Kiss guitarist and singer Paul Stanley said in a recent interview with Ultimate Classic Rock that if his band formed today “we’d be fucked.” He blamed the music industry for this grim statement, saying: “the music industry as it exists today isn’t even an industry, it’s just shambles. And now artists are in a position to have to take what the public, so to speak, is willing to give them.”
Now this got us thinking – what would happen if Kiss formed today? And what about other classic rock bands?
A lot of people say no good bands is coming out at the moment. Is this the fault of the musicians, the industry, or the way we consume music? Would a classic rock band work just as well in another period? We try to look at the past with fresh eyes and ears to find out.
Picture this; you’re sat at home, scrolling through your news feed, and your friend pops up with a link to the Bandcamp page of a new band called Kiss. You click it, and before you listen to any music, you see the picture, these guys with white and black makeup designs on their faces, looking somewhere between a black metal band and an Ann Summers window display. Whatever you’re expecting from the music, it’s probably not ‘Strutter,’ a pedestrian rock track with a couple of cool riffs and an extended guitar solo. Black Veil Brides and Fearless Vampire Killers have all recently shed their makeup in favour of a more natural look so maybe Kiss would have to do the same? Although will their now old faces be as appealing as a make-up free Andy Biersack? Probably not!
You click on a youtube video of a band called The Beatles. It’s a pretty stupid name, right? But these guys with suits and bowl cuts must be having a laugh. In a pop landscape where Enrique Iglesias can release the track ‘Tonight (I’m Fucking You)’ and Nicki Minaj can release ‘Anaconda,’ ‘I Want To Hold Your Hand’ seems naÃƒ¯ve and a little uninteresting. There’s no denying those hooks, though, which would work anywhere and laid the blueprint for everything we love about rock music. Always a winner.
As we already established with Kiss, dressing up in rock just doesn’t appeal anymore. Costumes haven’t been cool since the early 1990’s, and a lot of people now like their rock music to come with a side helping of boredom and apathy. With that in mind, check out the music video for ‘The Number of the Beast.’ On top of that, some Maiden tracks stretch to over seven minutes long. For a generation of vine watchers, that’s just too long.
Singer Ray Davies recently told The Telegraph that The Kinks would never make it on TV nowadays, saying he hasn’t got the looks and never thought of himself as a pop star. ‘All Day and All of the Night’ still sounds more exciting than most rock bands currently active, though. Under the band’s timeless melodies there are some biting, ferocious guitar tones, created when Ray’s brother Dave Davies stabbed a hole into the speaker cones of his amplifier. Thinking like that would be a breath of fresh air in today’s stale rock scene.
So you click on a video, and it’s for ‘Girls, Girls, Girls’ or something. It’s probably been shared by The Lad Bible and hosted on Facebook because that’s how out of touch bands like these seem. Their ultra-machismo lyrics, objectifying women and glamorising their drinking and drug taking, feels like the remnants of a time long gone. And the unnecessary umlaut is silly, but you already knew that.
Rock bands are tied to the time when they were active and removed from that context it’s hard to know how they would work. Perhaps the industry doesn’t know how to adapt to changing technology, and perhaps the way we consume music has changed for better or worse, but if you believe no good bands are coming out at the moment, then you’re not looking hard enough.