Twisted Sister’s Jay Jay French Explains Band’s Refusal to Allow Trump Campaign’s Use of ‘We’re Not Gonna Take It’
With a suitably brash lyrical message and a frontman who considers the candidate a friend, it initially looked like Twisted Sister's "We're Not Gonna Take It" might be the anthem Donald Trump's presidential campaign had been looking for. It didn't turn out that way — and in a new editorial, guitarist Jay Jay French explains why.
Writing for Forward.com, French recalls being "thrust into the national debate" when Trump started playing the group's signature hit at his rallies — a debate that intensified among fans after singer Dee Snider offered support for Trump's use of the song.
French writes that he understood Snider was "attempting to express his own opinion and walk a fine line between endorsing and repudiating Trump’s inflammatory rhetoric," but that line was blurred once his position went public, and spilled over into the fan community as well as the band members' personal lives.
"Our fans, on email, Facebook and Twitter (both for and against Trump), went at it," French recalls. "Many of my friends who absolutely hated Trump wanted to know how I, as manager and owner of the Twisted Sister trademark, could let this happen. I was accused, by those who hated Trump but didn’t know me personally, of being a media whore who obviously must have gotten paid 'tons of money' to let this happen."
As French goes on to point out in patient detail, this isn't how music licensing works — not only does a licensor not need the artist's individual permission to use a song, it isn't even all that lucrative for the songwriter. But more importantly, given that — as French writes — "the band’s personal political leanings have always been all over the map," they weren't comfortable with Trump or any other candidate waving their song as a banner.
Ultimately, Snider ended up asking Trump to stop using the song, telling reporters "I strongly don’t agree with his extremist positions" and getting it pulled from campaign rallies. Rather than issuing a press release to officially announce their decision, French writes that they simply let the controversy die down.
"For one of the louder, brasher bands of the past few decades, we chose not the loudest way, not the sexiest way, not the PR dream way, to avoid that particular legacy," he argues. "We chose just the way it needed to be."
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