ACE FREHLEY Talks Space Invader, Touring Plans, His Thoughts On Ex-KISS Mates Autobiographies - "There's A Ton Of Stories Still To Be Told"
August 16, 2014, a year ago
Is there a notable rock guitarist of the last few decades that has not listed Ace Frehley as a prime influence? Ace's guitar playing certainly left its mark on generations, and his forthcoming solo disc, Space Invader, shows that at 63 years of age, the "spaceman" can still more than deliver the goods on his Gibson Les Paul. Recently, Frehley chatted with BraveWords correspondent Greg Prato about his sixth solo album overall (which will be released on August 19 via eOne Music), his forthcoming second book, and what to possibly expect on Frehley's fall tour.
BraveWords: Why did it take five years to follow up Anomaly?
Ace Frehley: "I was talking to two or three different labels and I just wasn't happy with the deals that were being presented, and I was still writing songs. Three years ago I moved cross country from New York to San Diego, so that was a big operation, and that kind of set everything back. I had to set up my studio in San Diego. So that all took its toll. But, better late than never, y'know?"
BraveWords: Is it true that you used your 1978 solo album as a benchmark for Space Invader?
Ace Frehley: "Yeah. I've listened to it two or three times over the recording process. I tried to take some elements from that record - all my fans cite that as their favorite record."
BraveWords: What are some of your favorite tracks on Space Invader?
Ace Frehley: "'Space Invader,' 'Past the Milky Way,' 'Inside the Vortex,' 'Toys.' A lot of the songs were surprises for me. For instance, 'Immortal Pleasures' and 'Change,' those two songs are a big surprise to me, because I collaborated with my fiancé, Rachael Gordon, on those two. She wrote most of the lyrics and the melody for those. It's kind of a departure from the way I write melody and lyrics. But I think it shows a different side of me - so that was a real positive experience. Also, 'Past the Milky Way' and 'Space Invader' were written the last two weeks of mixing. They were basic tracks with no lyrics or melody, and I wasn't sure what was going to be the instrumental. Obviously, 'Starship' won out. But those two songs didn't have anything. The record company said, 'We need a title track!' So I said, 'OK. I'll write it.' And I wrote it one afternoon, went into the studio with Warren Huart, and we threw down the vocals and solo. He actually sang on the choruses with me. And that was a real special experience. The spontaneity of that song I think comes across in the mix."
BraveWords: And I noticed this is your first solo album not to contain a "Fractured" instrumental.
Ace Frehley: "Yeah, well…I mean I've got a cool instrumental on there. It's faster than most of my previous instrumentals. But at the end I go into kind of a 'Fractured Mirror' kind of picking part. I always have to go full circle with those songs."
BraveWords: I also dug the beginning of the song 'Gimme A Feelin',' because you recreate a little snippet of your live guitar solo from the mid '70s.
Ace Frehley: "Gene Simmons used to call it 'dinosaur bends.' I just played that - everything just kind of happened spontaneously. I'm a firm believer in not over-tracking a song. If I don't get it in three or four takes, I take a break. It loses its spontaneity after that."
BraveWords: Now that it's been a few months since Kiss' Hall of Fame induction, what are your thoughts on it?
Ace Frehley: "It was a fun experience. I had a great time, and it was really exciting being involved with all the other great musicians and celebrities. I mean, only after the fact did I realized how many movie stars…Steven Spielberg was sitting right near me and I didn't even see him. Bill Murray was sitting right in front of me, an old friend - I used to hang out with him and John Belushi. It was just a star-studded group of people. It was a lot of fun. My only regret is that we didn't perform."
BraveWords: I also thought it was cool that you talked about your sobriety during your speech, because that may inspire others or give them hope.
Ace Frehley: "I try to be a power of example today, but I don't like to preach. I don't like to tell people not to drink or not to take drugs. What I like to do is just be a power of example. And obviously, I'm in a much better place than I was ten years ago. I'll be celebrating eight years September 15th. But my biggest joy is when I'm meeting fans, doing autograph sessions, and a fan will come up to me and whisper in my ear, 'Ace, I've been sober six months' or 'I've been sober a year. It's all because of you.' And that just makes my day."
BraveWords: What can fans expect from your follow-up to your autobiography, No Regrets?
Ace Frehley: "I've already written a few chapters. It's pretty much going to be a continuation of my last book. I don't have any axes to grind. I don't want it to be negative. I don't want to answer some of Paul Stanley's negative statements in his book, because I want my book to be entertaining. I want people to after reading the book to be laughing. There's tons of humorous stories that haven't been told. A lot of stories from me growing up in the Bronx. I didn't touch too much on the Frehley's Comet years in the first book, so I'll focus more on that. And a ton of Kiss stories still to be told, and maybe some advice to young musicians, advice on women, advice on sex - crazy stuff, who knows?" (Laughs)
BraveWords: Did you read Paul's, Peter's, and Gene's books?
Ace Frehley: "I skimmed through Gene's. Peter's…a little fantasies going on, exaggerated stuff. And the same thing with Paul. But you know, when you hear a story, there's his side of the story, there's my side of the story, and then the truth is probably somewhere in the middle. Because a lot of that stuff happened 30/40 years ago. And my memory isn't as great as it should be, but everybody's got a different take on it. I mean, the biggest comment I can say about Paul's book was I’m really shocked at how he bashed Peter. He really attacked Peter's…not only his performance, but his personality. I thought that was really uncalled for. And he kind of threw Gene under the bus a lot, too. Surprised."
BraveWords: I actually wrote a book about Eric Carr, a few years ago, and Eddie Trunk talked about it on the episode of That Metal Show that you were on, where you took out the "smoking flute."
Ace Frehley: "That was a spontaneous moment." (Laughs)
BraveWords: Speaking of Eric Carr, I thought it was cool on your last solo album that you dedicated it to Eric.
Ace Frehley: "Eric was a great guy and we all miss him. I loved him and miss him today."
BraveWords: What are the touring plans for Space Invader and who will be in the touring band?
Ace Frehley: "We're planning on doing some shows in the fall. Matt Starr who played drums on this record will be my touring drummer, and I'm going to be using Chris Wyse from the Cult - as long as he's available - and I'm not sure on who is going to be second guitar. I'm still auditioning guys."
BraveWords: Is there any chance of some songs being played live that have never been played before, like "Dark Light" or "Escape From The Island"?
Ace Frehley: "That’s always a chance. It all depends. I try to listen to the fans. Like, this album is a heavier album - more guitar work. That was pretty much a lot of the comments from fans after they heard Anomaly. They liked Anomaly, but they said, 'It could have been heavier. You could have played more guitar.' I try to give the fans what they want. So if enough fans are demanding a certain tune that's never been performed, obviously, I'll learn it for the tour."