Black Dye, White Noise: Rock N’ Roll Babylon!
“NO CAUSE IS LOST SO LONG AS THERE IS ONE MAN DUMB ENOUGH TO KEEP FIGHTING FOR IT”
In 2003, Sion Smith launched an independent rock music magazine called Burn with a view to creating a periodical along the lines of how Creem and Rolling Stone used to be back in ‘the day’. In 2005, this indie release mutated into the seminal Zero magazine, but within a year, it was all over. In those three short years however, he had cause to hang out with a few interesting people – namely Paul Stanley from Kiss, Alice Cooper, Dee Snider from Twisted Sister, Zakk Wylde, Rob Zombie, Slash from Guns n Roses/Velvet Revolver… in fact, the list is pretty extensive.
Black Dye, White Noise is the story of these meetings but the interviews are not simply promotions for these artists’ latest albums – they are insightful pieces that, amongst many other things, look at the state of the music industry past and present, what it’s like to be a father, global politics, reality TV shows and how to make your voice heard in an increasingly noisy world.
The complete content listing for Black Dye, White Noise is as follows: Rob Zombie • Alice Cooper • Dee Snider/Twisted Sister • Sylvain Sylvain/New York Dolls • Paul Stanley/Kiss • Claudio Sanchez/Coheed & Cambria • Geoff Tate/Queensryche • Zakk Wylde/Black Label Society/Ozzy Osbourne • Chris Carabba/Dashboard Confessional • Slash/Guns n Roses/Velvet Revolver • Ville Valo/H.I.M. • Steve Wilson/Porcupine Tree • Robbie Takac/Goo Goo Dolls • J.D.Fortune/INXS • Ed Kowalczyk/LIVE • Kory Clarke/Warrior Soul
There are also features/interviews with: Author Neil Gaiman • Artist Dave McKean • Author Grant Morrison • Rock Photographer Fin Costello.
How rock ‘n roll should be written about…
“For fans of rock, comics and good old fashioned music journalism (think Sounds, Creem, Rolling Stone etc). The interviews contained within are brought together by chapters setting the scene, time and place and what they meant to the author. Although not all the names within are known to the mainstream, every page has something to say about what makes rock ‘n roll culture go far beyond the music and matter so much to so many.”
Pop culture brilliance!
“Have to admit that this book is amazing as the interviews contained within seem to cover most of my heroes and the authors’ love and affection for them includes a brief background on the circumstances surrounding them – whether it is Dee Snider from Twisted Sister, Paul Stanley from Kiss, photographer Fin Costello, comic book/majick master Grant Morrison, Slash and loads more….Funny, sad and amazingly personal, these compiled stories are the real thing!”
Here’s the sample from the introduction to the Dee Snider interview, (being as Dee has a killer book out as well), it’s a good indication of what you’ll find inside:
The first time I met Dee Snider was in 1994. He was in the midst of launching the second Widowmaker album, Stand By For Pain and I’d been summoned to the offices of Music for Nations for a twenty minute slot. Twenty minutes expanded somewhat into a two hour slot – made all the sweeter by Dee telling the record company exec that he would decide when the interview was over, not her. This was probably my first “real” interview with anybody of any standing, but it was a long time before one of these extended slots happened again. The first time I ever saw Dee Snider however was twelve years earlier when Twisted Sister were still nothing to nobody. For a totally unknown reason, my very small home town (Wrexham, North Wales) was host to a peculiar rock festival headlined by Motorhead. So deep was Lemmy’s belief in the band that they were flown out for the event. Everybody I knew was there to see Motorhead but I was home just after lunch. I saw Twisted and they floored me. This is how I remember the event, but asking around, I find that they were on much later in the day – funny how memory can play tricks on you. I think everybody tends to rewrite versions of events to suit their own needs, but this missing few hours is inconsequential to the story really. The truth in the equation is that I simply didn’t stick around for Motorhead – there didn’t seem much point. Nothing would ever be the same after that. Later that day, Dee was spotted many times playing a fruit machine in the local bingo hall. He seemed a lot taller in 1982 than he did in 1994, but that has more to do with a 14 year old me than any shrinkage on Dee’s side, but he was still about ten foot six and always will be in my eyes.
My first face to face with the reformed band was just as Twisted had re-grouped to play a one off date “just because they could” – and I tell you… as soon as the opening bars of that first song rang out that night, the hairs stood up on the back of my neck. The second meet was on the eve of their UK tour with Alice Cooper. Things were looking up all round. Dee is still The Man to me and I feel compelled to tell you exactly why. Over a 30 year period, I have written to Dee on numerous occasions. Once as a fan while I was still in school, then twice later to seek out interview time and once for something else which shall remain a secret. He replied to each and every one of those letters. Personally. By hand. I still have all of them stashed away safely. He’s also never not returned a phone call and ultimately, never disappointed me in any capacity – as a teenage fan or later as a professional. For all those things, he sits at number one amongst the Gods. Twisted Sister had a hard time in the press and where never taken as seriously by the media as they were by their fans. It’s now well documented that the band eventually split through no small amount of jealousy from the other guys towards Dee, but would any of the others have gone out of their way to write back to me every single time? We shall never know, but having spent some time with Dee, I think I know the answer in my heart. He fuelled and energised Twisted Sister from start to finish.
The eighties would have been a barren wasteland for me without them. Kiss had taken their make-up off, everything in the mainstream was New Romantic or awful pop. To cut to the chase, Twisted Sister saved my life. The most lingering effect of all was that Dee taught me – although not personally – how to swear properly. There’s a real art to getting it right when you’re a kid otherwise you sound like you’re trying a tough guy but Dee let the “motherfucking”, “motherfuckers” and the “fuck this, fuck everything” fly with a grace that should never have happened. Anybody wanting to learn the art of swearing should hunt down a copy of the 12” version of I Am, I’m Me which boasts three all time truck stoppers on the B-side from their spectacular show at the London Marquee. Thanks for everything Dee.
It was fun while it lasted and you know what… it’s still a heap load of motherfucking fun now. There are thousands of images from our hook-up for the magazines covering hundreds of bands – earlier this year, we talked about something special with them. Subscribe to the blog for further details on that when (not if) that happens. All Photo’s / Images Copyright: Sion Smith/Chiaki Nozu. Please respect all copyrights or dogs will find you while you sleep.
mrsionsmith: Author • Pop Culture Writer • Gonzo Journalist • Father “It’s about a guy trying to keep it together while falling apart. It’s about life, love, fathers and daughters and the ever lurking presence of the Grim fucking Reaper. http://sionsmith.co.uk/