Ace Frehley - "The Man, The Legend, The Anomaly!"
A Rock N Roll Experience Exclusive
Our One on One interview with Ace Frehley - August, 20, 2009
Ace Frehley is the legendary lead guitarist from KISS, he's the Space Ace, the man known for his space make-up, his Gibson Les Paul, his moon boots, his great laugh/cackle, & what can I say, when I was offered the opportunity, in a one day notice, Ace Frehley had an open slot in his interview schedule for Thursday, August 20, 2009 @ 4 PM, I jumped on the chance to interview Ace...he's a legend, he's a rock icon, it's f**kin' Ace Frehley for christ sake! There's no need to hype this, everyone knows who Ace Frehley is, so here's what he had to say!
Rock N Roll Experience: What does the title of your new solo record, "Anomaly" mean?
Ace Frehley: I think in a way I'm an Anomaly, I'm an un-schooled musician, I don't know how to read music, but I'm one of the most famous guitar players in the world, so go figure. (laughs)
Rock N Roll Experience: I've heard the new record & lyrically I notice alot of spirituality..does that have to do with your sobriety?
Ace Frehley: Yeah...I think it goes hand in hand & plus I'm alot more focused these days, I produced the album myself with the exception of one song, "Fox on the Run"
Rock N Roll Experience: Did the same guys play on every track on "Anomality" or do you have different musicians playing on each song?
Ace Frehley: I'm playing guitar, I'm doing all the guitar work except for "Outer Space" which I have my touring guitar player Derrick playing on that one with me, Anton Figg from the David Letterman show plays drums on most of the tracks & I'm doing all the lead vocals.
Rock N Roll Experience: There's quite a few acoustic tracks on "Anomality" that sound great...what made you decide to include so many acoustic numbers?
Ace Frehley: I've always tried to mix up all of my records & show some variety & I used about 15 different acoustics on this album & I guess they shine & I used alot of acoustics on "Ghengis Khan" & "Angels"
Rock N Roll Experience: Speaking of "Ghengis Khan", what does that song title mean?
Ace Frehley: I wrote the guitar riff, the rhythm part that kicks in with the drums & I was trying to imagine playing it & I got a vibe & it felt really powerful & strong & for some reason Ghengis Khan just came into my mind...it's actually my favorite song on the record & it was the most difficult to mix because it was over 100 tracks.
Rock N Roll Experience: Why so many tracks for that song?
Ace Frehley: I don't know man, I got a little silly with all the special effects & the thunder & the lightning, the wind in the beginning, & I put alot more guitars in there than I actually used in the mix & it was over 100 tracks.
Rock N Roll Experience: So was "Anomality" recorded using pro-tools?
Ace Frehley: Yeah, this is the first album I've ever done pretty much exclusively with pro-tools except for a couple of tracks that I recorded on 2 inch tape which were later transfered to pro-tools.
Rock N Roll Experience: Which do you prefer, 2 Inch Tape or Pro-Tools?
Ace Frehley: I'm kinda leaning towards pro-tools, the flexibility with editing & just everything, I mean, I come from the old school of using 2 inch tape & you do 3 takes, then you've got to switch reels & when you have to do an edit you've got to slice the tape with a razor blade & tape it back together & that's how I grew up making records, so I mean, now on this record I was doing overdubs & editing in my hotel suite with a laptop so, if you know your way around the computer, you really can't beat it.
Rock N Roll Experience: In one of the new songs off "Anomality" there's a line, "There's too many faces in the mirror", is that a reference to drug use?
Ace Frehley: There's no set meaning to that, I think some of it might have to do with the different faces I have or other people have when they are in different mental states, I don't know, a little of it might have to do with wearing make-up over the years, when you look back in the mirror & see this face & it's not you, it's like somebody else & I think it might be all of those things.
Rock N Roll Experience: What modern bands do you like these days?
Ace Frehley: I don't really listen to the radio to be honest with you, (laughs) & I really haven't bought any cd's of anybody new lately, I've been so busy & pretty much when I buy records they are usually old ones.
Rock N Roll Experience: When you see a band like Marilyn Manson, do you feel like they copied from KISS to some degree?
Ace Frehley: Well, everybody copies from everybody...we stole from Alice Cooper, I mean that's the nature or rock n roll....everybody's influenced by everybody else, so I don't like to turn steel, but I would say we were probably one of his influences...one of many.
Rock N Roll Experience: When you start the upcoming tour, do you have any opening acts already confirmed?
Ace Frehley: Nobody is slated to open at this point except possibly Lita Ford.
Rock N Roll Experience: Have you heard the new KISS single "Modern Day Delilah"?
Ace Frehley: Actually I did..I thought it was a good song....Paul's always been a really good writer & the only thing that I would say that the song didn't live up to was the fact that I believe they said that all the new songs were going to sound like stuff from the 70's & I didn't get that...the new song sounded like it could be something off an album they did in the 80's....that's what I got, but I thought it was a good song.
Rock N Roll Experience: What do you think of KISS selling their new cd exclusively through Wal-Mart?
Ace Frehley: It seems that more & more groups are going with major chains & I mean I guess there's a plus to the fact that they'll give you a large advance, but the minus is the album is only available in that chain of stores...I guess there's pluses & minuses to everything, I mean, I entertained that idea, but, for me, I thought it was better that my album be available everywhere.
Rock N Roll Experience: The horrible thing is though, there's not many record shops left these days outside of the major chains.
Ace Frehley: Yeah, well, I guess the internet has something to do with that (laughs), it's just the way of the future, I mean I started off with albums, I saw cassettes come into play, from cassettes it went to CD's & now I see CD's disappearing.
Rock N Roll Experience: Out of all the KISS merchandise from over the years, what was your favorite KISS merch?
Ace Frehley: I guess the dolls were probably the silliest (laughs) & most favorite I guess, I mean most of that stuff was kinda silly, & after I left the group it got even sillier, so...
Rock N Roll Experience: You have to admit, the dolls made you guys look like He-men, the dolls had muscles & were big & strong.
Ace Frehley: Yeah...we wish, right? (laughs)
Rock N Roll Experience: How would you like people to remember Ace Frehley?
Ace Frehley: I believe I have, from my peers, which makes me feel good, I've never compromised my music, I just wanna be remembered as somebody who had some integrity, a good singer & songwriter & performer & someone who really didn't have any bad things to say about anybody, ya know, I just wanted to get along with everybody, & try to give some people pleasure.
Rock N Roll Experience: There have been a few really nasty Tell-All books about you over the years, did you ever read any of them?
Ace Frehley: No, some people that I've been involved with, after I broke ties with them, they got upset because they couldn't be around a celebrity anymore, so I guess they thought writing a book was the next best thing. (laughs)
Rock N Roll Experience: As far as Tommy Thayer wearing your make-up in KISS, does KISS have to the rights to use your make-up?
Ace Frehley: They have the rights to use the make-up, I relinquished those rights, I still get royalties, but they have the rights.
Rock N Roll Experience: I always see that make-up as "Ace Frehley" & seeing Tommy Thayer wearing it is NOT the same.
Ace Frehley: Yeah, well, you know, I wasn't involved in that decision, so, you've gotta ask Paul & Gene why they did that. (laughs) The thing that bothers me the most is when I read what the fans think, alot of the fans are upset about it & that upsets me, but like I said, I'm not in control of that situation.
Rock N Roll Experience: Honestly, in my opinion, as a KISS fan, is that if Gene & Paul wanted to continue on after you & Peter left, it was time to take off the make-up & do what they did in the 80's & early 90's.
Ace Frehley: Well, I mean, in reality, it's really 1/2 a KISS cover band, right?
Rock N Roll Experience: What did you think of the notion that Gene & Paul would retire one day & get replacements for themselves in KISS.
Ace Frehley: I think it's ridiculous, I mean, how can Gene & Paul leave the band & replace them with 2 other guys, then call it KISS? The make-up & the costumes are great, but, you know, it's the person who's performing & singing that makes a group.