Wednesday, October 16, 2013

KISS Army Argentina Interview With Bill Baker

"I was in awe and proud at the same time that I was able to impress the person I was imitating."

KISS Army Argentina: Regarding Ace, did you have the chance of working together indemos, or for co writing songs? Apart from Ace, did you become close to any other member of Ace’s band?

Bill Baker: No, I never had any part in songs. I never even got to jam with him. I've gotten to be good friends with Richie Scarlet. To this day he and his wife Joann are good friends of ours.

KISS Army Argentina: Unfortunately, one day Ace was in your life, the next he was not…One of the last times you met him, as we know, was in 1995; in that moment, did he make any comments on the “KISS Unplugged” or about the KISS Reunion Tour for 1996?

Bill Baker: No he didn't. The Detroit Kiss Expo was our last time we hung out, and he didn't say anything. Our last phone conversation was probably in late June or early July of 1995. He was in his car heading somewhere and called me while he was on his way. He said he was sorry we hadn't talked or gotten together since the Expo, and that he had been busy, and we'd get together soon. He had warned me that he may lose the call because of the signal in the area he was in and sure enough, not to long after he said that, he was gone and that was it. He had never mentioned the reunion and I didn't know about it until a friend called me the day before to see if I was going. I had no clue!

KISS Army Argentina: You no longer collect Ace’s items; you have been selling them for more than 12 years and you have only kept a few items that have a sentimental value for you; which items have you kept?

Bill Baker: First and most sentimental is the star earring. I haven't gotten an offer that has convinced me to let it go. It's just an amazing item and it doesn't take up a lot of space, either!There's a lot of photos from the early days, and Peter even wore it in the "red Room" photos! I still have the all aluminum "Veleno" guitar and the purple jumpsuit from those famous "Circus Magazine" pin-ups. I still have the electric blue leather jacket, Jimi Hendrix shirt, a pair of jeans anda pair of boots (worn in the "Insane" video) from the '92 tour. Some handwritten lyrics, notes, some computer art he did (I have an ELVIS one still in my home workshop), and I still have a ton of original slides and negatives.
KISS Army Argentina: You have stopped following KISS long ago; can you tell us why?

Bill Baker: To me, Kiss was Kiss with the original members. This new version, it's just not what Ilike. I'm partial to Ace and Peter being in the band in the 70's. The original toys, the attitude, that's the real Kiss. Not the "Limited Edition, numbered".....etc. Kiss. And I'm into many other bands.

KISS Army Argentina: After a long long time, in 2008 you met Ace again in which was his first tour after many years. What can you tell us about that meeting? Do you still keep in touch with him?

Bill Baker: Ace just happened to be a guest for the very first time at a convention called "Chiller Theatre" here in New Jersey the same weekend that my books arrived from the printer. I had planned on taking them with me to sell, as I had a pile of 2000 books sitting in front of me with no distribution deal. It was all me to get this creation out there. And I knew first and foremost that Ace should have a copy. I spoke with his manager, someone I knew from years back, and he cut me into the line on Saturday morning and Ace was happy to see me and I gave him a copy and we got a few quick pictures together for the first time in 13 years. I had him sign one of my books to me as well. While it was great to see him again, and whenever I have the chance at a convention if he's there, I'll stop in and say hello, we are not "in touch", I don't have his number or e-mail. I did get a great photo with him another time at "Chiller" with some of the actors from the TV show "What's Happenin". That was fun. I hope there will be a photo op with another fun celebrity.

KISS Army Argentina: Have you read Ace’s autobiography and listened to “Anomaly”? If you did so, what is your opinion about them?

Bill Baker: I did read it. I also gave him a huge batch of paperwork (an interview he did for a KISS book back in the 70's and some other misc. information) to help him with his book because I hadn't used it in mine. I thought he did a great job. I think that between his information and story, and my book with it's array of pictures and memorabilia, you have 2 great books on Ace. I'm proud to have produced one of two great Ace books! Anomaly, it's a good record. "Fox On The Run" is a great cover. I heard he's recording again.

KISS Army Argentina: Some years ago, you finally released a book full of Ace’s memorabilia called “Ultimate Fan Scrapbook”. Please tell us about the process of selecting the material for the book.

Bill Baker: Wow, it was something that took me 15 or so years to put together. When I was collecting Elvis books, some of them were done by fans and I thought, "I should do an Ace book like this". Sorting through all of the memorabilia, thousands of photos, slides, negatives,paperwork, posters, clothes, guitars......It was more like what I couldn't fit than what I could fit. If Iever do an E-book, I will expand it and put more text in there because I had to leave out stories like Ace using my name when he would check into hotels, and the time I almost went on for him at ashow because he was very late.

KISS Army Argentina: What can you tell us about your current activities and your plans for the future?

Bill Baker: Currently, I still repair guitars for a living. That keeps me very busy as I work at an actual shop Monday through Friday, and then I have work at home for friends or other players throughout the country that ship me their guitars. Right now I'm re-making an "Ace tribute player's" smoking guitar. I'm still selling my book through my website or on ebay as well as selling collectables now and then. We have 5 cats, and occasional foster cats, that my wife and I take care of as well as enjoying our home. We have lots of musical friends and go to their shows. To name of few of my favorites, that I love to photograph are Volbeat, HIM and Misfits... I enjoy photography as a hobby.Which maybe in the future I may do another book with some of my photos of these shows! You can check out some of my shots in the galleries on my website. (There are also links to their sites if you want to check them out further!) I was working with bass player Dickie Peterson from Blue Cheer and we developed his custom bass, and I'm working with the bass player from Volbeat now on a custom bass. I'm good friends with that band (they are great check them out!) and my wife and I even traveled to Denmark to attend my friend Jon's (the bands drummer) wedding.

KISS Army Argentina: Finally, we want to thank you for this interview and for the chance of learning more about you and the years you spent with Ace. Thanks!

Bill Baker: Thank You for asking me to do it! I admire that you are keeping the KISS spiritand fans together united! Thank you for making me a part of it! Please visit or to check out my websites and what I'm up to. I'm working on building up as well. Thanks again!-Bill B");

Interview by: Marcelo García and Diego Ferreyra (October2013)