While in America they will forever be known to the mainstream as the two-hit wonders behind the anthems “We’re Not Gonna Take It” and “I Wanna Rock,” veteran New York rockers Twisted Sister have proven to have more longevity, marketability and durability than most popular bands today could hope to achieve.
Although they have not put out an album of original material since their ill-fated fifth album, the 1987 release Love Is For Suckers, the group has released three CDs and four DVDs since 2005 (including live, rerecorded and rare songs), played to massive festival audiences in Europe and was inducted into the Long Island Music Hall of Fame in 2007. The quintet has experienced a resurgence here and abroad that has surprised those in its own ranks.
So the next time you hear some smart aleck place them in the “Where Are They Now?” file, remind that person that Twisted are doing pretty damn well, thank you very much.
“I think some people do that to bust your chops a little bit,” remarked the always congenial and modest guitarist Eddie Ojeda. “‘You guys still doing anything?’ I want to say, ‘Yeah, we make more in one day than you make in a year,’ but I don’t. Some people try to be wiseasses.”
2009 is shaping up to be another strong year for Twisted Sister. They have booked five festival gigs — three in Europe and two in the U.S., including Rocklahoma in June.
They also have six Australian shows planned in September. A musical based on their Christmas album is in the works. To celebrate its 25th anniversary, their classic multiplatinum Stay Hungry album is being reissued this summer with 14 bonus demos and a hard-rocking new song entitled “30” that pokes fun at how they are still rocking out in their middle ages, albeit with a little help from pharmaceuticals.
“We started in 1973, and here we are in 2009,” declared founding member and guitarist Jay Jay French. “I had no idea that I would still be doing this. I had no idea that I would be the overseer of a worldwide brand.”
It’s funny to hear the veteran rocker use the term “brand,” but that is the reality of the music business today.
“Frankly, as we get older and tour less, what will carry on is the name and the logo, and there are so many different avenues that I am exploring at this point,” adds French.
A co-partner in management company Rebellion Entertainment with Sean Sullivan, the ever-busy French is as much a businessman as an artist. These days all the members of Twisted Sister and other music vets have to be.
“I am trying to analyze the music business and find out where it’s going,” said French. “I believe that the record is a dead issue, the CD is a dead issue, so the challenge is, how do you find a young band, develop it and make money? Music is exciting, and there’s more music out there than ever, but the record labels are over and the CD as a medium is going to be over in the next four to five years. I think the concept of having 10 songs for a record is done. It’s going to be a track world. What does that mean? How do you develop a band or an artist that way? How do you make careers? What does it take to manage a band like that?”
In his main capacity at Rebellion as manager, promoter, and marketer for Twisted Sister, French knows that the money comes in through licensing songs for film and TV (which has made them a lot of cash over the years), ring tones and other licensing opportunities. His company also manages genre-hopping New England jam band Rubblebucket, who have no label and make al