Gene Simmons Declares Rock Dead

Gene Simmons discussed the death of rock in a new interview with Esquire:

“Don’t quit your day job is a good piece of advice. When I was coming up, it was not an insurmountable mountain. Once you had a record company on your side, they would fund you, and that also meant when you toured they would give you tour support. There was an entire industry to help the next Beatles, Stones, Prince, Hendrix, to prop them up and support them every step of the way. There are still record companies, and it does apply to pop, rap, and country to an extent. But for performers who are also songwriters — the creators — for rock music, for soul, for the blues — it’s finally dead.

Rock is finally dead.

I am so sad that the next 15-year-old kid in a garage someplace in Saint Paul, that plugs into his Marshall and wants to turn it up to ten, will not have anywhere near the same opportunity that I did. He will most likely, no matter what he does, fail miserably. There is no industry for that anymore. And who is the culprit? There’s always the changing tide of interests — music taste changes with each generation. To blame that is silly. That was always the exciting part, after all: “What’s next?” But there’s something else. The death of rock was not a natural death. Rock did not die of old age. It was murdered. And the real culprit is that kid’s 15-year-old next-door neighbor, probably a friend of his. Maybe even one of the bandmates he’s jamming with. The tragedy is that they seem to have no idea that they just killed their own opportunity — they killed the artists they would have loved. 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.

The masses do not recognize file-sharing and downloading as stealing because there’s a copy left behind for you — it’s not that copy that’s the problem, it’s the other one that someone received but didn’t pay for. The problem is that nobody will pay you for the 10,000 hours you put in to create what you created. I can only imagine the frustration of all that work, and having no one value it enough to pay you for it.

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. 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.”

  • kris08

    He’s right. The pop bullshit is (unfortunately) here to stay.

  • Anonymous501

    I agree and disagree with some of his points. I don’t think it’s all to blame on music being easly pirated. Even before pirating became mainstream the record industry was make bands that were deriviate of derivative bands from the 90s era. Pirating was still small at the end of the 90s but after the early 90’s rock explosion started to slow down (and he seems to think there was a lack of big rock bands from the 80s/90s in which I disagree).

    I would say legal downloads are also to blame. Itunes brought back the era of the single and put a nail in the “album” coffin.

    I do agree that pirating doesn’t make it challenging. Record companies use to actively recruit bands, give them a few albums to master their craft, and spend alot of money on promotion. It’s how bands got noticed. The internet is great, but it’s very fragmented.

    Other genres keep on going, why is it only Rock that is dying? Maybe there’s not a lot of new areas left to explore in Rock anymore.

  • CraigPW1984

    I will always enjoy rock music. There are some newer rock bands out today that are putting out some good/quality music. However, I think it is becoming more formulaic. How many more songs can be played in drop C tuning before starting to sound similar? I guess I mean there really isn’t anything new or fresh. Like I said, I still like a lot of rock today but it will only appeal to the rock audience and not to a larger audience like it did in the early 2000s, 90s, and prior. Unfortunately we have other so-called rock acts being promoted in the mainstream these days. Ummmm….Lorde winning best rock category on the VMAs and Billboard Awards? She’s rock???? Both of those shows are not even really considered award shows anymore because they are nothing but for publicity stunts to stir up controversy these days. However, those are the artists reaching out to the mass audience. I remember the days when I looked forward to watching award shows to see great rock bands perform and win awards.

  • Dave Brookes

    Rock music in general has suffered greatly at the hands of corporate radio mentality. Instead of promoting artists who are really honestly talented, creative and have good songs, they always want to find the next Green Day, Foo Fighters or Smashing Pumpkins. Thats why there is no diversity in modern rock music anymore, all you hear is the same 100 bands that have come before. I remember a time back in the early 2000’s when there were good rock bands , alternative bands and garage style rock bands like the White Stripes, The Strokes, Modest Mouse, The Mooney Suzuki, The Hives, The Helicopters, Jet, The Vines, Puddle Of Mudd, and Korn who really tried hard to break out of that mold and give us something new and interesting to listen to on the radio. So what happened?? How is it, those artists and musicians came and went ??? Its all the fault of modern rock radio stations and record companies who feel like true talent isnt worth discovering and promoting anymore. Gene Simmons is right on when he says, todays bands might as well quit and never try in this business. Its truly sad when all we get is Taylor Swift, Justin Beiber, and Maroon 5. We need to get back to the shack as Weezer’s new song suggest. And start over with rock n roll music. When bands like Velvet Revolver, U2, Alice In Chains, Oasis, The Original Stone Temple Pilots with Scott Weiland and The Foo Fighters are allowed to come back to the radio airwaves and really put out good hard rocking music, this industry will see some improvement in terms of sales, marketing and promoting of talented rock music and then new bands can be inspired by that and give us a whole new generation of music to listen to.

  • Dave Brookes

    Rock music in general has suffered greatly at the hands of corporate radio mentality. Instead of promoting artists who are really honestly talented, creative and have good songs, they always want to find the next Green Day, Foo Fighters or Smashing Pumpkins. Thats why there is no diversity in modern rock music anymore, all you hear is the same 100 bands that have come before. I remember a time back in the early 2000’s when there were good rock bands , alternative bands and garage style rock bands like the White Stripes, The Strokes, Modest Mouse, The Mooney Suzuki, The Hives, The Helicopters, Jet, The Vines, Puddle Of Mudd, and Korn who really tried hard to break out of that mold and give us something new and interesting to listen to on the radio. So what happened?? How is it, those artists and musicians came and went ??? Its all the fault of modern rock radio stations and record companies who feel like true talent isnt worth discovering and promoting anymore. Gene Simmons is right on when he says, todays bands might as well quit and never try in this business. Its truly sad when all we get is Taylor Swift, Justin Beiber, and Maroon 5. We need to get back to the shack as Weezer’s new song suggest. And start over with rock n roll music. When bands like Velvet Revolver, U2, Alice In Chains, Oasis, The Original Stone Temple Pilots with Scott Weiland and The Foo Fighters are allowed to come back to the radio airwaves and really put out good hard rocking music, this industry will see some improvement in terms of sales, marketing and promoting of talented rock music and then new bands can be inspired by that and give us a whole new generation of music to listen to.

  • yogi

    Wow, you really quoted Gene Simmons. And then agreed with him? On anything? OK, wow. The idea of rock music “dying” is fucking stupid. Especially to say that only NOW has rock died, when “real rock music, maaaan” died with Kurt Cobain. Is this even serious?

  • Dave Brookes

    When Kurt Cobain, Nirvana and the rest of the Seattle grunge music scene ruled the radio airwaves in the 1990s, there was a true sense of a generational revolution in terms of youth, culture, music and even social politics. Back then, making rock music was really meant to make a statement to the world on various issues. I think what Gene Simmons is really saying is rock music as a collective movement is now gone, theres no place for it anymore in todays 24 hour internet driven / social media driven popular entertainment culture and the record companies and radio stations are only making it worst by not standing up for those artists who came before and tried to make music that stood for something. Take Pearl Jam and Bad Religion for example. In 2013, those two legandary grunge and punk bands released two great albums in recent times: Lightning Bolt and True North, but did the mainstream top 40 radio stations or even Satelite radio play those bands much??? NO THEY DIDNT, but when it comes to artists like Maroon 5, Linkin Park, Taylor Swift, Black Eye Peas, and Justin Beiber?? They get played non stop 24 hours a day , even when there is no requests for those artists, I really do believe its time for a revolution people, its time for new rock bands to get promoted , the good old fashioned DO IT YOURSELF ( DIY ) way, start their own record labels, get the word out, play some shows and try to get on the radio that way instead. Or get promoted on Youtube, Twitter or Facebook. There must be a way for rock music to survive and even make a comeback in 2014 and beyond. If radio stations and record companies will not change their mentality, then its up to us and the new bands and artists out there to make that change instead.

  • Joe Costigan

    It’s hard to say that rock is dead. I think rock radio is dead but I think more and more people are just creating rock music on their own through independent labels/online etc. The whole grunge / alt movement was a response to the crap that was being forced upon people in the late 80s into early 90s by record labels. Who is to say a new movement won’t occur. Their is plenty of crap music out there from the talentless formulaic pop, the same song recycled over and over rap and the watered down commercialized country music that seem to have been getting the most attention lately. I still feel rock music is relevant and their is good music out there but the means of exposure to a larger audience does not exist.

  • #GoogleMyAss

    Gene is from the baby boomer generation. A generation that will largely be remembered as the most selfish generation in history. This is very common relation of a baby boomer when their time is through. At 60+ Gene isn’t reinventing the wheel. He’s using the Eagles template of charge as much as you can on the way out and bad mouth everything that follows. Kiss is the biggest problem with rock music. Marketing over music. Kiss is those first four albums and that one live album. Everything thing else was marketing. It shows you how foolish people were back in the mono culture.

  • — J —

    There’s all sorts of great rock music to listen to. Gene Simmons just isn’t hearing it because he is too old to realize that it’s being played on the internet and on satellite radio.

    • — J —

      Plus he’s just pissed that no one buys KISS albums anymore. “Hey, I haven’t sold an album in 30 years. hmmmm…. ROCK HAS BEEN DEAD FOR 30 YEARS!”

      Not quite, Gene. You just suck.