The setting is mid-1970s New York City: five rockers decked in platform boots and dramatic make-up embarked on a heavy metal journey. Little did they know the impact they would make, and that, forty years later, they would still be renowned for their songs, one-of-a-kind live shows, and take-no-prisoners attitude.
We Are Twisted F***ing Sister! – a new 134-minute documentary film by Andrew Horn capturing that expedition from bar band to international stardom – will be presented in theaters via Music Box Films in February 2016. The first ever documentary of the band that defined an early MTV with their no-holds-barred music videos opens in New York and Los Angeles on February 19 with a one-night-only event at Chicago’s Music Box Theatre on February 22. On February 23, the film will be released on DVD, Blu-ray, VOD, and digital formats, with an included 2 hours of bonus material and director commentary.
Charging out of the gate with a lethal combination of grit and glitter, Twisted Sister (Jay Jay French, Dee Snider, Eddie Ojeda, Mark “The Animal” Mendoza, and the late A.J. Pero) established themselves as one of the staple acts of Glam Rock and Heavy Metal with anthems “We’re Not Gonna Take It” and “I Wanna Rock.” However, “the band that killed disco” was no overnight success.
Director Andrew Horn, who is known for his films East Side Story (named one of the 10 best films of the year by Time Magazine), The Nomi Song, Doomed Love, and The Big Blue, said of the film:
“I realized as I was working on the film, that it was really very much a story of how a band becomes a band. They are truly unique in that their overnight success actually took 10 years, so you really get to experience everything Twisted Sister went through to do it. I have to say, I don’t think I’ve ever experienced any group of musicians as ferocious…or as funny.”
We Are Twisted F***ing Sister! puts the fan in the trenches with the band from their early, hungry days in New York City onward through their legendary career. Recounted directly from the band themselves, their managers, and biggest fans, We Are Twisted F***ing Sister! is the mesmerizing, never-before-told story of the ten grueling years leading up to the band’s break out success.
Are you ready to really get to know Twisted F***ing Sister?
September 19, 1985 was a historic day for all of us who work in the music business. That was the day that three musicians–Frank Zappa, John Denver and Twisted Sister singer DEE SNIDER–were called to testify at a Senate hearing instigated by the Parents Music Resource Center (PMRC), who wanted to introduce a parental warning system that would label all albums containing “offensive material.” The system was to include letters identifying the type of objectionable content to be found in each album (e.g. O for occult themes, S for sex, D for drugs, V for violence, etc.), which resulted in the “Parental Advisory” sticker now found on new album releases with “questionable content.”
“The members of Twisted Sister are profoundly saddened to announce the untimely passing of our brother, AJ Pero”
“The band, crew and most importantly the family of AJ Pero thank you for your thoughts and prayers at this time.”
He band mates in Adrenaline Mob posted today saying:
“We write this with tears in our eyes & our hearts broken to pieces.. our beloved brother AJ Pero peacefully passed away in his sleep this morning on the bus. We are in complete shock & our hearts & prayers go out to his family. It has been nothing short of an honor to have shared the stage with such a beautiful soul & legend! We love you AJ, rest in peace.”
Anthony Jude (AJ) Pero died of an apparent heart attack while touring with Adrenaline Mob. Twisted Sister guitarist Jay Jay French said Pero was on a tour bus Friday morning when Adrenaline Mob band members tried unsuccessfully to awaken him, then called an ambulance. He was taken to a hospital in Poughkeepsie, New York, where he was declared dead shortly after 11 a.m.
AJ Pero Page was the drummer for Twisted Sister, Adrenaline Mob & TRED w/Rudy Sarzo, Mike Orlando, Tim Ripper Owens.
A New York native Joe Franco is a professional drummer and best known for his work with the band The Good Rats in the 70’s and later as a member of Twisted Sister. He has been a part of many Dee Snider’s post Twisted Sister projects including Widowmaker and a horror rock band Van Helsing’s Curse and has also toured and recorded with acts like Jack Bruce, Leslie West, Vinnie Moore, Blues Saraceno and Fiona. During the years he has played on numerous albums as a session musician and in 1984 he released a book “Double Bass Drumming”. Currently Franco is mainly working as a music producer in his own recording and post-production company called Beatstreet Productions in New York City. I visited him in New York in early November and had a chance to visit Beatstreet studio and discuss with the man himself about his current activities and of course about the old days including his Twisted Sister days. Read on…!
Skogsrojet is one of these newer hard rock / metal festivals organized in the promised land of festivals, Sweden. The two day event is held in the outlying village of Rejmyre and the nearest town is Norrkoping about 40 kilometers away. The festival was held for the first time in 2006 and it has been increasing steadily year by year. Last years line-up included Alice Cooper, Doro, Testament and L.A. Guns and now the fans were treated to Twisted Sister, Helloween, Pretty Maids and Lita Ford. As you can see from the list of names, the event organizers rely heavily on traditional hard rock spiced with a few heavier acts. I don’t know if this kind of concept would work anywhere else, but in Sweden, but it works. This year, the festival again gathered thousands of participants who were eager to rock hard!!!
Review by Kirsty Birkett-Stubbs
Photography by Tess Donohoe
It may be some people’s epitome of hell, Michael Buble fans I’m looking at you, but for the metal/rock community Hellfest’s towering gateway looks positively pearly. This year’s line-up is so jam-packed that I was looking for the little glass jars and labels. You’d make a fortune if you could bottle any number of the diverse scope of bands on the bill, with the riffs left in natch, but I’d like them to play their sets first.
Once inside that gateway the layout is much the same as last year, and that isn’t meant in a well-they-clearly-couldn’t-be-arsed sense, because Hellfest could teach most others a thing or 20 on how to put together a fan-friendly festival. Except when it comes to the number of toilets on site that is.
Whilst the Hellfest tree still dominates in its stark simplicity, the hidden beer gardens have gained a snazzy gateway of their own, which invites you into the woodlands. Instead of a fairytale monster at the end of the path though, you’ll find a winebar, which is win-win really. And at night the scrap-metal merch stands and bars still glow with their own rooftop fires.
Stage-wise we’ve got Main Stage 1 and 2, which continue their staggered times so that as one plays, the other sets up, and vice versa. The result is no waiting around for soundchecks or bands to start, just back-to-back bam-bam-bam metal. A similar set-up is in place at the Altar and the Temple, where you can find black metal, death metal and the like, then there’s the Valley which is home to the stoner and doom types, and the Warzone where the punk and hardcore drops.
Statement Issued from Dee Snider and His management company:
It was brought to the attention of the management today that Paul Ryan (nominee of the Republican Party for Vice President of the United States in the 2012 election) has been using tour client Dee Snider’s composition “We’re Not Gonna Take It” in his political campaign to become the Vice President of The United States of America. Dee does not support Paul Ryan. Accordingly, Dee has released this statement to Benjy Sarlin, campaign reporter for TPM in Washington, DC:
I emphatically denounce Paul Ryan’s use of my song “Were Not Gonna Take It” as recorded by my band Twisted Sister. There is almost nothing on which I agree with Paul Ryan, except perhaps the use of the P90X.
Trondheim Rock is annual rock event held, like the name suggests, in Trondheim, Norway. The festival has a tradition of having high quality performers outside of the mainstream and ongoing trends. The history of Trondheim Rock includes such artists as Def Leppard, Jon Lord, Kamelot, Whitesnake, Gary Moore, and Glenn Hughes amongst many others. This year’s edition of the event included three bands: re-united the Darkness, legendary U.S hard rockers Twisted Sister and Norwegian band TNT who now celebrate their 30th anniversary in their original hometown.
Twisted Sister founder and guitarist, Jay Jay French gives a lengthy interview in the latest issue of Chips & Beer The Magazine (May 2012). French spoke to journalist Adam Ganderson about the origins of the band, French ’s thoughts on frontman Dee Snider and the Twisted Sister’s feud with Manowar. Some highlights below:
Tell me about when and how you started Twisted Sister.
I was living on a commune and playing in this hippy band in the summer of ‘72. We played one show that summer and it was a disaster. And I came home at the end of August and a friend of mine who was a friend of the New York Dolls said, “You gotta see this band The Dolls.” Now I had seen them, cause they rehearsed in the same studio where I rehearsed at with my little hippie, weirdo band. We rehearsed in New York City, a place called Talent Re-Con. Which, I believe was one of the first rehearsal studios in New York. And the Dolls had rehearsed there. So I had seen them coming in and out with their shagged hair. Now, you have to understand, I’m a Grateful Deadhead, so this was the other side of the coin, right? The glam looking kind of thing, the Rod Stewart kind of haircut. I’d never seen that in an American band. On top of this, in June of ‘72 I had auditioned for KISS when they were called Wicked Lester.
Yeah. And they said to me, “What’s with the long hair? We’re gonna cut our hair,” and “Are you into Slade?” And I said, “No.” And they said, “Well you should listen to Slade, cause we’re gonna be like Slade.” But they didn’t have a name yet. They were Wicked Lester. So I auditioned for them in June of ‘72, then I went off and joined this hippy, kind of weirdo, Allman Brothersish kind of band. So anyway, that band rehearsed all summer long and lived on a commune in Wilkes-Barre, Pennsylvania. I came back in August and we played a show. The band was called Maxwell Benjamin and the show sucked, and the band broke up that night. And I remember coming home thinking, “What’s gonna be the next thing?” And I got a subscription to Fusion Magazine. Bowie was on the cover. And with a subscription came three albums: Hunky Dory , Mott , and Lou Reed’s Transformer. I put on the David Bowie album, opened up the magazine, saw Mick Ronson, flipped out. Flipped the fuck out. Like, “Oh my God. This is my life. This is my future. Fuck all this.”
So I start going and auditioning for glam bands because I can see my future as a transvestite. I said, “I can do that. Maybe it’s a great way to get laid.” And the drummer that was in that crazy hippie band that I lived out in the commune, that drummer went on to another group. And the agent that he had was mentioning that he knew another band that was looking for a glam, a glitter rock guy. So he said, “Hey I played with a guy this summer, I think he’s into that shit now. We lost the Duane Allman part and I think he transitioned over to the Mick Ronson world. Maybe you should call him up.” So I get a phone call from this guy named Mel Anderson from New Jersey. And he goes, “Hey is this John Segal? This is Mel Anderson. Listen, I understand yous into glitter.” “Yous”: it’s important. He goes, “yous,” not “you are.” “Yous guys. I seen yous guys.” I’m a New York kid. I didn’t learn the vernacular of the blue collar suburbs. I said, “Yeah I’m into glitter.” He went, “Oh good we’re into glitter, man.” So he goes, “Look, I’ll bring you up to rehearsal.” So he drives to my house in Manhattan, picks me up, and drives me out to New Jersey to this rehearsal with this band called Silverstar. This is in December of ‘72. And we’re driving out and he said, “Yeah man, we’re gonna fucking wear make up. I wear this colored wig like Parliament.” He was black. “It’ll be like Parliament/Funkadelic. The lead singer’s gorgeous. There’s gonna be girls everywhere man. We’re gonna fuckin’ wear like dresses and shit. And make up.” And I go, “Really?” And he goes, “Yeah man, it’s the best way to get laid, man. The best fucking way to get laid. ‘Cause girls like guys who look like girls, but they got dicks. Trust me man, it’s a fuckin’ great formula.”
Ha Ha Ha!
And I’m like, “Sounds good to me!” Cause I ain’t gay, but if you’re tellin’ me it’s a good way to get laid I’m all for it. So I go rehearse with these guys. And so they asked me to join that night. We started rehearsing first week of January ‘73. I moved to New Jersey. Moved into the band house. We were called Silverstar for about two or three weeks. I hated the name. I said, “One Quaalude and nobody’s gonna fuckin’ remember the name Silverstar.” It’s such a non-name. And then, basically, it evolved. The singer, the original singer thought of this. He was drunk, and came up with this idea for the name Twisted Sister. And that’s how it all started.
So would you say you guys were leaning to the more hard rock type bands like B.O.C., that sort of style? ‘Cause it definitely wasn’t punk what you guys were doing.
No, no man. First of all, Blue Öyster Cult never figured into our viewpoint. Nothing ever really did. We completely evolved in our own world. I think when we really established ourselves as really high end…look, we were a ‘70s rock band that made it in the ‘80s is really what we were. And we were a bar band. So everything we did in the bars was, we learned how to entertain. And that was really it. We learned how to get audiences going crazy. This goes back to The Grateful Dead, of trying to get the audience completely wrapped up and involved. But the band really became an entertainment, performance artist band. Music was secondary. The bludgeoning effect of the music was primary. We learned to be predatory. Our job was to blow other bands off the stage. Because it meant we could make more money. So we became really predatory, which is how we are today. I don’t think we’re a musical band as much as we are an outfit that’s designed to destroy other bands and their morale. I really don’t care. We go out there to eat up other bands for breakfast, lunch and dinner. I don’t really give a fuck. And the day that that ends is the day I’ll stop playing. But it aint about the music. It’s about the crushing effect of what a galvanizing entertainment package will deliver.
Does it ever bother you that the general public recognizes Dee as Twisted Sister, when you started the band?
Well I don’t write the songs. If I was Pete Townshend it would bother me. Cause Pete Townshend wrote the songs for The Who, but everyone assumes that Roger Daltrey wrote ‘em. But I always needed somebody to do this stuff. I couldn’t do it. I don’t have that capacity. If you’re asking me did I assume that what would happen ultimately is that the singer would spin off to the degree that it did? Probably not. But it is what it is. Lead singers are what they are. It’s funny, you’d think that Keith Richards would understand that he and Mick Jagger are roughly equivalent in the world, but Keith doesn’t think so. He doesn’t think the world knows who the fuck he is. If I was Jimmy Page and I wrote and produced the album, it’d be different, but it’s not. You’re not interviewing me about the songs.
In his book it didn’t seem like Keith has many nice things to say about Mick Jagger.
Yeah, well that’s what happens when you’re in a band. If a band’s been together 40 years, if they don’t hate each others guts at that point, the band aint worth shit. That’s my opinion. There should be a lot of that. That’s what happens. Dee’s book is comin’ out. Who the fuck knows what he said about me.
You talked about B.O.C. and Sir Lord Baltimore. But in the ‘80s, when Metal became huge, did you have any relationship with New York bands that started in that era, like Manowar or Virgin Steele?
I don’t know any of ‘em. No, I mean our bass player’s in The Dictators. He had a relationship with them for a while.
Then fell out with them and really doesn’t talk to them anymore. But Manowar said something stupid in a magazine interview to us and we challenged them to a fight and they never showed up. And then they apologized.
What was it that they said?
Yeah, some stupid statement they made in the press. So we said, “Really? Well, meet us at Covent Garden,” and we called ‘em out in the press. We went down to Covent Garden, it was covered by all the rock magazines at the time in 1983, and they never showed up ‘cause they’re a bunch of pussies. They were in fear that Mendoza was gonna kick their ass and they released a statement saying, “We apologize if we said anything to upset Twisted Sister, blah, blah, blah…” So they were just a bunch of idiots. Look, we don’t pick fights with anybody. If you pick a fight with us, it’s a different story. But we don’t pick fights. We have no reason to. Our job is we do our job onstage. And if you can survive it, knock yourself out. Otherwise, go fuck yourself.
Graspop Metal Meeting is proud to announce TWISTED SISTER’s long overdue GMM debut!
Founded back in 1972 by guitarist Jay Jay French, it still took Twisted Sister ten years to release their debut album Under the Blade. After years of pottering about, the American quintet decided to change musical directions and thanks to an inventive mix of traditional heavy metal, pure rock ‘n’ roll and a pinch of early seventies glam rock, Twisted Sister’s popularity began to soar. Energy bomb Dee Snider joined in 1976 and he clearly brought more to the mix than just the big hair. Taking over as the band’s songsmith, Snider authored the hit singles We’re Not Gonna Take It and I Wanna Rock off the 1984 Stay Hungry album, two rock anthems that catapulted Twisted Sister into international fame. In 1987, the band called it quits after just four albums, only to reform ten years later. Their last studio album Still Hungry was released in 2004, but more than anything else Twisted Sister are known for their energetic live shows, making The Iron Men of Rock and Roll’ one of the most exciting bands in metal history.
'Twisted Sister - From The Bars To The Stars: Three Decades Live' 5DVD Set - Out November 8 2011
Eagle Rock Entertainment will celebrate Christmas early this year with the release of Twisted Sister From The Bars To The Stars: Three Decades Live, a 5-DVD boxed set, on November 8 [MSRP $59.98]. The lavish package comes complete with curios such as a Twisted Sister Christmas ornament, an official “New York Steel” backstage pass, a classic two and a half-inch Twisted Sister pin and a reproduction of the first-ever SMF Fan Club letter.
Over eight hours long, From The Bars To The Stars has to be considered the ultimate Twisted Sister boxed set. One of the five DVDs, Twisted Xmas: Live In Las Vegas, is a total exclusive, having never before been released in any format. This 2009 concert showcases the band performing such beloved holiday fare as “White Christmas” and “Come All Ye Faithful” next to “Burn In Hell” and “Deck The Halls” as only Twisted Sister can. In fact, Jay Jay French, Dee Snider, Mark Mendoza, A.J. Perro, and Eddie Ojeda, have made this holiday merriment a metal tradition for the past few years.
Live At Reading was filmed in 1982 at England’s biggest rock festival. A bonus 2011 band interview is included.
Double Live juxtaposes an early Long Island, New York show (North Stage ’82), filmed just prior to the band breaking internationally, and NY Steel ’01, the New York City 9/11 benefit they headlined.
Live At Wacken documents the band’s 2003 Wacken Open Air Festival reunion appearance in Germany. Complete with behind-the-scenes backstage footage and band interviews about their 1980s rise to world domination, break-up and reunion, it also contains their entire set on the big stage at this most prestigious of European Heavy Metal festivals.
Any SMF would agree – This is one boxed set no Twisted Sister fan can do without!
The Kotkan Meripäivät festival is organized in Kotka in July’s last weekend and it typically has an attendance of more than 200,000 visitors in four days. The festival is Finland’s second largest festival and it’s been held since 1962 onwards. As always, the event now includes a wide selection of performers for different target audiences. On Saturday there were performers like Joe Cocker and The Village People. The main event was held on Friday and it included such bands as legendary U.S. hard rockers Twisted Sister, Hardcore Superstar, the Michael Monroe band, and reformed Pelle Miljoona Oy which now had former Hanoi Rocks members Andy McCoy and Sam Yaffa in their ranks.