If the narrator of popular rock docuseries “Breaking the Band” sounds familiar, that’s because it’s former Twisted Sister frontman Dee Snider — who’s parlayed his hard-rockin’ raspy pipes into a successful voiceover career.
“I’m blessed with a voice that people like hearing,” says Snider, 65, on the phone from Belize, where he and his wife own a home. “It’s my cadence, or whatever. Many times I’m in a store and someone will come around the aisle and say, ‘I knew it was you!’
“My [voiceover] agent, Lisa Marber, says ‘You’ve got that cigarette smoker/whiskey-drinker voice.’ I never smoke or drink,” he says, laughing. “Screaming all those years and torturing my vocal cords [with Twisted Sister] has given me that rasp, that husky voice, that people want for certain voiceovers.”
That’s on full display in “Breaking the Band,” which airs on Reelz and chronicles the breakups of A-list bands (including The Clash, Led Zeppelin, Motley Crue, KISS and Fleetwood Mac) amidst the rock ‘n’ roll tropes: worldwide fame, rampant drug use, sex, paranoia and recrimination — until, at the end, band members are barely speaking to each other.
Snider’s voiceover days date back to his first spot for the New York Lottery’s Quick Draw game in 1995. “It was a time when my career was not going well. I was broke,” says Snider, whose appearances on Howard Stern’s radio show (then on K-Rock) ignited the voiceover spark. “Twisted Sister had been over for a number of years and then grunge hit. As a performer I was looking for some other work and started to audition [for voiceovers]. That New York Lottery spot brought in tens of thousands of dollars for a regional ad and I was like, ‘Holy s–t! This is an amazing gig! And it’s been a consistent ever since.”
That led to a new career — he was the voice of MSNBC for a time in 2003 — which Snider balances with his other pursuits (hosting radio shows, acting, directing, writing screenplays and, just now, writing his first fiction novel). His son, onetime MTV2 Rock host Jesse Snider, followed in his father’s voiceover footsteps and was heard on commercials for Cheetos, GameStop and Kia, to name just a few.
“I’m not gonna pull that model bulls–t with you, like ‘Holding the pose is real hard,’” Snider says about his voiceover work. “No. It’s easy. It’s the greatest gig in the world. No complaints here.”
Snider, 65, has narrated “Breaking the Band” since its 2018 premiere; starting June 8, he can be heard in all his whiskey-voiced glory when Reelz will air four back-to-back episodes every Monday starting at 6 p.m.
He says his days with ’80s hair band Twister Sister — famous for teen anthems “We’re Not Gonna Take It” and “I Wanna Rock” — helped him land his narrating gig.
“It was the authenticity of having an actual rocker reading the copy, someone who really gets it, even though I’m learning something on every episode,” he says. “The company that produces the show is out of England and they wanted an American voice, someone who could also insert American colloquialisms. I guess I was the right guy for the job.”
Snider says “there are differences” in hearing about each band’s breakup despite the familiar overindulgences, etc. “The wretched excess of Fleetwood Mac, sending a plane to get pizza from another town while recording an album … this is how stupid, and I include myself in there, that we get,” he says. “But there are enough differences [in the bands’ stories] that keep it interesting and keep the audience intrigued.”
And, Snider says, a future “Breaking the Band” episode will … wait for it … chronicle the demise of Twisted Sister.
“So I’m gonna be reading copy about me breaking up my own band,” he says. “This is like … going back in time and seeing yourself in the past. I said to them, ‘Can I make comments while reading the copy?’ and they said, ‘You can try.’
“So I think you’re going to hear me going, ‘Wait a minute …’ and them cutting away from me.”