In a recent interview conducted by his son Nick, Simmons argued that rock artists don’t receive the same support from record companies that they did in the ’60s and ’70s.
When asked what he would say to young musicians and songwriters today, Simmons affirmed, “Don’t quit your day job is a good piece of advice. When I was coming up, it was not an insurmountable mountain. Once you had a record company on your side, they would fund you, and that also meant when you toured they would give you tour support. There was an entire industry to help the next Beatles, Stones, Prince, Hendrix, to prop them up and support them every step of the way. There are still record companies, and it does apply to pop, rap, and country to an extent. But for performers who are also songwriters – the creators – for rock music, for soul, for the blues – it’s finally dead. Rock is finally dead.”
In reply, Taylor told North Carolina radio station Rock 105.5: “Nothing against Gene. I understand what he was trying to say. His way of making albums and making music and getting things out there is dead. But you just kind of have to roll with the technology, you have to rise with the times, you have to learn to use those to your advantage. You can’t just sit back and just kind of do album-tour-album-tour — there’s so much that goes into it now.”
Taylor continued: “We’re such students of the game — not only of technology, but the way it’s done now — that I refuse to let anybody say that and have it be taken seriously. Are you kidding me?! Screw that, man! Rock ain’t dead. I [recently] said, ‘Rock and metal ain’t dead. They’re just waiting to kill you.’ And I mean that. It’s an ebb and flow. It’s like that probably every — what? — ten [or] fifteen years. There’s an ebb. But it’s definitely coming back.”
In the original Esquire interview, the Kiss bass guitarist also attributed part of rock’s demise to illegal file-sharing and artists struggling to make money from their work. “The masses do not recognise file-sharing and downloading as stealing because there’s a copy left behind for you – it’s not that copy that’s the problem, it’s the other one that someone received but didn’t pay for,” he said. “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.”
He continued, “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. And I’m not slamming The X Factor, or pop singers. But where’s the next Bob Dylan? Where’s the next Beatles? Where are the songwriters? Where are the creators? Many of them now have to work behind the scenes, to prop up pop acts and write their stuff for them.”
Simmons previously discussed illegal file-sharing in 2010 when he accused the music industry of not reacting fast enough to halt the trend. “The music industry was asleep at the wheel,” he said. “And [they] didn’t have the balls to sue every fresh-faced, freckle-faced college kid who downloaded material. And so now we’re left with hundreds of thousands of people without jobs. There’s no industry.”