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 . . .
You are Joe Perry from aerosmith — Joe “Fucking” Perry. That’s gotta count for something. Is that band still an active entity?
No, no. I think those guys are all busy with other things. And, well [drummer] Paul [Caruso] passed away last year. That was really hard. I don’t handle things like that very well. So everything is really about Aerosmith right now. We’re getting ready to make a new album, which is the last album on our contract with Columbia. And we’re just playing so well together that I’m excited to get us all in a room together with some new songs. I will say that one of the best parts of the European tour was being able to get up on stage with Tom Jones in front of like 70,000 people at Wembley Stadium for that Princess Diana concert. He was amazing, and that was a real thrill. I mean, I just practiced with the band, and I didn’t even see Tom until we were on stage. It was just a great experience to play with a legend like that.
Have you decided on a producer for the next album?
I can’t speak for the rest of the band, but we’ve been talking to Rick Rubin, and I think that’s a possibility. We’ve worked well with him before. He’s sort of in charge now at the label, so we’re talking, and we’ll see what happens. We’ve set November 1 as the date to start working on material from the album, and we’ll have to see where things go from there.
Are you testing out any new material live?
No, no, no. We’ve got so many songs that we have to put into the set when we’re playing in front of our fans that it just wouldn’t work. We want to take what we were doing over in Europe and give our fans a chance to see that before we start working on the new album.