In the realm of rock ‘n’ roll, every era has witnessed declarations of the genre’s demise, with opinions ranging from nuanced observations to stark pronouncements. Tom Werman, the renowned producer behind some of the 1980s’ most successful albums, recently shared his perspective on the current state of rock in an interview on the “Classic Album Review” podcast.
Werman, recognized for his work with bands like Twisted Sister, Molly Hatchet, Mötley Crüe, and Blue Öyster Cult, offered a candid assessment of rock’s vitality today. He stated via Ultimate Guitar and Classic Album Reviewer, “Well, I think it’s over — for me. You can’t take my pronouncements as gospel because I have not admittedly sought out new music.”
The producer, who played a pivotal role in shaping the sound of the ’80s, expressed his belief that the genre effectively ended around 1990 for him and perhaps around 2000 for the broader audience. He identified a shift where sound became as crucial, if not more so, than the musical content itself.
“I just think that it was a period. It began in the mid-’50s and ended around 1990 for me, probably ended around 2000 for everybody else — when sound became equally important, or more important than content in music,” Werman explained.
Werman highlighted the homogenization of sound as a notable change, pointing out the pervasive use of sampled elements, particularly the identical quality of snare drum hits across various tracks. He lamented the loss of the human touch in modern productions, where the individuality and imperfections of earlier records contributed to their enduring appeal.
“The records we made — warts and all — were human and, somehow, they’ve lasted,” he remarked.
Interestingly, Werman drew parallels between his sentiments and those expressed by Gene Simmons, who had previously declared that “rock is dead.” However, Werman distinguished his viewpoint by expressing confidence that, despite the current landscape, an equivalent to The Beatles would emerge in the future.
“As Paul Simon once said, ‘Every generation throws a hero up with pop charts.’ And I think that the equivalent — the modern, or the future equivalent — of The Beatles will happen at some point,” Werman asserted.
He acknowledged that this new wave of rock may not resonate with those who lived through the ’70s and ’80s but predicted its inevitability. Werman also noted a generational gap, observing that younger audiences may not have a deep understanding of classic rock bands from the genre’s “golden age.”
“I ask a lot of kids what they listen to,” Werman shared. “And I asked them, ‘Do you listen to yesterday’s music or today?’ They said ‘Today.’ And they said, ‘What acts did you produce?’ And I mentioned many of them, and they had heard of Twisted Sister. That was it. That was basically the extent of their knowledge about classic rock.”
In essence, Werman’s reflections offer a nuanced and experienced perspective on the evolution of rock, acknowledging its historical significance while contemplating its future trajectory in the hands of a new generation.