TWISTED SISTER singer Dee Snider has once again dismissed the notion that rock is dead.
While rock and roll has been king of the music world for decades, in the past few years, it’s been unseated by the growing popularity of hip-hop. This has caused many pundits to proclaim the genre “dead” from an industry perspective, noting that it has been eclipsed in all measures by pop, hip-hop, and EDM.
A few years ago, KISS bassist/vocalist Gene Simmons told Esquire magazine that “rock did not die of old age. It was murdered. Some brilliance, somewhere, was going to be expressed and now it won’t because it’s that much harder to earn a living playing and writing songs. No one will pay you to do it.”
A number of hard rock and heavy metal musicians have weighed in on the topic in a variety of interviews over the last several years, with some digging a little deeper into Simmons‘s full remarks and others just glossing over the headline.
Snider, who is currently promoting his new solo album, “Leave A Scar”, spoke about rock’s supposed diminishing status during a recent interview with Metal Wani. Addressing Gene‘s “rock is dead” comment, Dee said: “Look, these people who say ‘rock and roll is dead’ are self-absorbed, self-centered. The statement is self-serving. It’s this, ‘I’m taking my ball and I’m going home, because if it can’t be my way, it doesn’t exist.’ And because it’s changed and it’s mutated, which it has changed and mutated; it is not the same thing. And if they opened their ears, they opened their eyes, they got out of their damn mansions and went to a smaller venue or a festival that plays newer stuff, they would know this is not their heavy metal rock and roll anymore. It has changed dramatically.
“As far as the idea that these [newer bands] are just recycling old ideas, well what were they doing?” he continued. “What was KISS doing? And I say KISS because everybody knows Gene Simmons is one of the biggest ‘rock is dead’ guys. They were recycling. They were doing SLADE and they were copying all the bands they grew up on, THE ROLLING STONES. So if the bands today are recycling the bands they grew up on, that’s just continuing the tradition. We’re all just basically computers. We only can output what was input. An when it’s at its best, it’s a nice creative mix of things. Some of my favorite bands… I don’t like bands that sound exactly like a band from yesteryear. I won’t name names — you know who I’m talking about — they sound like LED ZEPPELIN. Sounding like LED ZEPPELIN is not new and creative. But take VOLBEAT. I love the fact that, yeah, I can hear METALLICA, and I can hear ska, and I can hear punk, and I can hear spaghetti westerns, but I never heard it mixed up like that before… It’s not replication. It’s honoring the past and it’s creating something original out of mixing those pieces.
“This is something I’m passionate about. You wanna talk about passion? Okay, one thing is dead: rock stars. Rock stars need ubiquity. Break out your dictionaries, people. In order to be a rock star, you have to get beyond the realm of just your genre. And you got that from being on MTV, you got that from being on billboards and in magazine ads and sides of buses — the way it was advertised in the old days. That gave people a broader awareness. And believe me, when ‘Appetite For Destruction’ [GUNS ‘N’ ROSES] sold 20 million copies or ‘Back In Black’ [AC/DC] sold 45 million copies, those aren’t only just metal fans buying it. That’s when it crosses over into a broader appeal. That comes from ubiquity. Now, everything is target marketed. You only hear about a band if it’s a music form that an algorithm says this person likes. Then you’ll be notified in a little banner on top of your Facebook page: ‘Oh, by the way, so-and-so has an album out.’, And they feed you what they think you like.
“So we’ve lost rock stars,” Dee added. “But as far as passion goes? It’s never been purer. It’s never been more honest, because money is not even in the minds of these young artists. They don’t think they’re gonna get rich doing it. They’re doing it because they have no choice. As I said in [my new single] ‘I Gotta Rock (Again)’, it’s not something… I don’t choose, it’s what I gotta do.
“I go to these concerts with my kids and it breaks my heart to see that level of passion coming from bands who are just hoping to make enough in CD and merch sales after the show to get them to the next gig. And I see the passion from the audience who know every frickin’ word, but it never gets that massive, broad, where it’s out there on the tube show, like it used to be back in the old days. And that’s the sadness — that it doesn’t get the exposure it once got. But as far as passion? As far as talent? As far as song quality, originality? It’s there. Period.”
“Leave A Scar” was released on July 30 via Napalm Records. The album was once again produced by HATEBREED frontman Jamey Jasta, with co-production, mixing and mastering by drummer Nick Bellmore.