Whether you’re referencing his current role in Ace Frehley’s solo band, his previous ventures with such bands as The Cult and Ozzy Osbourne, or his position at the helm of his own project Owl, there’s no use in ignoring the abilities of bassist and vocalist Chris Wyse.
Having recently contributed to the well-received 2014 Ace Frehley comeback record ‘Space Invader’ and is currently working on a follow-up with the former KISS guitarist, Wyse has found a way to channel his energy and free time into another productive venture with Owl.
Owl’s new album ‘Things You Can’t See’ found it’s way onto the shelves on July 28. The band formulates a rowdy helping of alternative hard rock with a progressive edge on the album, in what should surely introduce a new audience to the Los Angeles-based band.
Music Enthusiast recently had the opportunity of asking Chris about the new Owl record, the roster of iconic musicians he has stood alongside, a decade of experiences with The Cult and what we can expect from the upcoming Ace Frehley album.
Music Enthusiast: Being influenced musically at a young age, with your dad singing around the house and you singing in the choir, what influenced you to add bass to your talents?
Paul D’Amour, the bassist for Tool, bought your first electric upright bass which has become a staple for you. What does the upright bass give you that the bass guitar doesn’t?
Well, Paul got me the electric upright because the burden of the acoustic one was big in his band called Lusk. Chris Pitman from Guns N’ Roses was also in the band. The upright is a different animal, obviously because of the bow and being fretless. The sonics now can keep up with a hard rock band. The guys back in the day of Elvis struggled with volume and had bloody fingers often. I can also run FX throughout my upright like any guitar. It has no limits.
You have recorded tracks for some iconic musicians. You’ve played on Mick Jagger’s ‘Goddess in the Doorway’ back in 2000, you auditioned to play bass for Metallica and were featured in the band’s documentary ‘Some Kind of Monster.’ You even appeared on Ozzy Osbourne’s ‘Under Cover’ album and the ‘Prince of Darkness’ compilation, to name a few. What do you take away from these experiences?
They were all great! Ozzy was a standout for sure because I had dreamed of playing with him. I really feel blessed to be in Ace Frehley’s band. Ace is the coolest. I get a bass solo and sing every night. I make it about the work always and usually absorb things later. No matter who the artist is I work just as hard but these are some of my heroes and it is exciting.
You became the full-time bassist for the Cult in 2006 for ten years, touring worldwide and recording three albums. You first appeared on the ‘Beyond Good and Evil’ album but didn’t tour behind it, and because of that some fans didn’t realize that you were on the record. Was that interesting for you?
It was to some degree. It was strange to see someone in the video playing the bass to my stuff. Lots of people did not know, but it all came around eventually and it was one of the things Metallica liked because it showcased my tone and playing.
You later played on The Cult’s ‘Born into This’ and ‘Choice of Weapon’ studio albums. Did you have an objective going into the recording of those albums?
Just to rock the tracks and help them finish up songs. We were going for live drum and bass feel. I came up with some of the parts that they needed and were missing.
Those three releases have had a mixed reaction by the fans. ‘Beyond Good and Evil’ was considered too heavy, ‘Born Into This’ was too pop, and ‘Choice of Weapon – which you wrote most of material for, is that right? – seemed to be a “back to the roots” album. What influenced the band to go into different directions which each album?
It is just natural to want to do different stuff than the last record. It’s that simple really. I wrote some bridges, intros and outros, etc. The only band that I want to hear sound the same is AC/DC. With the Cult I would go in and dress things up and write some and fill in the blanks.
While The Cult was on hiatus you received an invite from Ace Frehley to tour the album ‘Space Invader,’ which you already had recorded a couple tracks for. Being a huge KISS fan and Ace Frehley being one of your childhood heroes, was this a dream come true?
Ace and I have a genuine connection and we have a blast. Ace is one of my all-time favorite guitarists so it is very exciting for me and led to me joining full time.
You and Ace Frehley seem to have a connection musically from the start. Is it overwhelming to work with a guitar icon, or is it something you’re accustomed to at this point?
I don’t get overwhelmed. That is not an option and never has been. I am very strong at what I do. I never worry.
What are your future plans with Ace Frehley?
A new Ace cover record is on the way. I am excited to be on new versions of “Cold Gin” and “Parasite.” There are some Thin Lizzy and Rolling Stones songs and they are turning out great. More touring to come as well.
Let’s talk about the new album from Owl, ‘Things You Can’t See’ that was released on July 28. My interpretation of the title is the aura that makes us who we are but can’t been seen. Can you describe the meaning the behind this title?
I think it means many things. I like the aura idea and also the mystery of the unknown and what’s beyond the planet and this life we know. I like the lyrics to have multiple meanings.
I find that certain lyrics catch my attention, particularly on the song “Lake Ego.” “You’re beneath me, I’m above you.” I take it as a power struggle with in. What’s the inspiration behind this song?
It is a power thing yes, but it is literal as well. Crawling on top of someone is also sexual and a power struggle.
You developed the band Owl as a way to express your style, bringing in longtime friend Dan Dinsmore on drums and a multi-instrumentalist Jason Achilles Mezilis on guitar, developing great chemistry and describing it as being the edgiest music you have done. What was the recording process like for ‘Things You Can’t See’?
We recorded the album in Dan’s Catholic church-turned studio, which has a very cool vibe. The band really was on fire and we came into our own. The unique things we do we got better at and the songs came out so catchy as well as edgy.
What are your plans for supporting this new album?
We are supporting the album with live shows and just did a great run in July. We have more shows coming up in August with our friends Philm and will continue all year to support the release.