INTERVIEW AND PHOTOS BY MARKO SYRJALA
Richie Scarlet is a multi-talented musician and producer from New York. Scarlet has created a long career as a solo artist, and he worked with such names as Dennis Dunaway and Sebastian Bach, among others. However, Scarlet is best known for his long-standing collaboration with the legendary KISS guitarist Ace Frehley. Scarlet was one of the original members of Frehley’s post KISS band Frehley’s Comet in the early 80s. Later on, he played on TROUBLE WALKIN'(1989) album and toured with the band until 1996, when Ace rejoined KISS. In 2015, Scarlet reunited with Ace. The band started its European tour at Sweden Rock at the beginning of June, and I met a good-humored Richie backstage after the show, and here’s what I got caught on the tape. The Emperor or Rock’n Roll is back !!!
Metal-Rules.com: First of all, congratulations on the fact that you are now back in Ace Frehley’s band after all these years. How did this happen?
Richie Scarlet: Yeah, how this got started? So I was at a rehearsal with my own show, and my wife called and said; you’ve got to come home; I’ve got something to tell you. She was so excited, and I had no idea what she was talking about, and when I got home, she showed me her cell-phone and said; I did it. I said; you did what? She showed me her cell phone, and it said it was a text from Ace Frehley, and it said, I want the Emperor back in my band. She held the phone out to me, and I looked at it, and she said; Ace is waiting for you to call him right now. I had no idea that she had been talking to Ace for maybe a week before that. So really, I have to give her all the credit for getting Ace and me back together. So I called Ace that night, and he just said, Scarlet. He started laughing, and I said, Ace, and I laughed, and we both laughed. That was also just rekindled us, our spirit, and our vibe back together. Then he flew me up to San Diego, and that’s where I met Scotty Coogan and Chris Wyse, and we rehearsed, and chemistry was instantly there. It was as if I had never left Ace after 15 or 16 years; maybe even more, it was. That’s it. Then we took off and started touring his new record, SPACE INVADER, and now here I am in Sweden and kicking off a European tour. We have just done Australia and New Zealand, and to be back with Ace Frehley, I can tell you how… I’m very blessed to be still here and to get back with Ace and to be able to do these great festivals in Europe. Basically, Joann Scarlet got Ace and I back together after all this time, and I know Ace talked it over with Eddie Trunk and some other people in his camp, and John Ostrosky. All those kinds of people also pushed for the two of us to get back together, so here we are.
Metal-Rules.com: This is the third time when you’re working with Ace. Is it any different now than in the past?
Richie Scarlet: My third time around. This time Ace is completely sober, which I really commend him for doing that. It was a little stiff at first when we first got together. The first couple of days, just to, kind of get to re-known each other and to get to know him sober.
Metal-Rules.com: Is he a different person when he is now completely sober?
Richie Scarlet: Yes. Because he’s a lot more, he’s just more quiet and reserved. Where for many years that I knew him, he was more, like the movie Arthur. He was, I forget, the guy who played that part. Yeah. But then, after like a day and a half of rehearsals in California, he just kind of came back to being the old Ace with his personality and his humor, but he was sober. So that’s really the only difference, and it’s really good, it’s excellent for him and the whole band. He’s playing better than he’s ever played, and I’m not just saying that because I’m back in the group, I love his playing, just tearing it up, the guitar.
Metal-Rules.com: I remember seeing some DVDs from the ’90s where you either were not very sober or in good shape “laughs.”
Richie Scarlet: Yeah, probably not. Though I was okay, I think Ace might have been… It was a different time. It was crazy times.
Metal-Rules.com: But anyway, I’m happy to see you back, and I think the fans are pleased; Ace is pleased, so everybody wins here.
Richie Scarlet: It seems that way, and it’s his fans, and Kiss fans have given me a great welcome back with tons and tons of emails. I was overwhelmed when Ace announced that I was coming back into his band. It was overwhelming on the Internet. It was just thousands and thousands and thousands of best wishes from Kiss fans and Ace fans. I want to thank all those people that still gave a fuck about me after all these years.
THE FUTURE AND MORE
Metal-Rules.com: What kind of plans do you have for the future? You are now in the middle of the European tour, but what will happen after that? I ask this because Ace was not the most active of the guy during the last few years?
Richie Scarlet: Right. I think now he’s very, very happy with this line-up with Chris Wyse and Scotty Coogan. So he’s more motivated to play out more because he’s pleased with the band. So we’re in Sweden now, and we go to Norway tomorrow and then to Germany, and all over Europe, the Download and England and the Hellfest in France. Then we go back to the States, starting July 5th, I believe in Minnesota, and we’re out in the Midwest of the United States for that part of July. In September of 2015, there are already about 19-20 cities booked in the United States. So this tour will go into October, it started at the end of November of 2014. We did a tour of part of the United States, and then we took a break, then we went to Australia and New Zealand, back to the States. Now we are again doing this European thing, then we go back to the States, and for July and all of September will be playing throughout the States. That’s about all I can tell you as far as the dates, but I know that Ace is so happy right now that he wants to play more. A lot more than he ever asked.
Metal-Rules.com: That’s great to hear. Have you already been talking about the possibility of writing something together in the future, a new studio album, maybe?
Richie Scarlet: Yes. As a matter of fact, last night, Ace and I talked about doing… He has a cover record coming up, but after that, he has one more album on this label deal, whatever the deal was. We had discussed making some tracks where we both riff back and forth because when I originally hooked up with Ace. To motivate the inspiration for the band really, because I’m a lead guitar player and of course he is; it was a band called Johnny Winter And, and that had a guy named Rick Derringer and Johnny Winter who both riffed back and forth, and Ace was a huge fan of that band and so was I. So we talked about it last night and maybe taking that direction on a couple of tracks on his next original record, where we both play like go back and forth and do some crazy double lead guitar work
Metal-Rules.com: For me, it sounds like going back to TROUBLE WALKIN’ style, or am I wrong here?
Richie Scarlet: Yeah. Some of that, too, exactly.
Metal-Rules.com: That sounds good; fans will be pleased for sure.
Richie Scarlet: Yeah.
Metal-Rules.com: It would be so cool to you two writing a few heavier tracks in the vein of “Shot U Full of Rock,” etc.
Richie Scarlet: “Shot U Full of Rock,” yeah. Which we were doing actually in the States, but we had to cut down the set-list. We were also doing “Lost in Limbo” when we first started this tour back in last November from New Jersey to whatever, but eventually, they will probably end up in the show sometime again.
Metal-Rules.com: I remember that we played those two songs when you were a guest in Finland two years ago. Do you remember when you were playing with Frehley’s Vomit?
Richie Scarlet: Yes, right. Yeah.
Metal-Rules.com: “Lost in Limbo” is one of those forgotten gems in Ace’s catalog, if you ask me?
Richie Scarlet: What happened, to be honest with you, is we open with the song, but it’s not a very good opening song. It’s got too many stops and goes; it’s better, like with some words in the middle of the set. Nevertheless, it was a song that Ace and I wrote, and it was on TROUBLE WALKIN’, and he hadn’t played that song for 15 years or so.
PRODUCING WORK AND NEW RICHIE SCARLET ALBUM
Metal-Rules.com: You are now working with Ace, but you also have a lot more going on. You have your solo band and do production work for other artists. What are you now working in that sector?
Richie Scarlet: Yes. I just finished producing two incredible CDs, and one is a guitarist named Louie Spagnola. That record has a legendary Kenny Aaronson bass and has Dez Cadena from the Misfits as a guest and Louie Spagnola as a killer guitar player out of New York. That Record will be out sometime, probably in the fall. The other record that I just finished is an artist named Karasi James, phenomena record, phenomena songwriter, and singer that we had The Uptown Horns, Arno Hecht. Guys who played with The Stones, all kinds of guests on his record. But just a phenomenon songwriter, singer. So Karais James and Louie Spagnola are two that just finished producing. I just finished producing a single from a guy named Eric D out of New York, a really cool song about Sybil Ludington, who is a historical person in the United States. So look for that single, and I also just finished writing my new CD, which is tentatively titled right now GOD, THE DEVIL AND ME. So I just finished writing it. I’m in pre-production for it. I don’t know when it will. I probably won’t start recording it till maybe towards the end of the year. So I’m just continually trying to stay creative, writing songs, producing, and Ace and I. Like I said, hopefully, we will be writing some stuff together, so it’s a beautiful thing, Marko.
Metal-Rules.com: I think it’s good when you have plenty of stuff to do all the time?
Richie Scarlet: Yes. I try to stay creative and motivated, and I like to take chances with different music styles. I’m a hard rock, the blues guitar player at heart. But I also play piano, which tends to take me in other directions, so this new CD that I just wrote is the title track, “God, The Devil and Me.” It’s pretty much a piano piece, and it’s got its own vibe.
Metal-Rules.com: Is the new album going to sound like I PLEDGE THE FILTH, or do you have different visions this time?
Richie Scarlet: I really wouldn’t know until, whenever I do a CD, it starts in one direction, and then it kind of… just let it take its own course. But either way, it will be Rock N Roll, will be heavy. I always tell people; buy my CDs. If you don’t like my CD, it makes a great Frisbee or a coaster.
Metal-Rules.com: When you mentioned Frisbee, do you remember what happened in a park in Helsinki? “Laughs”
Richie Scarlet: You are talking about getting beamed, right in the head. I never saw it coming, man. I forgot about that. I saw stars there for a second, and I must have looked like such a fool when that Frisbee hit me in the head. “Bang” Yeah, that’s it. But look for those guys Karasi James and Louie Spagnola and Eric D, those are three artists that I just got them producing. They are all out of New York, actually, and you were supposed to be in the Karais James record; because when you were coming in, that’s when we were going to do an interview, that section. I felt the session early to go pick you up, but you never showed up. I got to burst your balls by that one, but it’s all good. So look for those CDs and bits just wonderful to be back with Ace Frehley. People keep asking me about Peter Criss’s record, which I had done like four years ago probably, and that has not yet to see a day.
Metal-Rules.com: Maybe it never comes out?
Richie Scarlet: Who knows? But I can tell you that it was a good record and much better than the one he had put out.
Metal-Rules.com: That’s not much if you’re talking about ONE FOR ALL album “Laughs.”
Richie Scarlet: No, but that new Peter’s record was really good. There were some great tracks on it, and so let’s hope that someday that will see the light of the day.
Metal-Rules.com: As you mentioned, you have a new solo album coming out sometime soon, and you’re going to tour for it, but would it be out of the question that you would go back to Europe and do some selected shows, for example, with the Vomit as you backing band again?
Richie Scarlet: That could always be arranged. I love Finland. I love your country. Helsinki is a very cool city, so you’re the boss in your quote there. You get the dates and will work something out then, absolutely. Tell the guys from Frehley’s Vomit I said hi, for all those guys there. They were a lot of fun, that was a lot of fun to do, and it was just a great time.
Metal-Rules.com: We’ll what the future holds, but this is enough by now. Anything more you want to say?
Richie Scarlet: Marko, thanks, man, and the magazine is great. You are one of the best photographers; I have never seen better pictures of Paul and Gene or Kiss than what you’ve taken. Fantastic work that you do, photography-wise, and playing music. So enjoy life, man, make the best of it because it goes by really quickly. It’s flying by, but it’s wonderful. See you again, and my wife Joann loves you, and she also says hello to everybody in Finland that took care of us there. And I want to thank you to all Ace’s fans and Kiss fans throughout the world for welcoming me back to the Ace Frehley band. And as I said, I’m very blessed, and I’m very happy to be back.
Metal-Rules.com: Thank you for your kind words, Richie, and see you sometime soon again!
PHOTO GALLERY FROM GRONA LUND PARK, STOCKHOLM