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Ace Frehley Soldiers on

FEW BANDS can split a room like KISS. Many fans are so blindly devoted that they probably wouldn’t hesitate to buy an album of the band farting for 30 minutes. Detractors... well, they likely think the group’s records already sound like 30 minutes of farting. But there’s one thing uniting these two factions: KISS’s original—and best—lead guitarist, Ace Frehley.

Over the past year I’ve interviewed everyone from Mountain Goats drummer Jon Wurster to black metal legend Abbath Doom Occulta of Immortal, and they all agree that Ace Frehley is the baddest of them all. Hell, even Frehley knows it: “Just about everyone who came after me was influenced in some way by KISS,” he says. “It’s pretty amazing. I never realized I’d have that much impact on people.”

And it’s still true, even if Frehley hasn’t donned his famous Spaceman makeup since 2002. During that time, he’s rebuilt his solo career, kicked drugs and alcohol (he just celebrated 10 years of sobriety), and relocated from the East Coast to sunny Southern California. Frehley’s kept busy, too—in the past few years he’s released a studio record, 2014’s Space Invader, and an album of covers, 2016’s Origins, Vol. 1.

Frehley and his fiancée Rachael Gordon recently settled on an acre just outside of San Diego with a new home studio ready to roll. “I’m just putting the final touches on it,” he says. “I actually might even do some tracking before I hit the road. I’ve been writing—little by little it’ll come together.”

These days, the Space Ace’s downtime isn’t occupied by the sex, drugs, and rock ’n’ roll of the ’70s, when New York was a playground for glam, punk, disco, and, later, hip-hop. And while punk was the antithesis to the bawdy stadium rock behemoth KISS would become by 1976, Frehley says he still caught Ramones and Blondie shows at CBGB.

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