When Gene Simmons made his infamous, Nietzschean statement that 'rock is dead', it is doubtful that he was looking to raise a debate about the state of the 21st century rock music industry among the genre's figureheads. Many of the rebuttals from younger spokesmen were of the 'no way granddad, there's plenty of good shit out there' variety, but 67-year-old AC/DC frontman Brian Johnson this week offered Gene the best-phrased refutation yet: "With all respect to the lad, I think he's terribly wrong," contends the Geordie frontman to UCR. "I'm here to tell you Gene – you're wrong. I'm saying it's alive and kicking. My name's Brian. How do you do?" But it wasn't all tit-for-tat banter, our Brian made a spirited defence of the potential of new media and technology to nurture and empower new talent. "Kids have got a better chance to get their stuff out now with social media," he points out. "We'd save up to go into a little studio in Newcastle and we'd have to physically take it to London. Now they can literally do it in their garage and put it out." He has some sage and timeless advice for young musicians: "All you've got to do now is keep at it – and dodge the people who go 'Get yourself a proper job.' Take the path less travelled and take it on the chin." But Gene's original claim centred on how difficult it is now for rock musicians to make a living from their music, and most of the best bands of the 21st century already have a 'proper job'.
Johnson also explained this week that after Phil Rudd’s arrest on charges of ‘threatening to kill’ and drug possession, the drummer’s future with AC/DC will be decided in court. “I don’t think we have to do anything – fire him or anything like that,” he told Howard Stern. “I think the situation is going to take care of itself. He’s got himself into a pickle and there’s nothing we can do about it. We’re talking about criminal courts, judges and juries. But we are going to go on tour, and nothing’s going to stop us.”
So regardless of the verdict in their drummer’s trial, tour dates will not be postponed by AC/DC – more than can be said for Fear Factory, who this week called off their 2015 European tour, puzzlingly just hours after making the announcement. Following the recent example of Machine Head, the reason given was that the announced dates didn’t give them enough time to finish recording their new album. “This is an important album for us,” reads a band statement. “We wish to complete it properly so that we release a great album for our fans. We will see you soon.” This is a peculiar new phenomenon; it’s tempting to tie it back into the ‘proper job’ argument and wonder if the real problem here is fitting in tours and studio time around day jobs… Whatever the case, the Floridian cyber-metal pioneers should be on a UK stage some time next summer, with their properly-completed ninth album in the racks.
Ozzy Osbourne has had to cancel the odd tour over the years due to more readily understandable health reasons, but this week he told Consequence Of Sound that he’d rather his voice let him down onstage than resort to electronic trickery. “Not many people sound like me - and I’m not saying they want to,” quips the Prince Of Darkness. “I don’t hide behind a machine to make everything sound wonderful. I sometimes have to say to the audience, ‘Hey! I’m trying. I’m a bit of an oldie – but I’m trying!’” Ozzy also sounds genuinely touched by the reaction of his fans, even at a New York show when his voice disappeared completely. “I got on the stage and I croaked out this noise, and I didn’t want to carry on. They tore the roof off. They were just so happy to see me. There’s something human about that, you know?”
And finally – and bizarrely – ‘80s wrestling legend Hulk Hogan revealed this week that when Jason Newsted left Metallica, he had high hopes of becoming their new bassist. “I heard Metallica needed a bass player, and I was writing letters, made a tape of myself playing, and sent it to their management company. I kept making calls trying to get through. I tried for two weeks and never heard a work back from them either.” Hulk had already tried to get Jerry Hall to recommend his four-string services to the Rolling Stones after Bill Wyman’s departure, but they’d ignored him. I suppose snubbing the Hulk might be preferable to shutting yourself in a rehearsal room with him, but man, what gigs they would be…