Sunday, August 7, 2011

KISS: Ace Frehley has No Regrets

He always be known as “Space Ace” to a lot of fans, but the “Space” part may have left the building for Ace Frehley.

Now five years sober, the guitarist has cleaned up his act and is getting set to release his autobiography, “No Regrets: A Rock N’ Roll Memoir” on November 1.

As one of the architects of KISS, Ace not only contributed musically, but he was also the man responsible for designing the legendary KISS logo, among other things. With his book on the horizon, Frehley spoke with Jaan Uhelszki of The Morton Report about his KISS experience and life today.

“I think a lot of musicians, serious musicians, when they look at KISS, just write us off as clowns. I understand it, you know?,” explains Ace. “The other day I was listening to “Alive IV” and even “Alive II,” and I really wasn’t happy with the mix. Stuff like that started happening more and more often. Paul [Stanley] and Gene [Simmons] would make decisions without consulting me, and it got really frustrating.”

KISS were voted the most popular band in America back in 1977, as the band rose to new heights in the wake of their “Alive!” and “Destroyer” releases.

“I think it gave me false confidence,” says Frehley. “For a while I believed that we were better than we were. I think we got complacent with our music and the show. It’s like when you’re on top, where do you go? I told Paul and Gene from the outset that “The Elder” album was a huge mistake, and they didn’t listen to me. I knew at that point in time we needed to do something heavy and powerful and strong. I was really frustrated doing that project.”

At times, Frehley admits, he got lost in his role as Space Ace. “That character is still a big part of me because I created it. It’s just, at the height of our popularity, we always had to be seen in that makeup, and so to be that character 24/7 got overbearing.”

Ace figures he and his abilities were often marginalized during his time in KISS. “Well, it seemed like it. Paul and Gene never wanted to give me the credit that was due,” recalls Frehley. “It was like in a lot of instances they tried to bury the fact that I did A, B, C, and D. I can’t remember Paul or Gene ever saying, ‘Wow, that was a great solo’ on some of my classic guitar solos that were on their songs. But what goes around comes around. They have a new album coming out and I have a new album coming out, and you know what’s going to happen. People are going to compare the two. That’s all I’m going to say about that.”

Would Ace change anything about his KISS experience? “Well, I probably would have gotten sober quicker, and I probably wouldn’t have quit the band,” he says. “I believe if I was stronger and more together they wouldn’t have worn me down like they did, and I would have been more of their equal. I mean, obviously musically I was their equal, if not more. I was always recovering from hangovers, so it was hard to deal with those guys sometimes. I don’t like drama, so rather than be confrontational, I’d take a different road. And because of that, I missed out on a lot of decisions and business things that affected my life dramatically.”

Any lingering loyalty to KISS at this point in his life? “I don’t know if loyalty’s the right word,” says Ace. “I feel a connection. The four of us did have a chemistry that was unique to the four of us, but I think it might be gone at this point, or impossible to recapture.”

Could he do the KISS thing one more time? “I think it’s probably passed,” replies Frehley. “It came and went. But that’s okay. I did the reunion tour. I feel I was there for them when they needed me.”

Check out the full Ace session at The Morton Report here.


KISS – Shock Me
Madison Square Garden – New York, NY – 1996

See also:

New KISS book to focus on early years
KISS: Ace Frehley autobiography due in November
Ace Frehley to appear at Days Of The Dead horror convention
Ace Frehley to play full 1978 solo debut at Hard Rock Hell V
VIDEO: Ace Frehley plays NHL post-game in Tampa Bay
Ace Frehley: Tampa Bay Lightning, KISS, and make up
KISS: Ace Frehley autobiography delayed to 2013
KISS: NHL’s Tampa Bay Lightning play the wrong Ace
KISS eBay showdown: Ace vs. Paul – who won?