About a month ago I was eagerly awaiting the band announcements for Download: Slipknot, one of my all time favourites, awesome to have them back; Muse, fantastic live band and a great headliners; then last and definitely least, Kiss. Why did it have to be Kiss? Why ruin what was looking to be such an enjoyable line-up? Why really shit up my 2015?!
So, where does my dislike of ‘one of the greatest bands in rock’ – not my words, not my opinion – come from? My dislike comes largely from the thoughtless, overly dramatic, idiotic mouth of Gene Simmons, the so-called ‘God of Thunder’, even though he didn’t even write that song. If you’ve been living in a cave for the last few months, let me fill you in on the stupidity he has spewed forth: Firstly, before we even get to “Rock is Dead”, Simmons had some pretty dumb shit to say about depression:
“For a putz 20-year-old kid to say, ‘I’m depressed. I live in Seattle.’ F– you, then kill yourself. I never understand, because I always call them on their bluff. I’m the guy who says ‘Jump’ when there’s a guy on top of a building who says, ‘That’s it, I can’t take it anymore. I’m going to jump.’ Are you kidding? Why are you announcing it. Shut the f— up, have some dignity and jump!”
There is no misquoting, no taking out of context, that is what he said. To be fair, he cited the trauma his mother went through as an example of people dealing with a lot of trauma and bouncing back, but he failed to note that depression is mental illness. An ILLNESS, not a choice, not someone being ‘a bit miserable’, but an actual illness. You wouldn’t tell someone with a broken arm to shut the F up and do some heavy lifting. All he has done is shown his ignorance, his insensitivity, and alienated fans. Luckily, Nikki Sixx (recovering addict) called him out on this:
“It’s pretty moronic because he thinks everybody listens to him, that he is the god of thunder. He will tell you he is the greatest man on earth, and to be honest with you, I like Gene. But in this situation, I don’t like Gene. I don’t like Gene’s words, because … there is a 20-year-old kid out there who is a Kiss fan and reads this and goes, ‘You know what? He’s right. I should just kill myself.’ For people who are depressed, there is a way out. There are many, many ways out.”
That’s right, shut the F up Gene.
Rock is Dead, it was Murdered
Shortly after pissing me off with his comments about depression, Simmons decided to get dramatic once again. In an interview with Esquire, he announced “rock is dead” and that this wasn’t a natural death, “it was murdered” by illegal downloads and file sharing. Okay, I’ll give him a little credit, illegal downloads have hurt the music industry, but killed rock? Why is rock dead and why is it the only genre shouldering this burden?
Does buying the albums make much of a difference? Well, it certainly did, but times change and so does the industry. The failure of a system calls for evolution, not bitching and whining about a time when things were easier. I remember being at a Lostprophets gig (back before, you know, all of the shit hit the fan) when the band called on fans to illegally download their music, if that meant they would listen to it more. This is what bands want, fans listening to their music; fans turning up to gigs. This is where bands make money and their reputation, live shows are what it is all about. “But young bands never get the chance to play big venues any more!” Oh really? Well as BMTH were telling 12,500 people in a sold-out Wembley Arena to “fuck someone in the eye”, they’d probably disagree.
Slipknot, again to use one of my favourite bands as a favourite example, saw their album this year debut at number one on the US Billboard. Shawn ‘Clown’ Crahan said at the time: “Once again we have received the #1 album in the country, for the second album in a row. By achieving this, it reconfirms that our culture is still alive.” Rock isn’t dead; if anything it is coming back stronger.
Rock’s Righteous Resurrection
Rock and metal are creeping back into popular culture, just look at radio air-time. The increasing amount of pop-rock spread throughout the charts is a sign that we might be close to a turning point, but even on top of this, full-blooded rock and metal are getting more traction too. Radio 1 have added BMTH and Of Mice and Men to their playlist and Dan P Carter’s rock show has been moved from its unsociable late night position to three hours of Sunday evening prime time. Rock isn’t dead, it is just transforming to lure more fans in. For a great example of this, look no further than BMTH’s ‘Sempiternal’. Shaking off the pure-noise sound and shaving off some of the attitude which made them one of the most hated bands on the UK scene, they maintained their metalcore roots and laced them with hooks and melodies to draw you in before the breakdowns shatter your spine.
Asked for his opinion on the matter, Corey Taylor (vocalist of Stone Sour and Slipknot) said: “I think people put too much [focus] on sales. ‘Cause that doesn’t relate to how many people have heard it… I mean, we had three million views of the Knotfest live streams. You don’t get an award for that. We had so many million views of ‘The Negative One’ video and ‘The Devil In I’ video. You don’t get awards for that. So, for me, what we did was great.”
He continued: “Just the fact that we had 65,000, almost 70,000 people, over the weekend of Knotfest, I mean, that proves something, you know?! You don’t always need a platinum album to relate that to success. So, with all due respect to Mr. Simmons, he needs to get out more… It’s an ebb and flow. It’s like that probably every — what? — 10 [or] 15 years. There’s an ebb. But it’s definitely coming back.”
If rock has died, it has been quickly resurrected. There is still plenty of stuff to be angry about and as long as there is, there will be a place for rock, metal and punk. The genre isn’t dying a death, it’s coming back strong; possibly to fuck you in the eye…