Unmasked: Inside the Mind of Guitar Icon Ace Frehley – An Exclusive Interview

Ace Frehley - 10000 VoltsOver the years there have been very few musicians that have managed to elude me from getting an interview. Ace Frehley was however one that for various reasons over the years fell into that category. Just when I thought I had a confirmation he managed to slip away. This seemed to be a recurring theme again recently when I saw my scheduled interview postponed as Ace was unwell. Fortunately, on this occasion I was able to reschedule and thus came face to face with the former Kiss guitarist himself.

Grammy-nominated R&R HOF inductee and guitar legend ACE FREHLEY announced the release of his new studio album, 10,000 Volts, on February 23, 2024. Produced by Ace and Steve Brown (Trixter), the 11-track 10,000 Volts sees Ace perform electrifying, hard-hitting, riff-heavy rock’n’roll. I was keen to discuss the album itself as well as dip into the man’s musical legacy. I started by asking Ace if the recent success of the new album had personally surprised him.

Ace Frehley: Yeah. I mean, it was number one on the US Billboard charts and iTunes and… I’ve never had a record that came out that shot to number one that quickly. It didn’t last, it was only there for a week or so, but that’s the nature of the beast. But it was very exciting.

Antihero Magazine: Is commercial success something that’s still important to you, or do you feel more as an artist, it’s more important to feel creatively satisfied when an album’s finished? 

Ace Frehley: I like commercial success. I want to be played on the radio. I want to be current. I want to enjoy I had commercial success with my solo album in 1978 with New York Groove. It was a big hit, at least here in the US. In fact, they play it at Yankee Stadium every time somebody hits a home run. It’s been in several movies and commercials and series on Netflix and what have you. So yeah, it works for me.

Antihero Magazine: Your co-producer, Steve Brown, is better known as a member of Trixter. How did you hook up with him and what did he contribute to the album process?

Ace Frehley: Well, I’ve known Steve for a long time, but we never really had a chance to ever really talk in depth. So, my fiancé, Lara Cove, knew Steve better than I did, and she was aware of his talents. Because there’s just so many bands out there. It’s hard to keep track of what everybody does and what everybody’s doing. So, she said, “You got to hook up with Steve.” So, I had him send me some song ideas, and the first one that grabbed me was Walking on the Moon, although it wasn’t called Walking on the Moon when he sent it to me. I rewrote some of the lyrics. I believe I added a bridge. If it wasn’t on that song, it was the next song.

I remember like it was yesterday. Yeah. Steve had this semi-finished song. The lyrics weren’t bad at all, but I knew I could improve on the lyrical content. But I said, “Steve, you need to put a bridge here after the second chorus.” And he goes, “It doesn’t need a bridge.” So, I wrote a bridge. He listened to it. He goes, “That works great. It’s only going to improve the song.” And that’s kind of the way we worked. It really isn’t important to me who brought what to the table. The reality is I sang lead vocals on all the songs and did most of the guitar solos.

I was talking to Steve last night and I said, “I’m going to tell people that you did one or two guitar solos.” He goes, “I don’t want the credit.” I said, “Listen, Steve, you did some great guitar work, and some of it I decided to keep,” because a lot of times he’d put down a solo anyway, just because he studied my style for 30 years. Me and Eddie Van Halen, God rest his soul, was his two favourite guitar players. So, a lot of times he’d put down a rough solo and it was supposed to be a guide for me. He felt it should be this kind of solo. And he knows my style, so it wasn’t hard for him to do that. But a couple of times, the guide solos that he wrote were so good, I just decided to keep them. I didn’t want to touch them. I believe that was the solo in Walking on the Moon and… I can’t remember.

I can’t even remember the sequence in which we wrote the songs, but all I know is halfway through the record, me and Steve looked eye to eye, and he said to me, “Ace, if you let me co-produce this record with you, I guarantee you it’s going to be a hit record.” So, he seemed very serious, so I figured, “Yeah, let’s go. So far everything we’ve worked on sounds great.”

Antihero Magazine: Do you find that your own creative process has changed anywhere over years in terms of how you write songs, record an album? Do you still do it exactly as you did during those first albums with Kiss?

Ace Frehley: Major change happened many years ago when people stopped using two-inch tape and went to digital. Everybody today, for the most part, uses Pro Tools by Digidesign. It’s become the standard of the industry. And I’ve been using it for years. It makes editing so much easier. We used to have to edit with a razor blade with two-inch tape and then tape it back together at a spot we thought was the right spot, but a lot of it was guesswork. And today when you want to edit something, it’s just a click of the mouse. So, I mean, it’s miles ahead of the old way of recording analogue. Although, I must say, drums, I think, still sound better recorded on a tape machine than they do via Pro Tools. The tape compression does something to the drums, because the sound actually bleeds through one layer of the tape to the next, and it gives a certain compression that you can’t get with a digital recording.

Antihero Magazine: You’ve been in the music business for many years, seen many changes for better and for worse What’s your views on the music/rock scene as it stands today?

Ace Frehley: Yeah. I don’t get too excited about new bands. You have to understand, when I grew up as a teenager, I saw The Who’s and Cream’s first New York appearance. They were opening up for Mitch Ryder & The Detroit Wheels. I saw Jimi Hendrix. I actually wrote for him in 1970. Steppenwolf, I wrote for. Somehow, some way, I snuck backstage, and they put me to work, but that’s another story. But the point is, back then there were these major giant groups. I mean, you take a group like Led Zeppelin. When was the last time a group like Led Zeppelin came onto the music scene? I can’t remember.

It’s like those groups just kind of took over the hard rock, heavy metal industry. Black Sabbath. And there’s not very many new bands that are coming out that sound that fresh and that special, unless you can name a few for me that I’m unaware of.

Antihero Magazine: I don’t think so. I would tend to agree with that. Yes, music these days, it’s all sort of a repetition of what has gone before. There are no innovators anymore.

Ace Frehley: Right…

Antihero Magazine: What about the rise of the internet and social media? I note that you’ve got your own YouTube series, Shopping with the Frehleys. Is social media something you actively embrace, or is it a necessary evil?

Ace Frehley: It’s a necessary evil as far as I’m concerned, because I don’t really have the time to go on the internet. My life is pretty complicated. If I’m not touring, I’m working in the studio, or I have numerous other things I’m dealing with. Yeah. And on top of it, when I read some of the comments, it’s obvious that there’s people sitting around that don’t have a job, and all they do is fucking make comments, good or bad, on the internet just to pass the time away. And it’s unfortunate that sometimes they give these bad reviews and they really don’t know anything about the music business or what the fuck they’re talking about.

Antihero Magazine: Many of the bands from the ’80s have reformed. I just wonder, in reference to yourself, specifically – Frehley’s Comet. When I was growing up as a young man, I got those two Frehley’s Comet studio albums, I just wondered if you had ever any plans to reunite Frehley’s Comet for a studio album?


Ace Frehley: No, that’s never going to happen. Unfortunately, about six to nine months ago, my bass player from Frehley’s Comet passed away. May he rest in peace. John Regan, amazing bass player who also played bass for Peter Frampton. He’s not with us anymore. And Tod Howarth, rhythm guitarist, lead guitarist, lives in California. Basically, I’m working with guys on the East Coast, and I don’t foresee that happening.

I’m really happy with the line-up I have, and we all get along, and it’s a pleasure of a tour with these guys.

Antihero Magazine: Yeah. How do you view your own musical legacy? Is it something that gives you a particular sense of accomplishment and pride? How do you look back on what you’ve created musically over the years?

Ace Frehley: Well, number one, out of the four founding members of Kiss, I definitely have been the most successful solo artist. And number two, I have to say, almost every guitar player I meet, at least 75%, if not more, say to me, “I picked up the guitar because of you. When I heard Alive!, that was it, I decided to pick up a guitar and start learning your songs.” That’s going to be pretty much my legacy that I was able to make the transition from a supergroup like Kiss to being a successful solo artist.

Antihero Magazine: In terms of your own guitar playing, do you still practise every day? Obviously, none of us are getting any younger. Do you find that as you get older, it places some limitations on what you can do in terms of guitar playing?

Ace Frehley: Yeah. I practise maybe every other day. I’m kind of lazy, I’m not going to lie, but I get the job done. That’s really all that matters as far as I’m concerned. I used to get high before a concert when I played with Kiss, but I still played all the guitar solos and sang, and there were no complaints. And even when Paul and Gene would complain about my alcohol and drug use, when I decided to quit the band, they didn’t want me to. So yeah, I usually just used to get a little buzz on, perform the show, and then save the partying for after.

Antihero Magazine: Do you still have hopes and dreams, or have you achieved all those many times over?

Ace Frehley: Oh, yeah. Yeah, yeah. I’d like to score a movie or at the very least have a couple of songs in a movie. That hasn’t happened yet. I’d also like to maybe do some commercials. I’d also like to merchandise some of my ideas because I’m a graphic artist, and maybe do a line of jewellery. I do computer graphics. I designed the Kiss logo. I’ve designed other logos. And I’ve been lucky. God has blessed me with so many talents besides just playing the guitar that I feel it’s almost a sin if I don’t try to use them.

Antihero Magazine: What about touring plans for the new album? I’m living in the UK. Obviously, you haven’t been over this part of the world for quite a while. Is that going to change in the immediate future?

Ace Frehley: It’s definitely going to change. I spoke to my accountants and tax attorneys, and they said I’ll have my passport back, hopefully by mid-year or in the fall. So, I mean, I won’t be doing any concerts this year in the UK or Germany or Sweden because they’re already booked up now.

You book those six months in advance or more. But I can honestly say that I’m 99% sure I’ll be playing all the festivals next year.

Antihero Magazine: Just a final one. You have done many, many interviews over the years, but if the roles were reversed, who would you like to sit down and interview?

Ace Frehley: Thousands. Thousands.

Antihero Magazine: If the roles were reversed, who would you like to sit down and interview?

Ace Frehley: Who would I like to interview? Maybe Jimmy Page, one of my idols who’s still alive. I never actually met Jimmy, so it’d be great to interview him. I’ve met Jeff Beck, and I think I briefly met Eric Clapton, Pete Townsend. But Jimmy Page would be an amazing experience if I could interview him.

Ace Frehley





Mark Dean

I'm a 40+ music fan. Fond mostly of rock and metal - my staple musical food delights. Originally from Northern Ireland, I am now based in the UK-Manchester. I have a hectic musical existence with regular shows and interviews. Been writing freelance for five years now with several international websites. Passionate about what I do, I have been fortunate already to interview many of my all-time musical heroes. My music passion was first created by seeing Status Quo at the tender age of 15. While I still am passionate about my rock and metal, I have found that with age my taste has diversified so that now I am actually dipping into different musical genres and styles for the first time.

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