Finally, the one wish of the die-hard fans of Twisted Sister has come true. The New York-based, multimillion-selling heavy metal band Twisted Sister is officially reuniting after more than 16 years apart.
The classic lineup of lead vocalist Dee Snider, co-lead guitarist/vocalist Jay Jay French, co-lead guitarist/vocalist Eddie Ojeda, bass guitarist/vocalist Mark “The Animal” Mendoza and drummer/vocalist A.J. Pero is ready to explode with a reunion tour. The band will hold a news conference to talk about the reunion on Tuesday, April 29, 2003, at 11:00 a.m. at the Intrepid Sea-Air-Space Museum, located at Pier 86 at 12th Avenue and 46th Street in New York City.
Twisted Sister’s current tour plans include USO shows in South Korea in May and select headlining dates in the United States and Europe this summer. A DVD from the summer shows, along with behind-the-scenes and heritage footage, is being planned for a fall release. Several record labels have approached Twisted Sister about making a studio album, but right now there are no plans to release a new one.
The set list for the tour will feature all the hits and fan favorites like “We’re Not Gonna Take It,” “I Wanna Rock,” “You Can’t Stop Rock ‘N’ Roll,” “I Am (I’m Me)” and “Under the Blade” from the albums ‘Under the Blade,’ ‘You Can’t Stop Rock ‘N’ Roll,’ ‘Stay Hungry’ and ‘Come Out and Play.’ Twisted Sister has sold more than 10 million records worldwide, earning the band 33 gold and platinum certifications from across the globe.
Since disbanding in 1987 after 15 years together, Twisted Sister had only performed together once: headlining the NY Steel benefit concert in November 2001 for firefighters and police officers after the tragic terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001.
“September 11 seriously affected me emotionally. The NY Steel show happened about six months after the VH1 ‘Behind the Music’ episode,” French says. “After that ‘Behind the Music’ special, which was great theater that brought up dormant bad feelings, we had the desire to do something constructive. We had the realization that only the five of us can do what we do.
“We did nothing to promote our performance at the NY Steel show. I was dead-set against the appearance of self-promotion. I was so focused on the event itself being the center of attention rather than the band that immediately after we were done playing I walked out with my family and went straight home.”
French was amazed at both the response of the fans at that show and how well Twisted Sister played after just three rehearsals. Then, over the next 18 months, momentum had started to build regarding an official reunion. Phil Carson, Twisted Sister’s longtime friend, manager and record company executive, came to French with a proposal for a tour this summer.
No one should ever underestimate the power of Twisted Sister as a lethal live act. Performing more than 9,000 shows over 3,300 nights during a 15-year career honed a razor-sharp edge.
Twisted Sister was considered by many to be one of the greatest live bands of all time, and this summer’s shows will arguably reinforce that well-deserved reputation.
“Dee Snider is the best frontman in rock, period. And there is no better rhythm section in rock than Mark and A.J.,” French says.
“In the early years, we played as many as three shows a night. We are a well-oiled machine,” says Mendoza.
As warm-ups, Twisted Sister played three sellout shows in New York in early April in Brooklyn, Farmingdale and Poughkeepsie under the moniker Bent Brother; another Bent Brother show is set for April 27 in Danbury, CT, at Tuxedo Junction.
“We had a great time at those first couple of shows. It’s extremely exciting to be performing together again. We’re getting along fine,” Mendoza says. “The music is what matters. The one thing that kept us going was the music, even when things got bad among us personally before we broke up.”
The first new shows as Twisted Sister will be in early May at one Air Force base and two Army bases in South Korea on behalf of the USO: Saturday, May 3, Kunsan Air Base; Sunday, May 4, Camp Walker; and Monday, May 5, Camp Casey. This is the first USO tour to go to South Korea since the war began in Iraq.
“It’s a unique re-emergence onto the scene. What better way than to support our troops? We’ll arrive in Korea on May 1 and play shows at the bases on May 3, 4 and 5,” says French. “The USO tour was arranged through the office of New York City congressman Jerrold Nadler. Originally, we were supposed to play on an aircraft carrier near Kuwait about three months ago. But then the war against Iraq became likely and the plans changed.”
The Korean peninsula has also been a tense region due to communist North Korea’s recent advances in its nuclear weapons program, but Twisted Sister is not worried about security at all.
“The USO monitors security on a daily basis and if there is ever any sign of trouble civilians are evacuated immediately. The only USO performer ever injured was Martha Raye in Vietnam when she was wounded by shrapnel. We’re told that what’s going on in North Korea right now is just political grandstanding,” French says. “The subject of the SARS virus has come up, but Korea is SARS-free.
“It’s funny that back in 1985 we had to go before Congress and defend our music against censorship and now we’re ambassadors for the Defense Department!”
June sees Twisted Sister headlining major festivals in Europe commencing on June 8 at the Sweden Rock Festival, Solvesborg, and finishing on June 28 at the Bang Your Head Festival, Balingen, Germany.
These European dates will be followed by July shows in the United States. Twisted Sister will headline an Independence Day weekend celebration on Saturday, July 5 at Six Flags Great Adventure in Jackson, NJ. A special guest appearance with Alice Cooper and Def Leppard is scheduled for Friday, July 18 at the Chippewa Falls Music Festival in Chippewa Falls, WI. Other U.S. headlining dates will follow.
Twisted Sister then returns to Europe for more headline dates, commencing with a festival in Spain on Friday, August 29.
The showmanship that Twisted Sister brought to the music scene in the ’70s and ’80s will certainly be evident at this year’s concerts. Much of the glam-inspired clothing and makeup will reappear in a new form.
Further selected dates will be announced soon.
“We can’t do everything offered to us. What’s great is that a lot of pressure is off because we have no obligations to a record company or anything like that. This is for the fans, ” Mendoza says. “The shows are going to be a lot of fun. It’s going to be like a freight train roaring through your living room.”