Feature Interview: Joe Perry Talks Riffs, Guitars, and the Future of Hollywood Vampires
Hard to believe, but nearly a half-century has passed since Joe Perry partnered with Steven Tyler to form the songwriting core of Aerosmith. The Boston-based rockers have been on a sabbatical of late, but during the downtime, Perry has involved himself in several projects. Most notably, the veteran guitarist recently wrapped up a tour performing with the Hollywood Vampires – a “supergroup” named after Alice Cooper’s notorious group of ‘70s drinking buddies. Comprised of Cooper, Perry, Johnny Depp, Matt Sorum, Tommy Henriksen, Robert DeLeo and Bruce Witkin, the Vampires also recorded an album that mixed three original songs with cover versions of period-specific classics. We spoke with Perry before the tour got underway, and then followed up with him after he came off the road.
It might seem a bit gruesome at first blush, this idea of paying tribute to the dead rock stars who once populated Hollywood’s dens of iniquity as hardcore denizens of the dark. But when legendary Aerosmith guitarist Joe Perry, erstwhile actor Johnny Depp, and the progenitor of shock rock Alice Cooper teamed up as Hollywood Vampires last year, the mood became far more celebratory than somber.
The Vampires picked their favorite tunes by deceased rock icons, many of whom had been friends – or at least, drinking buddies – back in the day, called a bunch of friends to round out the rhythm section, pulled in a few superstar cameos – some guy named McCartney was one of them – and tracked a glittering hard rock debut.
Jeff Miers spoke to Perry by phone a few weeks back, just as rehearsals for the tour were commencing. Here’s how it went.
Q: Playing the most recent Grammys last February with Hollywood Vampires felt, from the fan’s-eye view, like a victory for guitar-based rock ’n’ roll. We don’t hear much of that at awards shows these days. It cleared the air. How did it feel from your side of the stage?
A: It felt like you described it. Loud and raunchy and really energetic. How much more fun can you have than playing music you believe in with your friends? Continue reading Hollywood Vampires guitarist Joe Perry expresses his ‘Buffalove’
The rock supergroup, which sees the 65-year-old Perry playing guitar alongside actor-musician Johnny Depp and lead singer Alice Cooper, released an album last year and performed a tribute to Motorhead’s Lemmy at this year’s Grammys.
“We’re all friends and we’ve all paid our dues,” said Perry. “It’s like in some ways, like being a baby band even though we’ve been doing this our whole lives. It’s been a lot of fun I have to say. It’s been really exciting all around. I count myself lucky to be part of this tour, we’ll see what happens.” Continue reading Joe Perry talks Hollywood Vampires, Aerosmith’s final tour and more
Johnny Depp, Joe Perry and Alice Cooper of Hollywood Vampires attend The 58th Grammy Awards at Staples Center on Feb. 15, 2016 in Los Angeles.
Aerosmith’s Joe Perry has experienced his share of controversy over the years. So he’s taking a posture of quiet empathy as fellow Hollywood Vampires principal Johnny Depp continues to deny abuse accusations from Amber Heard, with whom he’s in the middle of an acrimonious divorce. Continue reading Joe Perry Talks Bandmate Johnny Depp’s Divorce Allegations & Aerosmith’s Final Tour
Think of iconic bands of the ’70s, and alongside British bands like Led Zeppelin, Black Sabbath, Pink Floyd, there are the Bad Boys of Boston, Aerosmith, whose blues-soaked glam rock ‘n’ roll blazed a direct path to the hair metal of the ’80s. Fronted by the uncontainable and ever-entertaining frontman Steven Tyler, the band burst on to the scene with its self-titled debut record in 1973, which featured the enduring “Dream On,” by anyone’s measure one of the best rock ballads ever written. Guitarist Joe Perry and Tyler started the band in New England in the middle of the Vietnam War. The ups and downs of the two men’s relationship has continued to define the band. The two partied so hard as to earn the nickname “The Toxic Twins,” and in 1979, Perry quit the band, only to rejoin in the ’80s. The band has some of its biggest commercially successes in the ’90s, including the band’s only number one hit, “I Don’t Want to Miss a Thing,” released in ’97, when Perry was 47 years old. In 2009, Perry told the press the band was looking for a singer to replace Tyler. If it was a threat, the band never followed through, as Tyler remains with the band to this day.
Last year, Perry released an autobiography, Rocks: My Life In and Out of Aerosmith, with co-writer David Ritz, and also released a Christmas album. New Times spoke with Perry as the band prepared to kick off its tour on Saturday, June 13, with an appearance at Gila River Arena in Glendale. We talked about his relationship with Tyler, the band’s early days, and how the artistic vision he had 40 years ago has played out over his career.