Gene Simmons Reiterates ‘Rock Is Dead’ Claim, Paul Stanley Disagrees
Gene Simmons first shared his assessment that "rock is dead" in 2014 and has reiterated the narrative several times over the years. In a chat with Consequence of Sound, he further explained why he continues to make the claims, but in a separate interview his KISS bandmate Paul Stanley has shared a more optimistic view on the future of rock.
Simmons reiterated his point that the early years of rock, which he gives a timeline of 1958 to 1988, yielded a wealth of rock giants including Elvis, the Beatles, the Rolling Stones, Pink Floyd and more. He also called out such acts as Metallica, Iron Maiden, KISS, AC/DC, U2, Prince, David Bowie and the Eagles, and even suggested room could be made for Madonna, Motown and the disco era. But that led to the question of who after 1988 would be The Beatles of the modern era.
“I’ve heard a reaction of Foo Fighters, one of my favorite bands, but you’re kidding yourself," said Simmons, adding, "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."
He then reiterated a talking point he's previously made that file-sharing and streaming have served as an obstacle for the next generation of acts.
“The reason for that is not because there’s a lack of talent, but because young folks, 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,” said Simmons.
“‘Rock is dead’ — you bet your ass it is," said the KISS bassist. "Not because the talent isn’t there, but because the business model just doesn’t work. 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. Like a baby that’s on the floor, go up there, pick that baby up and coddle it, give it love, because those new bands need your love.”
That said, Simmons' career has been cemented and the effects of the modern business model will not affect him as much as it would new artists. But he still pulls for the new generation of acts, telling fans, "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.”
While many have challenged the overall notion of Simmons' argument that "rock is dead," his KISS bandmate Paul Stanley recently spoke with SiriusXM Canada (as seen below), sharing his own view on the topic.
"I think that life, rock, whatever it is, is never a constant. Let's say, for example, if you take somebody's pulse and it's weak, it doesn't mean they're dead. It means that the pulse is weak. And it doesn't mean it won't come back stronger," Stanley said.
He added, "I don't think that music can ever be dead. I don't think that bands can be dead, rock can be dead. It just takes somebody to reignite it to the level that it has been at some time in the past."
Echoing one of Simmons points, Stanley suggested, "A computer will never take the place of flesh-and-blood people making music," before adding, "People may be enamored with it, and it may eclipse the other, but ultimately, it all comes full circle — it all comes back. It doesn't go away. It may be sleeping. But there are bands out there making great music."
"Nobody's complaining about Foo Fighters," Stanley added. "Dave [Grohl] is passionate about what he's doing and they're terrific. So there are bands out there. As far as new bands, somebody will come along. Somebody will pick up the flag and go forward. Like I said, the pulse may be a little weak, but the patient's coming back."
Paul Stanley Speaks With Jeff Sammut on SiriusXM Canada