Si Live | Tom Wrobleski
STATEN ISLAND, N.Y. – He escaped the mean streets of the Bronx to help found one of the most iconic bands in rock-and-roll history.
And now former Kiss lead guitarist Ace Frehley brings his hard-rock groove to his hometown of New York City, appearing at the St. George Theatre on Feb. 2, with special guest Appice.
The “Space Ace” makeup that Frehley first donned in 1973 is a thing of the past, but Frehley remains one of rock’s top guitarists. His life has all the “Behind the Music” drama you’d expect: The rise to the top with Kiss bandmates Paul Stanley, Gene Simmons and Peter Criss; the bitter breakup; years of substance abuse, and the band reunion that eventually went off the rails.
But Frehley has endured. Clean and sober for more than a decade, he’s put out a string of successful solo albums and gained long-deserved recognition as one of the best hard-rock players ever, recognition that eluded him back in the Kiss heyday, when the makeup and concert pyrotechnics overshadowed all. He’s even had recent reconnections with Stanley and Simmons.
Frehley spoke to the Advance recently from his home in San Diego.
So what can fans expect when they see you at the St. George Theatre?
“We still do a core section of Ace tunes, old Kiss tunes. I want to start working in more material from my ’78 solo record this year, because it’s the 40th anniversary.”
What else from the solo album are you thinking about putting out there?
“I’m not sure what songs I’m going to do. Probably do ‘Snow Blind’ and ‘New York Groove’ and ‘Rip It Out,’ and hopefully one or two others. But, you know, we’ll also be throwing in ‘Cold Gin’ and ‘Shock Me,’ ‘Rocket Ride,’ some of the Kiss classics that I’ve written and always go over well.”
You’re also playing real deep-cut classic Kiss songs, like “Parasite” and “Strange Ways” [from 1974’s “Hotter Than Hell” LP]. Is it important to you to reclaim those songs that people may not know you wrote?
“I think the hard-core Kiss fans are aware that I wrote them. Casual Kiss fans may not be aware. Paul and Gene in a lot of cases try to take credit for being the geniuses behind Kiss. But I wrote a lot of hit songs over the years … After the success of my solo album I realized something very profound, in that I was more creative away from those guys than I was with them. And that was kind of the beginning of the end for me, and the writing on the wall about that. Eventually I’d be down my own path, following my own path.”
Are you going to do another “Origins” covers album?
(Gibson) KISS guitar legend Ace Frehley has been talking to Staten Island’s SILive.com about his long-standing relationship with Gibson Les Pauls and he was also asked whether he’ll ever play with KISS again, a question which never seems to go away:
He replied, “It’s been 15 years but over the last two years, I’ve kind of reconnected with Paul [Stanley] and Gene [Simmons]. I reconnected with Paul on the [Free cover] track ‘Fire and Water’ [on Frehley’s own album 2016’s Origins Vol. I]. He actually shot a video with me. So that was a lot of fun and it was good to reconnect with an old buddy.
“And then more recently, I did two songs with Gene for this new studio record that will be coming out. And then I did a [Hurricane Harvey] charity event with Gene in Minneapolis. That was a big success.
“And just a couple of weeks ago, I was with Gene, he invited me to come up to Los Angeles because he was doing an event for The Vault [Simmons’ mammoth box set], and he wanted me to come up and perform with him. And we exchanged some great stories. We had a lot of fun.” Read his comments about his go-to guitars here.
KISS bass mogul Gene Simmons was asked on the Meltdown show on how he feels about all the people online that clearly dislike him, to which he replied (transcribed by UG):
“Well, that’s okay! I get paid well enough for this. Not everybody likes Jesus, and that’s okay too.
“You can’t please everybody. What are you gonna do? The best thing you can do is run a race, look straight forward and be the best you can be.
“Take it from our military – don’t look over your shoulder and to the side and to the peanut gallery to find out if it’s okay to be you. Just hold your head proudly and say, ‘This is me, take it or leave it!'”
Asked on what his “key to success” is, Gene replied:
“I guess having a right thing at the right place and the right time. And then there’s just plain hard work. And we’re America’s No. 1 gold record award winning group of all time in all categories. TA-DA!
“But like anything else you gotta get up every day and work at it. Ask Mike Tyson, he’s a friend. You can become a world champion and when you sort of stop training and stop looking after yourself some chunk is gonna knock you out.
“So get up every day like it’s the only day you’ll ever have in life and be a champion!”
Earlier today (Friday, January 19) at the Atlanta KISS Expo 2018, former KISS guitarist Vinnie Vincent gave his first public interview in more than two decades when he spoke with SiriusXM‘s Eddie Trunk. A few excerpts follow (as transcribed by BLABBERMOUTH.NET).
On why he decided to attend the KISS Expo:
Vinnie: “We have to thank [KISS Expo promoter] Derek Christopher, because he was relentless. He contacted Mark Nolan, my best friend and attorney. Derek spent eight months unrelenting — aggressiveness but nice. He was a really good guy, and I read his e-mails, I read everything that he’d sent Mark, and Mark and I talked. He said, ‘This guy seems like a really good guy.’ And he was. When we first talked with Derek, I said, ‘I really like him. If I’m going to do this, I want to do this with somebody I like, with somebody who cares.’
“My life became small. I wanted to become as small as I could be. I became very happy, very content. All I do is I play, I write, I record, I take care of my dogs. I have a really private, peaceful life now, and I haven’t had that in a long time. A lot of fans know a lot of things, but they also don’t know a lot of things.”
On whether he has any plans to dispel the biggest misconceptions about him:
Vinnie: “When it’s ready to be told, you don’t want to miss it. We’ve had two book publishers. We’re talking to them right now. It’s a hell of a book. You wouldn’t want to miss it. I read Kitty Kelley‘s unauthorized biography of Frank Sinatra, and I’m not a reader, but I couldn’t put that book down. This will top that book.”
On what he’s been doing since vanishing from the public eye:
Vinnie: “I spent 20 years in hell. The broad strokes were very… they could have been not so broad. They could have been quickly and really amicably could have eliminated 20 years of pain. I would say pertaining to KISS, these are my friends. These are guys I love. I love them to this day. I’ve got tremendous memories that are wonderful. Most of them are. Not always can you have a band and have a certain… I hate this word ‘magic,’ but it is a magic. It’s something you can’t put into words. THE BEATLES had that. THE WHO have it. [LED] ZEPPELIN had it. I always looked for that, and I never found it until I met them. It was something that, ‘This is the glue. This is the ingredients that I never found.’ It was everything you put into a mix that blows up. Good and bad.