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Taylor Momsen, Amy Lee, Maria Brink & Lzzy Hale discuss the state of rock

[Photos: Maria Brink, Amy Lee, Taylor Momsen, Lzzy Hale/Joe Hottinger]

In part one of this round-table conversation, Amy LeeLzzy HaleTaylor Momsen and Maria Brink flipped the script.

“I was thinking women’s empowerment is if we didn’t talk about women’s empowerment at all and actually spent this hour talking about our music and what we do,” Lee suggested. So, they highlighted their new albums and discussed why people needed music more than ever during the COVID-19 pandemic instead.

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In part two, the four artists spoke about rock’s cyclical nature and why “female-fronted” will never be a genre.

I want to talk to you all about Gene Simmons’s whole “rock is dead” statement. I think this is a really strange thing to say while we’re in the middle of a pandemic, so there’s no touring, and there are fewer albums coming out. But it’s a strange thing when you see so many amazing artists like all of you who are charting these massive rock ’n’ roll albums. What do you think about “rock is dead”?

LZZY HALE: Well, rock can’t die if it never goes away. Rock never goes away. It’s a constant. This is part of why I love rock, and the genre is that we’re not chasing trends. We’re not trying to compete with Justin Bieber. There are a lot of different genres, especially things that go over the top and anything that’s a shining light right now. But that stuff burns, and then it fades away. But we’re underground, and we just keep doing what we’re doing. Rock cannot die if it never goes away.

AMY LEE: It’s just not mainstream.

TAYLOR MOMSEN: I think you have to remember, too, rock ’n’ roll can’t die for a multitude of reasons. One of them being that it’s one of the original forms of music. It’s one of the original art forms. It stems from the blues. It includes everything. Rock ’n’ roll is the blues. It’s jazz. It’s country. It’s pop. It’s hip-hop. Dare I say, it’s folk, and it’s bluegrass. It’s literally every form of music combined into one. And we get to play really loud electric guitars, which is just awesome.

So you can’t eliminate rock ’n’ roll. It can’t die. Anyone who says that it’s dead, in my opinion, they’re just incorrect because you’re looking at something from a mainstream perspective. Rock was never in the mainstream.

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It’s had its moments in the sun, where it takes over and kicks everything else’s ass. But in general, it’s very cyclical. If you look at history, the ’60s and the ’70s, there was a renaissance of rock ’n’ roll where all these artists and bands came out, and they were speaking for the generation. They’re speaking for the time. And they were really being the voice and were amazing, and it overtook everything.

Then the ’80s came in, and rock started to bend a little bit more toward the pop vein of things, and pop overtook everything again. And then the ’90s and the grunge scene, that’s just so honest and so raw and so emotionally connected that I don’t even know how to process what I just heard. So it has its moments where it shines, but it’s never gone. I always just say rock is resting, and it’s just waiting for the fans.

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HALE: It’s not like it’s this niche genre. Anyway, my point is, rock ’n’ roll can’t die. It’s primal, and it’s necessary, and it’s needed. And I think it’s needed more now than ever in the world.

MARIA BRINK: Yeah, I agree with you.

MOMSEN: It’s soul music. I need it the same way I need food and water and oxygen. It’s a part of who I am. And without it, I don’t feel like myself. I don’t feel complete as a person. So I don’t think that it’s something that can ever disappear.

BRINK: I think everything’s also a matter of perspective and not looking at it from the right perspective. Just because it’s not in the mainstream like you [all] are saying, it’s still existing and very strong. [Gene Simmons is] just not looking at it. He’s just not paying attention, I suppose.

And I feel like after COVID, heavy metal and rock ’n’ roll, the comeback will be harder than it’s ever been. You’ve been locked up. We all feel chained, and we want to get out so bad. I feel like we all just want to run outside and scream and run. And I feel like who wants to go to a happy, soft show after all this? I feel like people are going to want to come out, just run around and go crazy, and metal and rock ’n’ roll is where they’re going to go do that.

So I think we’re going to have a massive surge coming soon. But I think we’re also thriving, very alive and very powerful right now. So tell him to pay attention.

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LEE: In that same article where he said that, he says something more offensive. He totally called being a woman in rock, like a female rock band, a “genre.” They’re making cool things, but, you know, for “the female genre.” Everything else you ever say, I’m done listening to you.

And I think that’s part of the massive problem. Eventually, the way that we fix this is that those people will no longer be involved in this community, and the young generation and trailblazers like all of yourselves will continue to support this message of: “Fuck it, don’t ‘female-front’ me.” That’s not a genre.

This interview first appeared in Alternative Press 392, the Power Issue: Women Rising, which is available here.


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