KISS’ Gene Simmons Blames ‘Young Fans’ for Killing Rock Music
Hannah Foslien, Stringer/Getty Images
Somehow, the "rock is dead" narrative is still quite alive. That is largely because KISS icon Gene Simmons has been pushing this idea over the last few years, arguing no rock bands have had massive success since the '80s ended. Now, he's blaming "young fans" for the genre's downfall.
On the evening before KISS broke two world records at their "KISS 2020 Goodbye" stream on Dec. 31, Simmons reasserted his notion that "rock is dead" in an interview. When pressed recently by Jonathan Clarke of Q104.3 about whether this comment was in reference to radio play and streaming statistics, Simmons replied, "In all ways."
"And the culprits are the young fans," asserted the singing bassist. "You killed the thing that you love."
Simmons then shifted the blame toward the monetary model of streaming services, but instead pointed the finger at those who use the service.
"As soon as streaming came in, you took away a chance for the new great bands who are there in the shadows, who can't quit their day job because you can't make a dime putting your music out there, because when you download stuff, it's one-hundredth or one-thousandth of one penny," he said (transcription via Blabbermouth).
The rocker proceeded by mixing up the concepts of streaming and downloading in reference to today's popular services, and added, "And so you've got to have millions to millions, and even billions of downloads before you can make a few grand. And the fans have killed that thing. So the business is dead."
Simmons reiterated his usual spiel of listing legendary rock acts from the '50s through the end of the '80s, wondering aloud where all next generation rock legends were.
"From 1988 until today, who's the new Beatles? That's more than 30 years. That's around the time when Napster and all that [illegal downloading] stuff started to [happen]," he continued.
It's worth noting that Napster was founded in 2001, 13 years after Simmons' 1988 endpoint for rock's greatness.
Likening the music industry to animalistic means of survival, Simmons laid out an analogy.
"The fox goes in and steals that first egg from the chicken coop, and when the fox isn't killed, all the other foxes say, 'Hey, we can get eggs for free.' Before you know it, the farmer's out of business, and there are no more eggs in the grocery stores," he explained. "The grocery store goes out of business, the trucks that deliver the chickens and the eggs go out of business, just 'cause you didn't kill that first fox that came in to steal the eggs."
In that aforementioned interview before KISS' New Year's Eve livestream concert, Simmons changed his stance on rap music and admitted the genre is "very important."
Currently, rap and hip-hop is flooded with artists paying tribute to rock and metal artists, as well as embracing elements of heavy music for their own purposes as they break new stylistic ground, crossing the two in new ways.
Among the most high profile rock enthusiasts is Post Malone. He's collaborated with Ozzy Osbourne (who then linked up with Posty's producer Andrew Watt for his own album, Ordinary Man), performed with Aerosmith at the 2018 MTV VMAs, played a Nirvana livestream tribute show with Blink-182's Travis Barker, among other significant events.
Gene Simmons on Q104.3