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September 11, 2017

Gene Simmons: 'Rock is dead'

Kiss' 'Demon' says the band won't put out another album 'because fans won't pay for the music'

Gene Simmons refused to state where he was calling from during a recent chat. 

“I can’t reveal that information,” Simmons said. However, the co-leader of Kiss, who is on tour solo with his new backing unit, which stopped this past weekend at the American Music Theatre, couldn’t hold his long and legendary tongue. Simmons waxed about who shouldn’t be allowed into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, why Kiss will never release another album, and revealed if rock is dead.

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Q: Why start your first musical side project as a senior citizen?

A: I’m still at an age [68] when I can do what I want to do. I had an opportunity to put a band together. When I met the guys in my band in Nashville [in 2016], it was obvious that this would work. We have about 25 shows lined up. My first priority is obviously KISS, and we’re doing dates now, too. I’m doing well. I’ve always believed that anything can happen if you work hard enough. Not enough people are working hard.

Q: So you’re saying this is the age of entitlement?

A: Absolutely. This is the generation of entitlement. Where is my guaranteed health care? Where is my guaranteed weekly wage? But the people who want to move ahead of the pack, they work hard. If you want to do something, you can accomplish it. Look at me, I came from nothing.

Q: So, if someone wants to be a professional musician or an actor, they can do it?

A: Yes. You just need to know what to do. Where do you live?

Q: Philadelphia.

A: If you wanted to become a country singer, where would you move?

Q: Nashville.

A: If you wanted to become an actor, where would go?

Q: Los Angeles.

A: Correct again. We all have devices that give us all of the answers. It’s about getting off your ass, working hard and becoming successful.

No, we won’t put out another album. We’re not a charity."

Q: Kiss has been extraordinarily successful. Your band finally made the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. However, you’ve stated that some acts, such as those in hip-hop, shouldn’t be enshrined.

A: The idea of Run D.M.C. and other rap acts inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame is the height of ridiculousness. If KISS was inducted into the Rap Hall of Fame people would say, ‘Man, that’s crazy.’ Exactly. Kiss ain’t hip-hop, and Run D.M.C. ain’t rock. They don’t belong in the rock hall.

Q: Aren’t rock and hip-hop just labels? Isn’t it just about music?

A: No. If you’re a politician and you’re any good, they call you a rock star. Rock is a verb and a noun. If you want to wish somebody well, you say, ‘rock on.’ You can’t say ‘country' and 'western’ on. You can’t say ‘hip-hop on.’ That means nothing. Only rock crosses lines. Even rappers call themselves rock stars.

Q: Kiss was slammed back in the day for turning rock into a circus, but pyro is part of so many big shows, yes?

A: Absolutely. If you see Garth [Brooks], Paul McCartney and the Rolling Stones, you get pyro. Where do you think that came from, Air Supply? We started doing that stuff, and they (arbiters of taste) hated it. We didn’t care. We wanted to combine all the thrills and put them on stage. We changed things. Rock is renegade music. They all caught up with us though. The [Grateful] Dead came out with the cherry vanilla ice cream (Cherry Garcia). So, the hippies even came around.

Q: Is rock dead?

A: It is dead because fans won’t pay for the music.

Q: So, does that mean that Kiss will never put out another album?

A: No, we won’t put out another album. We’re not a charity. I assume you want to be paid.

Q: That’s a great assumption.

A: Well, I want to be paid too.

Q: I’ll chip in for another Kiss album.

A: That won’t be enough.

Gene Simmons and The Gene Simmons Band performed Friday, Sept. 8 at the American Music Theatre in Lancaster.