Some rock stars travel with personal chefs. Joe Perry brings a grill — a Weber. Yeah, it’s a gas grill, but you don’t always have time to stoke up the hardword charcoal backstage. There are meet-and-greets, soundchecks, gladhanding, and other business matters to be taken care of.
I’m talking to Aerosmith’s lead guitarist and Steven Tyler’s main songwriting partner from his home on the South Shore, where he’s lived raising a family since the band regrouped, detoxed, and got themselves back in shape physically, musically, and financially two decades ago. They’re now at the tail end of a multi-million-dollar deal with Sony that’s seen them through their second life as chartbusting old-school rockers with blooze in the blood and hooks to spare. Like Keith Richards, Perry’s a salt-of-the-earth rocker who’d rather be playing guitar than making celebrity appearances. That doesn’t mean he’s not “psyched” that Aerosmith will be the featured band in mach IV of the popular video game Guitar Hero, or that’s he’s unhappy Aerosmith will be performing this Friday, September 7, on CBS’s Fashion Rocks. It’s a gig. And when Aerosmith were on hiatus a few years ago for medical reasons (Tyler’s bout with hep C), Perry simply went ahead and made his own album, not out of spite but because that’s what he does. So with the band prepping for a 10-date September tour that brings them to the Tweeter Center on the 14th, I checked in with Joe on all things Perry — from guitars to grilling.
People talk about Dylan being on the neverending tour. But Eerosmith seem to be on the same track. When did you last have any real time off?
I’m home now. But we really had a great time in Europe, and that just ended. It was great to play in Russia for the first time, and the band was just really running like a well-oiled machine. So we thought it would be shame not to keep it going with another month of gigs at home. And we’re going to be doing that Fashion Rocks thing, which I don’t even really know that much about. You know, there are just so few bands like us who have been able to stay together with the original line-up intact. And I think we just really enjoy being able to get out there and play live. That’s the essence of making music, of what we do. And I think we feel privileged to be to be able to still do it. But, to get back to your question, the last time we had a break from the band was back when Steven was sick, you know, with all of that.
And you went right back into the studio to make a solo album . . .
Yeah, that was just something where the timing was right and I had a bunch of songs that were kicking around. And I’ve got the studio here at my house, so it was just an easy thing to do, you know, to get a band together and make that album. And then, when the record came out, people really liked it. So we didn’t have any trouble getting booked into clubs . . .