Jay Jay French Says Twisted Sister Has Two Songs That Are ‘Standard Bearers In The World Of Popular Music’

Yoshiko Yap
JAY JAY FRENCH Says TWISTED SISTER Has Two Songs That Are 'Standard Bearers In The World Of Popular Music'

TWISTED SISTER guitarist Jay Jay French spoke to Brazil’s Wikimetal about the fact that in today’s day and age when anyone and everyone floods the musical market, it becomes increasingly hard for one band, artist or songwriter to stand out in the flow to be heard and earn a living by making music.

“First of all, the good news is anybody can make a record,” he said (as transcribed by BLABBERMOUTH.NET). “But the bad news is anybody can make a record. And so there’s so much out there that how do you rise above the noise? That becomes the issue. Now, we happen to have two songs — ‘We’re Not Gonna Take It’ and ‘I Wanna Rock’ — that have raised above the noise to the point where they are standard bearers in the world of popular music, in much the same way that JOURNEY‘s ‘Don’t Stop Believin” is just a standard bearer. Whether you like them or not, that’s not the point — it’s a standard-bearer song. QUEEN ‘We Will Rock You’, ‘We Are The Champions’, these are standard bearers — these are massive hits that people sing in stadiums.

“Very much the mentality of Europe and South America as it pertains to stadium-sounding anthems is one of the reasons why TWISTED SISTER is successful today,” he continued. “Even though our music is played in American football stadiums and baseball stadiums, it is almost tailor made for South America and Europe, because in South America and Europe, at soccer games, everyone puts their arms around each other and they sing these songs. So this is one of the ways that our songs become standards. But also we license them for movies and commercials and soundtracks.

“In the ’60s, counter-culture groups were offended by corporations: ‘We’ll never give our music to Chevrolet. We’ll never give our music to Ford. We’re never gonna do that, because that’s beneath us. We’re not part of the corporate stuff.’ Well, nowadays, I’m saying, what we’re saying, [is] anything we can do to get our music out there is important — any avenue,” French added. “It just so happens licensing music is the last bastion of real money in the music industry, because it’s old-time money. The way they pay you is just the way they’ve been paying you for the last 30, 40, 50 years. It’s not like streaming or anything else — you get real money. So the benefit of it is twofold — one is you get paid a lot; and the other side of it is you get broadcast a lot.

“So, if you would ask a 10-year-old kid do they know TWISTED SISTER, maybe they don’t. You start singing ‘We’re Not Gonna Take It’, the kid’s gonna be singing ‘We’re Not Gonna Take It’. So if our consolation prize is that our music is standardized around the world, and young kids know it and it shows up in commercials and TV shows, then you know what? That doesn’t suck. That’s a good thing. So that’s what we’re lucky in possessing — between ‘I Wanna Rock’ and ‘We’re Not Gonna Take It’ — two international anthems that are standardized.”

“We’re Not Gonna Take It” has been used in commercials for hotel chain Extended Stay America, Claritin, Walmart, Stanley Steamer and Yaz birth control.

The song’s lyrics say in part “Oh you’re so condescending/Your gall is never ending/We don’t want nothin’/Not a thing from you.”

“We’re Not Gonna Take It” was first released as a single (with B-side song “You Can’t Stop Rock ‘N’ Roll”) on April 27, 1984. The “Stay Hungry” album was released two weeks later, on May 10, 1984. The single made No. 21 on the Billboard Hot 100 singles chart, making it TWISTED SISTER‘s only Top 40 single, and the song was ranked No. 47 on VH1‘s “100 Greatest ’80s Songs”.

“We’re Not Gonna Take It” was written solely by singer Dee Snider. As influences for the song, he previously cited the glam rock band SLADE, the punk band SEX PISTOLS, and the Christmas carol “O Come, All Ye Faithful”.

TWISTED SISTER called it quits in 2016 after completing a farewell 40th-anniversary tour. The band’s last-ever concert took place in November of that year — 20 months after the passing of TWISTED‘s longtime drummer A.J. Pero.

French‘s new “bizoir” — part memoir and part business primer — “Twisted Business: Lessons From My Life In Rock ‘N’ Roll”, was released last month via RosettaBooks.


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