Funny you mention Gene Simmons. I credit the movie Detroit Rock City for playing a small but important role getting me into music along with the Guilty Gear soundtracks and later my first album Never Mind the Bollocks
. KISS is insanely repetitive and monothematic, but they knew how to play the perfect party tunes. It's been years since I listened to them, but I just might have to revisit them especially since they inspired tons of my favorite bands.
And yes, Gene Simmons is utterly repulsive. Funny story about him and Haim Saban of Power Rangers fame. The two now treat the following as water under the bridge:
>A classic Hollywood story involves Gene Simmons of Kiss. In the late '90s, as co-owner of the Fox Family Channel, [Haim] Saban was developing shows for children. Simmons, the fire-breathing, blood-spitting frontman of a rock band in costumes and face paint, pitched Saban an idea for a new Saturday-morning cartoon: Kiss meets X-Men, the Marvel comics superhero team. Saban liked the concept well enough to convene a meeting with Avi Arad, then CEO of Marvel's toy division.
>At the appointed time, Saban, Arad, and Simmons sat down. The meeting was going well, and the three began to haggle over numbers. Then Saban turned to Arad and, referring to Simmons, confided in Hebrew, "Now we gut him like a fish." Without missing a beat, Simmons—who, unbeknownst to Saban, was born Chaim Witz in Haifa, Israel—replied in Hebrew, "You asshole. I'm one of you."
I would definitely say some segments of Nu-Metal, especially Slipknot, played a role in forging what would then be known as mallgoths. Twas a long and gradual process, but keep in mind plenty of Nu-Metal fans wanted nothing to do with that subculture. Other sources of influence we both haven't mentioned yet: Hot Topic and Spencers. Don't need to elaborate, do I?
Nu-Metal has always been a fascinating case study in the evolution of heavy music, especially once it becomes commercially viable. The genre stood at the vertex of Rap Rock, Hard Alternative/Grunge, Industrial Rock/Metal, Funk Metal, Groove Metal and even Hardcore Punk (to a much lesser extent), all popular on MTV from the late '80s up until '94. By the time Korn dropped their first album, all those genres fell by the wayside into the background and Nu-Metal rose to the top.
While bands seldom differentiated in lyrics covering pain, angst, destruction and misanthropy, most of them sounded worlds apart from one another. Bands like Korn, Limp Bizkit, Soulfly or Static-X reveled in bravado, impulsive and tribalistic aggression while Slipknot or Marilyn Manson hearkened to Shock Rock. Korn took cues from Faith No More and Helmet while Slipknot looked up to Mr. Bungle. Deftones initially had a more Post-Hardcore meets Hip-Hop undertone to their Nu-Metal sound. Towards the twilight of the genre's life, Linkin Park was introspective in their lyrics and focused more on Electronic, Trip-Hop and even Ambient atmospheres with their sound.
Twas an eclectic genre, but separating those bands from their influences was their willingness to conform and return to machismo thanks to the Hip-Hop and Hardcore influences. Alternative bands were often quirky, elegant and socially progressive, thus politically correct. Nu-Metal took the opposite approach with more bands conforming to a tough-as-nails working class style. With minor exception, those guys were looking to throw down if you so much as looked at them funny.
Bands directly responsible for its genesis or influential-but-not-necessarily-Nu-Metal: Pantera, Helmet, Prong, 24-7 Spyz, Living Colour, Fishbone, Deftones, Mordred, RATM, Tool, Infectious Grooves, Mr. Bungle, Faith No More, '90s Sepultura, Alice in Chains, Godsmack, Body Count, White Zombie, L.A.P.D., Korn, Biohazard, Ministry, Nine Inch Nails, Marilyn Manson, Skinlab, Slipknot, Soulfly, Mushroomhead, One Minute Silence, Powerman 5000, P.O.D. and countless others.
>What exactly do kids even listen to nowadays other than mumblerap and Grimes and Billie Eilish, who herself kinda has that same goth metal edgelord type of thing going on but differently. I mean they do still listen to bands right? Or is this some kind of thing like how they don't go trick or treating anymore either and the next generation just isn't as big on music?
A disturbing trend I've noticed is late Millennials (mid '90s births) and Zoomers do not care about Rock music at all. It is strictly for Boomers, Gen-Xers, Xennials and core Millennials (late '80s/early '90s births). Part of it is that they simply didn't grow up with any mainstream Rock bands worth mentioning, and those that charted were often the punchline to several jokes (hello, Nickelback).
Times change. Rock came about when TV became dominant, EDM came about as personal computers (and their electronic synthesizers within them) spread, and late Millennials and Zoomers experienced music through streaming services, YouTube, iTunes and God knows what other internet platforms. A cursory glance at the state of the recording industry today shows it's completely adrift. A few years back during the Grammy Awards, the head of the RIAA came out and practically begged people not to block ads on streaming services because it cost them money. Tellingly, most of the award winners got their respective starts on YouTube; Justin Bieber himself is old news now, but he was the original star plucked from YT obscurity.
What's left for Rock? You either have hobbyists like me who spend most of his waking hours scouring the internet for obscure things to listen to or old men strumming the guitars they bought when Johnson, Nixon, Carter, Reagan, Papa Bush or Clinton were President.