Gene Simmons: When we were making Psycho Circus, Ace said: “Hey, I deserve as much as you do!” We said: “No you don’t!” – 2022
Psycho Circus. It’s said that Ace Frehley and Peter Criss contributed very little to that album.
Hardly at all. When the band first started, Ace and Peter were equally as important as Paul and myself. But for two decades Paul and I kept the band going – and very well. When we were making Psycho Circus, Ace said: “Hey, I deserve as much as you do!” We said: “No you don’t!” So Ace and Peter refused to show up. But the train leaves the station whether you get on board or not. Eventually they left the band.
Were you at all sad to see them go?
Ace and Peter were a pain, there’s no other way to say it. Peter was very emotional at the end. He started to paint a teardrop at the corner of his eye. That’s how unhappy he was making money and having people adore him. Ha! So we decided to see if new blood would re-energize the band.
How do you feel emotionally, knowing that one day soon Kiss will walk off stage for the final time?
Quite honestly, I don’t really think about it much, because we really are having the best time ever. And we’re playing better than ever. But I know that at some point there’s going to be that last song that Kiss will ever play on stage, and I know I’ll be crying like a baby and won’t be able to hold back the emotions, because what an amazing journey this has been.
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In a 2020 interview with The Disc Dive, Ace talked about his experience during the making of Psycho Circus.
“It was a disappointment for me. The only song I performed on was the one I wrote (‘Into The Void’). Paul and Gene are such control freaks. And I don’t know why I wasn’t invited to play on a lot of the other songs, but I wasn’t. They used other musicians. The only song Peter (Criss) played drums on was ‘Into The Void’, and ‘Into the Void’ actually had a different title; it was called ‘Shakin’ Sharp Shooter’. They were going to pass on it, but they liked the music part of the song, they liked the guitar riff which I had written with Karl Cochran (co-writer). Gene walked out of the studio and said to me, ‘Why don’t you do something spacey?’ And Gene actually came up with the title. Then I said, ‘Give me 45 minutes, I’ll go up into the attic up here, and I’ll write the lyrics…’ because they weren’t even going to give me a song on the record. And I came in 45 minutes, I wrote all the lyrics for the song, I went in and performed it…boom!”
From a 2012 Interview w/ Eddie Trunk:
It got back to the controlling issue. Controlling issues are a big thing for Gene Simmons and Paul Stanley. Always has been. They love to control everything. The minute the reunion was over, and it got to Psycho Circus, it all changed again. I was really excited, I was like, “Wow, we’re going to finally do a studio album together as a band and I think the fans felt the same way.” It got right back to that thing again: “You’re going to do this, you’re going to do that. We’ll pay you for the record and we’ll say you played on it, but we don’t want you to tell the world that you didn’t play on it.” I couldn’t live with that. I couldn’t look in the mirror every day. And I sure wasn’t going to let my fans think I’m playing on something I’m not on, I won’t do that.
For a minute there, it was like, “Wow, it felt like the old days again.” But my songs got rejected. It hurt, it really bothered me. It was like, well, let’s work on it maybe like we did with Bob Ezrin. Nothing got rejected with Bob, everything we did we did as a team, as a group. That’s why I think Destroyer was so huge. It was the best album we ever did because we were a band when we did it. When this came along and it seemed we were more powerful than we’d ever been, as far as I feel, these two guys took over. It was another controlling issue. “We’re going to control the issue, you’re going to do what we tell you to do, you’re going to play what we want you to play.” As far as I’m concerned, that album was trash. I don’t think it was the best thing THEY ever did because I had nothing to do with it.
Then we had to go out and perform that album. It was kind of like I was a sideman. In the beginning of the reunion, I was Peter Criss the Catman. By the time it got to Psycho Circus, I was Peter Criss the sideman. By the time we even got lucky enough to get to the Farewell tour, it was a nightmare. It was bad in the beginning, too, but it did get worse. I remember the first few rehearsals, Ace was late as usual, and I got a fax one day from Gene saying, “If this shit keeps on going, I’m going to pull the plug and that’s the end of this.” Like, yeah right, but I believed it because I was really in a place where I really wanted this again, and I didn’t want to screw it up because I knew I didn’t want to retire as some old guy living in some apartment somewhere. I paid my dues, much more than they did, I felt in life, and I really wanted to be a good boy again and work this out. Already I could see their wheels turning, and yeah, it got worse, the more power, the more money, the bigger arenas. They treated me and my wife, Gigi – who’s now my wife, but at the time was my girlfriend – they would treat her like trash. It hurt me a lot. 25 years ago I would have given them a black eye, but I swallowed my pride and took it.
From the Talk is Jericho Podcast:
“Everything was wrong. Psycho Circus was kind of like the result of a cancer that was building. We had gotten back together — we brought those guys back — and they were just completely apologetic and remorseful and thankful to be back.”
“And we never said they were going to be equal partners. Why would they be equal partners? The band had existed without them. So, that being said, nobody should start a collection, although they might need it now.”
“Those guys won the lottery twice. And when they came back, they were pretty broke. And we could take ‘pretty’ out of that. And yet it wasn’t too long after things started to happen again that they started doing the same stuff. And it just became ugly and no fun.”
“The idea of doing Psycho Circus … the idea behind doing it was much greater than the reality of doing it. ‘Let’s do an album together.’ ‘Well, wait a minute…’ You’ve got guys who are trying to renegotiate deals, and we’re talking to lawyers more than we’re talking to them, and this idea of, ‘I should have this many songs on the album.’ And honestly, I’ve been writing songs for fifty years, and I’ve gotten pretty good at what I do. So it just became ugly and sad.”