Former KISS guitarist Ace Frehley spoke to SiriusXM‘s “Trunk Nation” about his decision to part ways with the solo band that has backed him on his most recent tours: Richie Scarlet on guitar, Chris Wyse on bass and Scot Coogan. “That was hard,” Frehley admitted. As for how the change happened, Ace said: “Well, I had performed with Gene‘s [Simmons, KISS bassist/vocalist] backup band in Australia, and then Gene, for some reason, canceled his trip to Japan. So I went to Japan with his band and we did eight shows. And they’re super tight; they all sing lead — four-part harmony. I mean, I’ll never forget playing ‘2000 Man’ the first time with this band, and all of a sudden, I’m hearing all the harmonies that were on the original record done by Paul [Stanley] and Gene. I’m saying, ‘Great.’ So, after the last show in Tokyo, I said to these guys, ‘Are you available? Would you consider doing the [‘Kiss Kruise’]?’ And they said, ‘Yeah.’ They’re all fans of mine. And they’re cheaper than my band, and I’m trying to cut costs down. I cut one crew member… It wasn’t just about funds. I would have paid them what I’m paying my band right now, because they’re that good. But don’t let them know that.”
Asked how Scarlet, Wyse and Coogan took the news that they were being replaced, Frehley said: “Chris took it really well. He’s been playing with the [HOLLYWOOD] VAMPIRES, he told me he was doing solo shows with Joe Perry, and he’s one of the most sought-after bass players in Los Angeles. So Chris took it really well. Scotty didn’t take it very well. And Richie didn’t take it well, because his wife had just passed away.”
He continued: “It was a nightmare, because I kept procrastinating, because I said, ‘How can I call Richie and let him know I’m using another band when his wife is on her deathbed?’ And it was tearing me apart. Finally I just said, ‘I’ve gotta man up.’ So I called him and I told him briefly why and… and he hung up on me. [Laughs] He goes, ‘I can’t believe this shit,’ and he hung up on me. So, two days later, I called him back in the evening, and I said, ‘Rich…’ He apologized for hanging up on me. I’ve known Richie forever. So we healed. He told me he loved me like a brother; I told him the same. I said, ‘Tell me what I can do for you, because I know you were expecting the money from the cruise.’ So I wired some money into his account to help pay for Joann‘s funeral. She was a wonderful lady.”
Frehley went on to defend the fact that he fired Scarlet at a particularly vulnerable time in Richie‘s life, explaining: “Bad timing is bad timing, but business decisions really don’t… can’t… with personal life, it never jells. It’s never the right time, in a lot of cases.”
Earlier in the month, Ace told “The Cassius Morris Show” that he decided to use Gene’s band instead of his previous musicians because “they [are] better than my current lineup… They’re younger and more hungry.”
Backing Frehley and Simmons on the Australian tour were Philip Shouse on guitar/vocals, Ryan Cook on guitar/vocals, Jeremy Asbrock on guitar/vocals, and Christopher Williams on drums. After the Aussie dates, Shouse, Cook, Asbrock and Williams accompanied Frehley on the Japan trek. Shouse switched from guitar to bass for Frehley‘s show.
Recalling the tour with Frehley and Simmons, Shouse told AL.com, “We were all just having the time of our lives… I think Ace was pretty shocked after the first show that we did with no rehearsal and we pulled it off. By the third show, we’d really hit our stride and were on fire for the rest of the tour.”
Asbrock and Shouse are the founders of THEE ROCK N’ ROLL RESIDENCY, a popular Nashville tribute band that routinely hosts surprise appearances by such rocks stars as Alice Cooper, Robin Zander (CHEAP TRICK) and Roger Glover (DEEP PURPLE).
Frehley — whose new solo album, “Spaceman”, will be released via eOne on October 19 — first left KISS in 1982. He rejoined in 1996 and parted ways with the band once again in 2002 after the conclusion of their first “farewell tour.”