KISS’ Gene Simmons: New Artists ‘Don’t Have a Chance’
While Gene Simmons‘ “rock is finally dead” comment is the piece of the headline-making interview that sparked much debate over the past year, at the heart of what the rocker was saying was that the music industry is in such a state that it makes it hard for new acts to flourish, much like KISS did early in their career. Simmons and his KISS cohort Paul Stanley reiterated that stance in a new interview with Billboard.
Stanley started the discussion, stating, “The only reason to record at this point or write songs is to make a statement about the current band, and that we don’t only rely on our old catalog. I think we’re very fortunate to have come out when we did, and to not be relying upon an industry that has basically committed suicide.”
Simmons added, “Don’t misunderstand, we’re not complaining. We have very good lives, the arenas and stadiums fill up, we can go anywhere in the world and we have a ball. It is really — maybe profoundly is the right word — but it’s really sad for the new artists. Where’s the next Elvis, where’s the next Beatles, where’s the Zeppelin? They’re out there but they don’t have a chance. They don’t have a chance because once upon a time we had record companies, and they would support you and have point of purchase material and they would give you advances. In other words, they gave you the air to breathe to find yourself and spend the time to learn how to run.”
Simmons continued, “The next big band, the next Zeppelin, what are they gonna do? Give their music away for free? They’re gonna be living in their mom’s basement, unfortunately, and they’re never gonna get the chance that we did, which is the saddest part of all for the new bands because there should always be a new generation of bands.”
The comments from the KISS members came as they were accepting the ASCAP Founders Award for their 40 years of music excellence. Foo Fighters frontman Dave Grohl, a big KISS fan, was on hand to present the award to the band and make a speech on their behalf.
Grohl recalled being a young boy and picking up his first KISS album, Destroyer, and becoming an instant fan. “With nuclear anticipation, I let the needle drop on that legendary intro to ‘Detroit Rock City,’ perhaps the greatest introduction to any rock ‘n’ roll album ever recorded. It filled my speakers and my imagination,” stated Grohl. “Thirty-four minutes later and 27 seconds later, KISS had filled my soul. I was now a member of the infamous KISS army. Before long, my room had become a f—ing shrine. Posters of these four musical monsters lined my walls action figures filled my shelves and KISS albums overtook my once A.M,-friendly record collection. I was converted … Every morning, I would wake up in my tiny bedroom and take a good look at my superheroes before walking to school. They got me through those years and ultimately inspired me to follow this unreasonable dream of becoming a professional rock ‘n’ roll musician.”