During an appearance on yesterday's (Thursday, November 30) episode of SiriusXM's "Trunk Nation With Eddie Trunk", original KISS guitarist Ace Frehley was asked how he feels about the fact that his former bandmates are calling it quits after completing the "End Of The Road" farewell tour this weekend at Madison Square Garden in New York City. He responded (as transcribed by BLABBERMOUTH.NET): "Well, to be honest, I don't really believe they're ending their touring career. How many times have they said they were gonna retire? How many times have half a dozen groups said they were gonna retire and still come back? Personally, I don't know what their plans are."
Asked if he personally has any emotions about KISS coming to an end as a touring entity, Frehley said: "Not at all. I'm so happy I'm not involved. Last night I watched [video of KISS's] Indianapolis show [from the current tour] from front to back on YouTube. They had 10 comments and maybe a couple of thousand views, but compared to what I'm doing right now, you can't hold a candle to it."
He added: "It's probably better they retire, and hopefully I won't have to listen to them put me down anymore."
Ace was also pressed to clarify that he won't be making a special guest appearance at the Madison Square Garden shows. He said: "Look, if Gene [Simmons, KISS bassist/vocalist] calls me up and offers me a million dollars to come up and play a couple of songs, obviously I'll show up. But I really doubt that's gonna happen because pretty much Paul [Stanley, KISS guitarist/vocalist] runs the band and he's already made a statement that if me and Peter [Criss, original KISS drummer] got up on the stage, we would mar their performance — ironically."
Asked what prompted him to watch a full KISS performance online from the band's ongoing tour, Ace said: "I was on YouTube looking to say how well my new single was being received, and it's going through the roof. And then I was just curious, so I clicked on KISS [playing in] Indianapolis. And I think they had 10 comments, 2,000 views or something like that. And it just made me realize how karma works, you know?"
Last month, Frehley told Mark Strigl of SiriusXM's Ozzy's Boneyard that he doesn't hold a grudge against KISS, despite all the badmouthing that has gone on between him and some of the other original KISS members in recent years.
"I wish KISS the best, all the best on their final shows for the 'End Of The Road' tour," he said. "There's really no hard feelings. We say things sometimes in the heat of passion or sometimes our memory isn't… [we don't] recall things. But I love those guys. We're all getting old, our memory isn't what it used to be, so I just let it roll off my back."
Also in November, Simmons lamented the absence of Frehley and Criss at KISS's final shows, telling 519 Magazine: "I feel sad. I feel sad and angry that both Ace and Peter aren't here. I mean, they're alive, but they're not here to enjoy this unbelievable journey with us. They were there at the beginning and deserve all the credit. And when they look in the mirror, the only reason they're not here with us is themselves.
"Inviting them was as much for the fans as it was for us. KISS has always been about the whole, not the individual. It would've been fitting to have all of us there, one last time."
This past June, Gene was asked by Barbara Caserta of Linea Rock about the possibility of Ace and Peter making guest appearances at the band's last-ever concerts in early December at Madison Square Garden in New York City. He responded: "For the fans — the older, older fans — the ones who've been around for 50 years, they're old, and some of them wanna see Ace and Peter. The newer fans never saw them and they don't know. But the older fans wonder about Ace and Peter. Well, I asked both Ace and Peter a few times: 'Do you wanna come out for the encores? Do you wanna do some shows?' And they both said 'no.' So, I don't know what to say about that… But it's always welcome. But there are many other big stars, superstars, who wanna jump up onstage and play a song. But we're not sure about that. Maybe the best thing to do is to end the way we started: four guys with guitars. No keyboards, no synthesizers — nothing. Just playing."
Eight months ago, Frehley told SiriusXM's "Trunk Nation With Eddie Trunk" that he was still open to playing with KISS at the band's final shows in New York City. "Money motivates me, just like it motivates them, but I don't put money before God," he explained. "If I got a quarter of a million dollars a night, and I can make half a million dollars for playing three or four songs, five songs, I'd take the money. [I'd] buy a Ferrari… buy a Maserati. [Laughs] I don't really wanna play with those guys ever again after what they've done, but money can change my mind."
Frehley continued: "Look, I'm a capitalist. I grew up in America. But I'd never put money before people's feelings. I like money as much as the next guy does, but money isn't my God, like it is theirs. They're all atheists. Whatever they can do or say, whether it's true or false, as long as it makes them the most amount of money, they're gonna do [it]."
Ace also addressed the issue of whether he would perform with KISS at the band's final concerts while wearing his trademark "Spaceman" makeup — the same makeup his replacement Tommy Thayer has been sporting for more than two decades. "Sure. For a quarter of a million dollars," he said, explaining that "I'm a good-looking guy. I don't need the makeup."
When Trunk pressed Ace about what he thinks the odds are of him playing with KISS at the final concerts in New York, Frehley said: "It all depends on money. If I get a formal invitation with a check, I'll be there. But they've gotta have deep pockets… If they don't wanna pay me, I won't be there, ladies and gentleman."
Ace also once again confirmed that he had never received a formal invitation to join his former bandmates at their last-ever shows. "Absolutely not," he said. "From what I understand, the shows are sold out. The only reason they sold out is they made innuendos that me and Peter were gonna be there, [that] they invited us. I wasn't invited. They lie all the time. Haven't they said, 'We're inviting Ace and Peter to come up and play?' Or at least me? Multiple times. So, people bought the tickets. But I haven't been given a formal invitation or given an offer monetarily. And I'm probably not gonna get one now after this interview. And guess what: I don't give a shit."
Despite everything that has been said between all the parties, Ace claimed that he still looks back fondly on his time with KISS and he doesn't hate his former bandmates.
"Look, the bottom line is this: deep down in my heart, I love those guys, because we created something so special that it will be remembered for years," he said. "When we're all dead and buried, there will still be people listening to KISS music. And I'm overjoyed. But I want my legacy to be cleared of any of this bullshit and lies."
KISS launched its farewell trek in January 2019 but was forced to put it on hold in 2020 due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
"End Of The Road" was originally scheduled to conclude on July 17, 2021 in New York City but has since been extended to late 2023. The trek was announced in September 2018 following a KISS performance of the band's classic song "Detroit Rock City" on "America's Got Talent".
In a June 2022 interview with Finland's Chaoszine, Simmons was asked if Frehley and Peter would have any involvement in KISS's final concerts. He responded: "We've tried. I keep trying. Paul and I met with Ace, trying to convince him to come back. He said, 'I want this. I want that.' Well, we can't do that. I asked Ace and Peter to be in the documentary ['Biography: KISStory', which premiered on A&E in June 2021]. They said no. They might do it if they have complete control of the edit. I said, 'We can't do that, because even we don't have that. But I won't control what you say; you can say whatever you want.' The answer is no — both of them. I asked Ace and Peter, 'Come out on tour. We'll get you your own room and everything. Come out on the encores.' Ace said, 'No. The only way I'll come out is if I'm the Spaceman and you ask Tommy [Thayer, KISS's current guitarist] to leave.' I go, 'Well, that's not gonna happen.' First of all, I care about Ace, but he's not in shape — he can't play that way and doesn't have the physical stamina to do that…
"Look, we care about them," Gene added. "We started this thing together and they were equally important to the beginning of the band with Paul and I — no question. But as time went on… Not everybody is designed to run a marathon. Some people are designed to be in a band for a year or two, or a few years, and then that's all they can do. And both of them have been in the band three different times. How many chances in life do you get? All I know is when I put my hand in fire the first time, I got burnt; I didn't get a second or third chance.
"So, the answer is the door's always open," Simmons said. "If they wanna jump on stage at any time and do the encores with us, terrific. But no, we're not gonna get rid of Tommy or Eric [Singer, current KISS drummer]. In fact, Tommy and Eric are the best things that happened to us. They gave us new life [and] new appreciation for what we do because they were fans first. And every once in a while, Eric or Tommy will turn around and say, 'Wow! Isn't this great?' And it makes us realize, 'Yeah! Wow! Isn't this great?'"
Gene was also asked if he saw any of the video footage from the May 2022 Creatures Fest in Nashville where Criss, Frehley and fellow former KISS members Vinnie Vincent and Bruce Kulick all performed. He responded: "Somebody showed me about 30 seconds, yeah. It was very sad. I felt sad for Peter… When I called to invite Peter to be in the documentary, his health isn't what it should be. I don't wanna get too specific because it's part of his private life. But no, physically, he wouldn't be able to do it. Neither would Ace."
Photo credit: Jayme Thornton