During a wide-ranging interview, Kiss cofounder Gene Simmons bluntly declared that “rock is dead.” But Alice Cooper disagrees with the statement, as he’s made clear in an interview of his own.
Gene Simmons provided his less-than-sunny assessment of the contemporary rock landscape in a remote sit down with the Dubai-headquartered (and English-language) Gulf News newspaper. (He has, however, made similar comments over the years.) The Israel-born Kiss bassist and co-lead singer was promoting his band’s Dubai New Year’s Eve performance during the remote discussion, which also featured Paul Stanley.
After covering the pandemic’s impact upon Kiss and the scope of the NYE performance (“It’s our intention to break a lot of Guinness World Records with this show,” said Stanley), the Gulf News interviewer asked what Simmons and Stanley thought of “the state of rock ‘n roll today,” and specifically those who claim that rock is dead.
Stanley, responding first, struck something of an optimistic tone. But Gene Simmons, who unveiled a joint venture with Gibson in January to develop electric guitars and basses, expressed a decidedly bleaker opinion.
“Rock is dead. And that’s because new bands haven’t taken the time to create glamour, excitement and epic stuff. I mean, Foo Fighters is a terrific band, but that’s a 20-year-old band. So you can go back to 1958 until 1988. That’s 30 years. During that time, we had Elvis, The Beatles, Jimi Hendrix, Rolling Stones, on and on,” began the 71-year-old.
“In disco, you had Madonna, and then you had your hard rock, you had AC/DC, maybe us, a few others. Motown, all that great music. From 1988, until today, that’s more than 30 years. Tell me who the new Beatles is. You can’t. There are popular bands. BTS is very popular. All kinds of bands are very popular. That doesn’t mean iconic and legacy and for all time. It’s different,” Simmons concluded his answer.
And Alice Cooper, for his part, responded to Simmons’s remarks in a recent interview with NME. After Cooper discussed the pandemic-driven concert pause, the late-February release of Detroit Stories (his 21st solo album), and more, the discussion shifted to the “rock is dead” remarks that Simmons had made.
“Gene Simmons, I would like him to do my taxes, you know. Because he’s a businessman. And business-wise, that’s valid. But I guarantee you right now, in London somewhere, in garages, they’re learning Aerosmith. They’re learning Guns N’ Roses. A bunch of 18-year-old kids are in there with guitars and drums, and they are learning hard rock.
“Same with the United States. There’s all these young bands that are, that want to resurge that whole area of hard rock. And outlaws. So in some ways, rock ‘n roll is where it should be right now. We’re not in the Grammys. We’re not in the mainstream.
“Rock ‘n roll is outside looking in now, and I think that gives us that ‘outlaw’ attitude. And I think that’s very good for rock ‘n roll because that’s how rock ‘n roll started. We were all outlaws at the time. And then we became mainstream,” finished Cooper.