Twisted Sister vocalist Dee Snider has told a Sydney court today (October 20) that Clive Palmer’s political rewrite of the band’s 1984 hit ‘We’re Not Gonna Take It’ is “awful” and bad for his “heavy metal image”.
Universal Music is suing the former politician and mining magnate for his rendition of the track, which replaces the titular chorus with the lyric “Australia ain’t gonna cop it/No Australia’s not gonna cop it/Aussies not gonna cop it anymore”. The campaign video and song appeared regularly on television and radio, as part of the Palmer United Party’s multimillion-dollar advertising scheme in the 2019 Australian federal election.
ABC reports that Snider made the comments via video link from the US, while being cross-examined in the Federal Court as to whether the legal battle would inadvertently help sell tickets to an upcoming Australian tour.
“There is nothing to be gained from my association,” Snider said.
“Because the rendition was awful, the message was misrepresented, and Mr Palmer’s image is not good for my heavy metal image either.”
Snider was also asked today about Palmer’s previously announced defence – that the chorus of ‘We’re Not Gonna Take It’ is exempt from copyright laws as it is “derived” from the Christmas carol, ‘O Come, All Ye Faithful’.
The Federal Court heard excerpts from Snider’s 2012 memoir Shut Up and Give Me the Mic, in which he recalls a conversation with Twisted Sister guitarist Al Pitrelli where the connection between the two tracks was pointed out.
Snider mentions in the book that he sang the Christmas carol “hundreds of times” while he was in a church choir as a child. In court, Snider said that the link was “inspiration” and not plagiarism.
“I believe all the music I’ve listened to is imprinted in my brain and I’m regurgitating, for lack of a better word, all this information in different combinations, hopefully creating original material,” he said.
After the court was shown a video of Snider playing a mash-up of ‘We’re Not Gonna Take It’ and the Christmas carol, he said it was “very difficult” to get them to work together in defence.
Universal Music are seeking copyright payments and additional damages from Palmer, whose initial defence was that he owned the copyright to the lyrics in his version of ‘We’re Not Gonna Take It’, which he created after allegedly baulking at the price of a license for the original song. The hearings are expected to continue until the end of this week.
During the 2016 US election campaign, Snider gave now US President Donald Trump permission to use ‘We’re Not Gonna Take It’ as a closing track to his political rallies.