The guitar-slinging Aerosmith co-founder Joe Perry has been rocking hard for 40 years and lately he’s been making a victory lap of sorts, celebrating his achievements with a new book, Rocks: My Life in and out of Aerosmith.
Friday Perry joined Reddit fans for an Ask Me Anything (AMA) session. Here are our favorite 10 things we learned:
1. From a guitar point of view, his favorite song to play live is “Rats in the Cellar” [off Aerosmith’s 1976 album Rocks].
“It has such a great jam at the end and it’s different every night.”
2. One of his favorite memories from being on the road with the band was when they first started to “make it.”
“When we first started to realize that people were listening to our records and weren’t listening to the critics and to all the naysayers and were just taking us for what we were and we started having fans that were really listening to us. That was the most exciting time. I think it’s the most exciting time for ANY band that is fortunate enough to make it. That period of time when you go from calling all your friends to show up at the club to having more people trying to get in than can fit – that is a moment that never feels the same. There’s NOTHING you can do in your career that feels more exciting.”
3. He would like to do more soundtrack work, if only there was time.
“It’s really fascinating how all the different arts are kind of melding together – where you have great actors doing a car commercial, and you can’t tell if it’s a movie or not and then there’s also great music going on! So it’s really tough to find that kind of work in Boston, but I wanted to get into it when we moved to LA, and I just haven’t had enough time – between writing the book and touring and finishing the Aerosmith record to really dig into it.”
4. It’s difficult for him to discuss Walk This Way: The Autobiography of Aerosmith.
“That book was so out of our hands, I can’t even comment on things because the book was edited beyond our control. If you read my book, you’ll see how far out of our hands so many things were. And because of the slow process of that happening, it was hard for us to see what the big picture was, but that book is kind of… it’s cute, at the least.”
5. Even Joe Perry has had that feeling, you know the one, where you think all the great songs have already been written.
“I’ve had that feeling a few times, more times than I can count. Very often, when I’m in the middle of working, there are times when I feel really inspired and I can go down and riffs come flying off. And there are other times I’m sitting there going ‘look, I wrote some of the best rock songs I ever wrote, what else is there to say?’
But if I look back in history, I’m sure Libra Stoller, the great songwriting team that wrote so many great songs for Elvis like ‘Hound Dog,’ I’m sure there were times they felt like they’d written the best stuff they could ever write and look at all the songs that have been written SINCE then. So there’s an infinite number of riffs out there, of melodies. It’s about tapping into that creative place and pretending you’ve never written a song before and then things start to flow.”
6. Over his career he’s been known to smash a few guitars, though not all on purpose.
“More than I’d like to admit to. Probably… maybe 15 or 20 on purpose. And then there’s a few that just accidentally ended up in more than one piece too. But sometimes there will be a point when I can’t control the energy and the guitar ends up in pieces on the ground, but I love the instrument too much to make it a part of my stage performance.”
7. Yes, he regrets taking drugs.
“It gave me an experience. I know it damaged our careers, but it also forced us to take a look at the big picture, about what we had and what the band had – if I hadn’t left the band and we had let things go the way they went, after going through that period of time when we were letting the partying take over, I don’t think we would be the band we are now.
“Because we came to a new appreciation for the magic that we have and had at that time, because I think we were taking it for granted, frankly. And without that period of time, of us standing back and being able to look at our personal lives and then look at our professional lives, we wouldn’t be where we are today. Aside from that? I’m just glad that we and that I never got so close that I ended up killing myself, though I came close more oftentimes than I would like to admit.”
8. Having a rollercoaster named after you is (obviously) amazing.
“It’s an amazing thing. I mean it’s one of those things you never kind of expect when you’re playing in clubs around Boston just trying to make it and get people to listen to your music. It’s probably one of those things where if somebody said ‘In 30 years, you’re gonna have a rollercoaster at Disney World’ – it’s just so unexpected! But they let us design the music for it and I wrote it side-by-side with Steven almost 50 times just to get the music right.
“It’s also a good analogy for the band’s career, because when they count down and you take off, that rush is incredible – that’s like the rest of the ride is great, but that first rush is like when you play in a club and the place is packed and then everything after that, you go through, you know, traveling, through cities and you know, almost upside down and it’s kind of like a 3 minute analogy to our career.”
9. A fond memory with Steven Tyler.
“We went out to the desert, it was me and Steven and a couple of friends and we went paragliding, where you get towed by a truck in the desert and you end up about 4,000 feet in the air and then you pull the cord and are hanging by a parachute. We went up in tandem with guys who knew what they were doing and they started doing acrobatics and it was really, really thrilling.”
10. His favorite pizza topping is…
“Boneyard brew. It is when I put it on there. (It’s my table sauce from my food company, and it works great on pizza).”