Music News & Reviews

Fresno musicians’ song makes ex-Kiss guitarist's album

Proving that the music industry is an unpredictable beast, a song written by two Fresno musicians nine years ago has found new life on an album from ex-Kiss guitarist Ace Frehley.

Jesse Mendez and David Askew penned the song "Outer Space," which is the first single off Frehley’s upcoming album "Anomaly," which is due on Sept. 15. It will be Frehley’s first studio album in 10 years.

"Outer Space" will be released Tuesday as a single through music outlets such as iTunes. Local music venue Audie’s Olympic, 1426 N. Van Ness Ave., is having a Kiss-themed party at 9 p.m. Tuesday to celebrate the achievement. There’s no cover charge. Kiss costumes are encouraged.

“It’s one of my heroes singing my words and playing my riffs,” says Askew, 44. “I’m just kind of beside myself with the whole thing still.”

Adds Mendez, 40: “I’m still soaking it all in. I’m excited, but [at] the same time I don’t know what’s going to happen next.”

Neither of them ever guessed this would happen.

The year 2000 was the song’s genesis. Askew started it on his acoustic guitar in his apartment and took it into the studio to finish with Mendez. At the time, they were playing together in a band called Shredmill.

They thought the song was good, recorded it as a demo and sent it around to record labels hoping for a bite. Nothing came.

The song sat, untouched and not totally finished for years. Mendez and Askew kept playing music in various bands, not really concerned with “Outer Space.”The song came back into their orbit when Frank Munoz, who managed Mendez’s band The Napoleon Blown Aparts, started working with Frehley.

Munoz remembered “Outer Space” and thought it would fit well with the album Frehley was planning.

“We were putting together the track list for the CD, and we both agreed that ‘Outer Space’ would be a great reintroduction of my persona — The Spaceman — to my fans,” Frehley said via e-mail. “It’s a heavy song.”

Mendez met with Frehley a few times during the recording process, as the song got adjusted and tinkered to fit Frehley’s style.

“I didn’t know what to expect,” Mendez says. “Him being in Kiss and doing what he’s done and being where he’s been. But he was really down-to-earth. We had a few discussions over sushi.”

Now both Mendez and Askew are hoping this leads to more than just dinner. They’ll get a percentage of the sales from the single and from the album. Plus, if the song ever gets used in video games, movies, commercials or anything else, they’d get a cut of that, too.

If the song happens to be the lead single off the album, all the better.“When you get the single off a rock star’s album, I don’t know what’s going to happen,” Askew says.

Both guys will be traveling to Frehley’s private record-release party and seeing him perform in Los Angeles.

Askew has started his own music publishing company as a result and has an endorsement with Halo Guitars. His current band is called Death Alley Motor Cult, which is working on a CD.

Mendez and Askew now wonder what other songs they have in the archives that might catch someone’s ear, should “Outer Space” become a hit and open doors for them in the music industry.

“When this comes out,” Askew says. “I should have some more people calling and wanting to work with me.”

Adds Mendez: “I’m just glad I get the opportunity now to have that leverage, to know that ‘hey, I have a good ear.’ ”

The reporter can be reached at mosegueda @fresnobee.com or (559) 441-6479. Read his blog at fresnobeehive.com.

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