Gene Simmons: 'Kanye's Right, Rock's Become a Pale Thing to What It Once Was'

KISS bassist also ranks Foo Fighters and Green Day as bands not worthy of rock superstar titles.

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After recently expressing his pessimistic stance on the current state of rock music and mildly ripping late Nirvana frontman Kurt Cobain, Kiss bassist Gene Simmons once again shared a similar attitude, acknowledging Kanye West's comments and putting Foo Fighters and Green Day on his "not superstar-worthy" list of performers. During a chat with the Metal Hammer Magazine Show, Simmons was initially asked to comment on Kanye's statement that rap is the new rock 'n' roll and that he's the world's No. 1 rockstar. "I know Kanye and he's playing the game and he's got you wrapped around his finger because you are talking about him and we're actually more about guitar and drums," Gene said. "He's right of course in the sense that rock has become a pale thing to what it once was." After denying that rap can be considered as the new rock, the bassist once again "played the game" of comparing the 1958 - 1983 era to post-1984 period. "Foo Fighters - great band. Green Day - great band. Iconic superstars? No," he said. During the rest of the interview, Simmons discussed his recent US National Anthem performance, pointing out the importance of sticking to the original melody and paying the country respect it deserves. "There's something called style over content," he explained. "Either you're up there to pay respect to what the song's about, or you're there about yourself. So when you're singing the national anthem of a country, it's not about you. That song was written before you were born, save what you do for onstage and give the country the respect it deserves." He concluded, "And so I feel that anybody who gets up there and starts to show off how well they do - it's Yngwie Malmsteen disease - stop playing so many notes and give me a goddamn melody I can sink my teeth into. I mean that in the very nicest way by the way."

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113 comments sorted by best / new / date

    jordo246
    I am god damn sick of this "rock isn't what it was" crap. They talk like it's the fault of the bands around when it's a combination of record companies not giving any decent bands a chance and a large percentage of the population won't give any other music than shitty pop artists like Rihanna a chance because for some reason playing an instrument and having long hair is a sign you don't make good music according to them. Rock is the same as it's always been if you go to any small clubs or venues, the only difference now is it's not making mega bucks and if that's all they care about then they shouldn't be talking about it.
    AaronianKenrod
    I'm hoping there will be another rock revolution (as I'm sure most of us are) but I can't really see it happening.
    jordo246
    The only reason there has been rock revolutions in the past is because kids get sick of what's being shoved down their throats by the mainstream so they want to create something new, I.E Thrash metal, grunge. How ever now most kids are content with listening to the same song over and over again by the same artists, it's not even like they are interested in instruments or how to play, IMO it can't happen right now.
    CraftyDoc
    I agree, and I have a feeling the next rock revolution may have a different venue altogether.
    K33nbl4d3
    I don't think this is a fair comment, actually. I agree with the sentiment, but I think most people, no matter how simplistic and meaningless the music they listen to, do give it some thought. Obviously there are those who'll just listen to whatever's in the charts but I think most relatively intelligent people have genuinely reasonable - if wrong - opinions on music, and most will, given the chance, enjoy good music just as soon as they would enjoy what we consider bad. On top of that, I don't think outside the industry itself the way in which people like today's pop is fundamentally different to the way people liked glam and suchlike in the past. If anything, people are getting more reasonable about such things as it's easier to find good music on the internet. Finally, I must say I don't think today's pop as a whole can be lumped together as lacking talent or meaning. There are genuinely talented musicians and singers around, even at the top of the charts, but it should go without saying that the music that's most easily understood is going to be the most popular. That doesn't make it bad music (take Judas Priest's Breaking the Law, it's a ludicrously simple song, but a good one) and I would argue that there is good pop around.
    Drake-sic
    This - playing an instrument and having long hair. There's this girl where I work who's one of those who needs the radio to tell her what to listen to, pretty dim girl. A new guy started working and she's already said she doesn't like him, why? Because he has a ponytail and is obv into alternative music. She's literally what you've described. She doesn't give any music a chance, I once recommended we play deadmau5 at work to which she responded "Seriously? A Dead mouse? Thats disgusting, no one wants your metal crap" ... I was amazed ... There are some amazing bands out there but as it's not what the clubs are playing, it can't break back into the mainstream, so it's still shadowed by terrible cub songs - Who then ridicule us for what we listen to - It's amazing the world we live in...
    UncleBluck
    Baloney...If there was any good rock being written/played right now it would be fount out just as it was in the past and it would become huge regardless of what the record companies want. The problem is the younger generation is not interested and is UNCAPABLE of producing it...furthermore Simmons is totally right on about the Foos/Greenday...
    mitchy86
    music isn't about trying to become 'Iconic superstars'.
    jordo246
    What's funnier is how Gene seems to think he's one.
    Kylianvb
    He is in a sense, KISS was pretty goddamn huge. He seems to think that his past success means everyone cares about his opinion though, which is baloney. His opinion is no better (or more interesting) than mine, yours, or that smelly dude outside the theater's. It's not news, it's an opinion. Those can be discussed, but do that on a forum along with comments by 'Metalhead666' and 'Squirrelhumper69'... As yours are just as unfounded and uninteresting, Gene.
    Ishiga
    Gene, there was a time when people respected you. Why, I really don't know. Something to do with porkin' easy chicks. But then there was a time when all you did was drink, pork easy chicks, and shut the hell up. Nobody heard a word from you, and believe me. They were good times. Take a hint. Shut the hell up, nobody gives a flyin **** about your opinions. You fell outta the scene, don't start criticizing it now. Too late for that shit.
    VeryHeavyMetal
    The best part is he's got a lot to do with the watering-down of rock music. When was the last time Kiss put something out that wasn't complete bullshit?
    metalme31
    Everything they put out was complete BS. They were in it for the wrong reason the entire time!
    l0ld4v3
    Ace Frehley is/was actually a very talented guitar player and overall music composer.
    Fuzz211
    "rap is the new rock 'n' roll and that he's the world's No. 1 rockstar." Kanye said that? I never thought I would want to punch him in the face more than before, then I see this.
    Ishiga
    He's got a plain white oversized superlong ghetto signature t-shirt for $120. Hundred twenty friggin' bucks for a 5$ wal-mart shirt because he says so. Kanye exists, therefore he must be punished.
    bustapr
    pfft, I get them for $2 at thelocal "plain white t" shop. the dude is arrogant as all hell and he actually has fans who feed his arrogance by buying all his crap. its sad.
    awsomebadas5
    if that's what today's popular music is falling to, id hate to see what will it be in 10 years
    Wolfscar
    Let's say rap is the new rock n roll, but I see Danny Brown as much closer candidate. All these artists like Gene Simmon and Kanye West does is regarding the whole music as trend. That's what's wrong with them.
    metalme31
    Okay... can we just send Gene Simmons and Kanye West along with the rest of the K family into outer space without communication FINALLY?????
    powachord
    Jesus... can we stop airing this guys opinions? Theyre no more valid than anyone elses, and dont constitute what id call "news"
    zman5999
    Style over content? Really? The greatest bands of all time were about the music first, and the style came later. Examples: Led Zeppelin, The Beatles, Jimi Hendrix, Nirvana, etc. etc...
    manyscissors
    and actually Kiss are quite a lot more famous for their image than their music for a lot of people I could tell you what they look like but i couldnt sing you a song
    Eirien
    True, in last week's article he defined an icon as 'someone who is bigger than their music'. Not many people fit that description as well as Kiss but to be fair that style over content comment was about performing the national anthem so he's not really contradicting himself. I think it's a fair comment too, even though I disagree. I'll never understand patriotism.
    fromzero
    Every decade or so "Rock Dies" briefly. Then someone mixes it with something completely left field. The harder rock of the 60's vs the 50's pop blues, harder and hippie rock of the 70's, metal of the 80's, grunge of the 90's, rap metal and nu-metal of the late 90's, 00's. There's going to be something mixing styles that rock purist's are going to hate but it's going to bring a bunch more kids into rock.
    TheDashboard
    Lennon- Dead Rhoads- Dead Carlin- Dead Kaufman- Dead Simmons- Alive and well. Life is unfair.
    Eifler121
    Also, I think Nu-Metal was the late 90's, Emo and all the "Core" genres were the 2000's metal.
    Eifler121
    THIS THIS THIS This is what UG readers aren't getting. This is why you guys don't get Jack White, Black Keys, Mumford and Sons, Florence + the Machine, Fleet Foxes, Foster the People, or all the bands making it big right now for rock music. The're taking Rock music and putting their spin on it. Low-fi production and hands on approach, R&B roots with Garage rock, Folk, classical instruments and grandiose presentation, a different style of Folk, electronic pop elements; that's what THESE bands are doing that make them icons right now. These things are why rock purists of today don't get them. Foo Fighters and Green Day are not icons because they recall a day that's past. They only pursue the styles that were big in rock of their day, they're good at it, but that keeps them from being icons. Fromzero's comment should be the medal comment of all "Rock is dead" news pages.
    Insanity ninja
    This made me facepalm. I wouldn't exactly call most of the bands you mentioned icons of rock music... I guarantee that people will have forgotten about the majority in 10 years.
    jdaykin73
    he's talking about the national anthem when he says that, you ****ing idiot
    rhn94
    Screw you, Foos and Green Day sell out stadiums all over the world; they are amazing live bands
    GuitardudeDK
    the funniest thing about this is, that if KISS had the musical ability to put out music that fit today's rock standards, they sure as **** would. think of the moneys!
    sn3s4r
    gene needs to stop talking, I mean he was just a rock star for the money, kiss sells everything from kiss condoms to kiss caskets,
    Humr
    Unlike Miley Cyrus, he'd be much better with his tongue hanging out of his mouth all the time. Because this way he wouldn't be able to talk so much crap.
    Reevo
    Goddamnit Gene, are you really wanting to take the title of Massive egotistical douche? Kayne himself might not even compete against the likes of you. Heres a tip, make an album thats actual quality and sell less coffins
    Mata121
    Seriously, he has a reality show. Everything he says is irrelevant..
    ShameofaNation
    It really is nice to finally hear it from the man himself that KISS never really gave a shit about the actual music. What a hack.
    JessyB96
    Any dilution of rock n roll can probably be traced back to the fact that kiss has sub par songs that depend on an over the top stage show. Not to mention the disco album...
    Ecnal
    Nothing more humorous than having some out of touch guy in his mid-60s telling the world what is relevant in today's rock scene. I guess the fact that Foo Fighters sold out multiple shows in a row at Wembley Stadium, and is one of the few bands that is still making a ton of money in the music business today isn't iconic enough for the old man. Maybe if they sold official Foo Fighters coffins and licensed their likenesses to Hello Kitty, then perhaps Foo Fighters would be iconic enough for Gene.
    sage76
    Boy bands sold out stadiums too.
    RIM99
    Lol. Kiss WERE a boyband. They just knew three more chords than the Backstreet Boys.
    Kueller917
    Boy bands were iconic during their time. What's your point? There was no argument on the quality of the bands, just Simmon's argument that rock acts are no longer iconic in the mainstream which is BS.
    sage76
    I haven't seen any big rock n roll names come out in the last 10 years. All of them are either folk or country. In fact country music is absolutely crushing it right now and are completely dominating the charts..
    TomWhaley
    Foo Fighters is the most commonly used example here, because they deserve it. (As much as I hate them) Green Day is huge too. In fact, I'm seeing Sevenfold and Deftones in an arena later today. Rock and metal is still around in the mainstream. It's just not as prominent as it once was, since we've created so many more genres over the last few decades. Rock and metal can be split up into countless sub-genres, which appeal to specific tastes and can divide the mass appeal a bit. Also, back in the days of KISS, hip-hop, rap, and electronic weren't as prominent as it is today.
    D4CE
    Dave Grohl is as much of an iconic superstar as Gene Simmons.. If not more.
    chai123_5
    Oh god this guy is an idiot.. Music is all about music. You can be famous for wearing makeup but it wont change the fact that your music is shit.
    Thrice Capades
    Here's a revelation for ya, Gene. KISS sucks. They are the epitome of safe, light, watered down rock. Foo Fighters runs circles around your crap excuse for a band. Dave Grohl has more talent in his nose-hairs than your entire band together. And Kanye is the biggest ego in music, OF COURSE he's going to call himself the biggest rockstar in the world.
    AwesomeOne3
    Wow, Gene has really disliked rock in the articles i have read about him. What happened to the old Gene where he was all wild and free onstage blowing out fire. And Kanye, he is 100% off from being a rockstar. HE's a giant douche. I mean, rap as the new rock n roll. Music on the Billboard 100 these days are only counted on the looks they don't care about the music. Artists such as Led Zeppelin, Nirvana, Metallica, AC/DC, Foo Fighters, Pink Floyd, The Beatles, The Ramones, etc cared about the music and the music those bands made were actual music. Not that rap and hip hop crap. Every rapper who's popular right now can burn in hell. Please Like This Comment if you care and love rock n' roll and still have faith in it. LET THE SPIRIT OF ROCK N ROLL LIVE ON!!!!!
    iommi600
    I swear I'm going to add "Herpaderpa" to the Encyclopedia Britannica and define it as "Gene Simmons".
    trentonlambert
    Gene Simmons is clearly only interested in things that make money. have you SEEN his show? He has a product for just about everything. COFFINS! This guy only cares about money, not whats good and whats not
    Chronologo
    I believe his tongue is much larger than he shows, and when we're not seeing him he has it up his ass.
    trentonlambert
    So what do an old relic of a rock star, and a rapper know about what rock is all about today? Gene Simmons keeps running his mouth about these bands that he keeps comparign to older music. He needs to just f*** off
    JerBearX
    I find this pretty funny, coming from the man who directly said he views KISS as more of a brand than a band. Gene, shut the hell up and swim in your money.
    eds1275
    Of course it's not the same and people like you are the exact reason why. You set the standard for selling your balls and soul in exchange for a quick buck and now everyone thinks that kind of branding is not only necessary, but a standard business operation. It's soulless and corporate bullshit.
    notaconotaco
    Oh boy... I'm sensing the New Dave Mustaine coming up here. Except Gene Simmons doesn't even have the excuse that at least he makes good music.
    tutt_81
    Kiss has become a Band with an r between the b and the a and that's it, the kiss army face paint and the fairly iconic lettering. aside from that all gene really has is the royalties from i wanna rock and roll all night. i don't agree with his opinion but even if he is right i don't see kiss returning rock and metal to its former Lycra clad 'glory'
    leohimself
    Gene & Kanye. None of them is/was ever relevant to any genre of music. Now kiss.
    Danish752
    Style over content? That's why KISS rely on face paint and Foo Fighters and Green Day don't..
    DvanG
    Kanye never made anything descent. He stole descent stuff however... and then f-ed it up.
    JKing138
    I've told you before Simmons, Fuck off!!! Don't make me come over there.