GENE SIMMONS: ‘ROCK IS FINALLY DEAD’

Most of us who are song writers and professional musicians know how much the the music industry has changed in the last decade or so. Gene hit’s the nail on the head on several of his points here. It’s a sad state of affairs but for those of us with music running through our veins. We have no choice but to continue on and do what we do best. Keep on Rockin!  

Check out this interview with Simmons.
Wolf’s Den Music.


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GENE SIMMONS: ‘ROCK IS FINALLY DEAD’
The Kiss rocker expands on his thoughts about the past, present, and future of recorded music

By Nick Simmons on September 4, 2014

I spoke with my father about his legacy, the legacy of his contemporaries, and the state of the music industry today. Invariably, it seemed, we began to talk about file-sharing.

But this is not that old story of an out-of-touch one-percenter crying victim. As so many pointed out during the now-infamous Napster public relations war, the rich/famous/established musicians are not the victims of the digital revolution. My father instead laments the loss of opportunity for my generation, those who have begun to sense that it may no longer simply be a matter of dusting our hands, learning a skill, and putting in the time. There is a system that is broken for those of us who love songwriting, instruments, and all the soul of the analog, and it is now working against us — unless we conform. Unless we decide to stick, safely, to pop, and let gray men in a boardroom write our songs for us, dress us, and sell us from somewhere in the shadows.

The death of rock music came, as we all feared, not as a bright, burning explosion, but as a candle that slowly faded away—and in my father’s view, we are all at fault, for slowly leeching its fire without giving back any of our own.

NICK SIMMONS: You once said the music business isn’t dying — it’s dead. What would you say to young musicians and songwriters today trying to navigate this new terrain?

GENE SIMMONS: 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.

“ROCK DID NOT DIE OF OLD AGE. IT WAS MURDERED.”
I am so sad that the next 15-year-old kid in a garage someplace in Saint Paul, that plugs into his Marshall and wants to turn it up to ten, will not have anywhere near the same opportunity that I did. He will most likely, no matter what he does, fail miserably. There is no industry for that anymore. And who is the culprit? There’s always the changing tide of interests — music taste changes with each generation. To blame that is silly. That was always the exciting part, after all: “What’s next?” But there’s something else. The death of rock was not a natural death. Rock did not die of old age. It was murdered. And the real culprit is that kid’s 15-year-old next-door neighbor, probably a friend of his. Maybe even one of the bandmates he’s jamming with. The tragedy is that they seem to have no idea that they just killed their own opportunity — they killed the artists they would have loved. 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.

The masses do not recognize 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. 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.

It’s very sad for new bands. My heart goes out to them. They just don’t have a chance. If you play guitar, it’s almost impossible. 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.

Here’s a frightening thought: from 1958 to 1983, name 100 musical anythings that are iconic, that seem to last beyond their time.

NS: The Beatles, The Stones…

“FROM ’84 UNTIL TODAY, NAME SOME. JUST GIVE ME A FEW — ARTISTS THAT, EVEN AFTER THEIR PASSING, ARE OR WILL BE INESCAPABLE.”
GS: Elvis, the Beatles, Michael Jackson, the Stones, Jimi Hendrix, the numerous classic Motown artists, Madonna, U2, Prince, Pink Floyd… The list goes on. Individuals, all unanimously considered classic, timeless, revolutionary. Now from ’84 until today, name some. Just give me a few — artists that, even after their passing, are or will be inescapable. Artists on the same level as the ones I just mentioned. Even if you don’t like them, they will be impossible to avoid, or deny, even after they’ve stopped making music and maybe passed on. In fact, they become bigger when they stop. Name artists that even compare with the ones I just named.

NS: Nirvana?

GS: Nirvana. That’s about it. They are the notable exception. Keep thinking. It’s harder, isn’t it, to name artists with as much confidence? The pickings are so slim, and it’s not an arbitrary difference. There was a 10- to 15-year period in the ’60s and ’70s that gave birth to almost every artist we now call “iconic,” or “classic.” If you know anything about what makes longevity, about what makes something an everlasting icon, it’s hard to find after that. The craft is gone, and that is what technology, in part, has brought us. What is the next Dark Side of the Moon? Now that the record industry barely exists, they wouldn’t have a chance to make something like that. There is a reason that, along with the usual top-40 juggernauts, some of the biggest touring bands are half old people, like me.

NS: What does this bode for the industry of the future?

GS: There is no record industry, unfortunately. Not like there was. There are some terrific bands out there — Tame Impala, which you turned me on to, and so on. And during the ’60s and ’70s they would’ve become big, I’m convinced.

But, strangely, today, everything pales before Psy’s “Gangnam Style.” Look up the numbers on that song. He blows everyone else out of the water.

NS: The biggest song of all time is an Internet meme. Sounds almost like popular music is jumping the shark.

GS: Yes. My guess is that despite those numbers, it will still pass from the public eye in a short time. I don’t know what that means, but it’s clear that longevity is practically dead, and new artists that stand the test of time — meaning, artists whose art can survive them, who become icons — are so rare as to almost be nonexistent.

NS: Considering that it doesn’t seem to affect you directly, how did you become so outspoken about this? Along with a few public figures I could name, you’ve been one of the most vocal critics of file-sharing.

GS: My perspective is decidedly different than perhaps the perspective of somebody who was born here. If you’re a native-born American, my contention is that you take a lot of things for granted. All the freedoms and opportunities you have here are expected, and you feel entitled. I think this has taken over the American psyche. I find that many of the more patriotic people are immigrants, and they’re the ones who stand still when the flag goes up, out of gratitude. My sense is that file-sharing started in predominantly white, middle- and upper-middle-class young people who were native-born, who felt they were entitled to have something for free, because that’s what they were used to. If you believe in capitalism — and I’m a firm believer in free-market capitalism — then that other model is chaos. It destroys the structure. You’ll never understand unless you’re the one that wrote the song, and you were the one that had the band, whose music people took without paying you for. Once you’re the one who’s been robbed, there’s a moment of clarity.

And let’s be clear: I’m not the guy to be pouting and complaining about stuff. I make a decent living. I’m very, very lucky. But that’s because we started before the chaos, in the days when people had to buy records. If you didn’t like a band, you didn’t buy their albums, and the people decided.

NS: They voted with their dollar.

“PATRIOTISM IS CORNY, AND THAT’S A SAD STATE OF AFFAIRS.”
GS: That’s right. And going back to that national psyche thing… I firmly believe that there’s something missing in America, and it used to exist, and it’s now corny. Patriotism is corny, and that’s a sad state of affairs. It really is. I don’t care what side of the aisle you’re on — I find faults in both, some social and some political issues — but everywhere, people are taking a lot of things for granted. And you would know the majesty that is America if you came from hundreds of other countries I could name. If you come from a place where every day above ground is a life-threatening event, and you had the same ambition and values as the most successful people here, you would never reach the same heights. And of course this applies to Western society at large, but America especially. I think every day, we forget about the — and here’s the corny part — glory of America. And that’s too fucking bad.

NS: Any last thoughts?

GS: Always, but I think I’ve talked enough for a lifetime.

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One of the best unknown rock guitarists dies

Today, Wolf’s Den marks the passing of legendary rock guitarist Dick Wagner. Dick Wagner is famous for his work with Alice Cooper (co-writing Only Women Bleed, School’s Out, and Billion Dollar Babies, among others), Lou Reed, Peter Gabriel, and Rod Stewart, but he is uncredited for work done on many albums for many bands, including Kiss.Gene Simmons: “Dick Wagner was the consummate gentleman axeman.”

He will be missed.”We here at Wolf’s Den will Miss Dick Wagner as well. R.I.P. sir.
He will live on through his work and his fans.

Check out an interview with Dick Wagner by Alice Cooper Here

Dick Wagner, esteemed Michigan rock guitarist, dead at 71
Wagner, the Michigan-bred guitarist renowned for his work with Alice Cooper, the Frost, Lou Reed and others, succumbed to respiratory failure at Scottsdale Healthcare Shea Medical Center in Arizona.

A recent Interview with Michael MacLeod

501NEG Blog: Member Snapshot, with Michael MacLeod

March 9, 2014 at 8:11am

**story written by Jodi Marmonti-Anderson**

Michael MacLeod is not only a member of the 501st Legion but is also a highly experienced and accomplished local musician.  Michael has sung lead vocals and played guitar in numerous bands, and has taught music lessons to hundreds of students.  He is the owner of Wolf’s Den Music.

As soon as Michael could stand he was dancing to any music playing in his vicinity (even TV jingles).  He states that “the bug really bit me at about age 7, when I saw a teenager down the street with an electric guitar and knew I just had to have one.”  Though his parents were struggling financially they bought him a guitar and amp and the lessons began.  Through his lessons he met his mentor New Bedford, MA musician Jim Tavares.  “Upon first sight of seeing Jim with his long hair, ripped jeans and chucks (sneakers) I knew I wanted to be a rock guitarist!”  At the time Jim was only accepting adult and advanced students, but after a lot of begging to the music store owner (Gary “Boz” Bosworth of Boz’s Music) Jim decided to take Michael on as his first child student.  Michael would continue to study music and hone his craft, later studying under the famous song writer Adam Mitchell.

As a huge Kiss fan, Michael auditioned for a tribute band when he was 15 and was thrilled to learn that he had been selected for the group.  He started touring and missed many days of high school to keep up with his gig schedule.  Performing as Ace Frehley, Michael toured the east coast for almost a decade in two different Kiss tribute acts: Rock & Roll Over and Destroyer. He was a featured performer with Destroyer on the internationally distributed “KAOL 2 Creatures of the Net” album (Kiss Army online).  All proceeds from the album were donated to cancer research in Eric Carr’s (former Kiss Drummer’s) name.  He has performed at many official Kiss conventions with past members of Kiss, including Ace Frehley.  Michael’s biggest show played was at the Bangor, ME Civic Center, where he performed to a sold-out crowd of around 3000 fans.

Michael has enjoyed his career as a musician.  “I get to share music with people, which is a chance to connect to people on a whole different level.  I love playing in front of a large crowd and the energy exchanged between myself (the performer) and the audience. It’s a feeling that is amazing because you go out there and give it your all and get ramped up then the audience gets excited and gives all that energy back to you so it’s this great synergy.”  He loves writing and creating original music, which is currently his focus as he works on his first solo album. “It’s an amazing journey from getting the germ of an idea in your mind to creating a fully realized song, [and] then sending that song out into the world and hoping people get something out of it.”

There are down sides to working as an artist, of course. Financial challenges (particularly in the age of internet piracy) can make it difficult to make a living as a musician.  There are some people who believe that musicians should give their music away for free.  Michael also notes that sometimes people don’t respect the kind of work he is doing.  “Many people don’t realize the amount of hard work it is to be a full time musician: the years of studying and practicing, the sacrifices made to excel at your craft, the thousands of dollars invested in gear and instruments and the list just goes on.”  Despite these setbacks, he enjoys being his own boss: “At the end of the day I’m completely in charge of my life and that is what Rock and Roll is all about to begin with. Freedom!”

Outside of music Michael is a big science fiction and comics fan, which lead him to join the 501st Legion, as well as becoming one of the area’s more well-known Green Arrow costumers.  One little known fact from Michael’s past is that he won a DC Comics contest as a kid and they used his design as the new version of a Parademon. “You can see the Kiss influence in the eye make-up design and bits of his costume.” The only Parademon ever to have a name in comic books was named Michael (possibly due to his redesign of said character).  Michael received a 10 speed bicycle from the contest, which he still has to this day.

After completing his solo album along with a few other musical projects on the table, Michael would like to compose a film score.  Be sure to check out his sites at https://wolfsdenmusic.wordpress.com/ and https://www.facebook.com/pages/Wolfs-Den-Music/251584701558005?ref=hl .