Ace Frehley interview: Space Oddity
GW You’ve had other major mishaps over the years. Back in 1976, you were electrocuted during a show [in Lakeland, Florida].
FREHLEY I almost died. It was a pretty traumatic experience. I had burns on my fingers; I was knocked out. I woke up behind the amplifiers and said, “I can’t play.” Then the fans started chanting my name, and I finished the show, but I had no feeling in my hands. I don’t know how I continued to perform that night. I guess it was all adrenaline. For a few days afterward I was very nervous, because I had read that a guy in some band got electrocuted and died two days later. So I was wondering if I was going to die.
GW I think the most harrowing thing you ever did was get in an accident in your DeLorean, driving 110 mph against traffic on the Bronx River Parkway.
FREHLEY You know the lyrics of my song “Beneath the Angels”? The second verse goes, “I’ve been told I got nine lives and maybe even 10.” That explains it. I don’t dwell on the old stuff. I know I’m exactly where I should be right now, and I’m okay with it. I really don’t even want to hold grudges about the past; I let it roll off my back for my own personal sanity. If you hold onto negativity it’s just going to eat away at you. You’ve got to let all that stuff go. If you do that, somehow everything comes full circle.
GW You’d been writing songs for years without releasing anything. What were the songs that made you feel inspired to make this album?
FREHLEY It was probably “Pain in the Neck” and “Genghis Khan.” Those two were written within a week of each other, and I started writing those in 2004. There’s also a song on there called “Sister” that I recorded 15 years ago or more.
GW Is the song “Too Many Faces” about Kiss?
FREHLEY Yeah, I guess subconsciously I may have been thinking that. But it wasn’t a blatant statement about them; it’s just about how people change their faces and how faces look back at you. There’s a line about how I felt I had lost my identity. And that’s how I felt with Kiss after a long period of wearing makeup. I didn’t know who the hell I was anymore.
GW Did you ever feel lost in your character?
GW Although in the beginning you were that character.
FREHLEY Right. And that character is still a big part of me, because I created it. It’s just that 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.
GW Anomaly has some of the best playing of your career. What do you attribute that to?
FREHLEY I don’t know. It’s like I said before, I don’t practice every day. And I hate doing things over and over. With Paul and Gene, we’d be doing, say, the Destroyer record and they were doing, like, 25, 30 takes. If I don’t get it in two or three takes I’ll take a break, because even if you get it right, it’s lost all spontaneity. It’s usually my first or second take that we keep, and if there’s a couple of wrong notes we just punch it in.
GW Were you a guitar savant at a young age?
FREHLEY No. I was good; I wasn’t great. I still don’t think I’m a great player. There are guys that play circles around me. But it’s a combination of my songwriting, my voice, my attitude, my persona... It’s the package. I know great guitar players that don’t have any image or personality. And you need it all.
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