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"Rock needed a defibrillator" says Machine Gun Kelly. "Who cares who gives it?"

MGK
(Image credit: Jeff Kravitz/MTV VMAs 2021/Getty Images for MTV/ViacomCBS)

Machine Gun Kelly says that rock music "needed a defibrillator" and claims that he played a key role in reviving the genre.

In a new interview for the cover of Billboard magazine, the rapper-turned-pop punk star also defends himself against accusations that he's just a cosplay punk, stating, "if I have to be a scapegoat for people’s own insecurities, whatever. I’m more punk rock than you are because at least I’m willing to put my ass on the line."

“I know it kills certain bands in that community that I got the success that I got," he tells Billboard. But I earned that shit. Dude, I was fucking loading up the van with our drums and amps in 2010, driving to Indiana and Chicago, playing Warped Tour. I can tell you the fucking Wi-Fi codes to venues in Blackfoot, Idaho. Can you say that shit as a band?”

The Billboard article points out that when MGK's last album, 2020’s Tickets to My Downfall, debuted at number one on the US album's chart (the Billboard 200), it was the first rock album to do so in over a year.

“It opened the lane back up for people to make money," says Kelly. "It opened up these festivals. [Rock] needed a defibrillator. Who cares who gives it, just as long as that motherfucker doesn’t die?”

“The 2010s was great for singers and rappers, and I was part of that. But I think we needed something else: We needed an instrument. Kids come up to me like, ‘Dude, the first time I ever saw someone play guitar in concert was at your concert — and now I take guitar lessons.’ ”

The Billboard interview with Kelly was conducted before the 31-year-old musician was called out by former Crystal Castles vocalist Alice Glass for for crass, misogynist comments, fetishising black women and teenage girls, made in video interviews conducted while he was an emerging star in the hip-hop world. 

Kelly has yet to comment on Glass' comments, which were posted on Twitter on March 21.

Glass admits that she doesn't know Kelly, and has never listened to his music.

"But all this isn't just about one artist," she clarified. "There is a bigger picture here. This is about how men who act like this are still given power and opportunities in an industry that wilfully perpetuates sexist, racist and abusive behaviour. It needs to change."

Paul Brannigan
Paul Brannigan

A music writer since 1993, formerly Editor of Kerrang! and Planet Rock magazine (RIP), Paul Brannigan is a Contributing Editor to Louder. Having previously written books on Lemmy, Dave Grohl (the Sunday Times best-seller This Is A Call) and Metallica (Birth School Metallica Death, co-authored with Ian Winwood), his Eddie Van Halen biography (Eruption in the UK, Unchained in the US) emerged in 2021. He has written for Rolling Stone, Mojo and Q, hung out with Fugazi at Dischord House, flown on Ozzy Osbourne's private jet, played Angus Young's Gibson SG, and interviewed everyone from Aerosmith and Beastie Boys to Young Gods and ZZ Top. Brannigan lives in North London and supports The Arsenal.