Interview: Aerosmith Guitarist Joe Perry (2010)
However, the world will never know just what, say, Aerosmith + Paul Rodgers might have sounded like. This past February, with major 2010 tour dates looming, Tyler and the band laid down their weapons and made amends. “We all got together with Steven and his manager [Tyler retains management separate from his bandmates] at our rehearsal space and hammered things out,” Perry says. “And everybody was pretty optimistic. After going through all the bullshit and all the gossip and all the other stuff, we knew where things were at.”
Despite the fractured nature of their relationship—at one point, attorneys for Tyler threatened legal action against the band if its members didn’t “cease and desist” from talking to the press about replacing the singer—Perry says now that he never doubted Tyler would return to Aerosmith. “I knew he would come back,” he says. “I just didn’t know when. But I’m glad it was sooner rather than later.” Which is not to say that all the discussion of bringing in a replacement was designed as a means to push Tyler’s hand about going solo; rather, Perry insists the band’s intentions were genuine. “I was just looking at it as working with somebody and jamming, as a temporary thing,” he says. “I mean, someone filled in for Tom [Hamilton] for a while, you know? And people were flipping out, like, ‘It’s not going to be Aerosmith.’ Well, no shit. You don’t have to tell me that. But who knows what could have come out of it?”
With Tyler now back in the fold, it’s a question that remains unanswered, though it’s not the only one: Perry can’t explain just what it was that brought the singer and band back together. “I never really talked to Steven about why he shifted gears,” he says. “He was all gung ho about doing this and that. We’d hear everything from his becoming a talk-show host to playing Vegas with a big band—just all kinds of things. But if you look at all these gigs we had lined up, the South American shows and all the European festivals, the reality of not doing those was pretty daunting, I guess.”
As it turns out, 2010 is shaping up to be a banner year on the road for Aerosmith. The current Cocked, Locked, Ready to Rock world tour, which launched in May in South America, is no small undertaking: the jaunt takes the band through more than a dozen countries, including a headlining slot at the Download festival in the U.K. and Aerosmith’s first-ever dates ever in Greece, Peru and Colombia, before returning to the U.S. for a late-summer swing through outdoor sheds. After that, Perry says, “We’ll probably take some time off and then do the record.”
“The record,” as Perry refers to it, remains perhaps the biggest elephant in Aerosmith’s room. The band’s most recent studio album of new material, Just Push Play, was released back in 2001, so even if work on a follow-up begins immediately after this summer’s tour, a full decade is likely to have passed before we see a new Aerosmith studio effort (the 2004 collection of blues covers, Honkin’ on Bobo tenure with the band, which lasted from 1970, aside). Put another way, this encompasses a longer span of time than Perry’s entire first to 1979, during which they peeled off such classic discs as Get Your Wings, Toys in the Attic and Rocks in quick succession.
Aerosmith’s inability to produce a full album of new material over the past decade is a particular sore spot for the guitarist, who on his own has released two solo efforts during this time. Adding to his frustration is the fact that, as he readily admits, he is no great fan of Just Push Play. “I wasn’t really happy with the way it came out,” Perry says. “I was a lot happier with Honkin’ on Bobo. I wish we had done Just Push Play the way we had done that record. It was live and raw, and that’s basically what I think Aerosmith is.”
That said, he continues, “Some of the other guys in the band liked Just Push Play. I didn’t. So what the fuck, you know? I liked a couple of the songs on it; I just wasn’t happy with the way it was recorded, in bits and pieces and glued together in Pro Tools. It left out the biggest asset Aerosmith has, which is playing live. And then there are some songs that I can’t even believe we did. A song like ‘Trip Hoppin’ ’ is not a song I would…I just don’t see us like that. But you get deep into recording and you lose sight of what you’re doing sometimes.”
In point of fact, Aerosmith have been working on the follow-up to Just Push Play for several years now. But as Perry explains, “We’d get started in the studio, and at the same time we’d have a tour looming. Then the record would get bogged down for one reason or another, and we’d have to stop and hit the road.” A few years back, in an effort to move things forward, the band brought in AC/DC and Pearl Jam producer Brendan O’Brien to rein in the project. “We set aside three months,” Perry says, “but one thing led to another, and all of a sudden it was the same thing: ‘The tour starts in three weeks, and we’re going to have to put the record off again.’ ”
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