Joe Perry says Aerosmith didn’t like their debut album: “God, I wish my guitar sounded better”

Joe Perry and Aerosmith
(Image credit: Kevin Mazur/Getty Images for The Recording Academy)

Aerosmith’s 1973 self-titled debut album holds a special place in the hearts of many guitar fans, but it turns out the band that penned and performed it weren't particularly keen on it at the time.

According to the band’s resident lead guitar hero Joe Perry, he and his Aerosmith bandmates – frontman Steven Tyler, rhythm guitarist Brad Whitford, bassist Tom Hamilton and drummer Joey Kramer – were not fond of the record when it came out, after the whole studio experience failed to live up to their expectations.

Perry is particularly critical of the recording process, saying that the band’s “naive” belief in the existence of studio “magic dust” meant that they initially regarded their first-ever studio LP with unfortunate dislike.

Speaking to VWMusic, Perry explained, “Well, I don’t think any of us liked it at the time. We thought that we had an idea in our heads about how we thought it was gonna sound but we were all pretty naive about everything, including working in the studio. 

“We thought working in the studio was going to be different,” he continued, “where we would just come in and the studio would make it sound a certain way.

“But really, it comes down to the microphone picks up what you play, and that’s what gets recorded. There’s no magic dust that makes your record sound like what you think it should, and that was the biggest lesson we learned.”

Perry is especially critical of his own guitar playing on the album, and goes on to admit, “When I listened to [Aerosmith] for years, it was like, ‘God, I wish my guitar sounded better. I wish we had played this differently.’”

According to Perry, it wouldn’t be until the band’s fourth album, 1976’s Rocks, that Aerosmith began to “hit our stride and learn how to work the studio in our favor”. The turning point came when the band started writing in the studio, after they spent their second and third albums – Get Your Wings (1974) and Toys in the Attic (1975) – perfecting their recording craft.

Having said that, he's since grown fond of Aerosmith’s electric guitar sounds, with Perry also revealing he recently found the guitar amp he used to track the record back in the '70s – an amp he plans to bring out of hibernation when he returns to Las Vegas in the near future, potentially for Aerosmith's postponed Deuces Are Wild residency.

Perry added, “With the first record, people still ask me, ‘How did you get that guitar tone, Joe?’ Honestly, I just found this amp, I liked it, and I recorded it with it. I actually just found that same amp, and I’m going to try it in Vegas and see if I can get it to sound like that again.”

With the first album, we were still just trying to figure it all out back then. It all happened fast for us after we got signed

Reflecting on the era, Perry concluded, “With the first album, we were still just trying to figure it all out back then. It all happened fast for us after we got signed. It was like, ‘Okay, you guys are going into the studio now,’ and we were like, ‘Okay.’ 

“You know, we were just kids going in, and we didn't grow up with parents that were in the business, you know? We had no idea, and we were very naive, so we just learned as we went along, and we stuck together and looked out for each other.”

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Matt Owen

Matt is a Staff Writer, writing for Guitar World, Guitarist and Total Guitar. He has a Masters in the guitar, a degree in history, and has spent the last 16 years playing everything from blues and jazz to indie and pop. When he’s not combining his passion for writing and music during his day job, Matt records for a number of UK-based bands and songwriters as a session musician.