Ace Frehley was asked about the best time he ever had in Oklahoma.
“I can’t remember,” he said, adding this with a laugh: “It must have been good.”
Maybe it’s yet to come?
Frehley, a Rock and Roll Hall of Famer and the founding guitarist in the band KISS, will be among Sunday, May 26, performers at the Rocklahoma music festival north of Pryor.
Space Ace was part of the KISS lineup from 1973-82 and from 1996-2002. He has crafted the most successful solo career of any past or present member of the band and he said he thinks he’s the “most genuine” member of the band.
Frehley’s most recent solo album was 2018’s “Spaceman.” One of the tracks is a power pop cover of the Eddie Money song “I Wanna Go Back.” Frehley covered it because he said he identified with the song and the video.
“I was lying in bed with my wife, Rachael, and we were watching the video on YouTube and it reminded me of going back to my old high school because I had recently just done an interview the Village Voice in New York where I did go back to my old high school and showed them where I used to go to school.”
Said the Spaceman: “I think about going back in time, you know?”
Frehley took part in a phone interview in advance of his Rocklahoma appearance. Excerpts from the conversation:
So you would do it all over again?
I probably wouldn’t change a thing. That’s why I called my book “No Regrets.”
We get smarter as we get older, so wouldn’t it be great to go back with that knowledge?
I get dumber. My memory is not what it used to be. I’m getting dumber as I get older. I can’t multitask like I used to, but my guitar playing has gotten better, interestingly enough.
Isn’t that what counts?
I guess to my fans it does. I just take it as it comes.
Your bio calls you the coolest member of KISS — just ask other musicians. It also says people who don’t like KISS still love Ace.
If you look at polls on the internet, I was voted the most liked member of the band, so I don’t know. If you believe polls on the internet, I guess it’s true.
So you’re not bragging. You’re just citing poll results.
Yeah. But in my mind, I probably was the coolest guy. Paul and Gene didn’t really have the street smarts that I had. They lived more of a sheltered life. I had a pretty crazy life before I even joined KISS. I came to the band with a lot more life experience, I think. It made me more prepared for the insanity of the roller coaster ride with KISS.
What do you mean by street smarts?
I grew up in the Bronx. I was a member of a couple of different gangs. I had slept with a lot of women prior to joining KISS. It wasn’t my first time in the rodeo, so to speak, you know?
What was KISS’ biggest contribution to the music world? Was it taking arena rock to a different level? But let’s not put words in your mouth. What’s your opinion?
We had the best rock’ n’ roll show. Not only did we entertain their ears, we entertained their eyes. It was a spectacle, and it was by design. We all decided when we started the band that we were going to have a theatrical rock group. And we offered more than just a show. We were like superheroes.
That’s true. You guys were even in a Marvel Comics magazine where drops of your blood were included with the ink used to print it.
I just found out when they released (“Avengers: Infinity War”) that there’s a line that was deleted from the original theatrical release that they are going to leave in for the home version. They talk about “New York Groove.” Star-Lord talks about “New York Groove” to the big guy (Drax) with all the red tattoos on his body.
I hope you have 200 copies of those Marvel KISS magazines stashed away because they’re worth some money now.
I don’t, but I have a lot of other things, you know?
The members of KISS released solo albums in 1978. What does it mean that you had the best and best-selling of the band’s four solo albums?
It was kind of a revelation to me. I realized at that juncture of my life that I was more productive and more creative away from the guys. It was kind of like the beginning of the end because as much as I enjoyed working with KISS and doing the whole spectacle thing, I realized I was more creative away from them. Eventually, I knew I was going to end up leaving the band to form my own band.
The solo albums weren’t a competition were they?
It wasn’t supposed to be, but it turned out to be. And I won.
Is it a different feeling to be successful on your own?
It was a lot more gratifying.
You’ve got a new album (“Origins, Vol. 2”) on the way. What do you most want fans to know about it?
That I remained true to my guns. ... The idea of it was to re-record songs from other bands that have influenced me, and that’s what I have done. On the new album, I’ve got a song by (Jimi) Hendrix and a song by Cream and the Animals. I even have a song by Paul Revere and the Raiders. But those were the groups that influenced me when I was growing up as a guitar player, so that’s what “Origins” is all about. That’s what the (“Origins, Vol. 1”) was, and now, I’m doing “Origins, Vol. 2” and I stuck to my guns with the whole idea behind the record and the concept behind it.