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.”