And Finally Artist News Beef Of The Week

CMU Beef Of The Week #219: The Black Lips v Gene Simmons

By | Published on Friday 15 August 2014

Gene Simmons

Gene Simmons was on the Huffington Post’s website this week to do a live Q&A with fans. For younger readers who aren’t aware of Gene Simmons, he is the bassist in a group called Kiss, who were basically the original black metal band in the 70s. He’s also quite the misogynist.

This latter point was something the band The Black Lips decided to pull him up on. Introducing a video message from the trio, HuffPo host Ricky Camilleri whimpered an apology that this might be the one question that wasn’t fawningly positive in the 30 minute interview, before rolling tape.

Done up in Kiss-style corpse-paint, and in the sparse surroundings of a rock club dressing room, Black Lipper Jack Hines shouted into the camera: “Mr Simmons! We’re here to tell you that the day of misogynistic, sexist rock n roll is over. We call for the complete and utter surrender of the Kiss Army. Lay down your guitars. Do you accept our terms of surrender?”

“Yes, I surrender entirely”, Simmons said calmly, possibly suggesting that it would be fairly easy to slap him in chains and take him down to rock prison before he was tried for musical war crimes. Though there was something in the tone of his voice which suggested otherwise. That suggested no truce was to be called.

“And I wanted to compliment your mom for the wonderful way that she designed the decoration on the basement she lets you live in”, he continued sarcastically. “I think it’s very attractive. I hope you get to leave your mom’s basement soon. Remember, learn to speak English … and a good education, that would help. I did it, you can too”.

At this point, Camilleri pointed out that the people Simmons had just seen were in fact “very successful rock band” The Black Lips. This left Simmons incredulous, blurting: “They’re not black. What are they, racists? Why are they calling themselves black?”

Actually, I’m not sure there’s ever been a consensus reached on the origins of The Black Lips’ name. I don’t think it was chosen with any racist intent, but maybe it’s a debate worth having. Not right now though, because Simmons was just using that as a diversion tactic. And look at me now, falling right into his trap

So, anyway, Simmons then rounded off the interview by making a casual prison rape gag. Oh, such japes. That whole ‘learn to speak English’ thing, by the way, was a reference to a point that Simmons returned to throughout the interview about how immigrants, such as himself (having come to the US from Israel when he was eight), can better get ahead in America.

Earlier in the chat, in response to a question about how it felt to see multiple generations of families being fans of Kiss, he said: “I’m actually saying the thing that needs to be said because the politically-correct climate is bullshit. You don’t want to upset anybody by saying, ‘Learn to speak goddamn English’. So, as an immigrant, I’m telling you: learn to speak goddamn English. It is the key that will unlock the keys to the kingdom”.

Which some people, you know, might say left him in a weak position to then start calling other people out as racists. He later summarised his point by suggesting that the benchmark of integrating with US society was to be able to be understood by Apple’s voice-recognition software Siri.

Oh well, while we’re talking about being misunderstood and black metal bands – which, remember kids, Kiss definitely are – here’s a quick lesson in how sometimes the English language can be confusing: