Mick Stingley’s interview with Joe Perry

You mentioned that you didn’t include all the stories in the book. There’s a story that wasn’t in the book, that goes that you were once so down on your luck or out of it from drugs that a fan came up to you at South Station with a copy of “Aerosmith’s Greatest Hits” and you had no idea it was even out. Is that true? 

Actually it was at Star Market… (pauses to let interviewer finish laughing) Yeah… and it was about four in the morning. It was the only supermarket for miles around and it was the only one I knew of, period. It was open all night long. So I was in there shopping at four in the morning and somebody walked up to me with this cassette, and it was the “Greatest Hits” and I didn’t know that it had come out. He asked me to sign it, so I signed it; but Aerosmith wasn’t on my list at that point, you know? It didn’t surprise me that I didn’t know about it but it surprised me that it was out.

Your book is delightfully free of salacious tales of groupies but one of the biggest reveals is your affair with (“Laugh In” actress) Judy Carne. Did she write about you in her 1985 autobiography? Did you contact her about your book? 

I don’t know. She came to a show the first time we played in L.A. when we played the Whiskey and then she stuck around for a little while. But other than that part in the book I never had any more contact with her. I haven’t read her book and I kind of would doubt that I would be in there but who knows? But it was definitely a wild summer, I’ll tell ya!

Do you regret on patenting your attempt at a locking tremolo for guitars before Floyd Rose?

(laughs) It would have been nice if I had taken it one step further. It would have been a good thing but I needed more time and experience with engineering. I needed help and I didn’t really know anyone at the time and we were on and off the road so much I just kinda let it go. I knew someone was going to do it if I was doing it so when it came out I figured, well: good on ya!

Do you own any guitars with the Floyd Rose tremolo?

I did for a short while but I prefer the old Stratocaster style bridges. I have some old guitars, ones that come with it and if you have a good one and get it tuned up and balanced it works great. I have a variety but they’re all basically the Stratocaster style.

In the chapter “Trying To Get A Grip” (about recording “Get A Grip”) you mention a song “Your Momma Wants To Do Me And Your Daddy Wants To Do Me In” which you describe as raunchy and fitting the Aerosmith aesthetic, and a song that you liked which just sounds like an awesome, fun Aerosmith song. That song has never been released. Where is that song now and will we ever get to hear it?

Oh, yeah. I know it’s gonna come out I just don’t know when. It’s one of the few songs that we have that we did complete but it just never made it on a record. But it’s… the whole thing is a laugh. It will come out I just don’t know when. I’m not sure what the next Aerosmith recording adventure is gonna be, but if anything else we owe it to ourselves to put it out on whatever we put out next. I don’t know, though. We’ll see.

When Aerosmith tours next year would you consider adding any songs from “Done With Mirrors” into the set?

You know, I know we’re gonna spend some time and pull out some songs that we haven’t played – never before or that we haven’t played in a long time – because we’ve been playing pretty much the same show and kinda remixing the set list so to speak, but kinda the same show for a while and we really want to change it up a little bit. So I don’t know if they’re gonna come from that record but we are gonna pull a few out of the hat that we haven’t played in a long while.

You have to play “Let The Music Do The Talking”.

Well that one is one of my favorites I have to say.  I love that song. It should have been an Aerosmith song from the start. I know it was one of the songs I had in my back pocket for Aerosmith at some point but then I left the band and used it with The Joe Perry Project, on the first record. I think Ralph (Morman, first singer for The Joe Perry Project) sang it great.

In “Rocks” you talk a lot about the band’s early days in Boston. When was the last time you took the T and where did you go?

I don’t… oh, God. The last time I took the T? (pauses) The last time I took the T was probably in 1971. It was probably to go up to the apartment, on Comm Ave. That’s the only thing I can think of, you know? Other than that I used to hitchhike or drive in the van.

What do you think of the changes that have taken place in Kenmore Square and around Boston with all the real estate development?

Ahh… well, it’s inevitable. Stuff’s gonna change, you know? One thing I notice that they do in Europe that they don’t do here – but I think part of it is that America is such a young country we don’t have the architecture they do that’s been around for hundreds of years, although Boston certainly does – is they refurbish the buildings but they leave the façade intact and put new businesses in them, as opposed to tearing the whole thing down and putting up another skyscraper. That to me is a shame because I respect the history and the solidarity of it. When you drive down a street the name of the street is the same but you don’t recognize a single thing because it’s changed so much and it’s kind of a shame. I’ll tell ya, I haven’t been in downtown Boston in a while but there are places that you could put me and I wouldn’t know where I was. That’s kind of a drag.

Your father is Portuguese, from Madeira. Southeastern New England has a large Portuguese population and the food has become a part of the culture though not well-known outside of the area. One of the most popular items is chouriço, which in Massachusetts and Rhode Island is pronounced “chaurice”: can you share a little about why it’s so awesome?

Yeah, it’s great! It’s the heat! It’s a spicy Portuguese sausage and I like the spices. It used to be one of my father’s favorite things to eat and I can remember the smell from when I was kid. I think that liking spicy and hot foods comes from both sides of my family.

Your mother’s family is Italian…

My grandfather on my Italian side, they told him that he had to stop eating hot food because it was bad for his stomach and he showed me where he hid his bottle of chili pepper, My grandmother was about three feet tall, you know, little Italian woman, a sweetheart and an incredible cook, but she wouldn’t let him eat hot food. My grandfather showed me where it was, way high up on a shelf where my grandmother couldn’t see, because he knew I liked hot food, even when I was a kid. And my father loved spicy food: we used to go to Santarpio’s, you know, on the way to the airport? It’s a great pizza place and my father would cover his pizza in red pepper.

When Aerosmith was coming up in the 70s there was a proliferation of Polynesian restaurants opening up around Eastern Massachusetts. Did you ever go to Pago Pago in Mildford, The Mon Kou in South Attleboro or the Aku Aku in Boston?

Definitely Aku Aku! One time I visited my parents in Hopedale and they said that there was one good place for Chinese food, Pago Pago, but that was the only time I ate there. But definitely going to Aku Aku and the drinks with the faces and all that stuff: that was exotic back then. Their mixed drinks were fun; I liked them and all the different dishes.

All these food questions are going somewhere: you started your own food company, with a line of sauces. What inspired you to do this?

Being on the road I’ve always tried to eat healthy. It’s a lot easier now than it was back then and back then I would get really bored with the food so I’d make different kinds of hot sauces. I finally decided to bottle the stuff. I met this guy who had a small food company in Boston and I learned a lot about packaging and eventually I bought a place and started the company. It was more of a side thing but it turned out that everybody really liked it and we couldn’t meet the demand so it’s gone through a couple of changes and my oldest son runs the company now.  The table sauce has a little heat but mostly it’s a smoky flavor and the Mango Peach Tango has chunks of mango in it and it’s more on the sweet side because I love Caribbean food so much. We also have a barbeque sauce out that I’m proud of.

Last question: what do you think the Bruins chances are this year with Big Z out and having traded Johnny Boychuk and Shawn Thornton?

Ahh… I don’t know. I like going to see the games when I get a chance but I don’t follow them that closely. I love when they’re winning of course, but I just love going to the games. There’s nothing more exciting than sitting in the stands and watching them play. Same thing with the Patriots: I’ll watch them on television but I prefer going to the games. That’s the best.

By Mick Stingle, 94 HJY