Joe Perry: Traveling Man
GW You must have ambitions outside of Aerosmith?
PERRY Well you’re seeing it happen now with the Joe Perry Project and Have Guitar, Will Travel. For years I’ve wanted to find some guys that I could work with, because I realized a long time ago that I can do a lot of things other than Aerosmith. When we first got back together [during their 1984 reunion], it was a full-time job rebuilding the band. We were dead in the water, and I had to turn down a lot of things that would have been fun to do. Now that Aerosmith are on a break, every day I’m getting requests to do stuff.
Slash asked me to come out and play in Vegas recently, and it was very timely. It was interesting talking to Slash, because he went through similar stuff when Guns N’ Roses took their hiatus. It’s kind of funny, because everybody knows that he was inspired by [Aerosmith’s 1976 album] Rocks, and now he’s leading the way. So it was a really good time for us to talk. We’ll see what comes out of that, because I’ve wanted to do stuff with Slash for some time. He’s a class act.
GW Aerosmith have been together for almost 40 years, with various internal disruptions along the way. What is the secret ingredient that’s kept the band together thus far?
PERRY I think taking time away from each other—that’s really the biggest thing. If you can plan to do that, it’s certainly a lot better than having it come about by accident, due to a bullshit-, ego- or drug-driven act of stupidity, like it did for us in the late Seventies. We should have taken a break. In those days we constantly put out records and toured. We were on a treadmill. We should have just said, “Let’s take a year off,” with everybody laughing and walking his separate way. Instead, it was more like, “Fuck you!”
GW So why did you leave?
PERRY It was a lot of things. First of all, after everything we had done and all the places we had played in the Seventies, our managers said that we all owed money for room charges and things like that. And we were like, “What are you talking about? We’ve made you millions and millions of dollars!” None of us had, like, four houses and 20 cars or any of that stuff. I mean, we spent our share of money on drugs, but certainly not millions. At the same time, the band was going through its upheavals, and I thought, Okay, I’ll put a band together, go on the road, have some fun, and I won’t have to put up with this bullshit. That was it. If we were saner at the time, we would have taken a break and then sued our managers.
GW Is it true when you left the band in 1979 that you nearly joined Alice Cooper?
PERRY Yeah. I was in the process of writing some songs with Alice.
GW At that time, your record company made it sound like you had gone underground and could be found sitting in a room with a crack pipe. They said [Perry’s previous incarnation of] the Joe Perry Project couldn’t tour because your singer was wanted in various states for unpaid alimony.
PERRY Not every state. [laughs] That was our first singer, Ralph Mormon, and I learned about that afterward. That was probably one of the biggest things that led to his demise as a member of the Project.
GW When you look back at the drugs and the lifestyle, do you have any regrets or do you think you wouldn’t be where you are now if it wasn’t for those experiences?
PERRY Yeah, we wouldn’t be where we are now, wherever that is, if it wasn’t for going through everything we’ve been through. But we certainly weren’t the only ones getting fucked up.
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