Most fans of the original and best Kiss line-up have felt some sympathy for Ace Frehley, replaced onstage by Tommy Thayer wearing Ace's traditional makeup and costume, playing Ace's solos, singing Ace's songs and even bearing Ace's nickname 'Spaceman'. In an interview with the Village Voice, Frehley puts his finger on the nub of the problem: "What they really should have done is, if they wanted to dress up a guy to play lead guitar, they should have come up with different makeup, like they did with Eric Carr and Vinnie Vincent. That's what fans are upset about." It does seem like a rare marketing opportunity was missed; Stanley and Simmons could have launched brand new character designs and revitalised the look of Kiss, instead of meekly plodding on with half a tribute band painted to resemble the old guys. And it must be hard for Space Ace to watch what he describes as "a guy up there copying me."
But a weird ‘cycle of abuse’ situation seems to have developed. As Ace feels unfairly treated by Kiss, so it emerged this week that Ace’s ex-bassist Anthony Esposito was dropped from the guitarist’s solo band after years of dedicated service, via a terse text message. “I was like, ‘Hey Ace, I don’t know if I’m in the touring band or not,’” Esposito reveals, “and he texted me back saying ‘I’m gonna go in a different direction. Chris Wyse from The Cult is my new bass player.’ I was in the band for seven years. And I did a lot more than just play bass. I was the tour manager, stage manager, merch guy, and I would settle all the money with promoters. I was more than just a hired-bass sideman. And I was kind of shocked that I was just tossed away. But I guess that’s the nature of the job.”
It certainly seems that leaving bandmates in the lurch via social media is all the rage at the moment. Laura Jane Grace of Floridian punk rockers Against Me! tweeted on Thursday: “Dear Slipknot: good luck with that. #shitbag,” ramping up speculation that the new Slipknot drummer is Jay Weinberg (son of Bruce Springsteen’s drummer Max) who left Against Me! without explanation in December 2012. “I woke up one morning and read on Twitter that he was leaving,” Grace had previously stated. “I have never talked to him since.”
In other masked loony news, Swedish occult rockers Ghost are one band who will never suffer the ignominious line-up traumas of Kiss or Slipknot. Not only because all the band members are anonymous Nameless Ghouls, but also because, as one of those Ghouls announced to TNG this week, the spooky sextet are determined not to hang around too long. “There are bands that have existed for 10, 15, 30 years that just keep going. They do it because they have to, for monetary reasons. They have to live,” proclaimed the Ghoul. “We’re rational enough to feel when the curtain is falling, that we have nothing more to offer – what we’re doing is just a repeat.” The Ghoul speculates that they’ll continue for “at least two records”, adding “We have so many more things on the list that we need to do to regard this as complete. Even now, we’re doing just a third of all the things we set up five years ago.” Which, mathematically, seems to suggest that Ghost will actually be around for another ten years at least…
Uncannily, it’s already been fourteen years since the debut EP by Swedish death metal supergroup Bloodbath – formed in homage to the early 90s DM scene by members of Katatonia and Opeth, periodically augmented by Swedish luminaries like Dan Swanö and Peter Tagtgren – and in the wake of Mikael Akerfeldt’s departure, an unexpectedly British replacement has been announced in the grizzled form of Paradise Lost frontman Nick Holmes. With the news that Nick will be reverting to his unique, cavernous deathly roar unheard for over 20 years – plus the announcement of guest appearances from Autopsy’s Chris Reifert and Eric Cutler on Bloodbath’s forthcoming LP Grand Morbid Funeral – this makes a very grand week indeed for fans of old-school doom-death.