Joe Perry says his new supergroup, the Hollywood Vampires, will be staying in Central New York for about a week next month.
The rock band, which features the Aerosmith guitarist, singer Alice Cooper and guitarist (and sometimes actor) Johnny Depp, is scheduled to kick off their first-ever tour next month at the Turning Stone Resort Casino in Verona, N.Y. The group played a handful of shows in L.A. and the Rock in Rio festival in Brazil last year, but CNY will be the first to see them live in 2016 since their performance at the Grammy Awards in February.
In a phone interview with syracuse.com, Perry said the band will be at the Turning Stone for “five or six days of rehearsing” for the first-ever Hollywood Vampires tour, which will hit 17 other cities across North America.
“It just worked out,” Perry explained. “Everyone’s schedule is so different… It’s late in the season and most everybody [else] already booked their tours. We needed a space to rehearse [and] the venue was open. It was just one of things, just really lucky.”
The 65-year-old rocker said they’ll “go over the songs together” and plan set lists, which will likely resemble the band’s sole album, titled “Hollywood Vampires.” Most tracks are covers of artists like The Who, Led Zeppelin, Jimi Hendrix, Pink Floyd and The Doors, but a handful of originals like “My Dead Drunk Friends” are co-written by Depp and others.
“We’ve got all those songs to pick from and you never know what else we might throw in there. There’s so many cool songs that we like,” Perry said.
Hollywood Vampires also featured bassist Duff McKagan at the Grammys, but he’ll be busy with the Guns N’ Roses reunion tour. As a result, the touring Vampires lineup will include Stone Temple Pilots bassist Robert DeLeo, drummer Matt Sorum (The Cult, Guns N’ Roses), guitarist Tommy Henriksen (Alice Cooper) and multi-instrumentalist Bruce Witkin (from Johnny Depp’s group The Kids). Cooper takes lead vocals, while Perry and Depp both play guitar.
But how did the actor, best known for starring in quirky Tim Burton movies and the popular “Pirates of the Caribbean” franchise, end up in the band?
Depp originally wanted to be a musician, but his movie career took off after “21 Jump Street” and “A Nightmare on Elm Street” in the ’80s. He never gave up his first love, though, and continued playing guitar.
Perry told syracuse.com that he first realized Depp’s guitar skills were legit in the Oscar-nominated movie “Chocolat.” Depp plays Roux, a travelling guitarist who falls for a French chocolatier (Juliette Binoche).
“I heard that he played guitar and, you know, a lot of people play guitar,” Perry said. “[In the movie] he’s playing some pretty intricate guitar licks… and then when I found out it was actually him playing it, I was like ‘No s—. This guy can [play].'”
“And especially when he comes up on stage and his amp is right next to yours, you can really hear he’s got the chops…. This guy can rock. And he does. And he loves it. He’s a great player.”
From there, a friendship and talks of touring together led to the formation of Hollywood Vampires, named after a celebrity drinking club formed by Cooper in the 1970s. (Members reportedly included Keith Moon, Ringo Starr, Micky Dolenz, John Belushi and Harry Nilsson, as well as various stars passing through for a night like John Lennon, Keith Emerson or Joe Walsh.)
Perry said the timing for Hollywood Vampires worked out really well for everyone. Depp recently wrapped his fifth go as Jack Sparrow in “Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Men Tell No Tales” (in theaters May 26, 2017) and Aerosmith is on hiatus while singer Steven Tyler works on his latest solo effort, a country album.
“[Steven has] been wanting to do this for a long time and it actually worked out well so I could focus on [my own] solo stuff,” Perry explained. “It’s going to be a lot different from any other records I’ve done. And also, doing this means a lot of guys I never get to see. The Vampires thing fell together and I got to record an album with those guys and now we’re headed out there on a tour together. You know, it’s pretty exciting.”
Rolling Stone reports Perry recently hit the recording studio with Iggy Pop and New York Dolls singer David Johansen, for the “funky” solo album. He released a single earlier this month, “I’ll Do Happiness,” featuring British rocker Terry Reid.
Still, fans always want to know: Will Perry and Tyler, also known as the Toxic Twins, reunite for another Aerosmith album or tour? The Rock and Roll Hall of Famers last played Syracuse at the 2010 New York State Fair and briefly toured last year, but no new Aerosmith has been released in four years.
Joe Perry, guitarist for Aerosmith and Hollywood Vampires
Steven Tyler, left, and Joe Perry of Aerosmith perform in concert at the War Memorial in Syracuse in 1998.
File photo by Randi Anglin
Tyler recently said he thinks the band, whose hits include “Sweet Emotion,” “Walk This Way” and “I Don’t Want to Miss a Thing,” will get together one last time for a farewell tour. Perry told Rolling Stone that they’ve discussed it in the past, but denied ever making any solid plans.
“We go through a cycle,” Perry told syracuse.com. “We’ll make a record, and then we tour behind it…”
“Everybody wants to do another Aerosmith record, but I really can’t say when it’s going to be or when the next big tour will be.”
Perry said Aerosmith may tour in the U.S. next summer, but for now the only safe bets are the Vampires and his latest solo project.
By Geoff Herbert for Syracuse.com