While Gene Simmons has sparked the “rock is dead” debate for nearly a decade, Pearl Jam guitarist Josh Klinghoffer has his own fears about the future of rock music, as he revealed during a chat with Tuna On Toast With Stryker.
Where Simmons argument has often leaned into the development and support for young artists in an industry where the financial business model has shifted in the 21st century, Klinghoffer’s concerns lean more philosophical in terms of the impact that rock ‘n’ roll has on culture in general.
“Rock and roll is basically over, or soon to be over,” Klinghoffer started, veering off from a conversation about the Rock Hall. “Hopefully not, and I’m sure people will always be jumping around on stages with guitars, but I just don’t know if it matters the way that it did anymore in the same way.”
He continued, “There was a real cresting of what rock ‘n’ roll did to culture and how it spoke to power and I think THAT has been taken from us. As sad as it is, we just have to find something else or rock musicians have to get smarter, I don’t know.”
When Stryker suggested that part of the issue may be getting more rock musicians in front of more young people, Klinghoffer pointed out another issue, adding, “Concert tickets are pretty expensive.”
“Luckily I haven’t had to pay for anything in a long time concert-wise, but that’s a perfect example of why it’s hard to get people into rock music, because the people who do go to rock music have to afford it. And they’re more like to be the ones who make their kids get a job than play rock music,” he explained. “I feel like once we get into that loop of money, money, money, then rock ‘n’ roll goes further away from the original core of what it once meant to the culture.”
Later on in the chat, while discussing a still-unreleased album he did with Morrissey, the guitarist also shared another concern that the art of rock ‘n’ roll to effect debate and discussion is also at risk.
“Where are we going to be 20 years from now,” the guitarist questioned. “How many people will be making records or making songs that make you think – basically doing what I thought rock music or art in general was, to make you think, to start a conversation? That’s what I thought we were supposed to do. How many people will be doing that or scared to do it in 20 years from now?”
“What kind of world are we moving toward? What kind of Orwellian or cultural void are we moving toward where rock music or any music is scared to even write a song,” he continued. “I don’t agree with a lot of things that people say, but I think it should be said. The best way to fight bad ideas is with good conversation and good ideas.”
As stated, the discussion started while branching off from talk of Klinghoffer being the youngest person inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame at the time while he was a member of Red Hot Chili Peppers.
That said, the guitarist humbly looks at his induction, stating, “It’s such a technicality to be in there …. At the time it was only a two-year run. So I felt like a bit of a fraud being up there.”
“To me it’s kind of a funny thing to give awards for creativity like that, but obviously, everyone who’s in the Hall deserves it, and deserves recognition period. And rock ‘n’ roll, the thing we all love, deserves a museum,” he concluded.
Klinghoffer run with Red Hot Chili Peppers ended in 2019, but in the time since, he’s focused on his Pluralone solo work, while also joining both Eddie Vedder and Pearl Jam as part of their respective touring lineups. During the most recent leg of North American dates, Klinghoffer opened shows for Pearl Jam, then played as part of Pearl Jam during their sets, and even filled in on drums for shows when Matt Cameron missed time due to COVID.
Pearl Jam return to the road in Canada and the U.S. this September. Dates and ticketing info can be found here.
Josh Klinghoffer Talks With Tuna on Toast With Stryker
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