Ace Frehley interview: Space Oddity
GUITAR WORLD It’s been 20 years since your last solo album. How did you know it was time to record a new one?
ACE FREHLEY I almost felt like I didn’t have a choice. I realized it’d been way too long since the last album. It still took me over two years to finish the record. I had done a bunch of songs in 2007 and had them mixed. The mixes were okay, but I wasn’t going to settle for that. I had some of the songs remixed three different times but it still wasn’t right. It really only came together in April.
But probably the most significant factor is that I got sober three years ago. My whole life I had been telling myself that I need this stuff to create, only to find out that I’m more creative without it. There’s that sick little voice in your head that tells you that you need alcohol to socialize, to do this or that, and none of it is true. It’s just your insecurities that make you think and feel that way.
GW When you were drinking a lot, did you still pick up the guitar?
FREHLEY No, but then I never practiced every day anyway. I don’t like to practice; I like spontaneity. When I don’t play guitar for a week and I pick it up again, I play better.
GW What kept you from creating besides being fucked up?
FREHLEY It was more than drugs that kept me from creating. Because of the drugs, I had created situations and problems that prevented me from doing anything. So things weren’t going right with business and things weren’t going right with family. That hinders your creativity big time. If you keep throwing a monkey wrench into the machine again and again, eventually the machine doesn’t work right no matter what you do. Everything becomes problematic.
GW Did you always know you were going to do your own albums? Were there songs that you were writing that didn’t work for Kiss?
FREHLEY Yeah, a lot of my songs would get turned down. There was always that competition between us. I knew I was destined to do a solo album, but when I did that first album in 1978, I had no idea it was going to be that well received. [Frehley and his Kiss bandmates each released a solo album simultaneously in 1978. Frehley’s sold best and had the only hit, “New York Groove.”]
GW Do you think your talents were undervalued by Paul [Stanley] and Gene [Simmons]?
FREHLEY They would make decisions without consulting me, and it got really frustrating. Paul and Gene never wanted to give me the credit that was due. In a lot of instances they tried to bury the fact that I made certain contributions. For that matter, I can’t remember Paul or Gene ever saying, “Wow, that was a great solo.” I know that, for a while, they weren’t saying good things about me, and that’s okay—what goes around comes around.
GW But their criticisms are always about you being fucked up.
FREHLEY Yeah, but I usually did my job.
GW Well, you were in a band with some of rock’s hardest taskmasters. You were always closest to Peter [Criss], but you shared a room with Gene. How did that happen?
FREHLEY I was closest to Peter, but Paul and Peter were close too. Nobody wanted to room with Gene, so I got stuck. I got the short straw.