Fifteen years ago this week, Ace Frehley played his last gig as a member of Kiss. Now, after years of public bad blood, he’s releasing a covers album that features his first song in nearly two decades with his old bandmate Paul Stanley. “Fire and Water,” originally recorded by Free, will appear on Origins Vol. 1, which comes out tomorrow.
For all the back-and-forth slogging in the press, though – especially around the bad’s 2014 induction into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame – both Frehley and Stanley say they’ve never not been friends. “We are linked together forever,” Stanley tells Rolling Stone. “We created something that will live far past our lifetimes. And I would love to see him succeed.”
“We’ve always been friends,” Frehley said in February. “The press seems to amplify negativity. I guess it makes good copy.”
“People look through the windows and the see mouths move, but they don’t hear what’s being said,” Stanley says. “I was happy Ace called me up with this. It’s very funny, because on my phone when he called, his name comes up, and it put a smile on my face. Like, I pick up the phone and go, ‘Ace Frehley!'”
Free’s third album, 1970’s Fire and Water – which also features their biggest hit “All Right Now” – made a significant impact on the guitarist early in his life, and he has wanted to record his own take on its title track since the Seventies. He recorded the backing tracks with his band – which also covered songs by Cream, Hendrix and Led Zeppelin, among others, and also welcomed guests like Pearl Jam’s Mike McCready and Slash to the sessions – and then sent it to Stanley with hopes he’d be interested in singing it.
Stanley, too, thought it was a great song choice. “[Free vocalist] Paul Rodgers, besides being a friend, is one of the greatest singers of the last couple of generations,” he says. “He has always been an inspiration, and so I didn’t take singing that song lightly. You don’t often get a chance to redo a Free song, and when you’re singing something by somebody who you respect immensely, it’s like me sending it to him.”
“I thought Paul did a fabulous vocal on it,” Frehley told Rolling Stone. “He jumped at the chance to do this because it’s something that’s outside of Kiss and his character in Kiss, and it gave him a chance to, you know, sing. With Paul, you usually think of him singing in a slightly higher register, and on ‘Fire and Water,’ he’s singing deep from his diaphragm, and it’s a real cool vocal. Everyone who’s heard it just thinks it’s the shit.”
“I don’t get a chance to sing those kinds of songs as often as I’d like,” Stanley says. “It’s not like I’m learning Mandarin or anything like that – it’s part of my wheelhouse – but it’s just not something I get to record often. I thought it was very funny because Ace seemed blown away. And I’m thinking, ‘I’m a singer and that’s what I do.’ I’m glad he was pleased with it.”
Stanley also underscores that all is copacetic between Frehley and him. “I have no anger,” he says. “I’m sitting in an amazingly beautiful house with an incredible family, an amazing wife, an amazing life, and it’s all built on Kiss. And the foundation of Kiss is something Ace is a part of. We couldn’t have built this without him. He’s part of it.”