Neil Young once sang “Rock n’ roll can never die,” but according to Gene Simmons, it’s already dead. The Kiss bassist recently made controversial remarks about Donald Sterling, immigration and depression (which he eventually backed off from), and now the Kiss bassist has another enormous statement to make: “Rock is finally dead,” Simmons declared in an interview with Esquire. “The death of rock was not a natural death. Rock did not die of old age. It was murdered,” he added. But rock’s killer wasn’t the blurring of musical genres or lack of craftsmanship. Instead, Simmons blames file sharing and the fact that no one values music “enough to pay you for it” for murdering rock n’ roll.
“It’s very sad for new bands. My heart goes out to them. They just don’t have a chance. If you play guitar, it’s almost impossible,” Simmons tell his son Nick, who interviewed him for Esquire. “You’re better off not even learning how to play guitar or write songs, and just singing in the shower and auditioning for The X Factor. And I’m not slamming The X Factor, or pop singers. But where’s the next Bob Dylan? Where’s the next Beatles? Where are the songwriters? Where are the creators? Many of them now have to work behind the scenes, to prop up pop acts and write their stuff for them.”
Simmons goes on to say that 1958 to 1983 was music’s pinnacle as he could name 100s of iconic musicians. Since then, Simmons lists two bands that have carried on the spirit of that era: Nirvana and, surprisingly, Tame Impala, which Simmons’ son turned him on to. “The craft is gone, and that is what technology, in part, has brought us,” Simmons said. “What is the next Dark Side of the Moon? Now that the record industry barely exists, they wouldn’t have a chance to make something like that. There is a reason that, along with the usual top-40 juggernauts, some of the biggest touring bands are half old people, like me.”
Simmons then points the finger at who he suspects is guilty for killing rock: “My sense is that file sharing started in predominantly white, middle- and upper-middle-class young people who were native-born, who felt they were entitled to have something for free, because that’s what they were used to. If you believe in capitalism — and I’m a firm believer in free-market capitalism — then that other model is chaos. It destroys the structure.” Simmons also uses this train of thought to slyly apologize for his previous statements about immigration by adding, “I find that many of the more patriotic people are immigrants.”
Perhaps upset that they weren’t named among “iconic” acts like Nirvana and Tame Impala, Foo Fighters shared Simmons’ “Rock is finally dead” interview on their Facebook page, adding “Not so fast, Mr. God of Thunder…” Dave Grohl and company will attempt to exhume and resuscitate rock with their next album Sonic Highways on November 10th.
By Daniel Kreps