When the makeup-heavy rockers of holy-crap-they’re-still-around ’70s band KISS aren’t too busy playing stadium shows, they’re gracious enough to return stateside to receive an award. That’s precisely what bassist Gene Simmons and guitarist Paul Stanley did on Wednesday night when they came to Los Angeles for the ASCAP Pop Music Awards.
Rock n’ roll’s everyman Dave Grohl presented the two with the ASCAP Founders Award, but the real treat came when Billboard interviewed the pair after the ceremony. It’s a brief Q&A, typical of awards show junkets, but Simmons and Stanley piped up when the subject of music’s future surfaced.
Stanley: I think at this point, I write when there’s a reason to write. To sit down, there are so many outlets to be creative and certainly the recording industry or what’s left of it is really in shambles. The only reason to record at this point or write songs is to make a statement about the current band, and that we don’t only rely on our old catalog. I think we’re very fortunate to have come out when we did, and to not be relying upon an industry that has basically committed suicide.
Simmons: We’ve been around for 41 years, but you know what Paul just said is actually true. Don’t misunderstand, we’re not complaining. We have very good lives, the arenas and stadiums fill up, we can go anywhere in the world, and we have a ball. It is really — maybe profoundly is the right word — but it’s really sad for the new artists. Where’s the next Elvis? Where’s the next Beatles? Where’s the Zeppelin? They’re out there, but they don’t have a chance. They don’t have a chance because, once upon a time, we had record companies, and they would support you and have point of purchase material, and they would give you advances. In other words, they gave you the air to breathe to find yourself and spend the time to learn how to run.
Simmons (63) and Stanley (65) come off as sounding like grumpy old men, and understandably so. They are, in fact, old men. But the pair quickly qualified their sentiments with comments regarding the industry’s ongoing back-and-forth with old ways and the digital age. Between the occasional rift with Spotify and other streaming services, and Tidal‘s attempts to improve the business side of things for artists, they aren’t that wrong. Many potential artists truly “don’t have a chance.”
Then again, considering Thursday’s new single from Titus Andronicus, it can’t be all that bad. We’re still getting awesome tunes from great artists. They’re just wearing less makeup.