Kiss‘ Gene Simmons has offered an in-depth explanation as to his repeated assertions that “rock is dead,” alongside urging rock fans to get vaccinated and support smaller bands once it is safe to do so, in order to save the genre.
Speaking to Consequence Of Sound, Simmons was asked the reasoning behind launching a new set of signature bass guitars with Gibson, given that he has recently spoken about his views on the death of rock as a genre and financially viable career.
In response, Simmons compared the legacy of artists from different eras: first, old-school rock, and then more contemporary bands. “If we play the game from 1958 until 1988, which is 30 years, you had Elvis, The Beatles, The Stones, Pink Floyd, and on and on and on,” Simmons said. “And you can go to the heavy part of it, which is Metallica, Maiden, if you want to put KISS in there, that’s fine. AC/DC, on and on and on. Even U2, Prince, Bowie, Eagles. And then you get to disco stuff, and Madonna, and that stuff, and Motown, of course. And then from 1988 until today, who’s the new Beatles?”
The bassist seems convinced that there isn’t one. “I’ve heard a reaction of Foo Fighters, one of my favourite bands, but you’re kidding yourself,” he said. There’s also the boy bands: NSYNC, One Direction, BTS, and [sarcastically] XYZ, PTA, and good for them that they’ve got success. Don’t kid yourself. As soon as those girls are gonna grow a little bit older, that’s going to go away. It’s like sugar: you taste it, it gives you that little energy boost, and then it’s gone forever and you don’t care. But don’t kid yourself, it ain’t The Beatles. They don’t write songs, they don’t play instruments, it ain’t that. And we all love Elvis, never wrote a song in his life. There’s just nothing that compares to The Beatles.”
Simmons again asserted that he thinks this is because “that kid living in his mom’s basement decided one day that he didn’t want to pay for music. He wanted to download and file share. And that’s what killed the chances for the next generation of great bands. The fact that the music was for free. So nowadays new bands don’t have a chance.”
However, Simmons sees one way to ensure rock’s survival: live shows. “‘Rock is dead’ – you bet your ass it is – not because the talent isn’t there, but because the business model just doesn’t work,” he said. “And so that leaves live performances. And I really hope once this vaccine takes hold – you better get shot up twice – that people go out to the local clubs and see all the new bands and support new bands.”
Simmons urged fans to nurture new talent as if it was “a baby that’s on the floor,” saying: “go up there, pick that baby up and coddle it, give it love, because those new bands need your love.”
“It’s not going to affect me. I make a living, but the new bands need the love and attention. Don’t just go see Metallica and Taylor [Swift] or KISS. On the weekends, go to a place that’s got live music. And I don’t mean guys that press a button and do EDM. That’s fine, too. But that guy, if you put an instrument in his hands, wouldn’t have a clue what to do with it – never wrote a song, wouldn’t know what an A minor, A major or a seventh is. You need to support the new generation of talented people who are musicians and writers and so on. Don’t let the robots take away everything.”
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