An Interview with Joe Perry of Aerosmith

All images courtesy of SRO PR/Getty Images


By Andrew Daly
andrew@vinylwriter.com

Throughout the history of rock ‘n’ roll, few players have truly managed to distinguish themselves. The music business is a fickle machine, and guitarists come and go. As such, even fewer have managed to define what it means to be a lead guitarist.

Aerosmith’s Joe Perry is one of those players.

Through distinctive riffing, memorable solos, and an iconic aesthetic, Perry deconstructed and then demarcated what it meant to be a lead guitarist with iconic Boston-based act, Aerosmith.

Posturing at stage left, faithfully flanking Aerosmith’s titular vocalist, Steven Tyler, Perry’s driving riffs drove home classic tracks such as “Mama Kin,” “Same Old Song and Dance,” “Walk This Way,” and “Draw the Line.” For the Bad Boys from Boston,” the 70s was truly theirs, as the fivesome took the mantle of “America’s Greatest Rock ‘N’ Roll Band.

For Perry, the rigors of the road, and the pitfalls of stardom proved challenging, and in 1979, he set a course for a solo career with his still underexposed Joe Perry Project. What followed were three distinctively sublime solo records, filled with classic riffs, and driving rhythms, but little fanfare.

In the face of extinction, the five members of Aerosmith regrouped, and with no record deal, they hit the road in hopes of reclaiming lost glory, and a chance at redemption. The miles spent on the road proved fruitful, and soon, Geffen Records came calling, and in 1985, Done with Mirrors was released, serving as a back-to-basics comeback record.

What came next was something that no one could have expected, but given the songsmith, and musical kinship of Aerosmith’s members, can’t be thought of as all too surprising. In the wake of Done with Mirrors, Aerosmith retooled its approach, and unleashed a trio of records that would equal if not better the group’s 70s heyday in Permanent Vacation, Pump, and Get a Grip.

For Perry and Aerosmith, beating the odds, accomplishing the unthinkable, and fulfilling the promise of the improbable has become a hallmark. But beyond that, for Perry, with both Aerosmith and his still vibrant Joe Perry Project, it comes down to the music.

In the grand scheme of things, there are a great many rock soldiers, but far too many fall before their time. With Aerosmith approaching its 50th anniversary, and The Joe Perry Project over forty years strong, Perry seems to be just getting started, with an eye ever fixed on perpetuating rock music in the most delightful and riff-laden ways possible.

From his home near Boston, as he prepares for a run of solo shows, Joe Perry checked in with me regarding getting back on the road with The Project, his new perspective in the wake of the pandemic, his ongoing evolution as a guitarist, his memories of Aerosmith’s early years, as well as its late 70s fall and subsequent mid-80s rebirth, what’s next for the band, and a whole lot more.

Andrew:
Joe, I wanted to start with your upcoming gigs with the Joe Perry Project. What are you most looking forward to?

Joe:
Well, they’re all different. You know, with the shows in Brazil that are put on every year with the Samsung Blues Festival, even they’ve been different the last couple of years. They had the guys like Tom Morello and different guitar guys there, and they want like a half an hour of instrumentals. I have a bunch of instrumentals, but I’ve never played them live, so that’s a whole new thing for me. So, we’ve got enough instrumentals to fit the format, but it’s almost like learning somebody else’s songs from the ground up, because like I said, I’ve never played them live before, and they have guitar overdubs and stuff like that too. They’ve got new guys in the lineup, and I have to say, I’m looking forward to that, and to see how that’s gonna come out. I’ve got instrumentals from almost all of my solo records, and I think one of them that I’m going to be doing is from an Aerosmith record, it’s an Aerosmith instrumental, so I’m looking forward to that a lot as well.

But then the ones up in New Hampshire, and Atlantic City, those are like regular theater shows where we play like an hour and a half. And we can play some different stuff from my different solo records, some of the songs where I sing, some things that Gary [Cherone] will sing, and maybe a couple of Aerosmith songs too. I like to put in a song or two that Aerosmith really never plays, just for something different, and maybe one or two familiar ones as well. The show in Boston is kind of a special gig to me because it’s sort of in my hometown. I’ve played there a bunch of times with The Project, but it’s been a while, and I think the fans are wondering what we’re going to play, but they’re just they’re there to have fun and listen. So those two shows go like that, and then in Boston, we’re opening for ZZ Top, which is great, and that’s like an hour show. We’ll probably treat that more like a regular show but just condensed a little bit. Knowing it’s a ZZ Top crowd, we will want to fit in with that group, so we’ll choose a bit of a different set of songs. For this run of shows, it’s unique, it’s not like we’re learning just one set for the shows, we’ve got several sets depending on where we are.

Andrew:
After being on the road for so many years, and then having that suddenly halted due to the pandemic, what sort of perspective did you gain from the time off?

Joe:
That an awful lot of people sleep in their own bed at night, every night. [Laughs]. You know, that’s their life, and I wasn’t used to that. I’ve been living out of a suitcase since I was fifteen. And, my wife Billie, she left home when she was fifteen, we’ve been together for thirty-five years now, and that whole time, we’ve been living on the road, and we raised our kids on the road. So, having two and a half years off like this, and just hanging out at home, it’s been different. Again, it really hit me when I thought, “Well, most people live like this. They don’t think about having to pack up and take off for two, three, or six months.” So that was a new perspective, but you know, I love traveling, and I do miss it. I will say that it was a good experience to stay in one place for a while though.

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Andrew:
With that new perspective, how does that change your approach to the guitar, if at all?

Joe:
Well, I definitely got a chance to sit back and think about the guitar like I haven’t been able to before. I’ve never really been happy with my tone, it’s more just that I’ve gotten through it, and gone through different phases and stuff. But you know, it’s like playing in Vegas, it’s almost like you’re playing in a studio there because the sound is so good. It’s a really amazing venue. I could go on for an hour about how great it is to play in a place like that. Playing in the same venue for a bunch of nights in a row, without having to worry about things like the monitors changing each night, or the building sounding terrible, is really a great thing. It allows you to become focused on the show in a way that you really can’t when you’re going from town to town. So, with the time off, it gave me that same kind of focus, and I got a chance to really hone in on the actual sound and that kind of thing. So, that’s what I spent most of this time off doing, working in my studio, and going back and listening to the sounds of the guitars that I really liked. It gave me a chance to dig deep and listen back to stuff that was recorded back in the 50s, and 60s. I was able to really focus on how it sounded, and why it sounded like that. And then trying to bring that to the Vegas shows, but also bring it out when we play on the road too, because I expect we’ll be doing both over the next couple of years.

Andrew:
To that end, how would you best describe your approach to the guitar in the present day?

Joe:
I have to say, I’ve been taking advantage of being able to hear a lot of different styles on YouTube. You know, when you’re on the road, you’ve got a plan, and you’re focusing it all on the bands’ songs. And you might hear somebody play something on the radio, and I even listen to soundtracks now for movies and TV, because those have really come along. I mean, there is some great music on those like Nick Cave and the Bad Seeds. I know that a lot of people may not have heard of him, but his music shows up in a lot of movies and TV shows, and it’s a great sound, and it’s just really cool. And that’s an example of how much it’s changed with how music hits the mainstream nowadays. So I’ll go back because that stuff makes me remember to listen to his stuff. That’s just one example. So I’ll do that, and then I’ll listen to the guitar player and see what they’re doing. But I’ve been taking advantage of all of the stuff that you can just grab off of YouTube as well, and that’s had a big influence on the way I’m playing now too.

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Andrew:
Touching on Sweetzerland Manifesto MKII, two of my favorite tracks are “Quake,” which features Gary Charone, and “Fortunate One,” with Chris Robinson. Can you break down the origins of those two tracks?

Joe:
Yeah, well, you know, one of the biggest advantages that I’ve had is that I have four great kids that have grown up now, and that have all gotten into music in different ways. My son Tony, he works at Spotify and handles all of the sound and engineers for their content. And my youngest, Roman, he teaches engineering and production and works on sound for video games. And my oldest, Adrian, is a lawyer who was voted as one of the top ten lawyers in the music business for the last last two years. So my oldest does social media, and he’s got his thumb on the pulse of everything that’s going on, and I listen to all of them, and I see what’s going on out there. When I have some time off, I worked with them, and Tony worked with me on some soundtrack stuff for one of Johnny Depp’s latest movies – not the last one – but one before, City of Lies, which was about Tupac. We did a lot of work together on that on that soundtrack. I had some time off in London when I had a break from the Aerosmith tour, so I booked this studio for three or four days, so I had him come out to finish some songs that we had started, and we finished both of them during that time.

And then when we got back to the states, my manager who deals with my solo stuff, Paul Geary, who played drums for Extreme, he checked the tracks out. You know, we’re all tight, we’re all from Boston, so Paul sent one of the tracks to Gary [Cherone], and he sent it back and said, “How do you like this?” I was like, “Don’t touch a thing. It’s perfect,” and that was “Quake.” And then we sent the other one out, which was the track “Fortunate One,” to Chris Robinson. And again, it came back, and I was like, “Holy shit, this is it. Let’s mix it and master it.” So that’s kind of the impetus behind putting out the second version of Manifesto, because I had about, I don’t know, three, four, or five songs that weren’t finished, and didn’t go on the first one. So we took a few of the songs off the first one to round it out, and we had just enough songs to put it out on vinyl, and that’s something I’m really excited about. Now, we’ve got to actually make it a record like the old days. We’ve got to put pictures on there of all the guys that worked on it and came through the studio. It’s basically where you get this this this piece of plastic that you put sounds on, and it sounds amazing the way vinyl does. And then you’ve got to go digging around to find out who’s singing what, and see where all the credits are. So it was a lot of fun putting that together and that’ll be out in the next couple of months.

Andrew:
Pivoting over to the Aerosmith side of things now, the band will be celebrating fifty years, Joe. To what do you feel Aerosmith owes its longevity?

Joe:
Rock ‘n’ roll keeps you young. I mean, that’s kind of a tongue-in-cheek thing to say, right? But it’s one of those things were growing up in the generation we came from, it was like people retired at sixty-five, and old was…old. But we don’t pay attention to any of that stuff, because we basically grew up in the 60s when you just didn’t follow the norm. I mean, there was a really big divide between the younger generation with that whole hippie thing and all of everything that went on to where it was a pretty tumultuous decade. It always felt like us against them, and I think that’s one of the reasons why the people from my generation still keep going because there’s no reason to stop. We feel like if you’re lucky enough to keep your health, then you keep going. There’s no reason to say, “We’ve got to retire now,” you know what I mean? So why stop? If you’re still good, and can still keep going, then why stop?

I think the other thing is we really hung together as a band to where nothing was going to break it up. All the things that usually break bands up, we went through all that stuff. I left for a while, and Brad [Whitford] left for a while too. So when we got back together, and we went out on the road that first summer, we didn’t even have a record deal, and we didn’t know what was gonna happen. That was totally not how the record business or the music business worked. What you’re supposed to do is go out on tour with an album or with a single, but we had none of that. But what we did have was a lot of fans out there that wanted to support us, and we went and played in their cities, they came out, and that’s all we needed. We were playing for them, they were getting off on it, and coming out to see us play those songs. We were there to play, and that’s all that mattered. And then having things build up the way they did, it was just something that doesn’t happen that often. It doesn’t happen for many bands, but it did for us, and it was all because we stuck together, and we never let anything tear us down.

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Andrew:
When you look back on Aerosmith’s debut record, Joe, what does that record mean to you?

Joe:
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, 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. And so when I listened to that record for years, it was like, “God, I wish my guitar sounded better. I wish we had played this differently.” But then as the band got better, and we recorded the second record and the third record, and we started to write in the studio, things changed for us.

Then with Rocks, we really started to hit our stride and learn how to work the studio in our favor. It’s funny, because, 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. But you know, with the first album, we were still just trying to figure it all out back then, and all those memories come back, and that’s the important thing. It’s important to remember what took us from playing in small spaces, rehearsing in the afternoon in some club, and then the next thing you know, we’re auditioning down in New York. 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.

Andrew:
What amp did you use to record the first album, Joe?

Joe:
It was an Ampeg V4. It was basically a guitar version of the big bass amps, and they were the go-to amps for everybody back then. Everyone had these big Ampegs, but they weren’t really known for being used by guitarists, they were more for bass players. Some guys used the little combo amps, but this thing was huge and was going to compete with the Marshalls, or whatever. So I found this big Ampeg V4, and I managed to get a sound out of it, you know? But it was all about plugging in and trying it because I didn’t know what it was going to sound like. At first, I was like, “I don’t know,” but after a while, I actually liked the sound. Now when I think back and I listen to those records, I really do like it. These days, when I play those kinds of songs, I try and get really close to that sound, even though I just stumbled on it back then.

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Andrew:
One of the more underappreciated records in Aerosmith’s discography is Done with Mirrors. How would you measure that record’s importance to the band’s upward trajectory?

Joe:
Oh, it’s interesting that you mentioned that because with that record, it was like, again, we had just gotten back together, and we had done a tour. That whole tour was really about getting comfortable playing together again. When I came back, I had been out of the band for like four or five years at that point, and Brad had been gone too. And so, we were just getting comfortable with being together, and that was part of the reason we went on the road without a record deal. Well, it was one of them, because we honestly couldn’t get a record deal. We had burned so many bridges, and nobody would sign us. But you know, we wanted to see if we could still do it. We needed to know if the old spark was there. So we went out and toured on that idea alone, which was the Back in the Saddle Summer Tour, and like I said, the fans showed up for us. After we did that, we knew that was it. We knew that was what we were there for. We were there as a team because we’re just fans of rock ‘n’ roll. We’ve never felt like there was too much distance between us and the fans because we are them.

And so, when we got in the studio to do that record, we were still learning how to write again. You would think that after doing records like Rocks, Draw the Line, and of course the first three records, you would think that we would be able to pick up from there and go on, but that wasn’t the case. The pressure was on, and people were looking at us like, “Okay, nice tour. Now what are you going to come out with?” And then we got to work with Ted Templeman, who had an amazing reputation with Van Halen, which was incredible. I mean, they sounded monstrous, not to mention all the other people he had recorded with. Looking back, I guess we were expecting more from him, and so we were kind of nervous to work with him, and I think he was nervous to work with us, which kind of surprised us. It was a funny dynamic. I don’t know, I always felt like that record could have been better if we worked on it some more, or if everybody said, “You know, we kind of feel uptight about working with you.” I don’t know, it was just how it went, you know?

But it’s interesting because I got a call, I don’t know, four or five years ago from I think it was Classic Rock Magazine, and they voted it like one of the top ten underrated rock records or something. I don’t remember exactly what it was for, but just to be on the list was amazing. And then people started regarding it differently because it kind of reminded people of the first record. It made me rethink the whole album, and I realized it was raw, and it was a lot like the first album. We just went in, and straight-up recorded in the studio. It was as simple as going in, plugging in, turning the machines on, and we went from there. So that happened, and I started listening to it, and I was really surprised now that I was looking at it differently. But when I got that call, I was like, “First of all, are sure you’re talking to the right guy here? Are you talking about the right record?”“Oh, no, no, this is the record.” [Laughs].

Anyway, after a couple of weeks, I started listening to it from a different viewpoint, and I kind of saw what they were talking about. It is kind of rough and raw, and there are a lot of things about it that reminded me of the first couple of records. Of course, starting it off with “Let the Music Do the Talking,” one of the songs that I wrote for my first solo record was special, and we brought it up a whole nother level, I think. I mean, I love the way we did it on my solo record but having the band play it – having Aerosmith play it – that was like putting it into fifth gear. And with the rest of the songs, there was a vibe to them where they were just raw and dirty. I still wish I could have maybe polished a few more things, or maybe put a couple more overdubs on it, but all in all, I think it did what it was supposed to do. I think it kind of showed me what we needed to do, what we were, and where we needed to be for the next one. I think we had to do that record to get to the next step, and really take ourselves out of the usual way we were writing and recording.

From there, the next step was to take a trip up to Vancouver and try a whole new way of doing things and even work with some other songwriters for Permanent Vacation. We did that, and that started a whole new thing for us, and we kept that going, and we had three amazing records up there in Vancouver in Permanent Vacation, Pump, and Get a Grip. We did those three records with Bruce Fairbairn and it was a really creative vibe. I think we had to get through Done with Mirrors to get to that next step and push ourselves to that next level. I think one of the things we joke about is, “Oh, what did we do wrong?” Well, the first thing we did wrong was print everything backward on the cover with the artwork. Here we are doing a comeback record, and we decided to make it one step harder for some people to figure out what it is. [Laughs]. But the title was also a play on words, it was supposed to show that the band was at a point where we weren’t using mirrors for horizontal things anymore if you catch my drift. Instead, now we had them verticle like they’re supposed to be. [Laughs]. It was kind of a subtle hint to everybody that this is part of the reason why we’re back, and that now we were able to continue on because we made a lot of changes in our personal lives.

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Andrew:
Aerosmith has two distinct periods, the 70s into the early 80s, and then the mid-80s, 90s, and beyond. Of course, the 70s period is the initial sleazy, classic rock vibe, and then in the mid-80s, the band had this explosive commercial boom. Looking back, Joe, which era do you personally relate to the most?

Joe:
I think it’s more like bits and pieces of each album. I mean, certain things strike home with me for the kind of music that I like, personally, but if we had just stuck to one kind of music, I don’t think that we would have been as able to do what we did. With Steven [Tyler], and what he brings to the table with his sensibilities, I don’t think we would have been as balanced as we were if we had stuck to only those things. I guess if it would have been up to me, we wouldn’t have done as many ballads as we did, but that was part of the whole thing. Steven and I brought different things to the party, and I mean, all I wanted to do was turn up and rock, but Steven had been in the studio, and maybe he knew more about music overall per see. I learned a lot from him, but he also learned a lot from me, and that created a certain energy.

And so, I think that it’s more about the bits and pieces that we all threw in there to each record to make them what they were. I think that’s why it was so hard for people to put us in a category, like back when they used to say, “Oh, Aerosmith is hard rock, heavy metal, and blues.” Yeah, maybe we’re a little bit of all of that, but we’re hard to label. I mean, we would find ourselves in the heavy metal section, but I’ve never thought that we are a “heavy metal band.” We might play some songs that touch on that and have that influence, but it’s like calling Zeppelin a “heavy metal band.” Sure, they can be heavy, but it’s not just about laying loud and playing fast, there’s a lot more to it than that. One thing that people forget is that we also were really influenced by the whole funk side of things. Maybe people don’t realize it, but that was part of our genealogy. You, Joey [Kramer], when we met him, he was playing in a Temptations cover band, so he was playing those kinds of songs with that kind of r&b/funk type of thing. I was really influenced by that too, and some of my favorite bands were Sly and the Family Stone, and The Meters. Those were bands that also influenced us, as well as, the English blues bands like Fleetwood Mac. It was a lot of different spices that went into the pot, and we were just trying to see which of them would stick.

I mean, some records were more fun than others to record. One that I had a lot of fun with was the blues record we did, Honkin’ on Bobo. It was amazing making that record. We were building our rehearsal studio, and we decided to do that record there because we couldn’t find a place that really worked for us in Boston, so we figured, “Well, let’s just put a studio in the rehearsal room.” And while we were waiting to get it built, we were rehearsing down in my studio, which was really set up to be a demo studio, but I put all the best gear in there. I had it set up where if I recorded anything, I could maybe bounce it over onto the master, so to speak. But it turned out that it was one of the best sounding studios out there, it was just small. It’s like a thirty-two-track studio, and then the room was just big enough, because there were the five of us in 25′ x 25′ room, with a 10′ ceiling. [Laughs]. It was small, but the place sounded great and we recorded the whole record live there. And when we had time, we’d take a break, and we’d go out in the yard, and ride four-wheelers around and smoke cigars. That was probably one of the most fun records that I can remember recording. It was just just a riot. It was just us, we’d cook outside, and it was just an incredible time. Just going down into the studio and playing live, it was a great experience. Regardless of whatever the record was worth, we had a lot of fun recording those songs and making that record. But as far as musically, or picking one era over another, it’s like I said, it’s more like bits and pieces of every record, you know?

Andrew:
There seems to be an ongoing debate where some people feel that rock is dead. I wanted to get your opinion on that, Joe. Do you feel rock is dead?

Joe:
No, not at all. Just as an example, like with working with my kids, on those songs, they sound like rock to me. I mean, there are definitely some modern influences there too, but it’s rock. There are some great rock ‘n’ roll bands carrying the flag too, and one example is Brad’s son Graham, who plays with Tyler Bryant & the Shakedown. I think they’re like kicking ass, and the thing is, there’s a lot of guys who want to get out there and play rock ‘n’ roll guitar and play that kind of music. The issue is that there aren’t enough fans to hear it, so it’s only going to go so far, but there are still people there for them to build a following. These new bands, they still headline places, they open up for other bands, and it’s the same thing. It’s not like they’re at the top of the Billboard charts or like the top of the pop charts, but that’s kind of how it was in the late 60s too. All the rock ‘n’ roll that I liked, they didn’t even have a place at the Grammys for it, and there was nothing overly commercial about it. I mean, I saw The Who in a small club playing Tommy. It was only a club, but the place was packed, and it was still about the fans there who wanted to hear it. It’s the same now, those fans are still there, and that’s what’s really keeping it alive. I mean, if it wasn’t “classic music,” it wouldn’t be “classic rock,” and it wouldn’t be as big as it is. I still see it, people are out there buying artists’ rock catalogs, and paying stupid amounts of money because they know that it’s going to keep getting bigger, and bigger, and bigger. So that tells me rock ‘n’ roll is not dead.

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Andrew:
Last one, Joe. After nearly fifty years with Aerosmith, what’s been the most surprising thing for you along the way, and what’s been the most gratifying?

Joe:
Well, you know, looking back, there’s a lot of things that we did that were firsts, you know what I mean? First of all, coming back as strong as we did, because just having the 70s under our belts would have been enough for any band. I mean, in the late 60s, bands had a great record or two, and then they were gone. So just keeping things together for that long was like treading on new ground. By the time the 80s rolled around, a lot of bands drifted away, and we were one of them, we melted down, and we split up for a while, but then we came back. Not only did we come back, but we came back bigger and stronger than in the 70s, and that blew everyone’s mind, and it still blows my mind that it happened.

Another memory is when we did the Super Bowl halftime show, which was the first time that they let fans on the field, and that was a first, and that was a big deal. Before that, it was like produced by Disney, and it was really safe. When we did that show, it was with some of the latest pop stars, and that was a big deal too. It was the first time they had stage lights on the field, and like I said, the first time they had fans on the field. I still remember it, we said, “Listen, unless the fans are going to be there, we don’t want to do it.” We said that, and that said, “Okay,” because MTV was producing it, and they knew what we were talking about. After we did that, it started a whole new trend afterward, and I’m really proud of that.

And then, of course, one of the biggest things was doing the Run-DMC thing, and again, it was kind of like just getting the phone call, “You want to sit in with the guys, maybe cut the song?” They had been using the drum track for their songs, and their rhythms are off of the drums. They were taking a lot of rock, and sampling it with the kick drums and stuff. It just so happens that Rick Rubin had said like a couple of months before, “You know, ‘Walk This Way’ was kinda like proto hip-hop,” and it was. We looked at it, and said, “Okay, I hear that with the rhythms.” Steven always wrote his lyrics to kind of accentuate the rhythm, and he used the sound of the words as a part of the rhythm, and I think that was part of what made “Walk This Way” as funky as it was. When we went in, we didn’t know if it was even going to go on the record. That track was one of the last tracks they did for the album, and it ended up on the record, and it was a huge hit and gave “Walk This Way” a new life.

It was fun going down there and recording with them, and when they said, “It’s gonna go on the record. Do you want to do this video of you guys playing, and then you break down a wall, and we’re side by side?” We said, “Yeah, let’s do it,” that was pretty amazing. It was amazing because it really did break down walls. At the time, I don’t think that they were any minority acts on MTV, except for Michael Jackson, up to that point. If there was, it wasn’t a lot, and I think it definitely opened some doors, and I’m really proud of that. I’d like to say we planned it, and that we knew that it was going to happen, but we didn’t. I’m just glad it was Aerosmith and Run-DMC that did it. It was a lot of fun, and we’ve been friends ever since. It’s just another one of those things that people maybe don’t think about when they think about Aerosmith, but there were a lot of those kinds of moments.

Another special moment was playing the Marquee Club with Jimmy Page in ’90, which was a big thing for us. We played some Yardbirds songs, we played Zeppelin songs, and then Jimmy came up and played Aerosmith songs with us. And then the next night, we went out and played Donington with Jimmy, and that was huge. It was a huge moment, and they did a recording of the show for video. It’s those huge moments we loved the most, and that’s the kind of stuff we’re going to be putting out and releasing over the next couple of years to celebrate fifty years of Aerosmith. There are those kinds of things, where you look back, and you go, “Holy shit, we really did that.” It’s incredible to look at what we’ve done because I still remember sitting on a water bed, writing our first song after listening to Led Zeppelin IV, and that’s when we write “Movin’ Out.” We were still kids in the garage, so to speak, just like thousands of others, trying to make our mark, seeing what others were doing, and thinking, “Wow, I think I can do that too.”

Anyway, that’s the stuff, and looking back at it, I’m just amazed. I’m amazed that we’re still we’re able to do this. Even now, we’re doing this Vegas thing and bringing rock ‘n’ roll to the strip and carrying on the tradition. With Vegas, there’s a lot that goes into it, but once the music starts, it’s a rock ‘n’ roll show. There’s a lot of bells and whistles, and when we were trying to figure out what kind of show to put on, a few people said, “Well, maybe you can play a song or two, and then you could talk about how you wrote it, and then we could show some video, and then you could play some more songs, and then you can talk about those, and then we can go through the years.” We just looked at them and said, “No, I don’t think so.” We’re a rock ‘n’ roll band, we don’t wanna sit up there talking, and once the music starts, once we hit the stage, it’s got to be rock ‘n’ roll. Like I said, we can add some ramps, add some lights, and some flash and stuff, but it’s still got to be about the five guys burnin’ it up.

We’ve managed to have some movement in there so every show was isn’t the same. Sure, the production is pretty much the same, but within that framework, we change stuff around. We’ll change the set on the spot, and sometimes even during the show, and not many Vegas shows do that. Most Vegas shows have a routine, they do the hour, and that’s it. But we didn’t want to just go in there, take our regular set, and just trim it down to one hour. We wanted to go in and make a statement, and so far it’s worked. It’s a lot of fun to play there, and it’s been very gratifying, and it’s just another thing that Aerosmith has done that will always be special. So, we’ve got two more this year, and then we’ll be planning next year. We aren’t stopping, and we’ve got a lot of special things planned to celebrate fifty years. I miss traveling, and I’m looking forward to what’s to come.

All images courtesy of SRO PR/Getty Images

Andrew Daly (@vwmusicrocks) is the Editor-in-Chief for www.vwmusicrocks.com and may be reached at andrew@vinylwriter.com

27 thoughts on “An Interview with Joe Perry of Aerosmith

  1. I still remember seeing Aerosmith for the first time in a small concert in a field in Fall River which is where I believe Joe Perry grew up. They were great and you could tell were a cut above most local bands but still pretty much not really famous. Tyler was captivating even then and their performance left an impression on our band at the time to do some Aerosmith tunes.

  2. Nobody’s fault still gets my attention . Chemistry this band has WOW . Let’s go shoot some pellet guns .

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