Bassist Chris Wyse is a busy man. In addition to playing in his own band OWL, he also holds down the groove in THE CULT and is currently on tour playing with ACE FREHLEY. In fact, he’ll be here with Ace on December 1 at Trees Dallas. We got the chance to sit down with Chris for the second time while he was at a little coffee shop somewhere in America to discuss working with Ace, a new OWL EP in 2015, and more. Have a look:
Amps: I know OWL’S The Right Thing was released earlier this year, and now you’re touring with Ace Frehley and doing Gods knows what else. Do you ever stop??
Chris: (Laughs) I’ve been lucky to have this stuff come up, man. Like these interview opportunities, you’ve gotta take ’em when they come, right? It doesn’t lend itself to a normal lifestyle, but when it’s not happening I get bored.
Amps: So, four shows into the tour…how’s it going?
Chris: It’s going great. From show one to show two there was a noticeable difference and the band is gelling so fast it’s surreal. It’s a whirlwind, but I can tell you we sound completely different than we did the first night. We’re tighter and there’s a really fantastic energy in the band. This may be one of the most potent line-ups I’ve been in, and I’ve been in a lot. There are a lot of dates in a short amount of time, so there’s no time to really think; just do it. You just jump in the deep end and go.
Amps: The setlist has some killer songs, and you’re singing lead on “Strange Ways” right?
Chris: Yeah, yeah I’m singing a lot in the set, actually.
Amps: What’s that like when you realize that you’re singing lead vocals on an old KISS song with Ace Frehley himself right there?
Chris: It feels great. The thing I have with Ace is that I grew up as a fan, but I really dig our chemistry together. We have fun and enjoy ourselves. I knew when we got together the first time we would. I’m a professional and I’m a fan. I’ve been there before with OZZY and Mick Jagger; you serve the gig first, and sometime later you’re like, “Wait a minute! I did that!” Maybe I’ll realize it next year or something (laughs). It still blows me away that I’m with Ace, though.
Amps: What is touring in Ace’s band like in 2014? When I saw him in 2010 the show was outstanding!! What is he like as far as how he wants the show to go, etc.?
Chris: He’s a natural. I think he trusts his team. I mean, I have a bass solo every night, so it’s pretty cool. He doesn’t go out there like, “This is the Ace Frehley Band”, no. He’s more like, “Check out this band. I’ve got a pretty kickass band!!” And that’s very gracious of him. Not every band or artist is like that. He’s very free with it, but he also knows exactly what he wants so we work hard. For example, he wants to do certain things different, and even play some songs a little different this tour. We’re kind of jamming a lot, because this band can really do that. We can really let loose. That’s what makes Ace special, he lets the band be what it is and just vibe off each other and the crowd. He has that vison, but there’s a freeness with his band, you know?
Amps: Plus, having Scot (Coogan, drums) in the band helps, right? He’s such a great drummer!
Chris: Oh yeah, great singer, too! He’s got a strong, distinct voice and personality.
Amps: The new EP, Things You Can’t See comes out next year. What are your plans once this run with Ace finishes?
Chris: It’s basically gonna be more of what’s happening now. The album release will be kind of at the forefront of next year. We didn’t want to rush it out this year. The Ace touring will probably continue, so expect a lot more OWL and a lot more Ace.
Amps: What are you listening to? What’s in your car or iPod?
Chris: Well, I’m on a different trip. I’m listening to Francois Rabbath, an avant-garde jazz bass player. I’m venturing into more jazz and classical these days. I’m always looking for guys who are better than me. I’m looking for some of the best upright bassists in the world. I don’t know if I’ll ever be that guy because I have a raw, rock and roll vibe about me. But there is a lot of heaviness in classical. Francois Rabbath is also a teacher, and his bowing technique is groundbreaking.
Amps: What do you like to do away from music?
Chris: Well funny enough, I seek out other kinds of music! But I also get into yoga, going for a jog. I like to stay in shape. I love trying the local fare in cities, like their local coffees. You know, there’s a Starbucks in every fuckin’ town and I think that’s boring. Some guys get off the bus and go straight for that stuff. I like the local coffee, and it makes these interviews even nicer. I get to try something new as I’m talking to you.
Amps: What do you think is the best thing about playing with Ace Frehley?
Chris: I think it’s the laughs onstage when we’re really rockin’. It makes me happy to see him get a kick out of the band. When I get that big laugh onstage from Ace it’s usually because we’re kickin’ ass. Hey, Ace has done it all, so to get him happy is pretty cool. He’s been in KISS for fuck’s sake, so we wanna make him happy as well as enjoy our own experience, you know? It’s a really nice thing and I’m lucky to be a part of it.
Chris Wyse has scaled his way to the top of the Rock Mountains and yet he never stops learning. He is always looking for ways to improve, and he is a consummate professional as well as a music fan. Young musicians, take heed. Chris will be rockin’ out with ACE FREHLEY at Trees Dallas on December 1. Get your tickets HERE!
LIVE PHOTO: BRIAN ROBISON