media Mikes had the chance to talk with Dee recently about the exhibit, his thoughts on the country’s current political climate and the Twisted Sisters farewell shows scheduled for this fall.

Adam Lawton: How did you become involved with the current Rock and Roll Hall of Fame exhibit “Louder Than Words”?

Dee Snider: As it turned out my involvement during the 1980’s in Washington was a significant rock and politics moment. They reached out to me to do an interview and afterwards asked if I had any items I could loan them for a display. I ended up donating some of the things I wore the day I testified before congress. After talking with them more I was invited to the opening of the event which evolved into me singing an acoustic version of “Were Not Gonna Take It”. We did that with just piano and vocals and it went real well. This song is so much more important and says so much. It’s a lot more than just a great party song.

AL: Prior to your appearance before congress were politics something you had always been interested in?

DS: I had no interest in politics at that time. I was a young man in rock and roll and you just don’t think about those things. The song was written about my/our oppressors and I was sharing it with our audience who were equally frustrated. Now were older and there are greater concerns. The political climate right now is just awful! The fact that we have probably the most despised person in the history of presidential elections running against the second most despised person. The elections are going to come down to voting for one of those two people. That’s not the way it’s supposed to be so that’s why now more than ever I want “Were Not Gonna Take It” to inspire people. I want people to listen to that song and have it inspire them to try and make a change to get things back to the way our fore fathers intended it to be. People have to vote based on if they like the other guy or girl candidate instead of what issues they stand for. People are viewing this election like a reality television show. We all know reality television is not real but this is! When it comes down to this election we are just boned. I am actually in the process of shooting a new video for “Were Not Gonna Take It” with the guy who shot the original. This time around the video is not going to be funny. It’s going to be a fucking statement! The thing is its too late now but it’s not too late for the future to make something happen.

AL: Initially “Were Not Gonna Take It” was attached to Donald Trump’s campaign. How did that come and about and how did things work when you asked them to stop using it?

DS: I want to make something very clear. Donald Trump is a friend, a great guy and a class act. Unlike most politicians he called me and asked if he could start using the song. Him being my friend I told him he certainly could use it. Now when you are friends with people there is a rule. You don’t talk about three things sports, religion or politics. We never talked about the things he was standing for so when I started to see and read this stuff I thought “Holy Shit!” I called him up and told him I couldn’t stand behind the things he was saying. He said ok and that was it. Donald is a class act because he asked me first to use the song and then stopped using it when I asked him. I still like him as a person but we definitely don’t see eye to eye politically.

AL: Having seen where “Were Not Gonna Take It” has gone what do you think the young Dee Snider would think of all this?

DS: Young Dee Snider would be stunned. That song was written to rile up the masses and scare parents and it did that. Then it leads to me being the poster boy for all things bad about rock music and having to defend my songs and speaking out about censorship. Cut to now and it’s a rock and jock anthem, It’s on kids shows and commercials for women’s pre-menopausal medications. The ultimate irony of all happened a couple of years ago when the “Rock of Ages” film came out. Catherine Zeta-Jones plays a typical esc character fronting a PMRC esc organization who is trying to stop rock and roll. What song do they end up singing? “Were Not Gonna Take It”. You had to be fucking kidding me! That was the ultimate definition of irony. If you told young Dee Snider that thirty or forty years ago he probably would have punched you in the face! (Laughs)

AL: Twisted Sister was recently the topic of a documentary titled “Twisted F****** Sister” which showcased the bands early career. Are there plans to release a second part to that showing the success of the band?

DS: We sort of covered that with the “Behind the Music” special that aired on VH1. That’s the story most people tend to already know. We supported the making of that documentary but it was not something that was instigated by us. There was a documentarian who was intrigued by our story having learned that we were a band for ten years prior to making it big. This was something he was taken with and we welcomed his interest as too many people think that we jumped on the bandwagon of hair metal. We didn’t jump on it we built it! There were no bands like Motley Crue or Poison when we started. I give credit to Hanoi Rocks and Quiet Riot as well for also contributing but there was certainly no wagon to be jumped on. We were carrying the torch for something that record companies were rejecting. This film shows how hard we fought to get noticed and to where we are.

AL: It was recently announced that the band will be playing a handful of farewell shows this year. Can you tell us about those plans and what prompted this decision?

DS: I think this is long overdue. I don’t want anyone to take that the wrong way but I never intended to reunite Twisted Sister and then be together longer than we were when we first got together. I wanted to fix the broken relationships we had with one another and then end on a higher note than the one we ended on when we quietly disbanded in 1987. After a few years of reunion shows we had accomplished what I had wanted. We played the Wacken Festival to seventy five thousand people and it was a perfect show played to a perfect crowd on a perfect night. It also was captured by a dozen or so HD cameras and is available on DVD. That’s how I wanted to end things and I asked the guys if we could stop however the guys voted to keep going. With AJ passing away the sense of who Twisted Sister is and how we wanted to be remembered has become very strong. We know guys have members die and they keep going but we don’t want to be that band. After AJ died it seemed like a logical stopping point for us but with one caveat. AJ was the nice guy in the band however he didn’t have any sort of estate planning set up in the event something happened to him. These shows are going to allow us to say our goodbyes to the fans but also help raise some money for AJ’s estate. Along with our love for AJ and with the help of Mike Portnoy who is one hell of a drummer we did a run of shows last year and will be doing some this year as it will be our 40th anniversary. After these show’s that will be it for us. I don’t think anyone would fault us if we wanted to continue on indefinitely however there are other things we have to take in to account besides the loss of AJ. We perform with a very high energy rate and aggressiveness which has become expected of us. I don’t want to let our fans down. With a lot of work at the age of 61 I am still in great shape but no one beats gravity. I don’t want to go down on stage with a broken hip or something. If I did I don’t think the guys would even know something happened because they have seen my roll around on the floor before. (Laughs) Those guys wouldn’t think anything was really wrong until the EMT’s showed up as they probably would just assume I was milking it.

Blu-ray Review “Scooby-Doo! And KISS: Rock and Roll Mystery”

Starring: Frank Welker, Mindy Cohn, Grey Griffin, Matthew Lillard, Gene Simmons, Paul Stanley
Director: Tony Cervone
Rated: NR (Not Rated)
Studio: Warner Home Video
Release Date: July 21, 2015
Run Time: 78 minutes

Film: 4 out of 5 stars
Blu-ray: 4.5 out of 5 stars
Extras: 2 out of 5 stars

“Scooby-Doo! And KISS: Rock and Roll Mystery” is one hell of an amazing mash up. It takes two of the greatest things I grew up with “Scooby Doo” and the music of Kiss and brings them together. I literally couldn’t be happier. It also features six classic KISS songs and most importantly an all new original song from the band just for this film. If you love “Scooby Doo!” and KISS, this is a match made in heaven! This is such a blast!

Official Premise: When a ghoul begins to terrorize an amusement park, the Mystery Inc. gang come head to head with the legendary rock group, KISS, who claim they’re also there to solve the mystery. Now the two groups must learn to work together as the clues lead them on a cosmic journey to another dimension.

The voice cast are impressive as well. We see Kiss on board featuring Demon (Gene Simmons), Starchild (Paul Stanley), Catman (Eric Singer), and Spaceman (Tommy Thayer). Guest voice performances include appearances from Kevin Smith, Jason Mewes, Darius Rucker, Garry Marshall, Penny Marshall, Jennifer Carpenter and Pauley Perrette.

Warner Bros delivers a comob pack with a Blu-ray + DVD + Digital HD Ultraviolet copy. The 1080p transfer is super impressive. The colors are outstanding. The star of the film is easily the DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 surround track. The KISS classic tracks, including “Shout It Out Loud,” “I Was Made For Loving You,” and “Detroit Rock City”, all sound AMAZING!

The special features though are a little lacking unfortunately. There are two classic 1978 episodes from the “Scooby-Doo” archives, “To Switch a Witch” and “The Diabolical Disc Demon”. “Are You a Scooby or a Shaggy?” is a super brief chat with voice cast including KISS, Kevin Smith and Jason Mewes, and Darius Rucker. Lastly there are some KISS bloopers in “KISS Cut-Ups”. I was really hoping for more features about the involvement of KISS and bringing these two classic pop culture icons together.

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Ted Nugent talks about "Rock N Roll Express" tour with REO Speedwagon and Styx

The Motor City Mad Man Ted Nugent is prepping to hit the road again as part of “The Midwest Rock ‘N Roll Express”. His notable tracks include “Stranglehold”, “Cat Scratch Fever”, “Wango Tango”, and “Great White Buffalo”. After the tours successful summer run Nugent, Styx and Reo Speedwagon are back together again to bring their legendary sounds to the masses. Media Mikes had a chance to talk with “The Nuge” about the upcoming tour and the possibility of a new Damn Yankee’s album.

Adam Lawton: What was it that first interested you being a part of the “Rock N Roll Express” Tour?
Ted Nugent: When you are fortunate to be blessed with a band of such gifted, passionate, gungho musicians like Mick Brown, Greg Smith & Derek St Holmes, you just know that the musical joy & adventure that is guaranteed every night is what dreams are made of. Magnify this with the accumulated energy, spirit & attitude of the REO & Styx boys, and how could anyone possibly turn it down.

AL: What are you personally most looking forward to about the second run of shows?
TN: What my band delivers every song, every concert, every night is the highest of highs. The raw animal celebration of our audiences creates a powerful force to reckon with, so every concert has a life of its own. Such forces drive me into uncharted territory on the guitar each night that is absolutely compelling and inspiring.

AL: Do you have anything different planned for the set this time out?
TN: We are still performing as many classics as we can squeeze in every night, but we are also reaching back for some deeper and more recent songs like QUEEN OF THE FOREST, CRAVE, TOOTH FANG & CLAW and FRED BEAR that are a riot to perform. Plus we are trying very hard to figure how we can get Mick to drive a golfcart onto the stage each night. That is so much fun.

AL: With all the recent legislation directed towards firearms and such will you be bringing the bow and arrow on stage for this run?
TN: Yes. My assault bow is such an interesting and always controversial topic of discussion and we know it to be a fascinating and always funny stage maneuver.

AL: Are there any new “Uncle Ted” projects in the works? Maybe something with Damn Yankees or a new solo album?
TN: I am creating wonderful fun pieces of music all the time, but the damn calendar is so constricting! You never know.

Concert Review “Midwest Rock and Roll Express Tour” Ted Nugent, Reo Speedwagon, Styx

“Midwest Rock and Roll Express Tour”
Ted Nugent, Reo Speedwagon, Styx
Date: Friday, July 6th 2012
Venue: Tag’s Summer Stage, Big Flats, NY

Our Score: 4 out of 5 stars

The “Midwest Rock and Roll Express Tour” rolled into Tag’s Summer Stage in the Upstate NY town of Big Flats on July 17th and put on a show that was overflowing with classic rock hits. Local musician Brian Hughes kicked off the night performing a brief solo set of acoustic cover tunes. Hughes was able to put an interesting spin on several classic songs to which the crowd responded with heavy applause.

The always loud and outspoken Ted Nugent would follow and though performing hits like “Strangle Hold” and the always popular “Cat Scratch Fever” Nugent did not perform his staple of shooting his guitar with a flaming arrow. That aside the band performed flawlessly and sounded great.

Reo Speedwagon would take the stage next coming right out of the gate with “Don’t Let Him Go” and “Take It on The Run” before settling in to acknowledge the crowd. The band played all of their hits and closed out the night just as the sun was setting with the song “Ridin’ The Storm Out”. Reo played at the top of their game and the sound crew continued to shine with crystal clear sound which only added to the bands always upbeat performance.

Styx would close out the night as the near capacity crowd was on their feet from the opening notes of “Blue Collar Man” to the last notes of “Renegade” closed out the show. Tommy Shaw though appearing to be a bit under the weather still put on stellar performance. The band was full of energy interacting with each other and the crowd. The always animated Lawrence Gowan danced and spun around on his keyboard stand at dizzying speeds all without missing a beat.

The lineup, production and sound are top notch on this tour and if it’s making a stop in your area or nearby I highly recommend checking it out as the show is worth way more than the price of admission.

 

Ted Nugent :

1.) Wango Tango

2.) Just What the Doctor Ordered

3.) Free For All

4.) Stormtroopin’

5.) Wang Dang Sweet Poontang

6.) I Can’t Quite You Babe

7.) Hey Baby

8.) Cat Scratch Fever

9.) Strangle Hold

 

Reo Speedwagon:

1.) Don’t Let Him Go

2.) Take It on The Run

3.) Keep Pushin’

4.) Golden Country

5.) Can’t Fight This Feeling

6.) That Ain’t Love

7.) Like You Do

8.) Time For Me To Fly

9.) Back on the Road Again

10.) Roll With The Changes

11.) Keep on Loving You

12.) Ridin’ The Storm Out

 

Styx:

1.) Blue Color Man

2.) The Grand Illusion

3.) Too Much Time On My Hands

5.) Lorelei

6.) Man in the Wilderness

7.) Fooling Yourself (The Angry Young Man)

8.) Miss America

9.) Come Sail Away

10.) Rockin’ the Paradise

11.) Renegade 

 

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Film Review “The Perfect Age of Rock ‘n’ Roll”

Directed by: Scott Rosenbaum
Starring: Kevin Zegers, Jason Ritter, Peter Fonda, Taryn Manning
Red Hawk Films
MPAA Rating: R
Running Time: 92 minutes

Our Score 3.5 out of 5 stars

Music is a big inspiration in my life and I am always jump at the chance to see a good music road-movie. That is what this film is a good music road-movie. You can tell when you watch the film that it is a real labor of love from director Scott Rosenbaum. He has put many years into this film and that is what makes this film unique. Most music films are cliche but this one makes a stand and stand aside from the others. Great performances only add more to this film…and it is one intense journey through the world of music.

Rock star Spyder (Kevin Zegers) is looking to record his band’s third album and seeks long lost childhood friend, Eric Genson (Jason Ritter) for help. Spyder is struggling and burnt out after the flop of his sophomore album. Eric agrees to help Spyder as long as they do it his way. The guys set out on a cross country journey from Long Island, NY to Los Angeles, CA. Accompanying the band is their manager (Taryn Manning), the legendary August West (Peter Fonda). As they travel along historic Route 66 it makes them realize what their journey truly means and what they are looking for in music and life.

The film is not all fun and games and is quite gritty and intense. It shows the ups but also a whole lot of downs as the group travels. The acting in this film is so key to this film working and it really succeeds. Kevin Zegers is dark and channels his goth rocker quite well. Jason Ritter is emotional and really sells this performance. Peter Fonda aces his character in the film as always as the aged but still cool rocker. I look forward to Scott Rosenbaum next feature to see what he draws up after this successful debut. Music fans keep an eye out for blues legends Pinetop Perkins, Hubert Sumlin and Sugar Blue.

 

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