DURHAM — Dee Snider wants to rock and he’s pumped for his upcoming headlining appearance at Catskill Mountain Thunder on Saturday.
The festival focuses on his other great love besides music — motorcycles.
As the frontman for Twisted Sister, Snider dominated album-rock radio for a brief time in the early 1980s, snarling the anthems “I Wanna Rock” and “We’re Not Going to Take It.”
Since 1997, he’s hosted the syndicated radio show “House of Hair,” which showcases 1980s heavy metal and hard rock.
Snider, 63, was booked to do the Catskill Mountain Thunder gig by his agent, who knows his client has a thing for motorcycles ever since he bought his first motorcycle in 2001.
Then, his biker comrades told him the festival will be fun.
“I’m a born-again biker; I was a car guy my whole life,” Snider said. “I developed a passion for it, that’s for sure.”
As a biker, Snider has had a rapport with audiences at motorcycle festivals, unlike REO Speedwagon singer-guitarist Kevin Cronin, who played a motorcycle festival and couldn’t connect with the crowd.
“Cronin said, ‘Man, this is so weird, you’re always the guys who beat me up’ — that is not a rapport,” Snider said.
Snider is touring in support of his latest album “For the Love of Metal,” which he said is a contemporary hard-rock record and the most left-field project he’s ever done.
“I’ve done other solo records before, but they fell on deaf ears — people are interested in hearing songs from it,” he said. “People will be suitably impressed and they’ll get their money’s worth.”
The album, which contains such tracks as “American Made” and “Running Mazes,” features a roster of musicians who were kids when Twisted Sister was at its peak and are now eager to work with Snider.
“Without the fans, I wouldn’t be enjoying this part of my career,” Snider said.
Snider’s biggest hit, “We’re Not Gonna Take It,” remains relevant today. It was used as an anthem when 36,000 Oklahoma teachers defiantly walked off the job protesting low wages and meager school funding in April.
A great song should be open to interpretation, Snider said, and he was surprised and pleased to see the teachers use it for their cause, he said.
“All these years later the teachers have latched onto it — that’s great,” he said. “The song is literally become a folk song all over the world.”
Unlike some of his hard-rock contemporaries, Snider didn’t take to drugs and alcohol. He keeps in shape, which has allowed him to continue to perform better than some 20-year-olds, he said.
“I view performing as my only job when I’m on the road,” Snider said. “I don’t hang out and I don’t socialize.”
More than two decades after it premiered, “House of Hair” can be heard on over 200 radio stations across North America. Snider has kept it fresh by being in tune with listeners who are nostalgic for the hair metal they grew up with.
“It triggers memories, feelings and emotions,” he said. “People have memories connected to it.”
Citing his freedom as a solo artist, Snider has nixed all rumors and plans for a Twisted Sister reunion.
“My new record is more contemporary. I couldn’t have done that with Twisted Sister,” Snider said. “I see no reason to turn around now.”
To reach reporter Daniel Zuckerman email firstname.lastname@example.org or follow him on Twitter @DZuckerman_CGM.