JACKIE KAJZER – Author of Full Metal Jackie Certified: The 50 Most Influential Heavy Metal Songs of the ’80s and the True Stories Behind Their Lyrics
Full Metal Jackie Certified: The 50 Most Influential Heavy Metal Songs of the ’80s and the True Stories Behind Their Lyrics is an upcoming book that provides exclusive insight into the creative process behind the top metal songs of the 1980s. The book features interviews with iconic rock artists offering insight into the inspiration behind such hits as Judas Priest’s “Breaking the Law,” AC/DC’s “Back In Black,” Motorhead’s “Ace Of Spades,” Megadeth’s “Peace Sells,” Pantera’s “Cemetery Gates” and even Jane’s Addiction’s “Jane Says.”
Written by Jackie Kajzer–host and developer of nationally syndicated metal radio show “Full Metal Jackie”–with Roger Lotring, the book features classic photos by renowned rock photographer Mark Weiss and a foreword written by Dave Mustaine of Megadeth. SMNnews spoke with Kajzer about the inspiration behind the book.
Growing up, was heavy metal your first musical love?
Absolutely! I grew up in New Jersey and discovered metal on WSOU which is Seton Hall University’s Metal Radio station. I later came to work at the station and be on air, (where the love of the metal was solidified for life.)
What sparked the idea to do this book?
I do a syndicated metal radio show now which airs on commercial radio stations around the country. I hand pick every song I play, many of which are classic metal songs that never had edits done of them, (meaning – where the label has versions without profanities made.) I really wanted to play many of these songs, so I decided to make the edits myself (in pro-tools.) Since my show is on commercial radio, I have to make sure that no profanities go on air, so this means I have to pull the lyrics to EVERY song I play. When I started doing this for some of the classic songs, it made me realize how much more powerful the songs are once you actually read the lyrics.
When a lot of people think about metal in the ‘80s they probably don’t think about its lyrical greatness. Is that just a misconception that comes with the popularity of hair metal?
Probably. The mainstream tends to associate hair metal during the ‘80s as representative of metal as a whole. Many of those hair metal lyrics are fun, but they really don’t reflect the greater awareness of social, political and cultural situations that many metal bands addressed in their songs. The truth is that metal bands and their fans have always been a lot smarter than outsiders give them credit.
Many of the thrash and speed metal bands turned to politics for lyrical inspiration. Dave Mustaine has always been one of the best lyricists in that arena. What made you choose “Peace Sells” for the book?
“Peace Sells” reflects a lot of the sentiment that was common among many metalheads at that time. It’s angry. It’s disgruntled. And it’s the beginning of Mustaine delving into more socially observational lyrics, setting the tone for his development as a political lyricist. It’s really the start of Dave speaking not only from his own perspective, but also his audience.
You interviewed Perry Farrell but Jane’s Addiction isn’t exactly metal. Why did you include them in the book?
On the surface, no, they are not metal. But they do encompass a lot of metal elements and metal attitude in their music. At the time, they were edgy and underground, and a lot of metal musicians were drawn to them as an alternative to the complacency of what was becoming formulaic. And the lyrics to “Jane Says” are both dangerous and sad, and definitely reflective of the darker side of the hard rock and metal lifestyle.
Was there anyone you wanted to interview for the book that you couldn’t land?
Yes, because of scheduling constraints in some cases. In certain instances, some lyricists did not want to be pigeonholed as being only relevant in the ‘80s, despite the book really being a look at the timelessness of these songs. Other people felt that delineating their lyrics would detract from the listeners’ own interpretations, so they declined to participate.
If you had to pick up one song from that era that encapsulates the spirit of the time, what would it be?
The era really can’t be summed up by just one song, simply because metal evolved so much during the period between 1980 and 1990. A song that was in the spirit of the time in 1989 wasn’t necessarily more than one from, say, 1983. That might sound like a cop-out, but that’s why the songs are presented chronologically, because they’re ALL evocative of the spirit of the time for different reasons.
Pick up the book here and make sure you check out Full Metal Jackie’s site at www.FulMetalJackieRadio.com!