Aerosmith for the ages
By Andy Argyrakis
From the pages of Hear/Say Magazine
Just a year shy of its fortieth anniversary, Aerosmith remains one of the most popular bands in the world and a red hot touring attraction, even if it’s been five years since its last studio CD. But the legendary rock n’ rollers have another ace up its sleeve this summer, touring in support of the video game “Guitar Hero: Aerosmith,” which has introduced its solo-ripe catalogue to yet another generation of enthralled six-string slingers.
“I’ll tell you it’s more popular than putting out a new record,” confirms Joe Perry, the band’s lead axe-grinder and solo star in his own right. “When you’re playing shooting games, you can die and come back like nothing happened, but you’re actually playing these songs over and over and are familiar in a way that’s much more than hearing a hit a couple times a week on the radio, or if it’s a really big hit, a couple times a day. So it goes deeper than picking one or two songs off your iPod and gives us a whole new batch of songs to pick from.”
Thus far, set lists for this summer’s tour have featured several classic guitar tracks, plus a plethora of tunes from the band’s 1975 blockbuster Toys in the Attic. Aside from smashes like “Sweet Emotion,” “Walk This Way” and the title tune, the band is dusting off a ton of deep sea treasures sure to keep the audience on its toes.
“We talked about doing it and had a few albums on the chalkboard, but Toys was the first one and it’s been interesting to see the response,” Perry continues of the album’s front to back presentation at some shows. “We have such a diverse audience where now kids don’t listen to records from beginning to end the way the way we used to. I think the majority would rather hear songs they’re more familiar with than something obscure and we’ve actually changed the set around putting in better known songs for the younger fans from ‘Guitar Hero,’ balanced with some of the [album cuts].”
Though Aerosmith is a well-oiled machine running on an influential history, the lack of new material has left a lot of longtime listeners impatient. With five years since the blues-oriented Honkin’ on Bobo and the last official rock record being 2001’s Just Push Play, a follow-up is long overdue, which is a problem Perry promises will be resolved in the not too distant future.
“It’s kind of like rebuilding a ‘68 Chevelle,” he suggests. “We’ve got all the pieces on the bench and all we’ve gotta do is put it together. We’ve had to cancel some shows [due to Steven Tyler’s leg injury] and add some shows at the end of this tour, so we’re not sure when this is gonna end. That’s gonna tell when the band can start a new record and I gotta think it will come out sometime in the spring.”
In the meantime, Perry’s putting the finishing touches on his second solo CD recorded live in the studio free of glossy tinkering or overdubs. “It rocks, and while it’s not a concept record, it kind of has a vibe all the way through it,” he uncovers. “I cut all the basics in two weeks just playing and going for it. Everything’s live and raw and I guess the best description is it has a lot of emotions, inspired a little more by the politics going on around the time of writing the lyrics.”
Despite Perry’s superstar status as that sidestep readies for release later this year, he remains humble in recalling Aerosmith’s early days and desire to just sell enough records and concert tickets to pay the bills one month at a time. In fact, longevity wasn’t even on members’ minds at the cusp of its career forty years ago, but merely reveling in the party as long as it might last.
“As far as our end of the business went, we figured people had a few singles, maybe a gold record, disappeared and died,” Perry confides. “No one thought about ten or fifteen years down the line, just getting through the day or maybe planning a month in advance at most! Now at this end of it, we’re still wondering, but I think we’re going to play like the blues guys we learned from in the beginning. We’re going to keep playing until we can’t play anymore because I feel like we’re just getting good at it!”
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