The Ace man cometh


When Ace Frehley, founding member and former lead guitarist of the arena rock monster KISS, wakes up around 1 p.m. on a Friday, the reasoning is much different now than it was just a few years ago.

While a drug- and alcohol-induced cloud would have muddied mornings of his past, Frehley can now attribute his late night rendezvous to his first love: making music.

Its clich to say it, but its nice having my life back, proclaims Frehley, as he gets ready to head back into his home studio in Westchester, N.Y., where hes wrapping up his first solo effort in close to 20 years.

Surrounding himself with a collection of sober sidemen, Frehley will be using his upcoming two-night stint at Jaxx in Springfield (Thursday-Friday, Dec. 27-28) as a final tune-up before transforming into a full-time touring musician again, with a nationwide trek slated to kick-off in February.

It was time, way overdue, states Frehley in regards to his stage return at the New York City Hard Rock Caf on Halloween night of this year after a six-year lay-off. Performing was such a rush, a nice natural high that I want back in my life on a regular basis again.

My bassist, Anthony [Esposito, formerly of the group Lynch Mob] had been pushing me to do it since we started recording this spring. When I finally gave the go-ahead, it all happened so fast! Before you knew it, we had Derrek [Hawkins] on guitar and Scot Coogan [on drums] to come in and practice. The next day, we worked up a list of songs, and then & Boom! We had a band.

As for what fans can expect from the ax-mans reincarnation, the Bronx native has taken a back-to-basics approach, diverting away from the hair-band-inspired offerings he produced in the 1980s.

What Im making now really has the feel of my first album [his 1978 self-titled debut that was released along with solo efforts from the three other members of KISS]. People come up to me all the time talking about New York Groove [the only Top 20 hit from any of the four solo LPs] and how nobody plays that kind of music anymore. Well, now there is.

When reflecting on his KISS years, which included a brief farewell tour in 2002, the man formerly known as Paul Daniel Frehley appears wistful at the heavy metal magic that he, Peter Criss, Gene Simmons and Paul Stanley were able to conjure up during the disco era.

I really honed my skills and technique so much during that time. It really was like rock-n-roll school for us. We learned our craft while we did it. We grew up together, while at the same time, in many ways, we grew apart.

While he still talks to both Criss and Stanley on a regular basis, Frehleys relationship with Simmons appears tenuous at best.

Hey, lets just say some people are motivated by the music while others are motivated by the money, and lets leave it at that.

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