Jesse Blaze Snider was one of those kids who grew up under heavy expectations being the child of a famous rock legend…Dee Snider. Throughout his life he worked very hard to achieve the goals that he set for himself without using his namesake to reach them until one day he decided to embrace the fact and use it to catapult him into stardom. Jesse took a slice out of his personal time from doing the “MTV’s Rock The Cradle” show to give us an insight on what he’s been up to these days, his plan to bring back “Arena Rock” and what it was like growing up with his father being the “cross-dressing” lead vocalist of one of the biggest Heavy Metal bands ever…Twisted Sister!
The Entertainment Nexus- Hey Jesse, how’s it going?
Jesse Blaze Snider - Hey Troy ! Before we start the interview…how are you doing man?
T.E.N - I’m doing great how about you?
JBS - I’m doing well! I told you that the whole press thing is very “tight lipped” on the MTV side but Teal my publicist, helped figure things out so we can do the interview so what do ya have for me, man?
T.E.N - Okay, let’s get the obvious question out of the way. What was it like for you growing up?
JBS - Ya know, people ask me that all of the time and I really don’t have an answer for them because my upbringing was normal as far as I was concerned. It’s not like I get too in-depth on what other peoples’ up bringing was like. My dad didn’t do drugs…he wasn’t a “womanizer”…he’s been with my mom for over thirty something years now. They’ve been married for twenty six or twenty seven and together for like thirty-three. I had a pretty normal childhood as far as I am concerned. I mean it’s not that we didn’t have a lot of celebrity friends or anything. It started out very “rich and luxurious” when I was really little and then we lost everything and it became “very not so much” which sucked. I was in elementary and middle school and when you’re the child of a rock star you’re constantly living with “expectation.” Everybody’s expectations of “What you’re gonna be like?”… “What your parents are gonna be like?”… “What your home life is gonna be like?” “What your house is gonna be like?” everything. One of the expectations is “You’re gonna have money and a big house and all of that stuff.” Our house was like “a couple million termites holding hands” and we were renting! We were renting in not the greatest area and people were like; “We wanna come over to your house” and when they’d get there it’d be like: “Oh!” Ya know, our home life wasn’t anything to be ashamed of but, at the same time because the peoples’ expectations being so high…it became a “shameful thing” which sucked because it turned something that I was content with into a negative. That was difficult… “Growing up with expectation is a bitch!” especially for your personality and who you’re gonna be. I was so sick and tired and it got old really fast. People assumed what I was gonna be like, thinking that they knew me before they even met me. It became my goal in life to be completely different than what anybody thought I was gonna be. If people thought that I was gonna be a “spoiled brat” or “a dick and think I was the shit” then I was gonna be “humble and sweet as can be” and show everybody that they were wrong about me.
T.E.N. - It seems like that in your career, you’ve tried to do a lot of things without your father having to pull any strings for you. You’ve gone out and busted your ass and done things your way.
JBS - I’ve tried to do everything without his help which is funny because my music career began with me being a little bit “spoiled.” Not spoiled in the ‘Oh, here’s money and gifts and things that you need to get this done.” Somebody asked me “Why my dad never pushed me?” and I got like a little bug under my ass and I was like; “Yeah dad, why haven’t you ever pushed me to do music?” and you saw this on the “Rock The Cradle” show we both remember the day. He said; “Because you have no passion!” At the time he was right. I didn’t have a passion for music but that lit a fire under my ass and I immediately went to show him. It was completely independent. I was like “Alright, you don’t want to help me? You don’t wanna push me? I’ll show you!” It eventually became independent for my own reasons. I very quickly had all of these people talking about how I was “basically hanging on the coat tails” and all that other nonsense. I was like: “Alright I’m not gonna give anybody any ammunition to be right about any of this!”
It’s funny because I’ve basically gone through every career that I’ve done without asking for any help and getting a leg up from using the name and yet along the way it’s been nothing but “Yeah but he wouldn’t be there if not for this”… “He wouldn’t be there if not for this”… “He wouldn’t be there if not for this.” It’s just bullshit! I’ve worked my ass off NOT using my dad’s name for years and people would still find out and give me shit about it! That’s when I finally said “I can’t win!” If I use the name and I use the help that I’d get I get shit for it. That’s one of the reasons why it’s taken me so long in music. I haven’t used the name and I haven’t done any of the things that might have helped me by banking on my dad’s fame. I finally said “Ya know what? If I’m gonna get shit for this…I might as well be doing it! I might as well use the name…I might as well do a show like this because I’m gonna get shit either way!” People don’t wanna give me the “Hey man, ya did a great job…ya did it yourself.” They don’t wanna give me fuckin’ credit so ya know what…fuck them! I’m gonna use every advantage that I can get and I’m gonna go that route. Ya know what? I know that I can do it “with or without” but it is helpful. I’m gonna take everything that I can get and I’m gonna do it. And, at the end of the day, people are gonna see that I have the fuckin’ talent! Because if I didn’t have talent…I wouldn’t be where I am and I wouldn’t be doing any of the things that I’m doin because a fuckin’ name doesn’t get you a job. It might get ya an interview…but it doesn’t get you the job!
T.E.N .- It’s the ol “Damned if you do” cliché.
JBS - Absolutely! That’s why I’m like “Ya know what…screw it!” I’m gonna take what I can get and if it makes people interested in talking to me about somethin…well then great. Then I’ll use my “male wiles” to win you over. (Laughs)
T.E.N.- You’ve worked with MTV in the past. Tell me about that.
JBS - Yeah, I was a broadcasting major in college and I auditioned to be a vj for “MTV’s Headbanger’s Ball” Actually that was one of those things where once again when they found out who my father was and they liked me but they were interested because it was “Headbanger’s Ball” and my dad had started “Headbanger’s Ball.” Then, all of a sudden a job opening appeared on “MTV 2 Rock” and “MTV 2 Rock Countdown.” I was one of the contenders for the “Headbanger’s Ball” spot and they had me there and I just got kinda thrown into “MTV 2 Rock” and within a week they hired me for that gig. It was really cool because nothing ever happens that fast in this business. Everything’s “Hurry up and wait…hurry up and wait.” That gig like happened over night. I did that for a year. Then from there I did some stuff on “FUSE” and “AOL Music’s Countdown.” I did some hosting for HBO and various things. I did a lot of hosting after that. I had a pretty nice career doing the hosting stuff. But, I had a real “rock n’ roll look” that wasn’t great for all sorts of hosting positions. I was doing the “music thing” so I wouldn’t cut my hair. So, that (hosting) sort of started to die out as I exhausted most of the “rock n’ roll” places. Most of the rock and roll places I auditioned for I was either “not the right fit” or what ever. It was few and far between which places that were interested in the “rock n’ roll” guy as their host. So, I moved on to “voiceovers” and commercials at that point. Commercials…I really didn’t like doin. I did like one Domino’s commercial that never aired where I played like a “rock n’ roll” guy in a band. At the same time that I did that one, I got a voiceover job and my one voiceover gig led to another one…which led to another one…led to another one an on and on. I have a really successful voice over career now and that’s been paying my bills and my wife and I have had a house and everything for a long time now. Prior to that, I was doing construction work. I was coaching gymnastics and doing all sorts of odd jobs to pay the bills. But voiceovers have been a “Godsend” for me and once again…I DID THAT MYSELF…NO LEG UP! Nobody knows that this is the voice of Dee Snider’s son…nobody fuckin’ cares. (Laughs)
T.E.N.- Who would ever think that when you’re doing the voice of a chicken? (Burger King commercial)
JBS - Yeah…it’s like “Hey, that’s Dee Snider’s sons’ voice. (Laughs)
T.E.N.- You’ve run the gamut from being a semi pro football player to a florist right?
JBS - Yeah man, I was a florist for a little while. I was an artist back in school before I switched over to writing. I wanted to draw comic books but I had this spat with a teacher. I had moved half way through high school and I had a new art teacher who was this dude who just did not care for me and I didn’t care for him and that’s when I kinda lost my taste for art the moment that I had to deal with him. I lost my taste for art and switched over to writing which became my new passion which is great because I think that I’m a much better writer than I ever was an artist.
T.E.N .- Do you draw the panels for the comics or just write?
JBS - No…no I just write the scripts now. I write the panel descriptions and the entire dialog. I dictate exactly what the artist does but it’s up to the artist to make that stuff “come alive.” I’ve worked with some artists who are really great at making what you’ve described even better. But, I’ve also worked with some artists that you’ve described something to and you’re like “What is this crap? Didn’t they read what I wrote?” (Laughing)
T.E.N.- What are some of the comic books that you’ve written for?
JBS - Well my first paid work was at Marvel…which was really cool. I wrote something for Fangoria Comics which is a prequel to my dads’ movie; “Strangeland.” I wrote that after the Marvel Comics work that I got but the Marvel Comics work is just finally coming out almost two years after I wrote it. It’s been a long time commin and I’m really happy that it’s finally commin out. In June, I believe “Marvel Comics Presents” #10 features a story that I wrote with a character called: “Deadpool.” He’s this really funny, quirky assassin. It’s a really fun piece about him going to kill this rich guy at a penthouse apartment and right before he’s gonna kill the guy…his cell phone goes off and wakes up the guy, wakes up his body guard and he spends the whole issue talking on the phone and fighting ninjas!
The cool thing about that was the editor who had come in after the initial editor who hired me said that “He’d read the stuff that was there and mine was his favorite out of all of the stuff that had already been done…which was really nice to hear! About two months later, he asked me to do a Hulk “one shot” for him. I wrote that and he told me that it “exceeded his expectations” which was great because that was what I was tryin’ to do. It’s being drawn right now and I’m “excited as all hell.” It looks great and I think that Hulk fans are gonna like it and be pretty happy. I’m livin my dream. I’ve always wanted to write comics for a living my whole life. Honestly, if I could write comics until I’m old and grey…I will die happy.
T.E.N. - So which would you rather do; the comics or the rock star?
JBS- Ya know what? Honestly…I wanna do the “rock star” thing but that is kind of a short thing…ya know? In most rock careers ya “blow up” and then ya go away. I really want to do it. I want to “blow up” in that big way. I wanna bring back rock stars. I wanna pave the way for other people. Ya know…to bring back “Big Rock” and make it what it used to be…a dominating force in the music industry. It’s not anymore. We are not dominating. We are being over shadowed and swallowed up by “Hip Hop” and “Pop” and everything else. I wanna help remind people of how much they love rock n roll. I think they’ve just forgot and I think they’ll remember with just a little bit of help.
T.E.N.- It seems that there are a lot of “prefab cookie cutter” acts, bands, whatever you want to call them.
JBS- There are a lot of “pre-produced studio bands” and very polished things. I like polished music actually…I’m a fan of that. My main problem is that rock n roll people and fans have become the nerdy kids at school. Rock used to be “The Cool.” We used to be the people that everybody was copying. Now we’ve become the people who look like they work at Seven Eleven. They are all interchangeable. If you put a bunch of rock stars in a crowded room…you’re not gonna be able to tell anybody apart…unless you’re really intimately involved. You’re not gonna be able to go “That guys in a band!” That’s how it’s supposed to be. You’re supposed to be able to pick us out of a line up. You’re supposed to be able to go to a show and have an unbelievable experience where you’re just letting off steam and getting your aggression out there. Rock n roll is supposed to be an outlet. Not for just “rock n’ rollers” but for everybody. It’s supposed to be that “guilty pleasure” where you’re freakin rockin out and lettin off steam, man. There’s no rock like that anymore. All of the rock n roll these days unfortunately is very down trodden. We’ve become down trodden…we’ve become jaded…we’re “uncool” and “rock n roll is not what it used to be.” “We’re a bunch of nerds” or “mom didn’t feed us good…dad didn’t treat us good” and “everything kinda sucks… nothin’s gonna change.” Well fuck that, man! Who’s gonna stand up and say “That’s not true!” “I’m fuckin good enough; I’m fucking smart enough and goddammit people fuckin like me!” That’s what rock n roll needs to be about. I know it seems kinda “Magoo” when you’re like; “Things are good, think positive in rock n roll” but it needs to be about positives in rock n roll. That’s what it used to be about. Ya know, I’m not for all of the “Hey, I’m fuckin hot” songs. All the Motley Crue and Poison things never really did it for me. But, that was a positive thing! “Look how fuckin cool I am. All the chicks want me!” Everybody was with that because they all wanted the chicks to like them too! Twisted Sister and bands like KISS…well KISS had a little bit of the “chick thing” too but there was a lot more of that “Hey man, I’m fuckin cool and everybody wants to be my friend and “Fuck you” if you don’t agree. I mean that’s what rock n roll is about and that’s what needs to come back. That’s what it is sorely, sorely lacking. If nobody else is gonna do it…I’ll fucking do it all by myself!
T.E.N.- You can be the leader of a “Rock N Roll Renaissance.”
JBS- That’s what I want, man. People seem to be reacting to it. They get what I’m trying to do. I’m really doing this for some unselfish reasons. I really love music. I really love connecting with people but more than anything else; I want to help people reconnect with that important “self realization” and confidence that rock n rollers used to have! It just sucks that we’ve fallen off of everybody’s radar. And that’s bullshit! We need to get back out there and I want to do it so that others can do it. Everybody’s a little timid or scared to do it. Well fuck that, man! I got my cock out and I’m rockin!
T.E.N.- I was a teenager in the eighties and I remember going to shows and seeing Twisted Sister and Iron Maiden or a Twisted Sister/ RATT/Y&T triple bill and it was a party!
JBS- And wasn’t it not liberating? It was like “These guys are like me and they’re awesome! They weren’t wearing a flannel shirt or freakin hiding behind amps or stupid little videos. They were freakin out there and they didn’t give a shit and like fuck man…I can do the same. Ya know the coolest thing about my dad is the sheer amount of people who were just inspired to be themselves…doing the things that they wanted to do and accomplish the shit that they wanted to do and live their dreams because of Twisted Sister’s music. That is the coolest thing about music. Being able to connect with and inspire people. Rock n roll today is not inspiring anybody to do anything except fuckin cry! I’m tired of seeing Britney Spears and 50 Cent and all of these other “non rock n roll” artists on the Rolling Stone cover! What are they doing on Rolling Stone, man! Rolling Stone is a rock n roll magazine! I think people are ready for a change. Between “Guitar Hero” and “Rock Band” and all of those things, people are ready for some big rock n roll to come back to the main stream.
T.E.N.-Do you think that’s why the “Rocklohoma” show is so huge?
JBS- Yeah man all of these things. People are ready. Everybody is hesitant and nervous because “glam” died the way it did. Unfortunately corporate people got into glam and then glam became kinda bull crap. Bands like Twisted Sister and RATT and Poison they were the ones who led the wave. They were the “real deal.” Then unfortunately everybody kinda jumped on the band wagon and did this kinda vague “every single is a fuckin ballad” kinda thing. It destroyed itself. It wasn’t because of the bands that led the wave and were doing it for the right reasons; it was because of the people who were doing it for all of the wrong reasons. There’s no reason to say that the people doing it for the right reasons can’t comeback and show you why it was big in the first place. And that’s going back into the seventies too. The seventies were doing it right…the beginning of the eighties were doing it right and then it just got too friggin stupid. It just got too corporately involved. You eventually had bands that were basically the equivalent to the Backstreet Boys doing rock n roll. Ya know people don’t want that. People want legitimate messages in their music…something that’s written for them with them in mind and not with making money in mind. I mean I’d love to make money doing rock n roll…I mean hell yeah I wanna make money doing the things that I love. But, at the same time, I’m not going to change it to make it something that’s more marketable. I’m gonna do it my way because I think people will appreciate it that way.
T.E.N.- Let’s talk about your band Baptized By Fire for a minute. How did the band come together?
JBS- I was doing my thing with a couple different names. It was all basically “The Jesse Blaze Project” and the problem with that was that I was having trouble holding on to really good musicians because they don’t want to have everything “creatively” dictated to them. When I finally found the guys who I really liked and enjoyed working with and that could bring something to the table, I said “Let’s form a new band.” This was a really difficult decision to make. Not only was I giving up a lot of the creative control but I was also abandoning all of the hard work that I had put in to getting my name out there and building a following for my band “Blaze”. To throw it all away to start a brand new band with a bunch of new guys was a very big leap of faith. That’s why the very first song we ever wrote together as a band was called; “The Phoenix.” I needed to start again and burn down Blaze and rise from the ashes with Baptized By Fire. It’s tough to do that but it was the right decision and it’s been great! I’ve got a great working experience with these guys. Danny Whacker is exactly the guitar player that I’ve always wanted. My bass player DanCarlisle is killer. He has a great ear. All of our songs basically start with him and me for the most part. We’ll come up with the melody and then bring it to the band. Danny will turn it into this insane guitar riff and Ben(Clapp) will make it move and groove and feel exciting and energetic…kinda “punk rock” which is why I needed him. Every member of the band has their function and none of them are interchangeable. If you remove any of the guys in the band it would become a totally different thing. It was really cool because when I was offered to do this show, originally the contract was all about a solo career and I was stuck exclusively in with this contract. I told them (MTV) “I can’t do this. I can’t abandon my band. I love these guys and I’ve been working with these guys for years and I’m unwilling to just walk away from them for a good opportunity!” They (MTV) said that they respected that and were willing to incorporate the band into the deal. If I win this show or if I don’t win and they still decide to exercise the contract that they have as an option with me, they also have ninety days to exercise a contract with Baptized By Fire. If they don’t, I’m allowed to go wherever I want with the band and do whatever I want. It’s really a great opportunity what I’m doing right now for the band to get some exposure and get out there and hopefully get a deal when this whole thing is done.
T.E.N.- How does the band feel? Do they support you being on the show?
JBS- Oh yeah, they’re so happy that I approached the show with them in mind. They’re really happy to be a part of it and hoping I kill. What’s good for me is good for them.
T.E.N.- You did a hell of a job the first night right out of the gate.
JBS- Oh, thanks very much. This weeks gonna be even better. The song’s perfect for my range and it’s gonna be really sweet. I’m super excited about it.
T.E.N.- What do you think that you’ll take from the experience?
JBS- The biggest thing that I’ve taken from the experience so far is some great friendships. I had no idea that I was gonna make such wonderful friends. I mean life-long friends. Landon Brown, Bobby Browns’ son is very quickly becoming one of my best friends. He is such a great guy and I know he feels the same way about me. He and I are from totally different musical areas but we are very similar people. We get along great and are hanging out like crazy. Landon and
Lil B.Sure, Al B. Sures’ son, A’keiba Burrell who is MC Hammers’ daughter has become great friends of mine. So has Lucy Walsh. Lucy Walsh is just a “kick ass rockin chick.” I know she’s gonna go far in the competition too. She’s great and really cool. I’m hopin that she’s gonna have a nice long career. She’s got such a great voice and a great attitude. I’m makin such great friends and I never expected that to be the case. But, hopefully at the end of this show, the world’s gonna be ready for a new rock star and I’m hopin I’m gonna be it!
T.E.N.- Do you think it’s a little ironic that you’re on a show with Landon Brown and your father was on the CMT “Gone Country” show with Bobby Brown?
JBS- Yeah it was very odd that that happened. Unfortunately Landon doesn’t have quite the relationship with his dad that I have with mine. Bobby is kind of a difficult person to be your dad and it has its ups and downs and a bit crazy. The more stories that Landon tells me, the harder it is to not be mad at Bobby. I really care about Landon and the more things I hear it’s like “Fuck, what happened? When did that happen?” It’s really a lot of disappointment that he’s lived with. I definitely had it rough growing up with being the son of a “cross-dresser” but being Bobby Browns’ kid is much harder to deal with. We went out to dinner with Landon and his dad the other day for sushi and Bobby was a real nice guy. He means well…he’s just a bit of a “F-up” I think. He didn’t always make the greatest life decisions but he’s a good natured person. Landon is just like his dad but way more level headed and even more charming and cool. I can’t say enough good things about Landon Brown.
T.E.N .-Tell me something really disturbing about yourself, that you’ve never told anyone before.
JBS- Something disturbing about myself. Ya know what man; I’m really not all that disturbing. I’m like “a pretty good natured nice guy.” I don’t know if I’ve told this in any interviews before but I used to play with action figures when I was a little kid. I had super hero action figures…being a comic book fan and when I was around ten I built a little city in my room. Then when I became thirteen instead of growing out of playing with them, I built my city even bigger. Then at fifteen, I built it even bigger. Then at eighteen instead of growing out of playing with action figures…I built the city even bigger. Now instead of growing out of playing with action figures, I’ve built my city even bigger! There have been a few occasions where my wife has woken up to hear me whispering and banging action figures together saying “Take that…and that… and that!” I just never grew out of it, man. (Laughing) I’m a big kid. Growing up, toy stores and comic book stores were my favorite places to be. Now I’m an adult and my office is built like a comic book store with toys and statues and comic book shit and I still have my city that I play with my action figure in. I used it recently when I did my “Hulk” comic book. I pulled out my Hulk and a couple of other figures and mapped out the fight that I was gonna do in the book, which was kinda cool. So…I’m using it for work! (Laughs) I think a lot of people would find that disturbing. I love it! I’m not ashamed of it and I find it awesome that I still play with toys. When I have kids, I’m gonna play with my toys with my kids.
T.E.N .-I’ve got all kinds of music figures and comic book figures in my office too.
JBS- It’s fun to play with fuckin toys! Nobody should grow outta that shit! There’s no reason to stop being a kid! The moment that you stop being a kid…that’s when you really get old!
T.E.N .-And, you’re a big fan of “Fraggle Rock” too.
JBS- Dude that show still holds up, man. The music on that show is great. Jim Henson was very wise not to “dumb down” the music for the kids. They had lots of people audition to do the music for the show. They ended up picking these singer/songwriters who were way more “adult oriented” and had these really kind of “fun and fancy free” songs that were relatively “family oriented.” The songs on “Fraggle Rock” are engaging and catchy and memorable and up lifting. “Fraggle Rock” is such a great concept. The idea of it was “world peace.” You had all of these totally different beings from different backgrounds and by the end of the show; they all come together and realize that they are all worth while. I’m a big Jim Henson fan.
T.E.N .-Is there anything else that you want to say?
JBS- I’m gonna say that if ya saw me on “Rock The Cradle” and ya like what I did, go vote for me. I need the votes for me to stay in on the show. So far so good I think I’m gonna make it all the way. Also, check out my band “Baptized By Fire” at www.myspace.com/bxftheband. I’ll send you to Myspace because that’s where we have our music up.
T.E.N. would like to thank Jesse for being really cool and taking the time to talk with us during his extremely busy schedule. Also, we would like to thank Teal Cannaday for aiding in securing the interview with MTV and MTV for granting the interview and Mark Weiss for supplying the photos used for the interview.
For additional information on Baptized By Fire please visit http://baptized-by-fire.com/
For additional information on MTV’s “Rock The Cradle” visit http://www.mtv.com/ontv/dyn/rock_the_cradle/series.jhtml
For additional information on Mark Weiss please visit http://www.markweiss.com