Gene Simmons has made a career from spouting all manner of wild stuff from his mouth. This time he’s apparently launched a vitriolic attack on folks with mental health problems, urging them “have some dignity and jump”. And it’s not going down well.
The veteran rocker’s latest brush with controversy comes in a Q&A published by SongFacts. It’s a lively interview which touches on many bases, and largely digs into the status of Simmons’ rock band Kiss. The question was posed, “Do you still get along with the original guys?” To which Simmons answers, “No, I don't get along with anybody who's a drug addict and has a dark cloud over their head and sees themselves as a victim. Drug addicts and alcoholics are always: 'The world is a harsh place.' My mother was in a concentration camp in Nazi Germany. I don't want to hear fuck all about 'the world as a harsh place.' She gets up every day, smells the roses and loves life. And for a putz, 20-year-old kid to say, 'I'm depressed, I live in Seattle.' Fuck you, then kill yourself.”
He continues, “I never understand, because I always call them on their bluff. I'm the guy who says 'Jump!' when there's a guy on top of a building who says, 'That's it, I can't take it anymore, I'm going to jump.' Are you kidding? Why are you announcing it? Shut the fuck up, have some dignity and jump! You've got the crowd. By the way, you walk up to the same guy on a ledge who threatens to jump and put a gun to his head, 'I'm going to blow your fuckin' head off!' He'll go, 'Please don't!' It's true. He's not that insane.”
Simmons, the bass-playing self-styled God of Thunder, was inducted into the Rock And Roll Hall of Fame earlier this year with the members of Kiss. Generations of fans have thrilled at the sight of his on-stage persona spitting blood and fire, and dangling his impossibly long, pointy tongue.
The timing of Simmons’ published comments, however, is particularly insensitive coming as they do just days after the suicide of comic great Robin Williams. Williams had battled with depression, and drug addiction (Simmons paid his respects to the actor with an Aug. 12 tweet that read: "R.I.P. Robin Williams. A kind and generous man").
Nikki Sixx, the bass player with Motley Crue, called out Simmons on his Sixx Sense radio show. “Gene is basically saying he has no sympathy for drug addicts or people who are depressed,” he says. “I’m a recovering drug addict. If I had done what Gene Simmons said and that is to jump, so many wonderful things would have not happened in my life. We’ve just lost Robin Williams. He dealt with drug addiction and mainly depression. When I was young, I was depressed, drugs helped me suppress that. I came from a messed up situation not unlike a lot of people. There’s almost 15 million American that are depressed. Gene Simmons says I should have just killed myself…15 million people should just kill themselves?" Simmons is “pretty moronic” he adds. “To be honest with you, I like Gene, but in this situation, I don’t like Gene. I don’t like Gene’s words, because … there is a 20-year-old kid out there who is a Kiss fan and reads this and goes, ‘You know what? He’s right. I should just kill myself’.”
Sixx, who chronicled his own troubles with addiction in the 2001 book The Dirt and 2007's Heroin Diaries, tells his listeners that he sought therapy, and for a while took Prozac, to help overcome his issues. “For people who are depressed there is a way out. There are many, many ways out. I don’t want people to listen to an interview from a rock star, who’s telling you the only way out is out.”
He continues, “All bad things will pass. Keep that in the back of your mind if you are feeling depression and don’t listen to [someone] who doesn’t know what he’s talking about.”