As a fan of KISS for 36 years, you can imagine the excitement of having the opportunity to speak to my number one musical influence, Ace Frehley, ahead of his Australian tour in support of fellow KISS legend Gene Simmons, commemorating 40 years since the release of his solo album. Here’s what transpired…
Taking the call from his home recording studio in Rancho, Santa Fe, California, I was quick to let him know he was talking to a true fanboy which was followed by a humble laugh from Ace. “This is a great band that I was a co-founder of,” he raves. “Who knows what’s going to happen in the future? My relationship with Paul [Stanley] and Gene now at this juncture is better than it’s ever been, so if something is gonna happen down the road, I would say it’s gonna happen in the next year or so… maybe sooner.”
This is of course good news to Kiss fans who would love to see the Spaceman back in the make up!
Talk of the future leads to Ace giving the word on a new record will surface in the next few months, which is expected to include his new single ‘Bronx Boy’, and the two songs he co-wrote last summer with Simmons. “I’ve been listening to it [the album] and I’ve played it for a dozen people whose opinions I really value, and they think it is one of my best albums to date,” he reveals. “I was gonna call the album 40 Years Later because 1978 is 40 years ago, and that’s when I came out with my first solo album.
“Gene and I were in Miami at one of those conventions he has where he sells the vaults and signs it,” he continues, explaining that they performed to the fans and asked for name suggestions before Gene intervened on the open discussion and said ‘No, you’ve gotta call it Spaceman!’
“Everybody went their own way,” he continues, referring to 1978. “I pretty much did that whole 1978 solo album with Eddie Kramer and Anton Fig on drums. It was wonderful working with them.”
After sharing the fact we had trodden the same stage at the Agora Theatre in Cleveland, soon enough I confessed that he was one of the main reasons I picked up the guitar to, which he just chuckles. “I never heard that one before,” before explaining, “even though I’ve been hearing it for 25 years, it’s still very flattering that somebody tells me they picked up the guitar because of me.
“What’s better than playing guitar, you know?”
As for the upcoming tour, Ace confirmed he’ll be performing ‘Rocket Ride’ when he tours alongside Gene Simmons this August, along with fan favourites including ‘Cold Gin’, ‘Shock Me’ and some KISS classics such as ‘Love Gun’ and ‘Deuce’. It would seem the fans are going to be in for a treat!
As for the Spaceman himself, Ace leads a busy lifestyle. With lots of interests (including computer animation and computer graphics) but not a whole lot of time, Ace still finds time for those who mean the most.
“Between touring and recording, Rachel (Gordon, fiancée) likes to hit to Las Vegas with me, and sometimes we go to Mexico and just lay on the beach for a couple of weeks because she helps me relax,” he says. “She’s smart enough to realise that you have to balance your lifestyle and take vacations.”
And whilst Ace had a reputation of recklessness for some time, things have clearly changed.
“The whole thing is balance. I’m healthier now than I’ve ever been in my life; probably because I haven’t had a drink in 12 years and it’s really helped me focus and perform better, and play better, and it’s just wonderful,” he reveals.
“I don’t like to preach to people, but what I do get when I have VIP signings and I go to conventions, I have a lot of guys come up to me and tell me ‘You know Ace, I got sober because of you. I had car accidents, got arrested, and I have been sober for a couple of years, and you were the catalyst that made me make the decision to do that’. It’s wonderful that I can have a positive influence on my fans.”
It’s his aforementioned relationship with Gene and Paul that’s truly stood the test of time, with Ace revealing it’s the best it’s ever been.
“That was a long time coming. I think for the longest time they maybe didn’t believe I was 100 per cent sober because for years you know, I was a party animal. Ironically, even when I was drinking and doing drugs and I quit the band, they still begged me not to leave, because I did deliver, even under the influence.
“But now I’m better than ever,” he continues. “I’m playing and singing better than ever I was in my 20′s and 30′s, and I think they recognise that. I’ve got a clean bill of health.”
Now the founding KISS guitarist, solo artist, and 2014 Rock and Roll Hall of Fame inductee is bringing that clean bill of health back to Australia.
“I’ve never counted how many times I’ve been to Australia, but it must be at least half a dozen,” he reveals. “I was there opening up for Alice Cooper last year; that was great. I’ve known Alice forever. I’m actually one of the few people that got drunk with Alice. He’s been sober 25 years or more, but I can still remember in the 70′s chucking down some Budweisers with Alice Cooper on his birthday… That’s a fond memory, and not everybody could say that.”
When & Where: Margaret Court Arena, Melbourne – August 30.
Written by Glenn Lynch