Twisted Sister: An Unpublished History
But as the band members gradually repaired their relationships, disaster struck once again. Individual interviews conducted with band members for a 2001 episode of the VH1 series “Behind the Music” revealed how much animosity still lingered; Mendoza, in an infamous moment, went so far as to state that for a long time he had wanted Snider dead. “I remember watching the show on TV and thinking, ‘This is bad.’ ” says French. “It was sort of edited to make it look like we hated each other more than we did, but at the same time, there was so much real bitterness that was exposed. I figured there was no chance of a reunion after that.”
There was, and soon. That November, the band members looked beyond whatever resentments had once again been brought to the surface to help out with an important cause, performing, alongside other New York artists like Ace Frehley and Anthrax at New York Steel, a 9/11 benefit held in Manhattan to raise money for the New York Police & Fire Widows & Children’s Fund. With little in the way of rehearsing, and dressed in t-shirts and jeans, the band pulled off an inspired set. Afterwards, they again went their separate ways, but reaction to the band’s performance was so positive that offers started coming in from festival organizers in Europe, looking to book Twisted Sister for the following summer.
Thus began the official reunion. But, unlike other hard rock acts that, in recent years, have sought to fit into the current music landscape, Twisted Sister made no attempt to present themselves as a contemporary band. They commissioned costumes based on their Eighties-era looks, with accordingly appropriate makeup and hair, and performed only their most well-known and beloved classic songs. “Let’s be honest,” says Snider. “Nobody cares about the new stuff—they don’t want to hear it, and they certainly don’t want to buy it. They just want the songs they loved when they were growing up.”
“The minute you go, “this is a new song,” says French, “everyone’s off to the bathroom. So we just decided to say, ‘Here it is—1984. You want it, we’re more than happy to give it to you. Two hours of everything you want to hear, all killer, no filler. No bullshit.’ ”
Over the next few years the band played to audiences of both old and new fans on both sides of the Atlantic (including occasional, non-costumed gigs for which they were billed as ‘Bent Brother’). Though the response in the U.S. was impressive, in Europe it was overwhelming, with the band headlining festivals in front of tens of thousands of people. “The reaction was insane,” says French. “We first broke in Europe, but after that were always much bigger in the States. But it seemed to shift. Now we’re huge over there.”
As for why they seemed to be drawing as big, if not bigger, crowds than they did back in the Eighties, French has a theory: “Twisted Sister has a reputation for being a great live act. We played more than 9,000 concerts throughout our career; we played more shows before we got signed then most bands play, period. So when we get up onstage, people know they’re going to see an incredible show.”
On another front, the band issued a slew of releases, including remastered studio albums, demos and live performances and a tribute disc. In an effort to repair a sore spot, in 2004 they re-recorded Stay Hungry—this time titled Still Hungry—which, in addition to improved production quality, featured, as was originally intended, a full-band shot on the album’s cover. All the while they continued to tour sporadically, juggling rock and roll and home life. But living a dual existence had become too much for Snider, who finally announced that 2006 would be his last year with Twisted Sister. “Doing Twisted again was great,” he says, “but in a way it completely destroyed my home life. This past summer I just wasn’t around. We were traveling all over the world and playing to hundreds of thousands of people, which was great. But I have a job, I have a wife, I have kids. It was too much. I had to call it a day.”
With the band’s legacy no longer in question, and the members’ relationships with one another stronger than perhaps at any time in the past, it would seem to be that the Christmas album and tour will stand as Twisted Sister’s official swan song. But, as has been the case so often throughout the band’s history, things don’t always go as planned. As Snider admits, “you never know what the future holds.” He laughs. “I know I’ve made it pretty clear that I’m done, but it’s like Al Pacino said in The Godfather [Part III]: ‘Just when I thought I was out … they pull me back in!’ ”
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