Magnet magazine recently conducted an interview with original KISS guitarist Ace Frehley. A few excerpts from the chat follow below.
Magnet: Your last solo record, "Trouble Walking", came out 20 years ago. Why so long between albums?
Frehley: A lot has happened! [Laughs] The main reason was I ended up doing the KISS reunion tour, which led to the "Psycho Circus" record and tour, which led to the KISS "Farewell Tour". Six years later, I needed a break! And the biggest reason was my sobriety. On September 15, the day "Anomaly" comes out, I'll be celebrating three years clean and sober. This new record would have never come out if it wasn't for that.
Magnet: The record industry is virtually unrecognizable compared to what it was like in 1989. Is that a major factor in deciding to release "Anomaly" on your own Bronx Born label?
Frehley: I wanted complete control of how "Anomaly" was going to be handled and marketed. I've handed my music to labels in the past, and it never turned out the way I envisioned it. "Anomaly" is going to be different.
Magnet: Several songs on "Anomaly", specifically "Change The World", "A Little Below The Angles" and "It's A Great Life", show a more contemplative Ace Frehley than we've seen before. How has your songwriting process changed from when you were in your hard-partying 20s?
Frehley: You know, writing comes to me real easy these days, but it always has been like that for me. I write about my experiences in life. Go back and listen to "Parasite" or "Shock Me". Some inspirations have been good, some bad, some life-threatening like "Shock Me". [Laughs]
Magnet: You've been sober for several years now. Was there a specific incident that inspired you to give up the grape?
Frehley: It's the old cliché about "tired of being tired." It was time. I've embraced sobriety, and I don't wanna go back. Life's too good now.
Magnet: What was it like playing "Deuce" at that first audition with Gene, Paul and Peter in 1973? Was there a feeling of instant magic?
Frehley: I knew there was a chemistry there. I truly believe that when the four of us were at our peak, in those mid-'70s tours, no one could stop us!
Magnet: Did you ever curse yourself for coming up with the most difficult of the four makeup designs?
Frehley: I never thought of it that way. Peter's makeup in the beginning seemed the toughest; I think he got a makeup artist to do his on the first KISS album cover. We all got used to putting on the makeup on a daily basis. It became second nature.
Magnet: Speaking of the makeup, was it strange being in the most famous band in world yet also being able to go pretty much anywhere you wanted without being recognized?
Frehley: That was part of the beauty about the makeup. I loved the anonymity of the whole thing. But I got news for ya: I sometimes still got recognized without the makeup back then, so go figure!
Magnet: Your fifth album, "Destroyer", is the favorite of many KISS diehards. It's so different sonically and thematically from anything the band did before or since. What do you think made that album so special?
Frehley: Simple: (producer) Bob Ezrin. There's a lot of stories about me and him not seeing eye to eye, but I got to give him credit. He's the one who structured that record. The arrangement on "Beth" and the sounds of "Detroit Rock City" and "God Of Thunder", he really made that record a classic. We had a lot of pressure coming off of the sales of "Alive!" and Bob really came through.
Magnet: You were initially reluctant to record "New York Groove", a Russ Ballard song that would give you a top-20 single, for your first solo album in 1978. Why was that? And what does it feel like to hear the song played over the P.A. at these huge New York City sporting events?
Frehley: Eddie Kramer talked me into recording that song … and he was right! [Laughs] I was the first musician to play on the grounds of the new Yankee Stadium earlier this year. You'd never guess what song I performed!
Read the entire interview from Magnet magazine.