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 2014— 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 New Zealand’s The Sound radio station, Simmons stood by his comments, explaining: “The next KISS of the next BEATLES or whoever it is is not gonna come along, because there is no infrastructure. Here… Let’s play a game. From 1958 until 1988 is thirty years. What have we got? Well, let’s see… We have Elvis Presley, THE BEATLES, THE [ROLLING] STONES, Jimi Hendrix… the biggest bands of all time. And then in disco, you had Madonna, Donna Summer… all that. The biggest of all. And then in pop, you had Michael Jackson, THE JACKSON 5… all that stuff… and U2. And in heavy metal, you had METALLICA and IRON MAIDEN and all that stuff. Okay. And Prince and all that… From 1988 until today… give me the new BEATLES and the new STONES. Give me just one. You can’t. Rock is dead. And the reason for that? Downloading and filesharing. When you stop charging for things, it becomes worthless. And there’s gonna have to be a business model that’s gonna have to change. ‘Cause there are great bands out there, but there’s no support system.”
He continued: “You know, there’s a ten-thousand-hour principle [the principle which holds that 10,000 hours of ‘deliberate practice’ are needed to become world-class in any field]. There’s a book about that. Before THE BEATLES went into the studio to become THE BEATLES, they played clubs for ten thousand hours. That’s years. You have to do something for thousands and thousands of hours before you get any good on it. Nowadays, instant gratification means you can hum in your shower, then wind up on ‘The X Factor’ and you’re on television and you get a recording contract. But almost none of these singers who get recording contracts become huge. And that’s because the taller the tree, the deeper the root that needs to be in the ground to hold up all that weight. So if you have a tree with no roots [makes falling hand motion].”
Simmons added: “I love the new pop singers. I love Taylor Swift and Katy Perry. I’ve met them both. They’re all great and talented… What’s gonna happen when you’re 40 and 50? Will it still work? That’s the test of time.”
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 year: “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.”