After idly blundering into a minefield of hot potatoes with his subsequently-disowned suicide rant a couple of weeks ago, this week Gene Simmons has been spouting off on a fractionally less divisive issue: the death of rock. "Rock did not die of old age. It was murdered," insists the Kiss bassist, interviewed by his son Nick for Esquire Magazine. Implicated in its 'murder', Gene says, are the file-sharers and downloaders who take for granted the idea that music is a free commodity. "The problem is that nobody will pay you for the 10,000 hours you put in to create what you created. I can only imagine the frustration of all that work, and having no one value it enough to pay you for it."
Gene’s typically immoderate choice of words led to an inevitable backlash, but the aged Demon’s thrust – that it will soon be virtually impossible for metal musicians to make a living from music – seems unarguable in the current climate. “It’s very sad for new bands,” he continues. “My heart goes out to them. They just don’t have a chance… You’re better off not even learning how to play guitar or write songs, and just singing in the shower and auditioning for The X Factor.”
Of course rock musicians will continue playing the music they love, and it might not be helpful to declare rock ‘dead’ because it’s no longer possible to make loads of money out of it. But if the rockstars of the future have to fit touring and recording around their day jobs, mightn’t that be at the expense of the big, inspirational leaps forward that came when bands were able to fully create, hone and immerse themselves in their art?
An example of what happens when musicians can’t earn enough money to fund their decadent lifestyle happened this week to American black metallers Nachtmystium – a name that troubled news feeds in 2013 when they split up after frontman Blake Judd was arrested on charges of ‘misdemeanour theft by unauthorised control of property’. Following treatment for heroin addiction, Judd revived the band in time for the release of their seventh album, The World We Left Behind. However, fans who bought the album directly from Judd didn’t receive what they paid for; he blamed Nachtmystium’s label Century Media, who promptly dropped the band, while pledging to send any unsent special editions. Neill Jameson, who played with Judd in the bands Twilight and Krieg, waded in with a less-than-glowing character reference, telling the Noisey website: “For the better part of 10 years I’ve watched Blake lie and manipulate himself to the top and then to what most people would consider rock bottom. These behaviour traits that are proving to be his legacy aren’t new… The best possible thing that could happen to him would be for the police to pick him up and put him away long enough that he dries out and has time to reflect on everyone he’s hurt.”
Someone else who’s suffering this week is Dave Mustaine, who has cancelled eight weeks’ worth of gigs – including Megadeth’s appearance at Motörhead’s Motörboat cruise – on the advice of his doctor. It may seem ironic that anyone is ducking out of a Motörhead show on health grounds, given Lemmy’s recent spate of scares, but Dave has been ordered to ease off due to “complications” after spinal surgery in 2011. Replacing Megadeth at this event will be the one-off supergroup Metal Allegiance, featuring members of Anthrax, Megadeth, Testament and Shadows Fall plus Phil Anselmo, Rex Brown and Mike Portnoy.
Finally, some happier news: the Foo Fighters have been tearing up a trio of intimate club shows under the pseudonym The Holy Shits, ahead of their Olympic Park headline show on Sunday. A series of fun clues tipped off savvy fans to their whereabouts, while Dave Grohl hinted at bigger shows to come, declaring to Brighton’s packed Concorde 2 venue: “I thought we’d try to play gigs like this pretty much every night until we have to go home. It gives us a chance to see your faces before we play that week at Wembley stadium.” Nobody’s yet sure if this was an announcement of a gigantic forthcoming stadium residency, or a cheeky little gag. Always hard to tell with the Grohlmeister.