Premier Guitar recently posted an interview with Ace Frehley in which Ace FINALLY talks with some specifics about what he used in the studio back in the early KISS days. Not a lot, but some. Here it is:
“On the early KISS records, I used my tobacco-sunburst Gibson Les Paul Standard with a rewound hot pickup [rewound by Larry DiMarzio?] through a Marshall stack or old Fender tweed amp on most of the studio recordings. I used an Electro-Harmonix Big Muff to overdrive them sometimes.
“Later I got a cherry-sunburst Les Paul Custom and an old ’59 Les Paul Standard, which dominated my studio recordings in the late ‘70s. My 1978 solo album, Ace Frehley, really shows off what a Les Paul guitar can do in the studio. I recorded almost the whole album exclusively with my 1959 vintage sunburst Les Paul.
“I use Gibson Les Paul Customs live because they’re simply the best guitars for loud rock ‘n’ roll. I’ve always said, ‘Just plug a Les Paul into a Marshall amp and turn it up to 10!’ It’s a no-brainer.”
It’s a little-known fact that live, and possibly in the studio, in the early KISS days Ace’s Marshall Super Leads had 6550 power tubes, not the typical Marshall EL-34s. EL-34s are warmer and get a little more compressed and dirtier than 6550s. So it’s interesting that he would use a hot pickup and a cleaner amp.
On Anton Fig
I’ve said before here that the drumming on the 1978 solo album and on Anomaly is outstanding – really helps the songs. The guy responsible for that is Anton Fig, the Late Show with David Letterman drummer. Here’s what Ace said about Anton in the interview – interesting info:
“I met Anton around the time I was putting songs together for my first solo album when I was with KISS. He had only been in the country for a few years, because he’d grown up in Cape Town, South Africa, and had been around that amazing beat his whole life.
“Eddie Kramer heard his demos and asked if he wanted to work with me. Ironically, I had another friend, Larry Russell, who also heard Anton play and came to me independently and said he had a great drummer for me. To me, that’s karma, so I jumped at the chance to jam with him. We’ve been close friends ever since.
“The greatest things about Anton are his fills and the space he leaves. He doesn’t try to fill up everything, and I really like the fact that he plays slightly behind the beat, à la John Bonham. A lot of drummers play on the beat, and when they get excited and the adrenaline is pumping they play ahead of the beat, which gives some songs a nervous feel. I like to have a relaxed feel, and Anton always holds the song back with a solid rhythm.
“Me and Anton have been playing so long together we almost have this telepathic communication, where I’ll think something and he’ll do it, or I’ll just look at him and he’ll know what I’m thinking. Things come together so quickly, and it’s just a joy to work with him.”
> For anyone curious about Ace touring – no Anomaly tour in the U.S. yet! – here’s what he said: “I finished a successful European tour, and I’m getting ready to go out again to Australia. Dates in the States will be coming up, and I’ll be doing festivals in Europe this summer. I’ve got a Behind the Player DVD coming out, and I’ve already been writing for the next record.”
> The Ace interview – one of the best I’ve read – was done by Rich Tozzoli, one of the Anomaly engineers.