KISS bassist/vocalist Gene Simmons has once again defended his controversial “rock is dead” comment, blaming the technology and fans for the current state of affairs.
Simmons told Esquire magazine in September — in an interview conducted by his son Nick — that “rock did not die of old age. It was murdered. Some brilliance, somewhere, was going to be expressed and now it won’t because it’s that much harder to earn a living playing and writing songs. No one will pay you to do it.”
Simmons went on to elaborate that as a result of file-sharing and other issues, record label support for rock music was not available like it was when KISS was coming up, concluding, “It’s finally dead. Rock is finally dead.”
In a brand new interview with “Steve Wright In The Afternoon” on U.K.’s BBC Radio 2, Simmons stood by his comments, explaining (hear audio below): “The most important thing for me is the sad fate of new bands. I’ve been quoted as saying ‘rock is dead,’ and, unfortunately, it truly is, because you cannot name a new BEATLES or a new Elvis or a new [BLACK] SABBATH.”
He continued: “Who’s the new LED ZEPPELIN? The point is, in the pop world, there’s Taylor [Swift], who’s fantastic, and [Lady] Gaga… there’s a lot of stuff. But only time makes you iconic. And I love all kinds of music, but in rock, it is sadly dying a bad fate. And that’s because the Internet and filesharing and downloading have killed the chances of the next young band that does have the writing potential and the performing potential to be the next ZEPPELIN or BEATLES, but there’s no support system. That’s called record companies.”
Simmons went on to say: “Imagine you work as a roofer — you put roofs on buildings — and then they figure out a way for you to do that and not get you paid. You write a book, you spend a year doing it, and then everybody fileshares it and downloads it and you don’t get paid. The Internet says, basically, that no matter how much you work and how long, I’m going to take your stuff and you’re not gonna paid for it. Listen, it doesn’t hurt me. I’m very rich, so it doesn’t affect me. I’m saddened that… Because once upon a time, I was dirt poor, and I got my riches by working for it for 41 years. But at least I had a chance. I had a record company in my corner that gave me advances — millions of dollars — that I never had to pay back, even if we failed. You only hurt the one you love. People complained about record companies: ‘Ah, the suits.’ Yeah, you’re right: they were suits; they were not like you and I, and they don’t like the same things we do. But they were the support system; they were the ones that made it all possible. Without Geffen Records, there wouldn’t have been a NIRVANA. Don’t kid yourself.”
A number of hard rock and heavy metal musicians have weighed in on the topic in a variety of interviews over the last nine months, with some digging a little deeper into Simmons‘ full remarks and others just glossing over the headline. SLIPKNOT and STONE SOUR singer Corey Taylor told a radio station last October: “Nothing against Gene. I understand what he was trying to say. His way of making albums and making music and getting things out there is dead. But you just kind of have to roll with the technology, you have to rise with the times, you have to learn to use those to your advantage. You can’t just sit back and just kind of do album-tour-album-tour — there’s so much that goes into it now.”