Aerosmith take wing
AS Aerosmith prepare for their first Australian tour in 23 years, Joe Perry is musing about the reputation he and lead singer Steven Tyler once had. The songwriter and guitarist is co-writing his autobiography with music writer David Ritz, who’s penned biographies of musicians including Ray Charles and Aretha Franklin and collaborated with others for their autobiographies – including BB King.
Perry says he wants to set the record straight, especially about the nickname The Toxic Twins which he and lead singer Tyler earned due to their drug use many years ago.
‘‘We really only had a couple of years . . . when we had that kind of lifestyle that was killing our music but it seems to be the biggest thing that people want to talk about,’’ he says.
Speaking from his US home head of the band’s Australian tour, which includes a co-headlining show with Van Halen in Sydney on Saturday as part of the inaugural Stone Music Festival, Perry says those who focus on the party lifestyle should consider that he and Tyler are now about to be inducted into the Songwriters Hall of Fame.
He says he’s surprised and delighted to be recognised alongside great musicians – who include the Gibb brothers, Sir Andrew Lloyd Webber and Burt Bacharach – by an organisation for which he has a lot of respect.
‘‘It’s still for the songwriters, by the songwriters, it hasn’t gone and made the jump into, like a commercial TV show. Getting recognised by your peers – there’s an honesty to it,’’ Perry says.
The musician says despite the familiarity of working with essentially the same bunch of guys for 40 years, they still manage to keep it fresh.
Perry says having Tyler work for US reality talent series American Idol was great because coming up with one-liners for television improved his on-stage patter.
And Brad Whitford’s time with the Experience Hendrix tour, working alongside guitar greats such as Joe Satriani, saw him bring ‘‘a pocketful of new licks’’ to the band.
‘‘It’s great when people go off and do other stuff, because when they come back to the band there is that little bit there where you have to kind of second guess what’s going to come up next,’’ he says.
Perry is enthusiastic about Aerosmith’s latest album, Music From Another Dimension! which he says is more reminiscent of the band’s early work. He’s most fond of his song Freedom Fighter, a hard-rocking anti-war tirade he says is something ‘‘I had to get off my chest’’.
While fans will hear songs from the new album, Perry assures them they will be in for some ‘‘classic rock’n’roll’’.
He says cover bands should take note – they may have the same equipment and sing the same songs but seeing the people who wrote the songs is quite different.
‘‘You can’t buy 40 years of experience without living it and breathing it and that’s what we bring to the stage,’’ he says.
Perry feels the the same way when he sees fellow rock veterans such as The Rolling Stones, ZZ Top or Cheap Trick perform live.
‘‘It’s like a machine . . . the guys play and if you’re lucky enough to get songs the audience recognises, it’s golden.’’
– TONI MASON
Aerosmith and The Dead Daisies play the Brisbane Entertainment Centre on May 1.
US rockers Aerosmith: Brad Whitford, Joey Kramer, Steven Tyler, Joe Perry and Tom Hamilton.