I met and interviewed Ace Frehley this past Friday and it was awesome.
Even though I was raised on a steady diet of Motley, Gn’R and Aerosmith in the 80’s, I went through the same KISS phase in Junior High that countless teens had gone through a decade earlier.
Seeing the then recently-reunited original lineup in full makeup during their ‘Alive/Worldwide Tour’ on my 21st birthday at the Fleet Center in Boston remains one of the live music highlights of my life.
While I don’t listen to the band much any more, I will still dip into Ace Frehley’s 1978 solo album often. His version of ‘New York Groove’, as well as originals like ‘Snow Blind’ and ‘Ozone’ are classics.
As it turns out, it was a punishing, seemingly non-stop media tour in support of his new album ‘Space Invader’ that brought him to the Fox 5 studios on the Upper East Side for our interview.
I spent the day listening to the album’s first single ‘Gimme A Feelin’ on Spotify and wondering how nervous I would be when he arrived.
Once I saw the snakeskin boots emerge from the back seat of the SUV, I realized the answer was ‘Wow my whole life is such a fraudulent lie I’m not worthy’ nervous.
Luckily he and the two members of his entourage immediately put me at ease. I quickly got the feeling they were actually perfectly content to be there. After countless radio interviews, not to mention a high profile national spot on the Jimmy Fallon show earlier that week, I figured his appearance was the result of some major arm twisting from his PR people. If it was, he certainly didn’t give off that vibe.
While waiting for the elevator, I told Ace how much I appreciated him coming in and that I planned on getting them all in and out as quickly as possible. He said “Whatever you want to do, Steve” and unleashed the first of many of his legendary high pitch cackles. Even though it was a Friday night, he seemed to be in no big hurry.
After a quick tour of the studio and green room we found ourselves in the makeup room. In a makeup room with Ace Frehley from KISS. For a moment I pretended we were backstage at Cobo Hall. Not really, but you get the point.
Soon enough it was time for the interview.
Sitting on a stool next to Ace while he told me about partying a few times with the late Robin Williams (he was “closer to John Belushi”), the proper way for a fan to approach him (not in the bathroom or while he’s eating) and even what type of cell phone he has (a blackberry, he prefers the buttons) was something I’m not sure I can still fully comprehend actually happened.
Once the interview was done he gladly took pics with every member of the crew, gave me an autographed copy of his memoir ‘No Regrets’ (which I had already bought and read when it was originally released) and added his signature to the wall-of-fame directly outside the Fox5 broadcast studio.
The leisurely way Ace took time for everyone (“It’s part of the gig.”) left even the most cynical NYC union stagehand giddy.
Clean and sober now for nearly 8 years “I’m finally getting focused. I’m finding balance,” and with all the will they/won’t they Rock and Roll Hall of Fame reunion melodrama (a Psycho Circus, indeed) behind him, at 63 Ace appears to be in a great place personally and professionally. The single ‘Gimme a Feelin’ is being called the greatest new Kiss song since the 70’s. I agree.
Not to mention, ‘Space Invader’ is a brilliantly oddball retro-title for a vital new offering from the Spaceman.
Even though his people gave me a copy of the disc, I’ll be paying to download it today. Here’s why I think other KISS fans should too: it’s still how the music industry keeps score.