GENE SIMMONS Isn't A Fan Of Cellphones: 'If I Had My Druthers, I'd Take Them All Away'

November 22, 2023

In a new interview with USA Today, KISS bassist/vocalist Gene Simmons was asked how he feels about looking into a sea of phones during the band's concerts. He responded: "I'm not a fan of cellphones. If I had my druthers, I'd take them all away.

"I risk my life every time I get on that stage," he continued. "There is no net. Paul [Stanley, KISS frontman] flies out all the way to the back of the arena and the entire band extends from the ceiling 80 feet high and there are no nets.

"During the show I see people texting, taking videos and we spend a lot of time, effort and money," Simmons added. "You're coming there for the show and we'd like you to watch it, but it's tough to turn back time. It's the new culture and there's an addiction part of that technology."

Back in May 2018, GODSMACK frontman Sully Erna spoke out against cell-phone use at concerts, saying that there's "something really magical that happens when" you are not experiencing live performances through a "little four-inch screen."

A number of other musicians have come out in recent years to say that mobile technology is ruining the concert experience, including SLIPKNOT and STONE SOUR singer Corey Taylor. He told "Loudwire Nights" that "it's fine" if people want to take pictures of his bands' shows, but not so much if they are videotaping entire performances. "It's one thing to film it, it's another thing to just be staring at your screen while you're filming it," he said. "It's right there. Are you so terrified of real life that you can't do anything unless it's on that little four-by-four screen? Ugggh. It's very weird."

Former SKID ROW singer Sebastian Bach in 2015 urged fans to keep their cell phones at the bottom of their pockets and just watch his performances. "Be in the moment," he said. "You're distracted and it's distracting to the performer as well. Like, put your fuckin' cell phone away, dammit! You're never even going to watch that footage."

The overuse of cellphones to capture grainy, blurry photos and videos at concerts has for years vexed and enraged artists like Bach, who lamented the fact that every one of his performances could be recorded and shared on YouTube almost immediately.

"If I go to a wedding and sing a song, it's on Blabbermouth the next day and everybody analyzes it," said Bach. "It's a really backwards way to watch a band. It's a drag sometimes when I go up there and the first thing I see is everybody getting their phones out and holding them toward my face. It makes you feel intimidated."

Back in 2012, Bruce Dickinson chastised a fan for texting during an IRON MAIDEN concert, calling him a "wanker."

When Axl Rose reunited with his former GUNS N' ROSES bandmates, Duff McKagan and Slash, for the first time in 23 years at the Troubadour in Los Angeles in April 2016, the concert was phone-free.

GHOST's two shows in September 2023 at the Kia Forum in Los Angeles were device-free experiences. Use of phones and smart watches was not permitted in the performance space. Upon arrival at the venue, devices were secured in individual Yondr pouches that were opened at the end of the event.

Last month, IN FLAMES frontman Anders Fridén was asked by Jaimunji of Australia's Metal Roos for his opinion on concertgoers using cell phones to take photos and videos of performances and sometimes filming entire shows instead of enjoying the moment. He responded: "For me personally, being on stage, I'm not bothered anymore. It's up to you. Sorry to say, but if you're that stupid to go to a live show and then you watch your little screen instead of experience what's going on, I feel that's a missed opportunity. But who am I to judge? You do whatever you want. It's your money, it's your experience, and I can't change that. But I wish people put the phones in their pockets. 'Cause when they look back at this, it will be a shitty sound on your phone or you watch something on YouTube or you upload it — whatever you do. And then you were in that room and you could have had that experience, which is way greater than watch your little screen. But people can do whatever they want."

He continued: "I will never lock up their phones and say anything. Once in a while, I say stuff on stage where I go, 'Put that phone in your pocket and go into the circle pit.' But I don't mean that in a bad way. It's just a recommendation. It is what it is, and you can't change people. It's the way we live now. I mean, my kids are on the phone constantly watching — whatever they do, they are consuming, consuming, consuming. So I don't know."

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