“It looked like it was geared towards children. And it’s not rock and roll”: Ace Frehley isn't convinced by Kiss' plans for digital immortality through avatar tech

Ace Frehley
(Image credit: Daniel Knighton/Getty Images)

Ace Frehley has had his say on Kiss’ recently announced plans for digital immortality, labeling their avatar project as “not rock and roll”.

Paul Stanley and Gene Simmons completed their final physical farewell tour last weekendwithout fellow founding members Frehley and Peter Criss – but gave attendees at the Madison Square Garden gig an insight into the band’s future by teasing “the new Kiss era”.

Said era will see Stanley, Simmons and co be “immortalized” and “reborn as avatars” for future as-yet-unconfirmed appearances, with an announcement video depicting the band as eight-foot tall, fire-breathing digital superheroes.

To achieve this, the band were filmed and digitized using the same technology that pioneered the hugely successful ABBA Voyage project, and while die-hard Kiss fans were pleased to hear they’d be able to see the band perform in a new medium, others weren’t convinced.

Frehley has positioned himself in the latter camp. In a recent interview with Rock Antenne, the band’s former electric guitar player voiced his doubts over Kiss’ new digital front and said it looked as though it had been made for youngsters.

When asked whether he was pleased Kiss had completed their tour, Frehley responded (transcribed via Blabbermouth), “I'm happy it's over, because I'm not gonna be compared to them anymore… But I don’t get this avatar thing that they’re gonna do. 

“I mean, I saw some of it on a video on YouTube last night. It kind of looked like it, you know, was geared towards children,” he went on. “And it’s not rock and roll. I get up on stage without backing tracks, plug my guitar into a Marshall and go. That’s it. It’s always been that way and always will be.”

It's not the first time that Frehley has compared himself to his former bandmates. Speaking to SiriusXM recently, the guitarist rebutted perceptions about his lack of creativity, and said he will use his new album to send a message to Kiss.

“Paul [Stanley] and Gene [Simmons] have tried to destroy my reputation over the years, we know that,” he claimed. “And unfortunately for them, 10,000 Volts is going to make them look like imbeciles.”

As for whether he thought Kiss’ finale performance was any good, Frehley was equally scathing, and singled out his replacement Tommy Thayer for criticism.

“I watched [a YouTube video of the show in] Indianapolis and I’m not impressed. But that’s me,” he reflected. “Tommy Thayer is not a bad guitarist. He just is more mechanical than me. 

“Nobody can copy my solos the way I play them, because I’m sloppy and nobody can move like me. Nobody. And I’m surprised the fans bought Tommy pretty much, because I think for several years that Tommy was in the band, people didn’t even know it wasn’t me.”

It’s unclear when Kiss’ avatars will crop up again in the future. As mentioned, the project was developed using the ABBA Voyage technology, and financed by a Swedish conglomerate whose CEO Per Sundin said all will be figured out after the tour.

“Is it a Kiss concert in the future?” he said (via BBC). “Is it a rock opera? Is it a musical? A story, an adventure?” Whatever it is, you can keep up to date by heading over to the official Kiss website.

Kiss’ MSG gigs brought the curtain down on an epic 50-year career. To celebrate, Guitar World assembled an all-star cast of rock guitar luminaries – including Eric Johnson, Nuno Bettencourt and 40 others – to reflect on their favorite Kiss moments.

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Matt Owen

Matt is a Staff Writer, writing for Guitar World, Guitarist and Total Guitar. He has a Masters in the guitar, a degree in history, and has spent the last 16 years playing everything from blues and jazz to indie and pop. When he’s not combining his passion for writing and music during his day job, Matt records for a number of UK-based bands and songwriters as a session musician.