Ace invader

Ace Frehley speaks!

GUITAR HERO Here's a star-spangled way to start a conversation: "Hi, Ace Frehley calling!" The 51-year-old Frehley, a.k.a. KISS's guitar-slinging "Space Ace," telephoned me from his Westchester, N.Y. studio to discuss his current tour — which kicked off Feb. 20, the day after I spoke with him — and his still untitled new album, his first solo effort since 1989's Trouble Walkin' (Megaforce).

SFBG What's the new album like?

ACE FREHLEY Everyone I talk to about my solo records almost unanimously cites the first [1978 Casablanca release Ace Frehley] as their favorite. I've been kind of studying all the different elements that are on that record, and trying to remember the mindset I was in. I've been pulling out old lyrics that I haven't looked at in years. Some of the tracks on the record are gonna be from 10, 15 years ago, and some are as recent as two or three weeks ago. Sometimes when I get an idea, the lyrics come to me so quickly, it's like someone's beaming them into my head. Like there's an alien ship up in the sky beaming me lyrics, and I can't even write 'em as fast as I'm getting 'em. Other days, it's like pulling hen's teeth.

SFBG What can fans expect from your live show?

AF Some good rock and roll! My guitar will be blowing up, my light-up guitar will be on tour with me for "New York Groove," and maybe we'll pull out some other surprises.

SFBG What are you most looking forward to with this tour?

AF Probably just getting out there and seeing my fans. It's been way too long. And doing it clean and sober — it's nice to wake up in the hotel and remember what I did the night before, or a week before.

SFBG What have you been listening to lately?

AF I don't really have time. People ask me about television shows — I never watch TV. If I'm not in the studio, if it's a nice day I'm on my Harley-Davidson. Usually when I'm in the car, to be honest, a lot of the time I don't even listen to music. I like the quiet because it allows me to think. Sometimes I'll just be driving and I'll have to pull over, because I get a great idea and I have to write it down. Really the only other stuff I do, when I'm not in the studio — I like to paint, I like to do graphics on the computer. Maybe by the end of the year I can put together some type of art show, let the world in on some of my graphic art. I'd actually like to do an animation and put a score to it.

SFBG You're known for being a huge science fiction fan. What are some of your favorite sci-fi films?

AF [Thoughtful pause.] Forbidden Planet [1956] is one. The Thing — I like both versions [1951 and 1982]. Kurt Russell is great in the newer version. Another great one is Invasion of the Body Snatchers [1956]. In black and white. I'll never forget the look on Kevin McCarthy's face when he realized his girlfriend had turned. That fear. The way the seed pods opened up and the bodies came out with the foam — I know it was just laundry detergent, but it looked great.

SFBG What draws you to science fiction as a genre?

AF Probably because I believe in extraterrestrials. The more we study the universe, the more we realize how minuscule our planet is in the scope of things. It's completely absurd to believe that we're the only intelligent life in the universe — our galaxy alone is immense. And there are millions of galaxies.

SFBG If you had the chance to travel in outer space, would you?

AF In a heartbeat! You wouldn't have to ask me twice.

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