All of the way back in 2014, Gene Simmons sparked a massive debate when he said that rock music is dead. Over the past few weeks, the KISS co-vocalist and bassist has brought back up his controversial claims and caught the attention of many including Alice Cooper.
Now, Simmons‘ KISS bandmate Paul Stanley is weighing in on the rock is dead debate. In a new interview, the guitarist/vocalist explains why he disagrees with Simmons’ views on the state of the genre. In particular, he elaborates on why rock music will never disappear for good.
For nearly seven years, Simmons has continuously expressed his beliefs that rock music is dead. More recently, in February, he revealed why streaming services such as Spotify and Apple Music are to blame for the genre’s decline over the years.
During a recent interview with Q104.3’s Out Of The Box, Simmons explained that fans’ use of streaming platforms where musicians get paid very little per stream has greatly impacted this new generation of rock artists. As a result, Simmons states that new acts cannot financially survive and eventually turn away from music to stay afloat financially.
Now, nearly a month after his latest explanation, Simmons is still discussing this rock debate. During a new interview with Consequence Of Sound, Simmons further elaborates that the early years of rock were when the genre was truly thriving.
He credits artists such as the Beatles, Elvis Presley and Pink Floyd for inspiring rock music from 1958 to 1988. However, he notes that bands and their relationships with fans today just aren’t what they used to be. Collectively, Simmons thinks that there isn’t a “new Beatles” despite some current artists receiving the comparison.
“I’ve heard a reaction of Foo Fighters, one of my favorite bands, but you’re kidding yourself,” he says of the comparison. “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. They don’t write songs, they don’t play instruments, it ain’t that. And we all love Elvis, never wrote a song in his life. There’s just nothing that compares to The Beatles.”
He also reiterates that streaming is to blame for the lost generation of rock musicians. For Simmons, he still believes file-sharing and downloading have ultimately caused the genre’s demise.
“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 continues. “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.”
Now, Paul Stanley is weighing in on the debate. During a recent interview with SiriusXM‘s Canada Talks, Stanley explains why he disagrees with his KISS bandmate. For him, he believes music in general can never truly be dead. Although it may go through different eras and changes, it only takes one artist to bring back the genre stronger than it was before.
“I think that life, rock, whatever it is, is never a constant,” he says. “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. 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.”
Stanley also touches on Simmons’ views that streaming and file-sharing are what caused rock music’s death. As it turns out, he thinks there are plenty of musicians out there still making good music despite the popularity of music streaming.
“A computer will never take the place of flesh-and-blood people making music,” Stanley continues. “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.”
Stanley even uses Foo Fighters as an example of a band still successfully making great rock music. Foo Fighters are among the artists nominated to be inducted into the Rock & Roll Hall Of Fame this year. However, this year’s nominations list has sparked that debate about genre again.
“Nobody’s complaining about Foo Fighters,” Stanley adds. “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’s full interview on Canada Talks is available to stream below.
More on Gene Simmons’ rock is dead claims:
Nearly seven years ago, Simmons first sparked the rock is dead debate when he said that rock is “finally dead.” During an interview with Esquire, the KISS musician explained that rock is gone because of the record companies.
“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,” he told Esquire in 2014. “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.”
Fast forward to 2017 and Simmons brought up his claims yet again. He further told Rolling Stone that rock music is still dead and file-sharing and downloading are to blame. At the time, he noted that other genres such as pop, rap and country are thriving because fans actually invest in the music.
“Yeah, rock is dead. Not that it can’t come back to life, but the business is dead. If the business is dead, rock is dead,” Simmons told Rolling Stone in 2017. “You know what’s not dead? Pop. Lots of pop divas, little girls buy the material. Black music, especially rap, their fans buy the music. Country, yup, their fans buy the music. Rock, no.”
More recently, last month, Simmons said that fans’ use of streaming platforms has also impacted the rock genre. In fact, he blames these services for leaving musicians unable to focus solely on their music for financial stability.
“The culprits are the young fans,” he told Q104.3’s Out Of The Box. “You killed the thing that you love because 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 ’cause 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.”
Paul Stanley’s recent comments arrive shortly after Alice Cooper publicly addressed Simmons’ claims. Mere weeks after confirming he has received the COVID-19 vaccine after contracting the virus, Cooper defended rock ‘n’ roll. Cooper told NME that the rock genre is far from dead. In fact, there’s a new generation of talented musicians that have yet to be discovered.
“Gene Simmons, I would like him to do my taxes because he’s a businessman and that’s valid,” Cooper says. “But I guarantee you right now that in London somewhere, in garages, they’re learning Aerosmith and Guns ‘N’ Roses. There’s a bunch of 18-year-kids in there with guitars and drums and they’re learning hard rock. It’s the same with the United States: There are all these young bands that want to resurge that whole area of hard rock.”
Cooper further told NME that rock music is “where it should be right now.” For him, he believes the genre has the longevity to thrive for years to come.
“Grammys; we’re not in the mainstream,” he continues. “Rock ‘n’ roll is outside looking in right now, and that gives us that outlaw attitude. The one kind of music that started and never ended was hard rock. It went to punk, it went to disco, it went to hip-hop, it went to grunge, but the one thing that went through the middle of it was hard rock.”
Do you think rock music is dead? Do you agree with Gene Simmons, Paul Stanley, or Alice Cooper more? Let us know in the comments below.