Twisted Sister is done. Finished. Over. The heavy metal glam band that broke out of the MTV era with the hits “I Wanna Rock” and “We’re Not Gonna Take It,” that showcased over-the-top stage theatrics and drag queen-esque style, is calling it quits.
After four decades of pissing off overprotective parents and delighting legions of rebellious young fans (not to mention selling millions and millions of records), the band is putting away their instruments (and makeup) for good.
Lead singer Dee Snider explains why it’s time to end it, the documentary film”We Are Twisted F***ing Sister!” and why he can’t control his former reality TV boss (or anyone) from using Twisted Sister’s biggest song as a battle cry.
Question: Is this really the end of Twisted Sister?
Answer: Most definitely. I never intended to be doing this, Twisted Sister, at this point in my life. If you watch the [Parents Music Resource Center] Senate testimony [in the 1980s], at one point I said, “I plan on being well retired by 35.” The “well-retired” part didn’t work out. To be here at 60 and going out for the farewell shows seems a little bit overdue. [laughs]
It’s not that I don’t love the guys. It’s not that I’m not proud of my past. I just want to leave with a certain degree of dignity. Leave people with a smile on their face. As opposed to them leaving, shaking their heads, saying, “I remember when they were really good.”
I had been saying to the band, “Guys, we’ve got to call it a day. At some point there has to be an end. Now we have been reunited more years than we were together the first time.” A reunion is not supposed to go on forever, contrary to what KISS does.
When [drummer] AJ [Pero] passed away, the rest of the guys sort of said, “You know what, we get it. It seems a logical time to finish things up.”
Our 40th year is coming up, so we decided it would be cool to do some shows to say goodbye.
Q: So there is no chance of a comeback tour?
A: That is part of the problem: Agents are going out there and saying, “Twisted is not doing a tour. They’re just doing a handful of shows. Then they’re done.” Bookers are saying, “Yeah, right, until next year.”
They’ve seen with Ozzy Osbourne, KISS and The Scorpions, these bands have nothing else going on. They find themselves in retirement and go, “Well, this kinda blows.” That is not the case with me. I have a lot going on creatively. I don’t feel like I’m going to have to go running back to find an outlet.
Q: What are you gonna miss most about the band?
A: What I will miss most is the reckless abandon that a Twisted Sister show had. I love that when I’m up there, I throw my body on the ground, I crawl around on all fours, I thrash and headbang and whip my head around. I will miss that.
But I can’t do that forever. I don’t want to drop to the ground on all fours at one point because my hip broke! [laughs] Gravity wins. Everyone gets pulled into the dirt at some point.
Q: Looking back, what are you most proud of?
A: The thing I’m proudest about is what the documentary exemplified. We are unwilling to go quietly into the night. We refused to accept no as an answer. We kept pushing and pushing for a decade before we finally broke through.
When it turned out that we weren’t going to have the staying power we hoped for, we then broke up. Then we reunited and reclaimed a position in the heavy metal/rock world and garnered quite a bit of respect. We headlined festivals in front of 30 [thousand], 40,000 fans.
We dominate. This little band with two hit songs that nobody wanted to sign in the first place. I’m proud of that.
Q: How did the movie come about?
A: A documentary director, Andrew Horn, was researching for a film he was doing on a performance artist called Klaus Nomi. He found out that Twisted Sister and Klaus had a significant crossing of paths in the ‘70s. He interviewed me and [guitarist] J.J. [French] for that documentary. He found out there was this unknown “Rocky”-esque story about Twisted Sister’s struggle to make it.
He wasn’t a fan of the band. As a nonfan he said, “This is a compelling story that needs to be told.” We let him tell the story as he saw it.
Q: What’s next for you?
A: I have written a musical that I have staged called “Rock and Roll Christmas Tale.” I have a new record deal. The album is called “Dee Snider: Now.” It is written by the top songwriters for Pink, Kanye [West], Taylor Swift and [Lady] Gaga [and] led by producer and songwriter Damon Ranger.
I also still do a radio show — 20-plus years now.
As far as reality TV goes, I think I’ve done enough. This guy came up to me on the street and said, “I saw you in ‘Celebrity … ” I said, “‘Apprentice’? ‘Wife Swap’? ‘Ghost Stories.’” He said, “No, ‘Celebrity Home for the Holidays.’”
Oh yeah, I think it’s time for me to stop.
Q: Is it frustrating that people can use your songs without permission?
A: As long as it’s not being used for a commercial, anybody can play any song at any gathering. They just pay a licensing fee. Like the music that is played at a sporting event. I have a couple teams I feel very strongly about, yet when a team is down by a couple points, they start playing “We’re Not Gonna Take It.” Sometimes they’re playing against my teams, and I’m screaming at the television, “Get your own song!”
You can speak out and say you don’t like it, but you can’t actually stop it.
“We Are Twisted F***king Sister” will be available on DVD and digital download Feb. 23.