Stop Smiling magazine recently conducted an interview with original KISS guitarist Ace Frehley. An excerpt from the chat follows below.
Stop Smiling: The original members of KISS reunited in 1996 after 17 years. Gene Simmons, Paul Stanley, Peter Criss and yourself. What are memories of the reunion tour?
Ace Frehley: It started off great. It was really strange because we wearing our old costumes, and it wasn't that different from tours from the past. I remember a couple of times doing shows feeling like I'd really gone back in time. It was bizarre. But as the tour progressed, things got weird, people started saying the same old things, pushing people's buttons, and it wasn't fun anymore. It was like the early '80s all over again.
Stop Smiling: What, specifically, were people saying?
Ace Frehley: I don't want to get into specifics. People started doing a lot of the same things that they were doing around my first departure [in 1982]. Making decisions without me. Originally it was put together in the spirit of we were all gonna kind of do this together, and the next thing I know, I'm feeling like a hired gun and I don't have any say in anything. And that's not fun. The four of us invented KISS and brought it to the world. It just wasn't fun anymore.
Stop Smiling: After 17 years you were reunited. Was it all business or did you ever have moments were you hung out with the other guys in the band just as friends?
Ace Frehley: It wasn't like the old days. Pretty much everyone went their own way.
Stop Smiling: You and Peter didn't share your old bond?
Ace Frehley: Not like we used to. I wasn't really allowed to drink on that tour. It was a business. It was a machine. After we got into the day-to-day business of it, it made me remember why I quit the group in the first place [Laughs].
Stop Smiling: On one of the "Kissology" DVDs that came out a few years ago, they talk about a Southern California concert that you almost pulled a no show. What happened?
Ace Frehley: That was crazy. I was in New York and I had to fly in for the show and I'd missed a flight and I was having some family problems and my daughter ended up flying out with me. I think we had missed the second flight even. We were gonna land about an hour before the show. I know Tommy [Thayer, KISS's road manager at the time and current KISS guitarist] was already in make-up. They had a chopper waiting for me when I landed that took me to Irvine Meadows. I put the make-up on in a half-hour and did the show. [Laughs]. I feel bad because I gave a lot of people some tense moments. And that wasn't the only time. I feel bad about it, but I wasn't all there.
Stop Smiling: When did KISS go from being this glitter-punk New York street band to a business?
Ace Frehley: It wasn't one day, it's just the way things started getting more about merchandising and became more about marketing than the music. I got involved in rock and roll because I loved it. And it was fun. And for a time, I said, "I'm the luckiest fuckin' guy in the world. I'm doin' something I love to do and I'm getting paid a lot of money for it." And I was gettin' to see the whole world and it was great. And then all of a sudden when you start reading contracts and fine print and you realize that people are deceiving you about this and that and your lawyer tells you it's a lot more money than you thought, and it starts not being fun anymore. You think that everyone is doing it in the spirit that you think they are doing it, and then you find out there are ulterior motives.
Stop Smiling: Who are you speaking about?
Ace Frehley: I don't want to mention names. It was people who were handling us. We had to sue our record company. We had to sue our business managers. And then the IRS takes a crack at you. It wasn't fun anymore and it's all because of being mismanagement and people trying to take this and that they shouldn't be taking.
Read the entire interview from Stop Smiling magazine.