Soundgarden’s Kim Thayil Explains Why Ace Frehley Is His Favorite KISS Member

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Soundgarden’s Kim Thayil listed the guitarists who heavily influenced his sound during a recent conversation with Guitar World. Thayil revealed that he realized that guitar playing was cool thanks to KISS’ Ace Frehley, his favorite band member.

Following the tragic passing of Soundgarden frontman Chris Cornell in 2017, the band’s future is still in question, but Kim Thayil has kept remaining active with different other projects. He returned to the stage to tour with Wayne Kramer’s MC5 in 2018. Later on, he also appeared as a guest guitarist on several albums, including The Pretty Reckless’ and Mastodon’s latest albums.

The guitarist recently formed a new band named 3rd Secret with Pearl Jam drummer Matt Cameron and Nirvana bassist Krist Novoselic. The band members worked on a new record for a while, and their debut studio album finally arrived on April 11, 2022. While honoring the band’s grunge roots, the album also dived into indie-rock, indie-folk, and beyond.

During his recent appearance, Kim Thayil talked about the guitarist that played a significant role in shaping his playing. When he first heard KISS’ Ace Frehley, he realized that guitar playing was cool. Hence, Frehley was by far his favorite KISS member. Thayil liked Frehley’s costume and the songs he wrote for the band. Thus, Ace Frehley was one of the guitarists who helped Kim Thayil create his distinctive playing style.

Ace Frehley’s influence on him in Kim Thayil’s words:

“I first realized that guitar playing was cool when I heard KISS, thanks to Ace Frehley. He had a cool look, and KISS designed themselves to appeal visually. Frehley was easily my favorite member of KISS, and at that time, I liked the songs he wrote and his costume.

I didn’t know what ‘lead guitar’ was, but he was credited as the lead guitarist. I took that to be the ‘out front guitar,’ the heavy guitar that started the songs. So, if I hear a riff like ‘Watchin’ You’ or ‘Nothin’ to Lose,’ both start with guitar, right? I think that’s lead guitar.

That’s what I liked: the loud, distorted, big, heavy sound of the rhythm guitar, but I attributed that to the lead guitar, and Ace Frehley was playing that. I thought the guitar solos were these extra flourishes that were added and played by the rhythm guitarist because they occurred when the vocalist wasn’t singing!”

You can listen to 3rd Secret’s debut album below.