Why Joe Perry of Aerosmith Never Gets Tired of Playing "Walk This Way"
For the better part of the last decade, Aerosmith have stayed in the news. If not necessarily for their music, then certainly for their consistent touring and ability to stay in the news. Fortunately for Southern Californians, by the time Aerosmith hits the stage in Inglewood on Wednesday night, they should be rounding into form sonically. Though they've stuck to the same set list they ended their European tour with, Joe Perry says there's wiggle room for the band to mix things up. We caught up with the legendary guitarist during some time off in Chicago where we heard about the events that allowed for Slash to open for them, their future plans, and the story behind his upcoming autobiography.
How did you decide on enlisting Slash as the opener? What were some of the behind the scenes moves on making that happen? I've been in L.A. the last couple of years and we've stayed closer in touch. I saw his band play at some heavy metal awards there and I got to see his band and really liked them. It just so happened when we started to book this tour, we had a short list of bands that would be able to come out with us, and it was a timing thing. We've played together a bunch of times and he's played with us on occasion. He's really become a good friend. Over the years, some of the issues that we share in common about bands and keeping things together have kept us together as friends. He's asked my advice and me his. We've been good friends over the years and it turned out that it worked and he's on the bill and rocking the place.
Do you or Aerosmith have any plans to head back into the studio any time soon? Over the last few years, I've been writing an autobiography that's coming out in October. At the same time, we were finishing up the last album and Steven was doing American Idol so we've been working pretty steady for the past two or three years with pretty much without a break. As soon as the tour is over, I'll be doing the promo tour for this book. Then I'm not sure. Steven is talking about doing some stuff in the studio, I'm not exactly sure what. Maybe a solo thing? He's been wanting to do that for a long time. I'm about halfway through a solo album that I've been wanting to focus on and I thought I was going to be able to get to it next year but the book thing really swallowed up all my time. I'm only halfway through the album, but at some point, probably by the beginning of next year, that's what's going to be what I'm working on. We haven't really gotten much farther than getting back from Europe without getting in the middle of a civil war. So we'll see what happens. There's a lot less danger of that kind of thing here. I know the band wants to go back and do another album, I just don't know exactly when.
The band collectively used Walk This Way in 1997 an oral history of Aerosmith. What's going to be different about your book compared to that? Well, I think Walk This Way was kind of like a puff piece. There was a backstory to that I get into in this book. My autobiography is pretty much a classic autobiography. It's the story of how I got from the suburbs of Boston with literally no musical background to becoming a rock star and stay there. It's not your average sex, drugs and rock and roll kind of book. We've read them all, seen them all. That's not what this is. There's a lot of stuff that has gone on, especially in the last 20 years, that hasn't seen the light of day. We went from being teenagers in an apartment together looking for beer money and getting a band together so we wouldn't have to get a real job to selling out stadiums. There's cute stories and I touch on a couple of Aerosmith legends, but I didn't want to spend time on it since it's been talked about before. I wanted to focus on how hard it is to have two guys who are totally polar opposites as far as personalities go, but managed to hang together to create the backbone of a band like Aerosmith. It's not easy. There's a lot of personal stuff in there and there's a lot that I fucked up and I had to own or else what good would it be if I said "well that one did that and that one did that, but I was fine." This is not that kind of book.
Are you surprised that the band has been around for 40 years and continues to be successful? That's exactly the point. I've thought about what this stuff meant and means as far as being part of the evolution of pop music over the years, and seeing with people who influenced me and later on, who I influenced them, like Slash. Fans still want their rock and roll, which is great.
Do you ever get sick of playing the big hits over and over? I get asked that a lot about getting tired of playing ones. I did this rock and roll fantasy camp for the first time last year. Each group of people got a a number of songs to choose from and "Walk This Way" was one of the songs. I had to play it seven or eight times with seven or eight different groups. But they don't get a chance to play "Walk This Way" every day with me or anybody in a camp like that. When I was able to get that close to them and see the excitement that the fact they're actually going to get to play it, I put everything I had into it. I tried to make every performance different and keep it interesting for them. I just put myself in their shoes and all of a sudden its a new song to me even though I've played it a thousand times because I identify so much with the fans and I am a fan. I switch places for a minute and all of a sudden a switch clicks and it's a new song, and I try to put the most into it that I can.
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