In 1985, the Parents’ Music Resource Center (PMRC),led by Tipper Gore, was trying 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 incongruous trio of Dee Snider, Frank Zappa and John Denver were called before Congress to testify in defense of music.
In a new interview with VRP Rocks, Dee‘s TWISTED SISTER bandmate, guitarist Eddie Ojeda, was asked how he felt about the whole thing when it was happening. He responded (as transcribed by BLABBERMOUTH.NET): “That I wish we would have stayed out of. I think if you’re a musician or an actor or a well-known musician, I think you should keep your opinion about censorship to yourself, or maybe make comments [on] it, but I think we went a bit far with it. I think it was kind of cool to stand up for your rights, but I think in the long run, it wasn’t a good thing to go to Congress and try to like take them on, because they don’t like to lose. Dee did a great job of representing himself, and they weren’t happy about it. They thought they were gonna get some drunken, drugged out fool show up and embarrass himself and put more nails in the coffin, so to speak, but it didn’t go that way. So, yeah, I think it ended up, even though it was a positive thing, it also took a toll on the band. So, like I said, I just think it’s one thing to be involved in or support something, but it’s another thing when you head it up and get too involved in it, because then it can end up hurting your career, I think. I mean, especially with [former U.S. president] Donald Trump, there’s families that don’t speak to each other because somebody voted for Trump. People have taken that so far, and it never used to be like that. I mean, [in the past] people would say, ‘Okay, this guy got voted in. Fine. I didn’t vote for him, but let’s see what happens.’ But now the division is just insane. And like I said, people just take it too far now. All the political stuff that’s going on, it’s crazy.”
Circling back to how he felt about Dee taking part in the PMRC hearings, Eddie said: “At the time I thought it was the right thing to do, but after what happened from it, I said, ‘Well, maybe we…’ I didn’t really think about it much till after that happened. And I said, ‘I’m gonna keep my opinion about this stuff. When people ask me about politics, I’m not gonna tell them who I support.’ I just stay out of it. That’s personal. That’s private.”
Asked what sort of “kickback” he and the rest of TWISTED SISTER got from the government and “the powers that be after Dee stood up the way he did at Congress,” Ojeda said: “I’m not sure, but it seemed like… I just thought it hurt our popularity. And I don’t know if they had something to do with it. I think some of the guys’ phones were tapped, and stuff like that. And it was [Dee], Frank Zappa and John Denver who went to Congress. Of course, John Denver, I mean, he’s like a folk guy; nobody’s gonna care… But us being sort of this rock band, I don’t know if they had influence with the radio stations or whatever, but it was just kind of weird. We sort of had a bit of a hard time after that.”
Back in 2020, on the 35th anniversary of the PMRC hearings, Dee reflected on the experience in an interview with “Hardcore Humanism With Dr. Mike”. At the time, he said: “For every reaction, there’s a reaction, and during the decade of decadence, which is how they refer to the ’80s as, and that’s all the hair bands. And you look at the all the ’80s music — it was very sensational and outrageous at times, but it also reflects the time… It was the Reagan era, and it was very conservative at the time. And for every action, there’s a reaction, and kids were pushing back, young people were pushing back on conservatism by acting out in a very outrageous [way], with the party lifestyle and all that stuff. Parents, a couple of senators’ wives, Al Gore‘s in particular, started looking at song lyrics and decided that they need to protect their children by reading song lyrics, so parents are making parents’ job easier as parents to protect their children from our words.
“It gets very complicated, because it’s a First Amendment issue, it’s freedom of speech,” he continued. “Who’s gonna judge what words actually mean? You’re talking about art. You’re looking at a painting and saying, ‘What did the artist mean?” Sometimes it’s just a bick dick on the page, and you’re pretty sure he meant to draw a dick, but other times it’s interpreted — a lot of times it’s interpreted. But the bigger problem, it wasn’t for me. And I was a parent, which really shocked them. I was married, and I already had a kid, and I was one of the rockers that they were worried about. I said what I do mind is how this could be used in the wrong way, and that is to prevent people from accessing art, to prevent people from getting the music. And that is what happened ultimately — the sticker that was put on there, ‘Warning: Parental Advisory’, was used to segregate records; stores would not carry albums. That’s not informing parents; that is keeping art from the general public, and certain parties deciding what people will listen to and not listen to. That’s unacceptable.”
Nearly a year after TWISTED SISTER‘s one-off onstage reunion at the Metal Hall Of Fame in Agoura Hills, California, Dee confirmed to Canada’s The Metal Voice that the band will likely come back together in 2024 for special performances at different political rallies that need TWISTED SISTER‘s support. The singer said: “Well, I won’t be surprised if we’re reuniting this election year to champion some important causes. We’re all on the same page — pretty much all of us are on the same page — and I could see us helping fight the good fight. ‘Cause this is a big-picture election, and with things like women’s right to choose, that’s a big-picture thing. That’s gonna hurt the other side. I said ‘the other side’, because I’m not on that side, [on the side of] Mr. Trump.
“You can’t roll back the clock,” Dee explained. “We’re not going back in time. We’re going forward. The fact that my granddaughter does not have the right to choose just blows my mind. So these are important, important issues. It’ll be less about the politicians and more about the parties they represent and what they represent. [Issues like] gun control. By the way, I’m the weird… I’m gunned up, man. But I am for intelligent gun control. I’m gunned up. I’m the moderate. I’m that person. I drive a Teslaand an H2 Hummer. I’m an environmentalist and I ride motorcycles.
“When Al Gore said to me, ‘Oh, is Sick Mother-Fuckers [TWISTED SISTER‘s fanbase], is that a Christian organization?’ And I said, ‘Christianity and profanity have nothing to do with each other.’ There’s no ‘thou shalt not curse’, the 11th commandment that apparently was dropped or lost. No — those motherfuckers are cursing too. So everybody’s cursing — like I just did. Sorry. I’m losing it now.”
Snider added: “People say, ‘What’s a moderate? What is a moderate?’ I tell people the middle, the vast middle, need to speak up, because right now the extreme left [and] extreme right are both. They’re steering the ship, they’re the loudest voices in the room, they’re making the most noise, and the vast middle is sitting too silently. And they’ll say, ‘Well, what’s a moderate these days?’ I said, ‘What’s a moderate? If you’re willing to discuss something and consider a compromise, you’re a moderate.’ Because the people on the extreme left and extreme right, they will not give one inch. They won’t talk about it. They will not compromise under any circumstance. So there’s a lot of us in the middle who may be more right leaning or left leaning. That’s fine. But you need to speak up if you’re willing to have a discussion on a subject and you’re willing to consider compromising on something, ’cause those are the voices that need to be steering the ship, not the unrelenting, unyielding extremes on both sides.”
Dee previously brought up the possibility of TWISTED SISTED becoming active at political events in 2024 during an interview in April 2023 with Yahoo! Entertainment. At the time, he said: “We were all in favor of gonna go down to support Beto [O’Rourke], but we couldn’t schedule it. You know, the band has a concern that the [classic TWISTED SISTER] song [‘We’re Not Gonna Take It’] is being co-opted by the extreme right… and we want to make sure that people still know it’s a song for everybody and it does not represent that selfish micro group. It is really for the mass people, the moderate people, the people that just want to live their lives, be themselves, and not have people tell ’em they can’t be themselves. So, I think you’ll see us at political rallies and stuff like that. We’ll be out there next year.”
On hand to be inducted into the Metal Hall Of Fame were Snider, guitarist Jay Jay French, bassist Mark “The Animal” Mendoza and Mike Portnoy, who has played drums for TWISTED SISTER since the passing of former member A.J. Pero. Ojeda was absent from the event after contracting COVID-19; filling in for him was Keith Robert War.
The highlight of the ceremony — which also saw FOREIGNER singer Lou Gramm, NWOBHM heroes RAVEN, and guitarists Chris Impellitteri and Doug Aldrich honored — was TWISTED SISTER‘s highly charged three-song set consisting of the staples “You Can’t Stop Rock ‘N’ Roll” and “Under The Blade”, as well as the anthem “We’re Not Gonna To Take It”.
In late January 2023, Snider told Eonmusic that there were no additional TWISTED SISTER reunion performances in the works. “A hard ‘no plans’,” he said at the time. “No plans at all to do that.”
Going on to reference both OZZY OSBOURNE and MÖTLEY CRÜE‘s retirement and returns, he added: “You know, I’ve said when people retire, they should leave the stage, and all those bands, I’m tired of buying ‘No More Tours’ shirts and seeing people signing contracts in blood and then they show up three years later. I don’t believe in that bullshit, so I don’t think it’s going to happen.”
In 2016, TWISTED SISTER embarked on one final trek, titled “Forty And Fuck It”, in celebration of its 40th anniversary. These shows featured the band’s “core lineup” of Snider, French, Ojeda and Mendoza, along with Portnoy. The band’s last-ever concert took place in November of that year — 20 months after the passing of Pero.
TWISTED SISTER‘s original run ended in the late ’80s. After more than a decade, the band publicly reunited in November 2001 to top the bill of New York Steel, a hard-rock benefit concert to raise money for the New York Police And Fire Widows’ And Children’s Benefit Fund.
The surviving members of the classic lineup of TWISTED SISTER previously reunited virtually in March 2021 for a special episode of Mendoza‘s Internet TV show “22 Now”. The hour-and-a-half-long program was a tribute to Pero, who died exactly six years earlier at the age of 55 while on tour with the band ADRENALINE MOB.
Prior to the March 2021 virtual reunion, the four surviving members of TWISTED SISTER reunited for two days and nights in November 2019 to celebrate the 35th anniversary of the band’s classic album “Stay Hungry”.