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Music

Gene Simmons explains why every band is just as bad as KISS

Gene Simmons has long been one of the most unapologetic voices in rock. As the bassist and co-vocalist of New York legends KISS, he is not afraid to give his two cents on the shape of rock music and, given that his career has proven to be relentlessly successful, many have been willing to listen to his opinions, regardless of whether you agree with them or not. 

As is customary for anyone ready and willing to vocalise all of their ideas, Simmons has invited countless instances of controversy over his long career, and at some points, this had detracted from his music with KISS, which is best described as iconic. 

Whether it be his careless comments on suicide and depression in 2014 or him labelling Islam a “vile culture” whilst being interviewed in Australia in 2004, there are many reasons why Simmons is one of the most polarising figures in rock music. It says a lot that after claiming Simmons had attempted to grope his wife, KISS bandmate Ace Frehley described Simmons as an “asshole and a sex addict”.

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In terms of music, Simmons has also taken strident lines over the years. In 2007, he discussed music piracy and called for those involved in the act to be sued, threatening lawsuits and to withhold new recordings if file-sharing continued as a practice. Presumably, as a result of this, in 2010, the hacking group Anonymous performed a DDoS on his website, and after he responded with some incredibly provocative comments about sexual assault on the group whilst he was back online, Anonymous staged another DDoS, taking his site offline once more. 

Seemingly, his viewpoint on music piracy hasn’t changed. In 2014 he opined: “The death of rock was not a natural death. Rock did not die of old age. It was murdered.” At the time, he again blamed file sharing for the death of rock and that no one values music “enough to pay you for it”. Whilst we could criticise him for his choice of language, there is some weight to his multi-faceted point.   

When speaking to ex-Black Flag frontman Henry Rollins on The Henry Rollins Show in 2007, Simmons offered up another brutally honest take on the state of the music industry that also has some value. Discussing how bands operate as a business, the KISS bassist took a typically cynical standpoint when addressing some of his peers.

He said: “Everybody goes out on tour and sells t-shirts; you’re in the KISS business baby. When you buy a t-shirt you don’t get music, you’re in the licencing and merchandising business. The fact, the only thing everybody’s complaining about, R.E.M. … and punk bands and thrash bands, although there are no more of those, what everyone, death metal bands, ‘ah we’re not like KISS’, yes you are. God damn straight you are.”

“Johnny Rotten, Johnny Lydon, has always been straight up about it. ‘This sucks. You better pay me money and that’s life.’ We’re all exactly the fuck the same and anybody that tells you that they want less money in life, be suspicious of this person, this is a liar.”

Watch the clip below.

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