Gene Simmons: Musicians Today Have to Live in Their Mother's Basement & Give Music for Free, It's Very Sad

"It doesn't affect us, but to be a new band today has got to be horrible," KISS bassist adds.

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Gene Simmons: Musicians Today Have to Live in Their Mother's Basement & Give Music for Free, It's Very Sad
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Gene Simmons said he still shares that "rock is dead" stance, stressing that being a new band these days "has got to be horrible."

During a recent CR interview, Gene was asked whether rock music "might be perhaps taking on a different form or evolving into something else? The idea being that this generation's rock isn't the same as their parents, just like their parents' generation of rock wasn't the same as their grandparents?"

The musician replied: "No. It's not evolving at all, and that's because there's not really any record companies.

"That's why it's not evolving, because musicians can't really spend full time working on their art. They have to go work for a living and live in their mother's basement and give away their music for free. It's very sad.

"It doesn't affect us, but to be a new band today has got to be horrible. Because they will never have the chance we did."

Gene added: "So from 1958 to 1988 we had Elvis, The Beatles, The Stones, Hendrix, and a thousand others that stand the test of time. Then you had Metallica, Madonna, Prince and U2 and all of that. But from 1988 to today, who is the new Beatles? Where's Elvis? Where are the Stones? Who is taking their place?"

102 comments sorted by best / new / date

    Eissari
    All these pathetic new bands should get into air guitar string business.
    franciscanv
    I tried it for a brief period, but kept misplacing my stock less said about my experience with air guitar plectrums the better...
    44Double0
    It depends on your motives, but yeah, being in a band is hard these days when you're expected to play at bars "for exposure", selling 10k CD-copies to break even with a record contract (Metalsucks article on understanding your contract https://goo.gl/ZYltOb) and so forth... I love being in a band, it's probably the best thing I know, but it requires a massive amount of hard work and doesn't really pay off in money.
    Spinnerweb
    I hope it pays off for you eventually. Just a bit of luck can do so much for any band. Best of luck!
    zack2k
    Yeah, it's great to have an internet medium for newer bands, To be honest, as a bandmember I don't give a shit about how many traffic I got on the band's facebook page and all that jazz. I'm still playing at bars for exposure and not getting any penny for the performance but I love that intimacy with other bandmembers and the crowds/fans.
    Simothesimo
    Life is hard, it wont be easier if you stop playing guitar. If you quit rock n roll, you never had the balls to start in the first place.
    PRSguitars87
    Better question: whos the new Kiss? Answer: Nickelback. Kiss invented the genre of ButtRock. ButtRock is music played by a rock band whos sole purpose is to appeal to as many people as possible in the pursuit of money while sacrificing all artistic integrity by mainly writing songs about sex.
    logicbdj
    Early KISS had some good songs. One of my favorite albums when growing up was Kiss Alive. I realize it was altered in the studio, but there was still some incredible energy and tasty riffs, etc., from that album.
    fafa1234
    Sooo...you're saying Kiss appealed to a lot of people? Seriously? What you call "ButtRock", many people would call "Selling Out", and Kiss didn't sell out until they recorded "I Was Made For Lovin You". On the other hand, I would say Nickelback sold out immediately, with their generic, safe rock songs that appealed to the masses who like their music generic and safe. In my view, Nickelback is more like Bon Jovi, but without the talent.
    Spinnerweb
    Gene is painting too gloomy a picture. Many great musicians worked day jobs for years before their breakthrough. KISS were lucky, but bands from that time struggled too and it didn't stop them. It didn't stop AC/DC, who were a bar band for years before going to England. Read about Guns N' Roses or Nirvana or Alice Cooper or any such band and you'll see that they spent their time starving in basements too. We also have the advantage of the internet now. New bands' music can reach people across the world so easily and there can be so much word-of-mouth promotion on the internet. That was unthinkable in the 70s. So Gene might think it's bad because he can't see much farther than the end of his lucky nose, but struggles didn't stop hardworking musicians before and they won't stop hardworking musicians now. Even if they don't become millionaires, they'll still reach more people than they could have thirty years ago. And it's not impossible to work on your music and earn money and attend school the same time if you don't indulge yourself as much as Gene did in his youth. And to any guy who's having a tough time achieving his/her dreams: I sympathize, I'd love to have that shot too. But Gene, who lucked out, is the last guy you should listen to about whether you can make it now or not.
    Shackler
    WRONG. Files sharing is the plague. No records should be free. It's impossible nowadays for a band to come through and have a career, or even few albums.
    Spinnerweb
    Show me your album collection, would you? And if people stopped buying records, they also started paying 20 times the money it used to cost to see a concert or buy merchandise.
    Shackler
    I think the truth makes you angry otherwise you wouldn't reply on everything I say, I hope that isn't the fact that Gene is right and that you're enjoying listening music for free.
    Spinnerweb
    It doesn't make me angry, but why should you be the only one to put your word in? You replied to me first after all. Pot calling the kettle black.
    Walldude63
    No, you pay that 20x because like the record companies of old, the promoters(Live Nation) are getting a sizable cut of everything from the tickets to merch to parking to beer sales. Why does an artist charge you $50 for a shirt that cost them $5? Because the venue gets 40% the merch guy and tour manager probably get 5% total, the artist managers gets 15% and so on. What Simmons doesn't understand is that he's fucking old and wealthy and tired. There's no skin in the game for him anymore. The guy can't imagine a generation that didn't know what life was like before the invention of the smart phone so it's all doom and gloom to him. Things will change, music will be here and hopefully change will come that will help both the artist and music fans alike. And maybe get rid of the leeches who seek to just make money off of someone else's work.
    friday.the.13th.jasonx
    Suicide Silence, Avenged Sevenfold, Bullet For My Valentine, Trivium etc. are all new and have a few albums in their discographies.
    Shackler
    They're not new, most have been around for almost two decades already. We're talking about The Beatles, The Stones, AC/DC, Kiss, Pink Floyd, Metallica, GNR etc. Please just stop talking about these dully bands.
    friday.the.13th.jasonx
    What's your cut off for new?
    Shackler
    well it's obvious, new bands, tell me ten bands worth mentioning that formed after 2010. On top of my hand there's Ghost and that's pretty much it but they're not replacing anybody.
    friday.the.13th.jasonx
    It takes longer than 7 years for bands to become really notable. e.g. Metallica from 1981-1990 were only really known within heavy metal circles, the black album in 1991 shot them to super stardom. I couldn't tell you 10 bands worth mentioning because I don't really look for new bands because I'm fine with older popular bands. I guess that makes me part of the problem.
    mastodontusk
    Gene should "Make Rock Great Again!"
    Shackler
    Agree all these legend rock stars could do something for the industry, if they wanted to. Maybe managed new rock bands, helping them with deals, records, tours, maybe successful streaming services for rock bands. I mean Gene do think a lot for his own band Kiss, but if someone could do something for the rock genre, he's the man to do it.
    JuggaloShow
    Well, in 1988 Jane's Addiction & NWA both released their debut albums, and they've stood the test of time (so far), and in 1989 Nirvana & NIN both released their debut albums. So that's 4 off the top of my head.
    Shackler
    NWA isn't Rock N Roll music.
    Snake™
    I'd argue that NWA is more rock n' roll than the majority of the rock bands that have come out since 1988.
    Shackler
    Ice Cube plays a mean guitar right. There are no shortage of riffs with NWA.
    King Bluesy
    Depends how you view the genre. I see it as a lifestyle or point of view. So I'd say NWA is more rock than 90% of rock that came after them
    nicolasabat
    Well, there's grunge, so Nirvana, Pearl Jam etc, there's also Green Day and that era of Pop Punk which made stadium filler success. Rammstein within metal, I mean I guess it's not main stream but it's stadium filler level and it's still very relevant.
    Elintasokas
    Yep. Saying late 90s to now would be more relevant. As far as I can tell, nearly all of the successful bands have started pre-2000. (then again, success is relative, but you know what I mean)
    Spinnerweb
    Pretty much any metalcore band, including the most successful - BFMV, A7X, BVB and AA - started post-2000. The first two's Wikipedia pages might say 98/99 but their real starts were later Regardless of whether you love or hate metalcore, they are bands
    orioncomplex
    A7X haven't been and haven't labeled themselves as metal core for a long time. They are hugely successful do to the fact that they expanded their sound and branched out from a specific genre. I like metalcore but no metal core band (even as I lay dying) has come close to the success of bands like KISS, Metallica, Iron Maiden, or even Nirvana, Foo Fighters, etc...
    Shackler
    Metalcore bands are irrelevant.
    Spinnerweb
    I said, "Regardless of whether you love or hate metalcore, they are bands." Given that the band members became millionaires in their 20s, I think they're very relevant to this discussion. That you're an elitist who only wants to listen to "brvtal kvlt metal" doesn't change anything.
    Shackler
    Probably a decade ago I'd agree even if money is irrelevant, but these metalcores bands now have been left pennyless.
    Elintasokas
    Indeed. They were relevant until like 2010, but yeah, it's dead now.
    nicolasabat
    Wouldn't call A7X irrelevant, they're rolling in it doing stadium and arena tours globally at the moment.
    Shackler
    I wouldn't call "opening for Metallica" filling stadiums and The Stage flopped big time.
    the_bi99man
    I don't give a shit what anyone says about The Stage, when their opinions are based entirely on record sales. And, it's only considered a "flop" compared to the commercial success of the album before it. It still sold plenty of copies, and made the band and record label plenty of money. Oh, and it's a musical masterpiece with more artistic integrity than anything Kiss has ever released. And the fact remains that A7X is still selling out stadiums and arenas in every corner of the globe. They are not only relevant, they are the biggest modern rock band in the world, and bigger than any post-metallica band has ever been.
    Shackler
    Dude, they don't selling out stadiums around the globe stop saying that, they do not. I think the fact that this band is irrelevant in real world and in the future drives you wild! The Stage, a masterpiece LoL It's subjective but objectively you don't have high standards. Are you saying that anything this band Avenged whatever had put on is more relevant than Detroit Rock City, Strutter, Deuce, Dr. Love, God Of Thunder, Parasite, Rock N Roll All Night, Shout It Out Loud? If they were the biggest modern band, The Stage wouldn't flop, it failed because the fans attention for this band is not what he used to be a decade ago, simple. This band is crumblin' down and that's a fact. If you're a fan all right you have your right, but don't try to tell me they are relevant. Nobody is listening to their newest stuff.
    zack2k
    Oh man, while metalcore genre is generally dead now the genre fans are still idiotic hardcore defending their favorite bands. Yes, I love pop punk and the so called hardcore punk are a fad and poseur.
    Shackler
    I'm still listening to Dio man. I wish someone with at least half his talent would have the sense of adventure he had, and go for it. Metal isn't my favourite genre, but it certainly lost his 'magic'.
    zack2k
    I'm still headbanging to 80's Metal, including Motley Crue, Death, Big Thrash, Quiet Riot, Twisted Sisters. I find that their fans are very open minded and cool with each others. but this millennial kids are just too obsessive and think their favorite band are superior than the other band. Sad really, I remember Dio said a lot of good stuff during his heydays about bands and fans comradery.
    Shackler
    Yep, not a fan of these bands but I respect that. I think most never really listened to 70s/80s/90s bands, because they are old and outfashioned. Until these millenials turn +30 and still listening to Bullet For My Valentine lol It's pretty evident that Gene is right here, there are no frontmen no guitar heros. I used to know every band members by their name before.
    zack2k
    I definitely agree, with my elder nephews and nieces? they're just afraid that their peers shunned them over liking old and outdated music. I mean, do you want to talk about deep purple with a group of metalcore fans? or even talk about Yngwie's music with those folks? they'll get ridiculed over different music taste. I'm glad that my old man and my uncles are cool with me because I listen to early Heavy Metal Stuff. Remember kids: even though Unearth covered Sandblasted Skin, Metalcore music are on sale at the fucking dollar store.
    Shackler
    Irrelevant bands. Gene is talking about icons that will stand the test of time. Where's Elvis, The Beatles, the Stones?
    Spinnerweb
    You must be stupid to think Nirvana, Green Day and Pearl Jam are 'irrelevant.' Kurt Cobain, Billie Joe Armstrong and Eddie Vedder are seen as bigger icons and more relevant than 90% of the pop stars of the past 20 years.
    Shackler
    I'm telling you the truth, nobody cares about Green Day, Pearl Jam and Nirvana anymore. They had their time, now they're dead. Irrevelant.
    ilhavanothrr
    The down votes you have are from people who can't see the future. Out of those 3, Pearl Jam has the best chance for longevity. Though, the many saps who listen to Cobain's music will tell us otherwise. When they all die out in 60 years, no one will be listening to Nirvana. As for Green Day...how can they even be in the running on this topic? Green Day is one of the saddest excuses for punk music to ever be recorded, let alone to rise up and be an idol like "The Beatles", come on. Don't let your fandom cloud your judgements.
    zack2k
    How are they irrelevant? they're not Justin Bieber, Slipknot, or even Jonas Brothers to start with.
    Panasonic3
    Actually it's all the masses know because that's what iHeartRadio shoved down their throats. Those three are completely relevant.
    ArtificialHalo
    then why, you piece of shit, are you always complaining that there are no new bands like Led Zeppelin or Metallica or whatever? Complaining that bands nowadays don't take risks anymore or don't break through as well... Really gets on my nerves. The status as rockstar is dead, not rock itself...
    Shackler
    Because he has a geniune love for the music and secretly hopes rock n roll will come through. You could meet any new band now at Starbucks. They all look and sound the same. Most don't understand where the roots come from. It's definitely not about tattoos. And....WRONG. Rock is basically dead because there are no rockstars anymore, no inspiration for the youth. That's basically why everybody wants to be a rapper now, they want the dollah, the boat, the fast cars, the women, and they don't even need to learn music. RocknRoll has been way too much pussified.
    FlightofIcarus
    Even if I don't completely agree with Gene here (i.e - ignoring the Grunge era and such), he does make some good points - at least in regards to the old music industry business model. It's simply much more of a DIY world now. At the very least, he's finally saying some things that don't make me want to punch my monitor. So that's a start!
    Jeffh40
    Obviously Gene hasn't been to a show by A7X, Trivium, Volbeat or many others if he doesn't think that new upcoming bands can fill the shoes of bands like Maiden and Metallica.
    PRSguitars87
    Oh god, PUKE. Volbeat? A7x? Volbeats singer sounds like a drunk version of scott stapp, and scott stapp is already permenantly shitfaced. A7x is the definition of cookie cutter metal. So generic. Mastodon is 10 tims better than any of the bands you mentioned.
    orioncomplex
    While I am not familiar with Volbeat, A7X have an extreme amount of talent and show clear improvement in their sound over their career. Nothing cookie cutter about them.
    the_bi99man
    Lol. "Cookie cutter metal". Someone hasn't listened to The Stage. Success always brings out the haters. Nothing to see here. Just because something is successful doesn't mean that there's no talent there. In case you weren't aware, good music actually gets popular sometimes. I know, it's mind-blowing, and your whole worldview is probably crumbling right now. Grow the fuck up.
    Shackler
    You keep repeting yourself and you seem delusional man. This band has nothing to do with what Gene said. They are even less revelant than Green Day and that's say a lot.
    pressureproject
    Be careful propping up Mastodon these days...that latest single they put out is a real turd...very poppy and weak. Nothing like they used to be. And Mastodon isn't "up and coming".
    Shackler
    Mastodon is in fact up and coming in term of sales, just as Ghost. The Sultan's Curse is by far the metal song of this year so far, and the new album is going to be their best since Crack The Skye. But we are off topic here.
    pressureproject
    I'm not talking about Sultans Curse...which is awesome. I'm talking about that crap song they have Bran singing on that sounds like something Disney would put out.
    an.interloper
    If you think there hasn't been a good band since Metallica, Madonna, Prince, and U2, there's either something wrong with your ego or you're not looking to actually find talented new bands. And the idea that rock music "isn't progressing at all" because "there aren't any record companies" is so absurd I don't even really know how to respond to it other than anyone who actually grew up or spent any real length of time in that industry - which was based on rich suits profiting from running bands until they were spent and cashing them out, often times leaving them broke and with less money than before they'd been signed - knows that the record industry never grew rock and roll. It just whored it out. Now, am I disagreeing that the landscape of music hasn't changed now that the idea of the 'rock star' has gone six feet under? Absolutely not. It's changed irreversibly. That doesn't, however, mean it's worse. It just means that you don't often get rich off your music, and frankly, if all you're aiming for is being rich, there are literal dozens on dozens of far easier ways to achieve that. And this is all never-minding that even in their prime, record companies didn't scoop up any piece of actual talent they came across as Mr. Simmons' ramblings suggest. There was no 'utopia' for getting signed. It was always, and will always be, such a high amount of luck. Because let me tell you, as someone who was there - there were scores of bands that were talented so far beyond Kiss, but most of them never even got a showcase.
    GoToSleep
    Why is he comparing Elvis and The Beatles to modern day rock bands? That's just stupid. Music has evolved and expanded, there doesn't need to another Beatles.
    IvyRock
    I guess Gene Simmons is getting fed up with living in his mothers basement
    motor881
    This guy really refuses to acknowledge anything that happened after his hair metal era. He has a valid argument that rock is not what it used to be but You had the whole grunge era. Theres a lot of good music that people like that came after 1988 like Tool, pantera, Muse, System of a down, Foo fighters. They wont go down as the next beatles but theyre pretty successful.
    wookiegr
    New bands do suck, unfortunately. Can't assume the living arrangements but I'm sure some of them room together because you can't sneak girls in and out a set of glass block windows.
    Deathoholic
    If music is all about making money as it is for Gene, then yes - it's horrible. If you're completely in it for the music though, it's a different story. My old band - never sold a demo because we gave it away for free - got to play great live gigs with well above 100+ attending at several times, got laid a lot, partied a lot - you name it. I had the time of my life for several years. I have to agree with Gene's last point to some degree though.
    pressureproject
    Kind of hard to make music though when you're working 10 hours a day at a turd job. Trust me. And not everybody has a parents basement they can live in.
    Deathoholic
    I worked a real turd job in construction at the time and made it work fine (I didn't live at home so I had to make do). It wasn't easy but just prioritizing your spare time for the music in is key. Either you live for it or you don't, it's as simple as that.
    Panasonic3
    This is the new way. We are all slaves.
    pressureproject
    Pretty much. Only time I feel human is when I go on vacation for a week or so to some other place. It's invigorating. Key is to have your own biz somehow, whether that's on Youtube somehow or honing your skills.
    zack2k
    Gene, braggin about "rock is dead" opinion isn't an opinion anymore, it's called "Bragging" and "attention". My advice? instead of complaining and not fixing the problem why not just go out to the stage and use the defibrillator to save R&R instead of being a doctor giving out opinions.
    Cazman
    His hairpiece looks like it might come alive any second, like in that Simpsons Halloween episode.
    ZippyDSMlee
    IP exclusivity dose that, if you got money from someone playing your songs on CD or stage based on percentage used up to 30% of profit you'd have leaner more adaptable publishers who are to busy wanting the IP used in anyway shape or form to make a profit rather than to try and block everyone from using it starving both the creator, consumer and market...