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Greta Van Fleet Singer on Gene Simmons’ “Rock Is Dead” Claim: “Maybe the World of Rock He Remembers Is Dead”

"I think rock 'n' roll can become dormant, but you can't kill something that supersedes time"

Greta Van Fleet and KISS' Gene Simmons
Greta Van Fleet / Gene Simmons (photos by Kevin RC Wilson)
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    Greta Van Fleet have been hailed as rock revivalists and even rock saviors, but what does that all mean if “rock is dead,” as Gene Simmons continues to insist? The young band’s singer, Josh Kiszka, has responded to the KISS legend’s declaration, wondering out loud if the veteran musician is stuck in the past.

    Simmons hasn’t backed down from his “rock is dead” claim since first making headlines for making the statement in a 2014 feature for Esquire. In fact, earlier this year, he explained in detail to Heavy Consequence why he keeps uttering the phrase.

    “The point is, yeah, rock is dead because if we play the game from 1958 until 1988, which is 30 years, you had Elvis, The Beatles, The Stones, Pink Floyd, and on and on and on,” Simmons told us. “And you can go to the heavy part of it, which is Metallica, Maiden, if you want to put KISS in there, that’s fine. AC/DC, on and on and on. Even U2, Prince, Bowie, Eagles. And then you get to disco stuff, and Madonna, and that stuff, and Motown, of course. And then from 1988 until today, who’s the new Beatles?”

    He also blamed the advent of file sharing, saying, “That kid living in his mom’s basement decided one day that he didn’t want to pay for music. He wanted to download and file share. And that’s what killed the chances for the next generation of great bands. The fact that the music was for free. So nowadays new bands don’t have a chance.”

    In an interview with NME, Kiszka was asked about Simmons’ continued pronouncement that “rock is dead.” The singer theorized, “Maybe the world of rock he remembers is dead. I think rock ‘n’ roll is a very elastic genre, it’s a very eclectic genre. It seems like every once in a while, a generation reinterprets what that is… And I’ve heard a lot, throughout the years, I guess people blowing hot air.”

    The Greta Van Fleet vocalist added, “I think rock ‘n’ roll can become dormant, but you can’t kill something that supersedes time. It’s an attitude and a spirit and a celebration. I think people pass the torch and time moves on. I think there’s probably a lot of people that would disagree with him.”

    We recently posed the same question to Dirty Honey, who, like Greta Van Fleet, have made big waves with a retro-rock sound that harkens back to classic bands of the ’70s. Dirty Honey singer Marc Labelle told us, “I love his records, but him, as a person, I think he’s just way out of touch with what’s happening in music. He’s extremely cynical. … That’s the only thing I hear about Gene Simmons in the past decade is that he says, ‘rock is dead.’ Like, dude, shut the f**k up!”

    See Greta Van Fleet’s interview with NME, followed by our own recent Zoom conversation with brothers Josh and Sam Kiszka below. Pick up Greta Van Fleet’s new album, The Battle at Garden’s Gate, at Amazon.

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