KISS Related

Mitch Weissman (2013)
Background vocalist/original "Beatlemania" cast member recalls his contributions to Gene Simmons' 1978 solo album and his work with Paul Stanley and Gene Simmons on albums such as "Animalize" and "Crazy Nights," plus a potpourri of KISS stories and tangents.

David Snowden (2013)
Longtime KISS fan and former head of the Vinnie Vincent Invasion fan club talks "All Systems Go" and various KISS-related topics

Mark Opitz (2013)
Producer details his work on "KISS Symphony: Alive IV"

Bruce Foster (2012)
Grammy-nominated musician discusses working with KISS and playing piano on "Nothin' To Lose"

David Wolfert (2012)
Grammy- and Emmy-nominated producer recalls working with Peter Criss on his first post-KISS solo album, 1980's "Out Of Control"

Bob Ezrin (2012)
Legendary producer details "Destroyer: Resurrected" and the making of the album

Lydia Criss (2012)
Author discusses the second printing of "Sealed With A KISS" and various Peter Criss- and KISS-related topics

Jean Beauvoir (2010)
Songwriter/recording artist recalls collaborations with KISS on "Animalize," "Asylum" and more

Kenny Kerner (2010)
Recalling KISS' early days with the co-producer of "KISS" and "Hotter Than Hell"

Eric Singer (2010)
Exclusive interview with KISS' current drummer regarding a variety of topics

Ace Frehley (2009)
KISS' original Spaceman details his first studio album in 20 years, "Anomaly"

Bruce Kulick (2009)
Non-makeup-era axeman discusses KISS tenure and latest album, "BK3"

Mike Japp (2005)
A discussion with KISS collaborator on the "Killers" and "Creatures Of The Night" albums

Dick Wagner (2004)
KISS' favorite "ghost" guitarist discusses his guitar playing on "Destroyer" and "Revenge"

Jesse Damon (2003)
Former member of Silent Rage on his collaborations with Gene Simmons

Stan Penridge (2000)
Peter Criss' right-hand man talks Chelsea, Lips and working with the Catman

Bruce Kulick (1999)
Guitarist talks Union project with John Corabi, Eric Carr and ESP

Sean Delaney (1998)
A brief encounter with the "fifth" member of KISS

Bob Ezrin (1998)
Former KOL webmaster Michael Brandvold grills the legendary producer regarding his work with KISS

Anomaly Is All Aces

By Tim McPhate

1975. KISS "Alive!" We know the album. The double LP (or cassette, double CD or MP3 files depending on the decade), the hottest band in the land, the magic, the vibe, the songs...and those interplanetary guitar licks and lightning-laced riffs. It's an album that not only helped build an army, but inspired a legion of guitar players and KISS fans. The riffs and the licks? They came courtesy of one Ace Frehley.

It's been quite the ride for Ace spanning KISS the first time around, his solo career through the 1980s and 1990s, the reunion tour, a second KISS farewell, and anything and everything in between. But 2009 not only sees him on the verge of his first solo album in 20 years, but three years of sobriety. To that end, there's a spring in Ace's step these days. Fresh off his invigorating Rocket Ride tour in 2007-2008, he retreated to the studio to work on "Anomaly," an album that may very well be his strongest body of work since his classic 1978 solo album. And with the album dropping Sept. 15, the first single "Outer Space" hitting iTunes Aug. 25, a new tour in the works, a new Ace-model Les Paul, and possible live DVD, Ace's ride is about to take flight again.

KissFAQ caught up with the legendary musician himself to find out how he's gotten back in the groove, and why "Anomaly" is all aces.

KissFAQ: Congratulations on "Anomaly"! Coupled with the strong performances on your recent tour, all signs are pointing to a great comeback for you. More importantly, you're celebrating three years of sobriety in September. Is Ace back and are you telling us so?
ACE: You know... I'm feeling better than ever! It has a lot to do with having a strong, solid album "in the can." It gives me a lot of confidence.

KF: Many fans regard your 1978 solo album up as your finest work. How do you think "Anomaly" is similar to KISS "Ace Frehley"?
ACE: I used to listen to that '78 record in my car and really felt I had accomplished something special. I never thought I'd still be hearing "New York Groove" to this day being played at all the New York stadiums and arenas! "Anomaly" gives me that same feeling. So far my record company has done four listening parties around America and they all have had nothing but positive reaction from the fans. I can't wait for everyone to hear this.

KF: You oversaw the creative process for "Anomaly" and are releasing it on your own label, and you've partnered with Rocket Science to help promote it. How does it feel to have such creative freedom with this project?
ACE: This is how I'm going to do records from now on. Again, it must be the fact that I'm sober now and more aware of what is going on in terms of production than I have been in the past. This is my baby...I didn't want to turn it over to somebody!!

KF: "Sister" is a track that goes back to the mid-1990s. Can you give us a timeframe for the other songs on the record, which are older and which are more recent compositions?
ACE: "Sister" and "Foxy & Free" are both songs I had before I went on the KISS reunion tour in 1996. All the other songs I've been working on since 2007.

KF: Did you produce the album? And how important were Marti Frederiksen and Anthony Focx to this project?
ACE: I produced the whole record, except the track "Fox On The Run," which Marti produced. I've never seen anyone work with Pro Tools faster than Marti Frederiksen. The guy's amazing, we had the basic track for "Fox On The Run" finished in four and a half hours! Both he and Anthony really took "Anomaly" to another level.

KF: Who are some of your songwriting collaborators on the album?
ACE: I wrote all the songs on "Anomaly" myself except "Fox On The Run," the Sweet cover, and the first single, "Outer Space," which was co-written by my friend Jesse Mendez and his buddy David Askew.

KF: Anton Fig and Anthony Esposito played on "Anomaly". Who else played on the tracks? And, similar to your 1978 solo album, did you play any bass?
ACE: I played bass on "Genghis Kahn" and a few other tracks. Marti played bass on "Fox On The Run." He also played synth on "A Little Below The Angels." My touring guitarist Derrek Hawkins plays that crunchy guitar on "Outer Space."

KF: Where was "Anomaly" recorded and how many songs did you record compared to what ended up on the album?
ACE: Most of the basic tracks were recorded in my home studio up in Westchester, N.Y. I think I might've had four leftover songs that may see the light of day on a follow-up record, including one or two cover songs. But I don't want to give anything away yet.

KF: You've said that "Anomaly" was mostly recorded digitally and that you used Pro Tools. As someone who has used the analog medium primarily in the past, what was your digital "experience" like?
ACE: I gotta say my Pro Tools experience was great. Once you get the hang of it, it's a piece of cake. It's so much faster to edit now on Pro Tools than it was in the old days. The new digital technology definitely helped in the structure of the songs. "Genghis Khan" and "A Little Below The Angels" -- who knows? I might still be working on those songs if I was using tape (laughs)!!

KF: Other than Les Pauls, what other guitars did you use on the album? And what about acoustics?
ACE: I used a twelve-string at the beginning of "Genghis Khan" and I threw some Fenders on some tracks as well. But mostly I used Les Pauls on this record.

KF: Between tracks like "New York Groove," "2,000 Man" and "Do Ya," you've always showed quite a knack for putting a unique spin on cover tunes. What led you to choose "Fox On The Run," and how do you feel about the results?
ACE: That's one of the strongest tracks on the record. My makeup artist, Pam, gave me the idea of re-doing "Fox On The Run." It's funny, my guitar player Derrek told me that when the original Sweet version came out in 1975 he thought it was me singing that song. Like all the covers I've done in the past, I tried to "Aceify" it and make it my own.

KF: "Genghis Khan" is an interesting song.
ACE: That's my personal favorite song on the record. The title just came to me. When I brought that to Anthony Focx to mix, he almost had a heart attack (laughs) because that song has almost 100 tracks on it.

KF: What was the genesis of "The Return Of Space Bear"? And when was the last time you watched the infamous KISS/Tom Snyder interview?
ACE: The associate producer of "Anomaly," Frank Munoz, and I were throwing out ideas about a concept for this song I had called "Skels," which was essentially a soundtrack song. The initial idea was that we were going to use sound bites to tell the story of me being chased in my Porsche by the cops and by flying saucers!!!! There's actually a demo I have with that concept but we thought it might go over people's heads (laughs), no pun intended!

Then Frank suggested that I re-create my "one-liners" from my appearance on the "Tomorrow Show With Tom Snyder" in 1979. We watched it on YouTube, laughed our asses off and then I recorded it. Frank does some of Tom's parts and, so far, the fans who have heard it love it.

KF: How about "Fractured Quantum"?
ACE: "Fractured Quantum" is the fourth and final installment in the "Fractured" series. It's funny, I've had fans tell me that they put on the "Fractured" songs during those "intimate" moments (laughs). I'm thinking of stringing all four of them together in one long piece.

KF: When can we expect a tour to start and how long do you plan to be on the road? And what about a live Ace Frehley DVD?
ACE: My agents are booking shows as we speak. I personally want to hit as many cities and countries as possible. I'm sure we'll be filming a lot of those shows, so who knows about an official DVD?

KF: How many tracks from "Anomaly" do you plan on playing live, and any plans to dust off some Ace/Frehley's Comet classics?
ACE: My guess is we'll play three or four new songs on the first leg of the tour. And yes -- there will be some big surprises in the set-list. You'll have to come out and see the show to find out!

KF: Speaking of Frehley's Comet, your first post-KISS solo album came out in 1987. How do you feel some of the Frehley's Comet material holds up today?
ACE: I've been told that the video for "Into The Night" is still being played on VH1 Classic. "Rock Soldiers" has become sort of an anthem for me. I'm very proud of that record. My daughter Monique sang on "Dolls," and now you can hear her on "Anomaly" on a track called "A Little Below The Angels."

KF: Gene Simmons and Paul Stanley had some interesting choices of words when talking about the reunion on KISSology, with Gene even describing it as "torture." What do you think about these comments and, with it being 13 years in the rearview, how do you look at the reunion now?
ACE: I have no regrets about the reunion tour. It was the right time and place. I guess it's like when a marriage breaks up, there's always gonna be some trash talking. But in the end, the four of us will always be linked as KISS.

KF: Back to you... You're releasing "Anomaly" on vinyl and you participated in this year's Record Store Day promotion in Los Angeles. What do you attribute vinyl's mini-resurgence to?
ACE: I never knew vinyl went away (laughs)!! I still listen to vinyl records when I relax at home. My collection has grown to over 2,000 LPs. And you can't deny that the artwork stood out more on a vinyl record. [Vinyl is] just cooler.

KF: What kind of details can you share about your new signature Les Paul? And when is it coming out?
ACE: It'll be a blue-burst flame-top. The headstock will have the "Anomaly" artwork on it. And there will be an array of lightning bolts scattered throughout the knobs and neck. You should see it towards the end of September.

KF: What are your thoughts on the popularity of games such as "Guitar Hero" and "Rock Band"? Seems many kids are being introduced to classic rock music through playing the games, and some are even being inspired to pick up an instrument, which is ultimately a good thing.
ACE: Whatever gets kids to listen to real rock and roll is OK in my book. I played an early version of "Anomaly" to the "Guitar Hero" guys at Activision about 10 months ago. We're talking about making some of the "]Anomaly" tracks available as downloads for those two games, but nothing is confirmed yet.

KF: Ace Frehley has inspired musicians of all ages the world over to pick up their guitars. They also cite albums such as "Alive!," "Rock And Roll Over" and your 1978 solo album as influencing them greatly. Who are the musicians that inspire Ace Frehley?
ACE: I can honestly say I wouldn't be here today if it wasn't for Jimi Hendrix, Keith Richards, Jeff Beck, and Jimmy Page. I still get influenced by their music to this day. "Genghis Khan" is my tip of the hat to "Kashmir."

KF: You seem more focused on your career than ever before. What can your fans expect from Ace Frehley in the future?
ACE: I think "Anomaly" is a good preview of things to come. Let's just say September 15 can't get here soon enough. I feel good, and I'm ready to rock again!

(KissFAQ thanks Ace for his time and wishes him the best with "Anomaly"!)

August 21, 2009

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