What’s interesting about what Gene Simmons has said about the death of rock’n’roll is that he asked people to name three significant icons since the 70s. In the 80s and early 90s, record labels were flush with cash and they had some bands that broke, like Nirvana, but they were also still cleaning up on one-hit wonders from both outside and inside rock. That doesn’t happen so much anymore, but it has had an effect on rock making new stars, as there aren’t so many eyes on the genre without that constant stream of attention, which one-hit wonders help to create.
The biggest era for one-hit wonders was in the early 90s when rock was huge… “Do you sound kind of like Guns N’ Roses? Here! Have a record contract!” and so on. Rock imploded because nobody had any idea who to sign after that approach failed, and burgeoning genres – hip-hop especially – became more important and valid to kids. Hip-hop had one-hit wonders and then soon it had stars and they had the rebellion and danger of rock’n’roll. Rock didn’t die – it just lost its appeal over a 10-year period./o:p
Gene’s not talking about big fish in little ponds – he’s just talking about big fish. Axl Rose was certainly an icon and the thing about those Golden God-level, flashy icons is that Cobain has become that but, at the time, he was not the kind of icon Gene is talking about. Fred Durst? In some sense he was a big star but when it comes to big fish, you think about Elton John or Freddie Mercury. Durst was a big star but so was fucking Scott Stapp… it’s not the same thing!/o:p
People acknowledge that there are still huge music icons but asking me if rock can have icons as big as Jay-Z, Rihanna and Eminem is like asking me if a rotary phone or black-and-white TV sets could make a comeback at this point. Rock doesn’t need someone who is on the same level of fame as Jay-Z. Rock simply needs something new and better than what has been around for a while. The reason that all of those big stars end up where they do is because they create something that’s interesting and enticing to people. That’s what we need. It has to come from the art.
We need someone who is interesting enough to make people want to rebel. Maybe that guy is out there already, and there are plenty of frontmen that already appeal to many, many people, but our world is so ignored by the mainstream that there’s only so far you can go without that level of media interest. I understand Gene’s point but when anyone is saying “rock is dead”, it’s inaccurate. The problem is you have to do research to find out about us and the mainstream is more interested in other kinds of music right now. That’s what’s really troubling about what Gene is saying.
I understand why other people may not aspire to be rock stars today. Not everyone craves fame and money and a lot of people do this because they love the idea of touring and making music for a living, and that’s enough. The reality is that there are bands out there, doing what you might think are big things, that are on minimum wage. That’s not very appealing. The days of rock stars being in the tabloids for pulling up at movie premieres in sports cars aren’t around anymore, so I get what Gene is saying, and also why there are fewer people wanting to front bands.
Things are very different now from how they were in the era when Gene became a rock star. There are many bands that can play big shows but they can remain relatively anonymous on the streets, because only people who are fully immersed in our world will know who they are. I can still go for a Subway and not be recognised.
In that sense, today’s rock stars are not global icons of the kind Gene is talking about, but that’s not to say that that level of fame could never happen again to someone from the rock world. I truly believe that it’s possible.
BLACK VEIL BRIDES PERFORM AT DOWNLOAD FESTIVAL IN JUNE/o:p