Interview: Up Close & Personal with the Multi-Talented Jesse Blaze Snider


"Abstract ideas of success do not need my attention as much as my amazing family does."- Jesse Blaze Snider



Song River: You seem to be a person with a very active mind. Creativity is only bound by our own limits. What did your growing up years look like?

Jesse Snider: My home life was fairly structured and disciplined, but I’ve been going around my house writing songs and coming up with crazy ideas since I could crawl. Before I could speak, I was singing and writing my own songs. Drawing. Sculpting. I had a six-inch scale action figure city that I crafted over time since I was very little until it burned in a fire a couple years ago. 

Creating things brings me joy, I can’t help changing the way I look, rearranging the furniture in my bedroom and office and generally just flipping the script every so often. I like change. This world has not changed nearly enough for me since I’ve been born. I think we need and deserve a hell of a lot more progress in our lifetimes. I like to try and be at the front of positive progress towards a better future for everyone.


SR: Which came first for you the songwriting, musical instruments or comic book creations?

Jesse Snider: Songwriting. I was not always a particularly good lyricist actually because I literally began studying melody before I knew any words, for me it was always most important that the melody sounded nice. Over time I realized I was a bit "on the nose” lyrically and I decided to finally pull in all my skills from writing stories over the years. In my mid-twenties I took a giant leap forward as a songwriter thanks to my combined skills.


SR: If you can talk about some of the comic books/industry you have been involved with and are still possibly working on. I saw a recent post about "Mythic Legions?"

Jesse Snider:  I spent a decade of my life very actively pitching Marvel and DC Comics, during this time I got to write Deadpool and Hulk for Marvel, created “Dead Romeo” for DC and wrote for two of my favorite properties for Disney, The Muppets and Disney/Pixar’s Toy Story. 

I was very frustrated with my experience and it seemed to me that it was a lot harder to do your best work than it should have been. I finally stopped pitching comic books and began to create my own.

My critically acclaimed music/comic book project Black Light District: 6 issues ONE-SHOT from Image Comics is a groundbreaking stab at crossing the streams of my two favorite mediums, comic books, and music. You can actually still go to our website (www.blacklightdistrict.co/) and READ and LISTEN for FREE to the whole thing! It takes about 20 minutes to do the whole “experience.” It’s been called “The Fantasia of comics” and I really appreciate that description.

Also, as you mentioned, my company KRCO’s second project is called “Mythic Legions.” I didn’t write this one, I was simply the shepherd who helped guide the pieces together. Writer/TV Producer Greg Weisman provides the script for this Fantasy epic based on the character designs and brilliant creative ideas by Four Horsemen Studios who are some of my hands down favorite character creators on the planet. They raised over a million dollars kickstarting the Mythic Legions action figure line and I want to make sure that it continues forever. 

The book came out wonderful and we’re gonna be talking to a number of animation houses about the future of the “Mythic Legions” storyline and the EPIC line of action figures Four Horsemen Studios has already created to fill out the cast.

It’s very exciting that we’re finally going to be shipping out these Mythic Legions packages out to our backers starting this weekend!

I have another creator-owned comic book project that I’m about halfway through producing called KING OF KINGS with Mark Poulton. It’s a comedy that casts "the Gods” and messiahs of all the world’s religions as ROCKSTARS in a battle of the bands to determine the reigning religion of the day. I’m so excited to get this one out there, but it probably won’t come out until the end of the year or maybe next year.



SR: Music and how we digest it, create it, purchase it, listen to it, etc... has changed greatly. Have you found the comic industry in flux as well?

Jesse Snider: It’s all in flux. Basically, it comes down to the fact that corporations have come to understand that there are people in society who really want to create art. Our desire to do this has been put to the test as all the people with money put us against one another and give us less and less for what we do. 

If I had a dollar for everyone who told me they wish I was born in the 80's, I’d be able to retire. The landscape has changed and what passes for a page rate or record deal is pretty laughable at this point. This is largely why I’ve gone independent. 

I still think it can be done the old fashioned way if you have the right people, but I’m still figuring it out myself. I think Louis CK and Kevin Hart prove you can take the power back with your art, we just have to figure out how to do the same thing in music, comic books, films, TV, and toys.


SR: Those multiple talents have taken you to doing voice overs/acting how did this part of your creative side come about?

Jesse Snider: Honestly, it's the only thing that pays my bills. I make money in comic books and music, but it’s not enough to raise a family and I am married to my high school sweetheart with four kids and a dog. I need some amount of steady income. 

Music and comics are rarely steady and even when it is it is a shamefully small fee. Thank you to all the fabulous unions who made really great deals for voice overs decades ago, I can be the voice of Pizza Hut or Kia Motors and make six figures! 

Voice overs grew out of my being a host on MTV2, then Fuse, HBO, AOL Music (Online), Sony Playstation and others. At a certain point, I’d become a very good “reader” of copy and I tried to break into voice overs with crazy success. I’ve been doing it ever since and using the money I make to produce my own art projects that I can feel proud of. My big gig right now is on Travel Channel, I am the narrator of their cornerstone Food Paradise which airs WEEKLY on the station.


SR: Do you find yourself delving into all your outlets at once, or do you pick and choose to focus on one at a time so that they might have your full attention?

Jesse Snider: (laughed) Depends on the day. Sometimes it comes all at once. I don’t really compartmentalize anymore, I’m kinda doing a little of this and a little of that throughout the day. They used to be very separate things for me, music, writing, voice overs, but nowadays I wake up and begin to pull from the huge tangle of whatever it is I am up to at a given moment and slowly clear my slate of responsibility. Black Light District really pulled everything under one umbrella for me, once I started working on comic books and music in tandem all my walls and divisions came crashing down.


SR: There have been other musicians who have created comic book works such as Gerard Way. Can collaborative efforts happen as readily in the comic book world as they do in the music world?

Jesse Snider: Oh yeah, where there is a will there is a way. There have been many famed musicians who have made their way to comics. I must point out though that while I have established myself as a musician plenty in the last decade when I began my journey in comics I was just a young comic book geek who really loved and believed in the medium. I didn’t show up to a comic book company and say, "Hey I am a famous musician, you should hire me.” I religiously hit the convention circuit and pitched any editor who would give me the time of day, pitched for years, built a very solid reputation for myself and eventually left the grind when I came to understand how badly the deck is stacked against us creators. That’s why I went independent. 

So, please understand I am not a musician who sometimes slums it in comic books, I am a comic book author, who has been pursuing a career in comics since my late teenage years. My passion for comic books is rivaled only by my love of rock n roll.

That said, I do think Gerard Way is a mega talent. Black Parade is def a favorite album of mine and while I’ve yet to be able to read any of his comic books, I have NO DOUBT that they are high quality. Would love to collaborate with him one day and it certainly is possible.


SR: Adventure and learning seem to be as much a part of you and the raising of your family as it was your father's. What have been some of the main things you learned growing up with your parents and how they interacted as a married couple- then as a family structure- that you have applied to your own situation Jessie?

Jesse Snider: Well, my mom would be the paramount lesson teacher on that front, I think I can sum it up with one word, “Yea-ha!” that’s what my mom used to say when we would hit a big bump in the car. “YEA-HA!” Life must be fun or it ain’t worth living and you can’t take yourself too seriously, that’s another lesson that my mom was very good at teaching my dad. 

Of course, creativity is a big part of what I learned as well, my father a writer/musician my mother is a designer/fine artist/makeup
artist/hairdresser/home decorator/landscaper/the list goes on. Really, I guess they taught me to keep busy bringing the beauty you see in your mind into the world for all to see and hear! Both my parents are mega talents, the bar was set so high for me, I am very grateful for that.

My father def inspired me to grow my intelligence and to always know more than they think you will.


SR: On your solo project, 16 is the most recent in your discography, correct?

Jesse Snider: Yeah, though I may reissue is as two albums with some new stuff 16 was necessary for me to put out to kind of get some things off my chest. I’d been writing for 6 years or so and I had all different types of songs, nothing super cohesive, but all together it was a sample of my depth as an artist. I’m very proud to have it out there now and for people to be able to hear the breath of my songwriting abilities. 

I’m a rocker at heart and all my stuff has a little of that in it, but I love music in general and love to challenge myself with new genres or styles of performance. I pride myself on my ability to pretty much do anything, sing high, sing low, sing falsetto, rock scream, dirty punk, pour on the blues, break out some soul, spit a few verses fast enough to make your head spin. It’s all music to me and as long as I can come up with something worth people’s time I’ll write anything.

Released in tandem with 16 is the Black Light District EP which is the six songs that go with the comic book all by themselves, as well as “Jesse Blaze Snider and Baptized By Fire - The Phoenix” DISCOGRAPHY which collects ALL of the songs I wrote with my previous band, Baptized By Fire. Both of those albums are worthy of people’s time and attention. 

Baptized By Fire or BXF as we were known, came up during that time in the music industry when even moderately successful bands were being dropped from their labels. We were a great punk/metal band but we were never offered anything good and eventually, I was just kind of ready to move on. 

Remember, Mr. I like change here (laughed).

So, 16, Black Light District EP and The Phoenix will catch you up with almost everything I’ve ever released. Almost. 


SR: Looking over your past music you really are as diverse in what you present musically as you are in your other creative ventures. Which tracks would you say from '16' screams most loudly to you personally?

Jesse Snider: “Shut Up” it’s a message to our government representatives to get their asses in gear and start fixing the planet. If I didn’t think that music had the power to open and change minds I wouldn’t be making it. I write songs to help and empower people, because I feel a great debt to people like my father and Jim Henson whose creative work have inspired and empowered me to make my own art, all so I can share it and hopefully help others the same way I was helped as a young insecure artist/fan/listener.


SR: How much does your faith/belief show up in what you create?

Jesse Snider: (laughed) Weird to even be asked that. I was a stark atheist for the first almost 30 years of my life, but I eventually realized there were too many inconsistencies and things I couldn’t explain using the terrestrial explanations. I’m not religious or anything, but at the end of the day, we are all one. I try to write songs for that one, the universal one, the perspective within all of us that we can all understand a relate to. So, at the end of the day, my faith is in every single song I write, in the hope that I am not the only one who feels a particular way and in that, I have faith that my feelings on the matter will universally affect everyone no matter where they come from. We all love. We all breath. We all eat. We all walk. We all work. We all bleed. We all feel. I try not to write songs about anything that we cannot all share and understand on some level.

It is really funny actually because I find this faith in the music I wrote before I had any faith. BXF staple tracks “The Phoenix” and “Juggernaut” are all about faith in oneself and reincarnation/rebirth. I had a different perspective on them at the time I had written them, but I can’t deny that they fit my modern faith just as well as my previous lack of faith.

Look, if we are really living in a virtual reality made of thought (which is what many modern scientists have concluded), then our thoughts are unfathomably powerful. Even the thoughts of those who feel they have no power. With your thoughts, you can destroy your life. Taking this to its next logical conclusion, if thoughts create the world, and bad thoughts make your life worse, then that would make FAITH in something positive the most powerful thing you can have in your life! 

As a formerly majorly insecure kid/teen, I truly want to give to others the faith that I have found inside myself.

A life lived in faith is a much more peaceful one, I have found.


SR: Is it more important to you for folks to find and hear your music or to buy your music?

Jesse Snider: HEAR MY MUSIC, hands down. I’ve been chastised by many for not working harder to sell music and such online, but I’m an artist, not a salesman. I hate selling my music. Hate it. But my music is a message, a message I think people may need to hear. I very much want my messages to be received, but I’m not always willing to make the business decisions that will help me to get it out to the most people. I love that question. Here, this is a free link to 16. See, I just want you to hear it.


SR: Each track on 16 stands on its own.  Was it your intention on this project to put out an album that came from multiple approaches?

Jesse Snider: Yeah, though it was partially necessity. I referred to the album as a compilation for a minute, but I didn’t want it to be taken the wrong way. The songs are almost all very personal for me and there's def a story there within the music, though the genres and production approaches keep switching up. 

For me, I like writing really dynamic music, big/small in the same tune, because of the nature of my writing and then the changing genres on top of it, the album does indeed tread a path few have walked before. If you have limited taste in music, you may not appreciate it, but anyone who likes a wide variety of music should find it all pretty refreshing. I’m pretty much incapable of writing things that aren’t catchy. On one hand, I’ve been angling to do something a bit more cohesive like Black Light District but the more I live with 16 the more I just want to keep making weird things and cobbling them together.

I won a songwriting award in the humor category for this song, “Fight to the Death” and I’d love to be able to add it onto one of these albums, but it really is a bit all over the place. People aren’t used to hearing such diversity from a single artist. But I think that’s really be helping me to surprise so many people this year.


SR: Lastly Jesse, your family extended and otherwise- is in many ways example. Being in the 'limelight' growing up and as an adult now with children and a spouse- how does your household manage to find the balance? (including the one who couldn't wait evidently to get things rolling so she debuted on the LA freeway)

Jesse Snider: It’s hard. They work us too hard in modern society. The cost of living is insane. I had found myself in a state of constant frantic work recently and decided that it would do the world a hell of a lot more good if I dedicated my energy to my children the way I dedicated myself to my work. 

So, recently I started “Daddy’s School” which begins after school every day (I’d usually be working, but I get up a little earlier and finish before they get home) and we sit down and I teach them something, poker, drawing, games, woodshop, anything I’m feeling that day. But I sit with my two oldest kids and we hang out for an hour or two. I’ve been much happier since I made this change. Abstract ideas of success do not need my attention as much as my amazing family does.



Jesse Blaze Snider- Promise Land







































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