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Gene Simmons: Corporate Punk?

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In a recent interview, Simmons said that “Corporate America is cool.” I guess he figures he can say such things because KISS’ target audience isn’t of the teenage-indie-DIY ‘Corporate America Sucks’ variety.

Robert Duffy, writer for donewaiting, poses an interesting question: “By saying Corporate America is cool, does that make Gene Simmons the most punk guy in the world by going against the trend or just a corporate asshole? You make the call.”

I’ve chosen to take the middle ground here. Simmons has most definitely completely sold himself to the ideals of Corporate America- nothing from KISS is exempt from being packaged and sold. There is nothing punk about him or his band. I’d rather avoid going into a discussion of what ‘punk’ is, but it seems that part of being punk is choosing to go against the trend. If that’s the case, then Simmons qualifies for that part of punk-hood.

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About Particleman

  • Simmons is 100% correct Corporate America is cool!…and so is the indie scene. It’s the hate America part that doesn’t make any sense. Why hate the place where you can actually put out your stuff for people to buy. You can’t get around that part. Eventually the product will be sold. Well actually you can just record and put it away under your bed I guess. The goal used to be, to try to make a record and keep improving until you got picked up by a major label. And hit the big time. And if you my assertion is daft then you probably do not get my point. All the best bands always seem to be start on small labels and work there way up. These days the indies are majors in their own right and that’s because, the good artists got smart and learned how to keep a piece of the pie. Ani DiFranco ‘is’ Corporate America her own Corporte America. REM is Corporate America. The Beatles are Corporate America; even Alex Chilton/Big Star is it’s just that by his luck, his records did not sell as well. Nirvana is a perfect example of what can go wrong. Success made the music much better without a doubt yet it hurt the band’s catalyst. Ithink a main problem is that most DIY bands fail because they don’t think about incorporating, taxes, writing off expenses like guitar strings,and collecting tax refunds while they’re starting out. Publishing is the next step in the process, but you have to partake in Corporate America to really make it happen and hating America is just a plain stupid publicity tag equivalent to the whims of today’s teenpop sex angst.

  • andy

    I think something these DIY indie scene assholes need to realize that music is business. While it’s art driven and passion driven, it’s still a business. If you’re in a band, run it like a business. Market it in every way you can. That doesn’t mean you trade your artistic integrity in for a $$$, but damn it what’s so wrong about merchendising out the wazoo and knowing that people will buy it if you make it? Kiss coffins…mock it all you want, but there are probably thousands of people out there w/ a kick ass cooler that some day their family will save a lot of money on a coffin. It’s all about giving your fans what they want, and Kiss are geniouses at it! These people are fans of your band! Give them the goods they want and turn them into radical fans! Bands need to put themselves out like rock and roll whores. This whole “screw the $$$ I want to be a starving musician for the rest of my life working 9-5 jobs and playing shitty clubs on the weekend” mindset. Give me the mansion on the hill and an Orange County Chopper!

  • frost@work

    andy, that’s the stupidest thing I’ve ever heard you say.

    There is a middle ground between forcing yourself into relative obscurity and pimping yourself out to the highest bidder.

    It’s ok to want to have a lot of money – there’s nothing inherently wrong about that, but is nothing sacred in art? How far should you go? I promise that Gene Simmons is not lacking anything material wize, he doesn’t need any more money. Why not keep integrity and have a nice lifestyle as well?

  • Ralph – I also think the best scenario is when a band starts out on an indie and slowly works their way to the majors (if at all). But one great band that skipped the indie world was Weezer. Their first album was on Geffen. And you make some interesting points about using strings and whatnot as tax write-offs.

    Andy – I think there defenitely is a balance to be found between maintaining the artistic core of music and making it a living. The hard part is finding that balance…

  • frost@work

    Particleman: however Weezer are still connected with the indie scene. They are on tour with The Icarus Line (www.buddyhead.com), and from what I hear they are great friends (yeah, buddyhead hates… well everything, but especially major labels). Yes, they are on a major, but they balance their career and their art very well (while respecting other artists too).

  • andy

    Frost, I said don’t trade in artistic integrity and passion for the $$$. My comment was extreme, I realize that. The reason it’s extreme though is because I’m tired of it being a cardinal sin to try to make a heap of money if you’re a musician. I do it for art…definately. But I also do it for $$$. I don’t want to work 9-5 my whole life. I just want to wake up, play music, go to bed. That’s it. And I guess, I’m tired of indie snobs telling me that’s wrong.

  • frost@work

    ok, then we prolly agree for the most part… dunno, maybe someday I will be lucky enough to be buried in a Surburan Sound coffin!!! oh, I couldn’t get that website to play the new mp3’s… you should try http://www.iuma.com

  • Weezer may be ‘connected’ to the indie world, but they nonetheless got their start on a major.

  • frost@work

    true, true.

  • andy

    Here’s what I think part of the reason why Gene markets his band the way he does.

    If he’s like me, and I hope this is the only thing I have in common with him, him and his bandies sit around or have sat around in the past and said stuff like, “dude, wouldn’t it be cool if we had Kiss blah blah blahs?”

    I don’t know if every band does this, but mine certainly does. We sit around and fantasize about all the off the wall things we could get made w/ our band name on it. Now, we don’t have millions of dollars to just waste, but I would imagine that if money wasn’t an issue, we probably would do a lot of these things. Who wouldn’t want cigarrettes w/ your band name? “want to smoke like a rock star? Smoke suburban lights!”

    Kiss has the money to do these outrageous things, so maybe, this is just an idea, they follow through w/ them because they actually can.

  • Remember Weezer was smart and used MTV properly with the Buddy Holly video and they had that Blue album. Then they put out that Pinkerton record nobody cared and they went back to an identical looking record and sound but the album cover was Orange to remind everybody about that million seller. Which is good for the! They figured out what works. They are a fairly sensitive band. In Rock ‘n’ Roll some major labe talented guys like Jackson Browne and Todd Runtgren that try to walk the a so called middle ground. They are currently past their peak of commerciality but it makes you wonder that if they did a full-on attempt at visibility like John Fogerty did just a a few years back. Who knows what response they would get. Anyways….