Famous Rock Bassist Joins Ace Frehley’s Side Group

Chris Wyse

Chris Wyse play bass in Kiss Ace Frehley’s side band.
Photo by: Jim Gilbert

Chris Wyse’s bass playing has been widely acclaimed as a member of The Cult and has also performed with Ozzy Osbourne, Mick Jagger, Tal Bachman, and countless others, as well as his own heavy alternative trio, Owl.

He profiled at the tender age of 17 in Guitar Player Magazine for his innovative approach to playing the bass. He uniquely utilizes both the bass guitar as well as the electric upright bass. While in grade school, he admired Kiss, The Doors and Led Zeppelin.

The OC Concert Guide had the opportunity to chat with Chris about his musical beginnings to his latest EP to working with Ozzy Osbourne.

OCCG: What enticed you to pursue music in the first place?
CW: My cousins played me the Kiss Alive! album when I was a kid and I was blown away. I begged my parents for Kiss Alive II and used to play it constantly. I knew I was destined for music then. At first I thought maybe I was into the drums because I used to set up boxes and things like a drum kit and try to mimic Peter Criss’ drum solos.

OCCG: Why did you choose the bass?
CW: When I heard Number of the Beast from Iron Maiden I knew I found my instrument. Steve Harris is a pioneer with ferocious chops and power. He wasn’t afraid to push boundaries and be different. The sound of his bass is so punchy and aggressive I knew I had to play bass. It is a bit of an under dog approach to take the bass up front and I love that. Iron Maiden and Kiss definitely helped pave the way for my band Owl.

OCCG: Why did you title your trio as Owl?
CW: “Chris Wyse Owl” followed me my whole life. “Wyse” is Old English for “wise,” and owls have always been associated with wisdom, so it just seemed an appropriate name for a mystical, envelope-pushing band.

OCCG: What was it like recording with Ozzy Osbourne and playing on Mick Jagger’s solo album?
CW: Ozzy was incredible, and it was an honor to play with him. Mike Bordin of Faith No More, who was in Ozzy’s band at the time, suggested me and there was no audition. Mike just said, “I spoke to Ozzy, and you’re in.” Bordin is such a cool guy. I just showed up to the studio and we had a blast recording Under Cover. I have stories for days! Mick was great too. His bass player had an issue, so they called me. I hurried to the recording studio and got to work on a song called “Visions of Paradise.” Funny enough, the bass parts they wound up using were of me playing the bowed upright bass in cello range.

OCCG: What do you want your fans to gain out of your new EP when it’s released in 2015?
CW: Owl’s forthcoming EP, Things You Can’t See, is a metaphysical and very musical journey filled with emotion and ground-breaking music. We really take chances just like the greats: Led Zepelin, Black Sabbath, Pink Floyd, Jimi Hendrix, etc.

OCCG: You’ve been a band member in The Cult since 2006. How are The Cult and Owl both similar and different?
CW: The Cult is different in sound and style. I’m the lead singer and seed-planter in Owl and I often start the songs and get to utilize my unorthodox approach to the bass with upright bass playing. In The Cult, Ian and Billy start, and I dress up the songs and maybe come up with a part here and there. Owl is progressive at times and takes you on wild musical jams and instrumentals. We also hit on some hardcore heaviness and banshee screams with very catchy melodies. There is no band that does what Owl does, so I created it. Check us out at: www.owltheband.net.

OCCG: How do you enjoy working with Ace Frehley?
CW: Ace has been such a great blessing. I get a bass solo every night, there’s lot of singing – which I love, and I get to be a real part of the show. The thing about Ace that is so impressive is that he has a laugh, but he works hard. Ace and I, and the whole band have a great chemistry together. Ace is a ground breaker, just listen to his solos on Kiss’ Alive albums! He’s doing two-hand tapping before Eddie Van Halen was even out.

OCCG: If you could perform with anyone anywhere, who it would be with, where, and why?
CW: I would have to say it would be performing with Ray Manzarek, Jimi Hendrix and John Bonham in NYC because those musicians are so truly talented and amazing, and NYC is the greatest city in the world.

OCCG: What’s next on your agenda?
CW: The next chapter will include more with Ace, The Cult and unveiling Owl’s Things You Can’t See.

OCCG: What’s a random fun fact you’d like for everyone to know about you?
CW: I am very psychic. I often see ghosts in the older hotels and venues we play. I live in Laurel Canyon in Los Angeles, and have been visited by many lost souls with broken dreams. The Cult was in a bus crash in Croatia back in 2012, and I had actually had a reoccurring dream warning me about it. It was about 5:30am, and I was in the downstairs of The Cult’s double decker tour bus and recognized the scene I was looking at, and ran upstairs to my bunk. To my horror in the minutes to come as I laid in my bunk, sure enough we lost control and crashed, and almost went off the side of a bridge with a 100 foot drop. I was the last one in bunk and was lucky because if I stayed downstairs the impact of the crash could have thrown me and smashed my head open. My bunk and the dream saved me. It really comes down to things you can’t see! Thanks for the interview.