In The Who song "Long Live Rock," Roger Daltrey proclaims "Rock is dead."
Talking about the format as it stands today in an interview with The New York Times, Pete Townshend says, "Now, online, you’ll see a throwaway statement — 'rock is dead' — which is something that we in our genre have been considering since the '70s. But what is rock? Rock is hip-hop. Rock is probably Taylor Swift. Rock is, dare I say it, Adele and Ed Sheeran. They’ve dared to take on that mantle, and they have to deliver. They’ve got to do something spectacular as performers. Not just as recording artists. They’ve got to do something amazing, and if it includes dancers, if it includes too much video, then they’re cheating. They know that, we know that and the audiences know that. That’s why audiences will come to something like a Who concert or a Stones concert, where there might be some video, there might be a symphony orchestra, but at the end of the day it’s about: 'Can you dance for two and a half hours without dropping dead? Can you sing without lip syncing for two and a half hours?' It’s about sport. It’s about entertainment as a physicality. It’s about an endurance test."
And, despite doing it all these years, Townshend says he still doesn't enjoy it, but adds that it's for the "greater good."
He explains, "I may not like it, but I can’t say it’s hard. It comes incredibly easily to me... That’s probably the reason I would so carelessly let it go in 1982. I’d done my best to try to serve this revised group after Keith Moon’s death, and it wasn’t going to work. I thought: I’ll just do a solo career. I’ll do what I want. And I did. I did a couple of solo projects. I worked as an editor at Faber & Faber. I had a lovely life. Money did bring me back in the end: That was the Who’s 25th-anniversary tour. After that it was nearly 11 years before we got back together properly. So I did try stopping. But then I suppose I thought. I’m now 60-something. If I go deaf, I don’t care.
"It seems to make a lot of people happy. People believe I’m happy doing it. This was something that I could give to myself to do, which I’m good at. As long as it’s my decision to do it, that’s OK. I’m not on a great mission anymore to get anything from it."
We'll see how many people are happy with The Who's new album, simply titled Who, when it's released on December 6th.