Acey Slade, started in August of 2016 as the touring guitar player for the Misfits, though he also plays with Dope, Murderdolls, Wednesday 13, Amen, Joan Jett & The Blackhearts, and composes his own music. He will be holding a guitar clinic at Rock Box, a music school owned fellow Dope musician Angel Bartolotta, who also played in Genitorturers and founded the collaborative Team Cybergeist. Rock Box is located at 5400 S. Biscayne Dr, Suite F in North Port, FL, and the clinic will be held at 7 p.m. March 10; tickets are $20 with advanced reservation: call (941)200-2163.
Bartolotta said, "The Rock Box is extremely excited to be bringing Acey Slade down from New York! It's not every day a musician of his calibre visits North Port. He has played for some high-profile bands, including the Misfits, Joan Jett & The Blackhearts, and Murderdolls, to name a few. Acey and I both played together in the band Dope. He is one of the nicest and most down to earth people I've ever had the privilege of sharing a stage with. I can't wait to see what he has in store for us."
In preparation for the guitar clinic, I chatted with Slade to get to know a little more about the clinic and his experiences as a musician, and a little about his personal life.
Author Marisa Williams: Acey, what can people expect at the upcoming guitar clinic?
Guitarist Acey Slade: A lot of times, when people do these clinics, I feel they’re very show offy, kinda geared towards musical gymnastics, which is great, but I like to include people that aren’t at that level. I’m going to have students from Angel’s School (Rock Box) come up and play with me, which is a little different than how these things usually go. Rock music is different from other genres that promote sharing and being inclusive; the type of music we play is more outsidery, a little more standoffish, but I want it to be inclusive, to inspire people to play. Clinics can be inspiring, because seeing a very good musician play can make you want to pick up guitar and play. That’s what I want people to get when they get done from this clinic: to go home and want to start a band.
Marisa: Have you done clinics before?
Acey: I did a clinic in Russia last year, did a bunch in Europe several years ago, and this year, I’m doing a lot more. I really enjoy them. This year, I will have the break to focus on doing something like this. I will do it in between touring, if people like me enough.
I think the main thing is that I hope when people leave there, they want to start their own band. I don’t consider myself a master guitar or bass player, and that’s usually what these clinics are. I just always wanted to be in cool bands. Just like the drummer from the Clash, as soon as he learned three chords, he started forming a band. I hope that’s what people do, get inspired, and leave wanting to express themselves, as opposed to musical mathematics or fitness.
Marisa: What do you consider to be your hometown, and is that where you live now?
Acey: I’m from a small town in PA, but I’ve lived in NY for the past 20 years now.
Marisa: How did you get started in music? Did you come from a musical family? What were your biggest musical influences?
Acey: I was in the church choir as a kid, and my favorite thing in the world was the Passion Play, a reenactment of the crucifixion of Christ. I loved the theatrics of play. I saw Alice Cooper a year later, and he cuts off own head and rises back to life, just like church. I wore the concert shirt to school and got sent home. When I went to church, I can read from scripture all day, but showing me the play with the theatrics got my attention. Just like when I saw Alice Cooper, he’s running around on stage dressed crazy, guillotines. That’s where the two tie together I suppose.
Marisa: I know you play guitar, but do you play any other instruments, and how old were you when you learned to play them?
Acey: I also play bass. It comes back to people out there who see Eddie Van Halen, Jimmy Hendrix, or Steve Vai playing, and they say, “I want to be an awesome guitar hero.” For me, growing up in small town in PA, the pool of musicians so small. It was more like the band up the road needs a bass player; now, another band needs a guitar play. I always wanted to be in a band and write songs, as opposed to a soloist, per say. I was probably like 16 when I got my first guitar.
Marisa: What was your first concert that you attended, and how did that compare to the first concert that you played?
Acey: First concert I attended was probably Alice Cooper, and that was a huge production, huge show. First show I ever played was an all ages place in the town next to mine, probably 30-40 kids there. There was nobody smoking, no marijuana like the Alice Cooper concert, no massive lights or PA. In my imagination through, both of those shows took me to another place, not in my body. I was so absorbed with what’s going on on stage. I was terrified and excited at the same time. The feeling was the same, but aesthetics couldn’t have been further apart.
Marisa: What was the first album you purchased?
Acey: I worked at a record store, so I don’t remember the first album I purchased, but I remember that I stole Cheap Trick, Rolling Stones and Judas Priest from my sister to listen to when I was growing up.
Marisa: How do you go about writing music? What comes first for you: drums, guitars, vocals or something else? Has the process of writing changed for you over the years at all?
Acey: It’s funny. It comes from everything. I have a list in my phone of song titles. I have song lyric phrases that I write down. Sometimes, I’ll walk and hear drum patterns or melodies, and I’ll hum that in my phone. It’s funny even for me to listen to, let along someone else. It’s not like scat singing, but sometimes I’ll sit with a guitar, play a part wrong, but if I follow up with another chord, it’s a whole different riff. Most recently, I was working with Earl Cohen, Lady Gaga’s producer. I’ve always been like whatever comes to mind first, that’s always the best, as it’s the most impulsive and pure, so I would work with that idea, put it down, and either it’s good or not. Earl was interesting. We would work off a guitar riff. He would say, “that’s good, but how would you play it better?” Just really working the aspects until he would say, “I think we got something there, but what’s the vocal melody?” Then again, he would say, “that’s really good, but how would you do it better?” We recorded the whole time. Maybe we would start with the best idea, but it may be at end. I had never worked that way before. It was really cool; I’m going to start implementing that, too.
Marisa: What is your favorite musical technique?
Acey: To be honest with you, you have to keep it fun. A lot of musicians sit and try to learn a scale. Sure, you have to learn a scale, but knowing it and putting it to use are two different things. Carol Kaye – she’s a bass player on a lot of Motown stuff - her teachings are based around how to make use of an octave. We’d work on song and put it to practical use. When you keep in practical use, you keep learning. I was watching a guy today to prepare for the clinic, and he did the complete opposite. He would say, take the C scale, play it over E and D, but he was telling, not showing, so it was not very fun.
Marisa: Are you only playing with the Misfists now, or do you have other projects, too?
Acey: I also tour with Dope, not currently, but I work with a few different people. I do sessions in NY, so I keep busy. Have my own stuff that I do, too.
Marisa: What is the scariest thing about being on the road?
Acey: Going home.
Marisa: Best or worst tour moment?
Acey: Funniest memory, I gotta say, probably the funniest that comes to mind was when I played in Australia with Joan Jett for the New Year’s countdown. The sound cut out during our set. We used in-ear monitors that block out the outside sound to hear band through headphones. At the time, I wasn’t using those, but rest of band was, so they could not hear. There was like 30,000 people, and it was almost like scene in The Doors, naked men crowd surfing, blow up dolls, confetti... They start arguing about how to fix problem. I notice the screen counting down 10, 9, 8, 7… By the time I got everyone’s attention, we missed the countdown. Nobody else could hear. I always feel a lot of gratitude; every time I get in a tour bus, I’m grateful. At the Misfits reunion shows, we broke attendance records. I’ve known diehard fans with Misfits tattoos on them, and they said, “it was too crazy; I had to get out of there. I got cracked ribs, sprained ankles; it was pretty intense.” I guess one time I was playing with Joan, and Stephen Tyler, Dave Grohl, Brett Michaels, and Lynard Skynard were on the side of the stage where I had my equipment. So, every time I would walk over to switch instruments, I had to say excuse me, Dave Grohl. Excuse me, Stephen Tyler. I remember Stephen Tyler singing melodies so loud that I could hear him over the amps. That was like a pinch me moment.
Marisa: What's your favorite way to travel and why?
Acey: I like buses. I can go to sleep whenever I want, go to my bunk. Chances are whatever’s on TV is pretty cool, because you have like-minded people. You drive through the night, wake up in the next town, so you’re waking up with bigger chunk of day. With Joan, we flew everywhere. At first, it was cool, but you’re spending four hours of each day at an airport just waiting, so definitely being in a bus. Those are luxury items, problems like winning the lottery and complaining about the taxes.
Marisa: What's your favorite place to travel to, and is there anywhere you have not been to that you would like to go to?
Acey: Well, I really like Russia and the Ukraine a lot. I like Asia a lot, too. I haven’t been to India, so that’s on the bucketlist of places I haven’t gone.
Marisa: What's your biggest musical fantasy?
Acey: As corny as it sounds, doing the Misfits reunion shows pretty much hit it. That was like up there. I’d have to say that’s it. When I played with Joan, the band was inducted into the Rock n’ Roll Hall of Fame. As minimal as it sounds, I wish my own music would get the attention as some of the bands I play for gets.
Marisa: I have three personality questions that I ask everyone. They might sound like hogwash, but I promise, there is a psychological basis to the answers ;-) First, if you were an unicorn, and you could be any color but white, what color would you be and would you have any special powers?
Acey: Purple. I’d like to have x-ray vision.
Marisa: If you were yogurt, what flavor would you be (feel free to be creative, as this does not have to be a traditional flavor) and how would you be served?
Acey: Well, I just got home from buying yogurt, so it’s funny that you should ask me that. Normally, I would say coffee flavored, but I’ve had it, and it’s not great, so I’m going to say … I make a lot of smoothies, like chocolate and blueberries, so definitely chocolate, served in a gauntlet, floating in perfume, served in a man’s hat.
Marisa: Describe yourself as either a dog, a cat or a cartoon.
Acey: I’m definitely more of a cat person. You’re asking me in front of my cats; one is a black cat, and one is an Egyptian Mau. For fear that either would seek vengeance by pooping somewhere, maybe I’ll say a Persian cat. Persians are banned from our country right now, but Persians are actually hypoallergenic.
Marisa: Do you collect anything?
Acey: Well, I collected Nightmare Before Christmas toys, then I saw a special about people collecting Beanie Babies. For some reason, I just thought those people seemed creepy, then I looked around my room, and I thought I was one of those creepy people. Plus, I ran out of room. I do photography, so I collect photography equipment, and it gets very expensive.
Marisa: What's your biggest guilty pleasure?
Acey: Something people may not know, I could listen to Motown all day long, so Motown music. I love going into the desert. I will spend retarded amounts of money on coffee. I walked into a coffee shop today, and I walked out $20 poorer. That’s not even buying beans or anything. It’s the last vice I have.
Marisa: Do you have any hidden talents or special skills?
Acey: I can wiggle my ears.
Marisa: What's the most important thing to remember?
Acey: I forget. Brush my teeth.
Marisa: What was your most influential moment?
Acey: On the serious tip, probably when I got sober. I’ve been sober 20 years now, so there’s that. I know that’s not for everybody. Probably that, and when I got the call to move to NY to play for Dope when they had their deal with Sony, which would’ve been 1999. I joined Murderdolls with the drummer from Slipknot. I’ve tried to get my own projects off ground intermittently. It’s been so close, but they never quite got traction. Seven years ago now was the day I got set up to quit music. I had it, thought I had done everything I was supposed to do. I thought, that’s it, then I got the phone call to play for Joan. I played for her for six years.
Marisa: Were you playing with Dope when they played Croakie’s Party Island in Michigan?
Acey: I didn’t play Croakie’s. At that point, it was a weird time. We had two records on Sony, but we didn’t know what was going to happen. I wanted to ride it out, see it out, then Joey from Slipknot called me up. He had booked two weeks of shows for Murderdolls, one week in Europe, another in Japan opening for Guns n’ Roses. I went to the lead singer of Dope and said, “here’s the deal. I don’t want to leave the band, but I have an opportunity to go to Europe, then Japan. So, when I get back, I will resume playing for Dope.” I feel positive about it, but then the next day, he calls and says that I can’t go to Japan, because he had booked this gig at Shakie’s. He said, don’t go Japan; go to the Party Island, but I said no. I did not play that show.
Marisa: If you were not doing music, what would you be doing?
Acey: Probably hair or photography. When I quit Joan, it was doing first day as a hair stylist. It’s a good way to make money. Young kids who want to be musicians ask me what they should do for extra money, and I tell them go to hair school. It only takes nine months for school, and you can make cash straight away. You can have a flexible schedule, can look weird with tattoos, and it’s easy. It’s better than swinging a hammer, not to say that there’s anything wrong with that; it’s just, for me, this is great. Photography, I wanted to go to school for it, and my mom said, “pick career that makes money.”
Marisa: What are three things you must have with you when you are on the road?
Acey: My Aeropress, a coffee press; my camera; and my phone.
Marisa: Any advice for musicians starting out?
Acey: Yes, learn how to cut hair.
Marisa: Where can people find your music?
Acey: www.aceyslatemusic.com, www.twitter.com/aceyslate1, www.facebook.com/official-acey-slade, https://www.instagram.com/aceyslade/
Marisa: Closing thoughts and additional comments?
Acey: I’m excited to come down to FL; hopefully, everybody takes it easy on me. We’ll have a lot of fun, play some music, and it’s great to support Angel’s school. The way the band Dope is set up is like a fraternity; there’s always different guys. I’ve played with Angel a handful of times, but the thing with Angel that strikes me is that he’s always so pro with whatever he’s doing; he always has every I dotted, every t crossed.
The Acey Slade guitar and bass clinic will be held at The Rock Box on Friday, March 10th at 7:00 p.m., and the event is open to the public. Tickets are $20 and must be reserved in advance, as tickets will not be available at the door.
The Rock Box Music School & Stage is located at 5400 S. Biscayne Dr, Suite F, in North Port, FL. For more information, call (941)200-2163 or visit www.rockboxmusicschool.com. Rock Box teaches private lessons for voice, piano, guitar, bass, drums, ukulele, violin, mandolin, cello, hand percussion and more. They also host band camps, clinics/workshops, and monthly Open Jam Nights.
The author of more than 100 books, Marisa Williams earned her Master's in Writing from the Johns Hopkins University; for more on Marisa, visit www.lulu.com/spotlight/thorisaz and www.twitter.com/booksnbling.