The Front Row Report recently conducted an interview with TWISTED SISTER bassist Mark Mendoza. A couple of excerpts follow (transcribed by BLABBERMOUTH.NET).
On the first show with drummer Mike Portnoy (DREAM THEATER), who stepped in for A.J. Pero after his March 2015 death:
Mark: "It was quite different. Mike Portnoy didn't replace A.J. He had to come in and play because we had no choice with A.J. What a tremendous and horrible loss for us. When A.J. finally joined the band [in 1981], it really clicked. It was like gears in a fine watch meshing. It really was. He was the other part of the rhythm section that made it work. Not only that, you can replace the drummer, you can replace the musician, but you can't replace the person. A.J. was a family member; he was a brother. You could rely on him. As much as you have to pay your taxes, you could rely on A.J., not only as a person, but as a musician and a drummer in a band. A.J. was quite possibly one of the funniest guys in the band. When you take all of that away, you're worried about replacing it. You can't replace the person, without a doubt. We had to find — with A.J.'s help believe it or not — he said to us, 'If anything happens to me, Mike Portnoy's a good friend and would be a good replacement.' Mike Portnoy was the first one we called. I spoke to him, so did Jay Jay [French, guitar] over the phone. We sent him all of the information, all of the live shows, recordings, and at the first rehearsal, he came in at 98 percent. We had to fine-tune him just a little bit. He really emulated A.J.'s playing, he got up there and did it. Mike Portnoy did a great job. He's a great guy; he's a lot of fun and in a character in his own right, and a lot of fun. Although the transition was tough because somebody passed away and you have to find a replacement, Mike Portnoy made it as smooth and easy as possible. I don't think it could have been any better with someone else."
On what stands out to him across TWISTED SISTER's 40-year career:
Mark: "We were broken up for about 13 years in the middle of it all. What stands out…I have to say, and I'll put it into different terms: I would say that Dee's [Snider] the best quarterback in the business. Hands down. He is the best quarterback. He has the best lineman in the business; no one can get to him. I'll be egotistical about it and I'm not egotistical and not that type of person — we take apart every audience and band we play with. It's the combination of those people and that name and the fact we're a well-oiled machine that has been doing this for a long time. No circumstances, no anything, even A.J. passing can stop us from doing what we love to do and getting the job done. And we get it done every single night that we play."
On being able to back up his statements that TWISTED SISTER is the best:
Mark: "You can't be liked or loved by every music fan. Whatever floats your boat. There are people who don't like rock music, who want to hear jazz, or country, or rap. Music is very subjective. Whatever floats your boat, whatever makes your heart beat, whatever kind of music it is. Can you claim to be the best band in the world? You can if you're in the band. Does it really mean you're the best? We go by what all of the reviews around the world say, and what every promoter and what every other band says that is on the bill with us. At the end of the show, we get, 'Holy crap. You guys just turned this audience into fanatics.' There isn't a single night where we don't conquer whatever situation we're in as a band."
On if TWISTED SISTER split at the right time in 1989:
Mark: "That's a tough thing to say. You look at bands like POISON and MÖTLEY CRÜE and OZZY [OSBOURNE] and JUDAS PRIEST and MOTÖRHEAD, they never stopped playing and making records. Their careers went on, sometimes it was a little slower, sometimes it was a little bigger. When we came back, we were 100 times bigger than we were in the '80s. Our success now live is tremendous. How do you do that? You don't have a crystal ball. Does it say you did the right or wrong thing? That whole grunge scene when it came out, it certainly hurt the heavy metal and rock bands, but, being the size of these bands, they persevered and went right through it and are still around today."
TWISTED SISTER last year announced its plans to call it quits after a final round of dates, dubbed "Forty And Fuck It - The Final Tour".