Ace is back, and when you get hit with the attack of his strident new record Anomaly, you’ll realize that his couple of decades away from his solo career in earnest did not constitute time wasted. Sure, Ace has been wasted more times than Def Leppard has deferred to song doctors, but now clean and sober, he’s found himself making strong stadium-rock statements sure to trade punches with those on the Kiss album arriving in October.
“I thought it kind of went along with the kind of person I am,” says Frehley, asked about titling this titillating record with such a big word. “I’m the kind of guy who thinks outside the box, who’s been in all kinds of crazy situations, the ups, the downs, and everywhere in-between. You know, the fact that I’m still walking around this earth, I must be an anomaly, right?”
The term indeed fits, because inside of what one might call, loosely, hair-metal anthems, there’s an oddball effect, stemming from some of the complex melodic choices made.
“I usually write something on acoustic guitar, and then I develop it from just a single track,” answers Ace, on writing somewhat “freer” than he did in the old days. “I’d use a drum machine or something just to keep the beat, and then I just let my imagination run wild (laughs). Something like ‘Genghis Khan,’ that was like the hardest song to mix, because it was over a hundred tracks. That’s pretty much my favorite song on the record, in terms of breaking some new ground. And the guitar intro I added last fall, and pretty much, I was going to end that song with this melody line that develops after the second breakdown, and basically I ended up throwing a wah-wah guitar solo on the end for the fade, so that song developed into a monster. I think we all know who Genghis Khan is, if we remember history. Basically I wrote the song, and I just pictured something heavy, plodding and about strength. I just thought about what Genghis Khan represented and I figured the song had some similarities, so I went with that title.”
Even though this one sports a bit of vocal out of the blue, it is essentially an instrumental, and not the only one. “Well yeah, ‘Fractured Quantum’ is pretty much a continuation of the Fractured series, and I actually ended ‘Fractured Quantum’ with an effect I used on the first record, from back in ’78, the self-titled solo album. Basically I play a figure on a double-neck guitar but used the pickup from the neck that I wasn’t playing on, and that’s how you get that resonant bell sound.
“I remember developing ‘Pain In The Neck,’ ” continues Ace, talking about one of the record’s stand-out heavy rockers, “and yeah, out of the blue I came up with that weird bridge (laughs), which kinda has some yodeling and this oom-pah-pah feel, and I don’t know where that came from. I have actually no idea — it just did. We were working on it one day and I said, ‘Wait, let’s just go in a different direction here.’ And yeah, I guess it shows growth in my writing and producing. I’m finally starting to blossom, you know, in my 50s! Who knew (laughs)?”
Textures, tones, tenacity — there’s lots on this record that make you think it was a big, plush coke-spoon production from the ’80s. Not so says a technologically tilted Ace. “I’ve always had a ton of hobbies. First and foremost, computer graphics and computer art and design. So I’m able to focus on that a lot clearer, without waking up with a hangover these days, which is nice. This is the first album I’ve produced, so that was a learning process. This is the first album I’ve done completely digitally. So working with Pro