I Regret to Inform You That Greta Van Fleet Made a Salient Point About Rock ‘n’ Roll

The band's singer recently pushed back on Gene Simmons' claim that "rock is dead"

Josh Kiszka of Greta Van Fleet performs at UNO Lakefront Arena on December 20, 2019 in New Orleans, Louisiana.
Josh Kiszka of Greta Van Fleet performs at UNO Lakefront Arena on December 20, 2019 in New Orleans, Louisiana.
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Most of the time, there’s not much to like about Greta Van Fleet, the band of Led Zeppelin cosplayers who have built an entire career out of ripping off Robert Plant and Jimmy Page. But unfortunately, as much as it may pain us to admit it, frontman Josh Kiszka has actually made a salient point in response to Gene Simmons’s recent declaration — the latest in a long and tired tradition — that “rock is dead.”

“Rock is dead. And that’s because new bands haven’t taken the time to create glamour, excitement and epic stuff,” Simmons told Gulf News back in February. “I mean, Foo Fighters is a terrific band, but that’s a 20-year-old band. So you can go back to 1958 until 1988. That’s 30 years. During that time, we had Elvis [Presley], The Beatles, Jimi Hendrix, Rolling Stones, on and on.”

Now, several months later, Kiszka — who, naturally, would disagree that rock is dead due simply to the fact that he is currently a member of a rock band — has responded in a new interview with the NME.

“Maybe the world of rock [Gene] remembers is dead…I don’t know,” he said. “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 about… 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,” he added. “Elton John is one, I’m sure. I’ve heard it come out of his mouth.”

Though band isn’t necessarily one we’d cite as a shining example of the ways in which rock is currently thriving, Kiszka has a point. Anyone who declares rock to be dead is really just announcing to the world that they’ve stopped caring about new music and don’t know where to look for it. Just because a genre doesn’t have a strong presence on the Top 40 doesn’t mean it has completely ceased to exist. (And honestly, what’s more rock ‘n’ roll than a bunch of underground bands keeping that independent spirit alive?)

The cock-rock of KISS’s heyday may be dying out, but as Kiszka noted, “rock” is a broad term, and many of the best-known artists keeping it alive these days happen to be women. Rock’s not dead; it just looks a little different than when it was dominated by a bunch of boring misogynists bragging about their sexual conquests. In that sense, maybe it’s better than ever.

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