— Joe Perry (@JoePerry) February 23, 2015
What are Joe’s favorite Led Zeppelin songs? Disney ride? Modern band? What kind of songs he wants to bring to the setlist on the new tour and what can make him embarrassed on stage? Joe discussed his Lake Sunapee memories and future plans for the Hollywood Vampires with his fans on Reddit Q&A session:
Q: Hey Joe! I was raised on Aerosmith; I’ve seen you guys nearly 10 times, and I’m only 21. My dad is a no bullshit hard rockin’ solo musician, originally from the Ohio Valley, and he is one of your biggest fans; he has been a member of Aero Force One for over thirty years. This is his question: “Hey there Joe! What advice do you have for a musician past his prime but still in love with performing and recording new material, when most of the newly discovered acts are ‘twenty-somethings’? Thanks man, rock on! P.S. Can’t wait to see Aerosmith Rocks Donnington on Thursday!!!”
Joe: All I can say is that fans still want to still feel that excitement, and they are not into disco, or dance music. That’s what it used to be, now they call it “electronic music,” or DJs and that kind of thing. So that seems to be the newest latest thing that brings the kids and fans into the clubs so they can all join together. It’s really about meeting other people that like the same kind of music. Music is a social thing. And it’s been that way for a thousand years. Music brings people together, girls and guys get to meet, and to dance around the fire. But there are still people who want to hear the kind of rock & roll, that kind of classic rock, and there are really young guys that really want to play it, because it’s exciting, and live, and it’s about the songs and the energy.
Q: Hey Joe, I was wondering how you feel about the future of rock n roll. My band has been working hard to bring it back and better than ever. You guys are a huge influence in us and the train will always keep rollin. So Joe, how do you feel about the future of Rock n Roll?
Joe: Well, I think that a couple of months ago, Gene Simmons was quoted as saying “Rock & Roll was dead,” or something to that effect, and I have to say that it’s kind of a general statement, but in certain ways, the way that the last rock & roll has gone over the last 50 years, we’ve seen it go from a real kind of socially unacceptable kind of music, the next generation from the blues that was really unacceptable by the majority of Americans, but when the white kids started emulating the blues, it became acceptable and it became a huge industry. And we saw it rise up, and then there were the golden years of the MTV era, and what we have now is a ton of fans that are really interested in the classic music, from the 60’s on through the 70’s and what we call “classic rock,” and right now there are great bands that are playing in garages and writing great songs and it’s just that there’s so many different kinds of music now, it’s kind’ve hard to get heard. But there are definitely fans that want to hear it. But the part that i think Gene was talking about, specifically, are “Where are the new bands like the Def Leppards, the Aerosmiths, the Rolling Stones, the Bon Jovis” – there doesn’t seem to be that kind of excitement around bands anymore, around stadiums, the arenas. And we’re seeing that kind’ve fade away. Because there are so many other kinds of music. Music is always about trend, and what’s the latest, newest thing, and there are gonna be other acts, and different kinds of music that fill those arenas, but our kind of rock & roll, with the classic one guitar, two guitars, a singer, bass and drums – it seems to be kind’ve fading away. So we’re lucky to still have enough of those bands around, but in 10 years, it’s really gonna be a different scene, I think.
Q: Hi Joe! One of my favorite places in the world is Lake Sunapee in NH, if I recall correctly you and Steven Tyler met while working at the Anchorage, any particular stories stand out from your times at Sunapee?
Joe: Yeah! There was one time that – actually, there’s something special in the water there. And people would, the water was so clear and clean, people would, that was the water that came out of people’s faucets up there, so maybe there’s something in the water. Anyway, it worked for us. But i do have a story that hasn’t been out that much. Every year, when the ice breaks up, and it usually takes a day – it’s really a phenomenal thing, you’ll see the whole lake covered in ice, and then it will all break up, the temperature’s just right and the water flows down from the North to the South and it all breaks up, and starts to form big chunks of ice, and then over the next few weeks, those chunks begin to melt – and I can remember one year, Steven and I were up there, a couple of days after the ice decided to clear out, and we dared each other to go water-skiing, on this water that was probably about 31 degrees temperature. And we didn’t have wetsuits or anything like that, just our bathing suits on. And it was a pretty daring adventure. We both fell in the water! And I’ll tell ya – I never treaded water as hard in my life, because it was SO cold. But it was one of those things where it wasn’t anything about music, or the band, or anything, but it showed that other side of that relationship that Steven and I have.
Q: First off, let me tell you I really admire you as an artist and I can’t believe I’m having the chance of talking to one of the greatest guitarists in the history of rock. Mindblowing. Now, two questions: – Is Aerosmith upcoming movie going to be released worldwide or just in the US? – What’s the best memory you have of that concert? Any great related story you’d like to share?
Joe: Well, that particular show – Donnington – I believe a great rock & roll show is when the audience and the band kind’ve lock up. And the audience is expecting a certain batch of songs, and when they go to an Aerosmith show, there’s always a 20% rate of “unknown.” And that night, everything locked into place -and it was a real roll of the dice to bring all the video cameras in, the tape-recorders in, they use computers now, but to actually film it for a movie – you keep your fingers crossed and hope it will be a really magic show. And as it turns out – it was. It was near the end of the tour, we really really cut loose, the audience felt the vibe, and we felt the vibe from the audience, and it was a really special show. And it is international.so check out the website above to see where it’s going to be near you.
Q: Hey Joe! I run www.aerosmithsetlists.com (which was actually referenced in the back of your book ‘Rocks’) and I’ll ask the question many superfans want to know. Am I going to be able to add a new setlist to my site from your upcoming ‘Blue Army Tour 2015’ with songs like Woman of the World, Write Me a Letter, and Sight for Sore Eyes? Many fans have gone to your shows for decades hoping that gems like these will make it into the set (and stay there!), but they almost never do. Instead, year after year we can expect pretty much the same songs in roughly the same order (understandably, since you have lots of hits). It was really great for the fans when Combination showed up and stayed for a couple years, and recently Kings & Queens got a decent run. Any plans to significantly shake up the songs and/or the order of the songs? If not, what’s stopping you? You guys are at your best when you’re spontaneous.
Joe: Well, I think that you’re asking the same question that I would like to see changed, and hopefully this summer – I expect we’ll always be playing songs off of the first Greatest Hits record, “Dream On,” and “Sweet Emotion” and “Back in the Saddle” – those songs that you just, I think a lot of people would be disappointed if we didn’t play. But I would like to add or change some of the other songs. I look at some of the setlists from the last 5 years, and they’re basically the same songs, just mixed up or changed around. And again, there are 5 guys in the band and it’s a real – probably one of the things we argue about the most before the shows, and before the tours, about what we’re going to do for a set. I think it’s definitely time for a change, and I mean, I would love to play everything from “Shaky Ground” to “Sight for Sore Eyes” – that would be an awesome song to play! Send in your votes! Because I really need some backup on this.
Q: Hello Mr.Perry. thank you for doing this Q&A session. Could you please share you plans regarding the Hollywood Vampires with us? Are you going to record an album? Touring? Random gigs? Thank you.
Joe: The album is – as far as I know – because i live on the east coast, it’s been hard for me to keep in touch with what’s been going on with that. But it’s also been a very slow process, like recording the album, because everyone’s schedule is so scattered, between Alice who is touring, and Johnny going off and doing his movies, so getting everybody in the studio at the same time was a real effort. But the album – as near as I can tell – is almost done, and there’ll be a tour in September. And the only gig I know is booked is Rock in Rio. But I know that the bulk of the dates will be in the States, and I’m sure they’ll be announced in the next few months.
Q: Hi Joe, It’s known nowadays that you and Brad didn’t play in Train Kept A Rollin’ and Same Old Song and Dance from the Get Your Wings album. Listening to bootlegs of that era, we can see that you both had the skill to have played these songs in the record. What happened that made Steve Hunter and Dick Wagner jump in and record these songs? Was it time constraints that required experienced studio musicians?
Joe: Well, we were still learning how to make the sound that the band had, how to capture that in the studio. And that was one of the reasons why Columbia gave us a second chance, working with Bob and Jack Douglass, and so Brad and I needed some, kind of a quick tutorial, on how to get the best sound out of the studio. ‘Cuz those first records, I’d never been in a studio before, so we got a jump start, you know? I learned a lot from those guys. And to this day, it’s hard for me to tell who’s playing what on those songs.
Q: Hi Joe. What has your personal relationship with Brad Whitford been like throughout the years?
Joe: Well, Brad and I have always had a really good relationship. I mean, ever since I met him, years and years ago, in 1970, when we were looking around for a guitar player to replace Raymond (the original rhythm player), and you know, I really wanted a band that was more – basically had 2 lead guitar players in it, or at least that there was another guitar player that would have a different style than me, but still be able to carry the ball. So that line of, like, lead player and rhythm player really gets blurred. And Brad has filled that spot. And personally, we have always gotten along. We don’t talk much during the shows, because it all comes naturally. We both love the same kind of music. It was just one of those things. It was just a matter of him being the right guy in the right place at the right time, when he joined the band.
Q: What is a song you refuse to play live?
Joe: I’ll play pretty much any song that the band wants to play. In fact, there are a number of songs that I wish the band would play. But that’s, it’s a majority, and majority rules, and also we want to satisfy more fans, the most fans we can. So anyway… it’s more a matter of getting the band to play some of the real off-the-wall songs, you know? And once in a while, we do.
Q: What’s your most embarrassing onstage moment?
Joe: Oh god! In life? Or does it have be about Aerosmith?
Q: Remember when your paints ripped during Draw the Line? Haha https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=CqDKaU0TJwM
Joe: Yeah. That’s happened more than once. But, oh god… let’s see… I don’t know. When I get out there, on stage, it takes a lot to get embarrassed, and I think it’s all part of the show. So I kind’ve take those things, that’s just the natural course of things, and it’s out of my hands. I go out there with my guitar tuned (I hope) and my amps ready, and the other 4 guys, I count on them to be ready just the way they could on me, and we let it fly. And sometimes when things go wrong – guitar strings break, power goes down – it’s just part of the show, to me. And I’m always kinda waiting for certain things like that to happen. To me, when my pants ripped, it was kinda – I laughed about it more than anything else! There’s not much that can get my face red when I’m onstage.
Q: Have you ever seen an Aerosmith tribute band perform? If so, what did you think?
Joe: Actually, I never have. I know there are a few around. And I’ve seen some pictures of some of them. And some of them look close. But I’ve never really heard or actually gone in and seen any of them play. But it’s flattering to know that they’re out there, and they like the songs that much.
Q: Hi Joe, thanks for doing this Q&A. Here’s my question, where in the world would you love to play a gig one day? Much love from France.
Joe: I would really love to play in China. Somewhere in China. I think it would, I think that music – whether it’s rock & roll, or whatever, helps to spread some good around the world, and what I’ve found from playing in Europe and playing some of the countries that used to be part of the Cold War, I find that the music brings people together, all around the world, and I would love to play some places in China, and that part of the world.
Q: When I was a kid I remember thinking the way you held your guitar so low was the coolest thing and did all my fake guitaring the same way. I always wondered whether that was a style choice or if it was just the way you liked to play? At what point did you realize it had become “your thing”? Thanks!
Joe: It’s kind of a … the type of guitar I play, because I do play a number of different guitars, some work better when I hold ’em one way, and some work better holding ’em another way. So it’s more a matter of what makes it so I can get the most out of that particular guitar. That’s what dictates how I hold it. Other than that… that’s the bottom line. It’s how’s it gonna sound the best. That’s all.
Q: Joe, what’s the most fun song to play out of all you’ve created?
Joe: Well, there’s a song we play called “Sick as a Dog,” and I can remember recording it, and we actually played it live in the studio where Tom played guitar, I played bass, and then in the middle of the song, during the breakdown in the studio, I gave the bass to Steven, and went over and picked up my guitar so I could play the solo at the end. And once in a while, we do that live. And that’s probably the most fun. Because it’s all, you know, you could trip over a wire, screw this up, screw that up, so there’s a lot of things that could go wrong, but when it works, it works great. And it’s just kind of a recreation of a moment in time, back when we would record live, and you actually had to do it, you know, do it live. There was no going back to fix it. So it was great to play, it was great to record, and once in a while, we’ll do it live.
Q: Hi Joe, why a Les Paul Studio based on your first signature model?
Joe: It was something that Gibson wanted to do. I think they liked what the first Signature model was, and they wanted to do a variation of it. It was more of a Gibson idea.
Q: Hey Joe! If there was something you could do differently in Aerosmiths history, what would it be?
Joe: I think that probably doing more studio albums. I wish we had taken more time out in the 70’s to do more studio albums. And even after that. But we did spend a lot of time on the road, and I think that we could’ve – especially when we were in that really creative mode – could’ve taken a couple of months off every year, a few more times, and done some more studio records.
Q: What’s your favorite car in your garage?
Joe: I have an old 1971 442. And it’s pretty much stock. Whoever had it took good care of it. And it’s a convertible. And the thing I like most about it is it’s got a bench seat in the front, like most of the old cars did, and before they started putting bucket seats in – and that way Billie can sit right next to me.
Q: What band has been the most enjoyable to tour with?
Joe: I think that it’s gonna be a tossup between AC/DC and Guns N’ Roses. Because to see bands that are – all you have to do is watch ’em for 5 minutes, and you know after the first time you hear them, you know they’re gonna be huge. You just get a feeling. You know they’re gonna do it. When we played with AC/DC in the 70’s, when they opened for us, they were incredible – just knocked me out. They never failed to blow my mind, to this day. I mean, I think they’re incredible. And to see them go on and have us be a small part of their rise to where they are – I’m just really glad that we’re able to see that. It’s the same way with Guns N’ Roses. I’m really glad, I feel bad mostly for Slash because he’s a really good friend of mine, but I know if it was up to him, that the band would still be together and they would still be a huge world-class band. But touring that summer, when their record first came out, it was really exciting to see them go from being – just from coming out of the clubs and playing a few opening dates, to that summer tour, where by the end of it, they were just knocking the audience out, and they were definitely keeping US on our toes.
Q: Hey Joe, do you remember Joe (Wright) Jammer? I took guitar lessons from him a few years back in Chicago. He told me about you guys, and then showed me his name and stuff in one of your books! He told me all about how he used to know the guys in Led Zeppelin, and that he roadied for Jimi Hendrix. Would like to know if he was for real! EDIT: If any of you guys on here have heard of him, it would be cool to hear from you!
Joe: OH yeah. There’s no doubt about it. If you get the chance to look at my book, there’s actually a hand-drawn poster — because one summer, he came over from England, and had a band, and actually opened for Aerosmith, so we got to spend some time together, and he was then (and I’m sure he still is) a great blues guitar player.
Q: How do you imagine your life would be if you weren’t the guitarist of Aerosmith?
Joe: I would probably be exploring and looking around the world, trying to add something to it, to make it a better place. I’m not sure if I would be a marine biologist, or if i would be a, I dunno – some kind of explorer, something, I don’t know, but I’ve always been interested and excited about the natural world, and I think I would be involved with something that would be trying to make it a better place.
Q: What was the first song you mastered on guitar?
Joe: Oh god, oh, I think the first song that I could play so it sounded like the song was a song called “Sweet Dreaming Baby” by Roy Orbison, where I could actually put the chords together so it sounded like the song. It’s a very simple song, but that’s generally what you start with when you’re learning how to play any instrument. So that’s probably the first song i could play.
Q: What’s your favorite ride in Disney?
Joe: Well, I have to say that I love the whole Rock’n Rollercoaster, not just because it’s got our music in it and is kinda built – they use the band in it – but I don’t think there’s a roller coaster, or they call it a “ride” because it’s indoors, it’s not a real roller coaster like the Hulk over at Universal, but it’s so exciting when that thing takes off that I mean – it could be any band in there, but to hear our music playing and then have that thing take off like a rocket – I don’t think there’s a ride that can compare to that. But one that runs probably even is also the Tower of Terror.
Q: Who are some modern rock bands you really like?
Joe: Well, there’s – oh god, I really liked some of the stuff the Black Keys do. And I just hear bits and pieces from, oddly enough – for the kind of rock & roll that i like, I hear a lot of it on some of the really good TV shows. I mean, I can’t believe that it’s so popular, that they use so much of that music! In the 60’s or 70’s, you just never would hear that. But it also makes it hard to to find out who it is that’s actually playing the music. I guess you could do some digging on the computer, because my son Tony and also their band (which has Toni and Adrian in it) have had a number of songs in the movies. And you know, they’ll get credit for it at the end, it’ll happen really fast, and you don’t really get a chance to see who it is. So it’s a little frustrating. But i hear some really good rock & roll on TV, you know? And it’s just, how things have changed over the years. But that’s where I hear a lot of the kind of rock that I like. Anyway, it’s just great to hear that. But as far as bands go, there are so many that go by when I listen to the radio, some of the stuff – they don’t really announce who it is, or anything like that, so it’s kinda tough to know who they are. But it’s definitely out there.
Q: Hey Joe! First off I just want to say thanks for at least taking the time to read these questions. I must say that I’ve been playing guitar for about 12 yrs now and you and Aerosmith have probably been my biggest inspiration and one of the biggest reasons I got serious about my guitar playing and music. So thanks for being a riff machine, seriously I envy the riffs and songs you’ve created over the years I’d also like to say that I just recently listened to the interview you did with joe rogan and it was really cool to hear that judging by that podcast, as well as yours and Billie’s twitters, it seems like we have similar political views which is really cool. I also really enjoyed the documentary on the New World Order that billie tweeted the other day, I already knew most of the info, but it was still cool to get a refresher on it. NOW finally to the questions…..,
1) What kind of tubes do you like in your amps?
2) What kind of amps were you using live around 1978? They had a really distinctive growl to them.
3) What are some of your favorite led zeppelin songs?
4) Can you recall what amp and what guitar you used to record Combination? Both the rhythm and lead tracks.
5) I know you love bbq, do you know of any food places in New Jersey that you go to on tour?
6) What is your favorite and or most cherished weapon you own?
7) Do you ever meditate?
Joe: 1.) Well, I think that the last time I talked to my tech about it, and from what I remember about them, the groove tubes were – probably your best bet. Because they would get tubes from overseas, Czechoslovakia, and match them up – which is also a little technical kind of thing that, I mean, you can probably throw any ol’ tubes in an amp and most people wouldn’t notice the difference, I might not even, but i do know the sound of an amp is made up of a lot of different things like that, and the tubes are important. And again, because over there in Russia and China, they still use a lot of tubes in their electrical equipment, they still make some of the best tubes in the world. So I know there are people out there who are making good tubes again in the States, but you still have to keep lookin’. And you have to get some and experiment and some don’t sound as good as others. It’s one of the quirky things that goes along with old amplifiers.
2.) Those were customized Music Man amplifiers that… Leo Fender had sold his name – unfortunately – and started a new company, and Music Man was part of that. And we had a chance to get ahold of some of those amps early, when they first started making ’em, and they sounded really good, so we had ’em customized to make them more versatile for our needs – Brad and I, but the whole band actually used them. And they actually had LED lights on them, so you could see how hard you were pushing them. So in about 1978, 1979, those were the amps we were using live. Pretty much. And we still have a bunch of them, in fact – I just went through the inventory, and I think we have 8-9, and we’ll probably put them out on the market since we won’t be using them. So those are going on the market soon.
3.) God, I have to say that “Cashmere” kind of drives in all the different influences that Jimmy was attracted to. And there are other songs that show that, but it seems that there are some songs that kind of capture all of it, in any band. I mean, AC/DC has a couple songs that – that’s probably, you know, the whole ball of wax right there. You’ve heard AC/DC if you hear that one song. So I think that “Cashmere” probably is one of the songs that is the peak of Led Zeppelin’s forward motion. But I have to say that “Immigrant Song” is something that – I don’t know where that came from, but to me that just shows, again, Jerry Page’s genius.
4.) I would say it would probably have been an Ampeg G4 – Ampeg made guitar amps in the 50 watt range, and we were using those quite a bit during that period in the studio. So it was probably one of those. And probably a 45 watt Plexi, an old Plexi, for the lead.
5.) None that come to mind, sorry to say, haha! Usually, we’re on our way to New York or on our way out of New York, and we don’t really get much of a chance to stop in New Jersey to eat. So I really can’t point a place out. But if anybody has a good BBQ place they can recommend, let me know!
6.) Well, I’ve been kind’ve taking up vinyl every chance I get, every once in a while. Some new music is coming out on vinyl, and I grab that whenever I can. And Eddie Kramer, the incredible Eddie Kramer who recorded Jimi Hendrix in his unfortunately short time of recording in the studio, had some outtakes of Jimi working on his new, some of the new material he was working with, I think it was with Billy Cox and Buddy Miles or Mitch Mitchell, I’m not sure who else was playing, and some of the songs go on for 15 minutes – Jimi taking some of his favorite things and trying to, you know, as we all did, come up with some new things, and so these outtakes – Eddie Kramer pressed them into vinyl just so he could give ’em to his friends, and he gave me, it’s a 2 record set, and it’s just Jimi kinda jamming on some of his favorite old songs. And every once in a while, you hear something pop out of there that you know if he’d been around a little longer, you know it would’ve ended up on another album. So that’s my favorite album right now. It’s vinyl and it sounds incredible.
7.) No, but I meditate about meditating? But I never get around to it.
Q: Joe I cannot begin to describe how much your music has positively affected my life, Aerosmith is the reason I got into music and has always been my first for everything related: first album I bought, first concert, even first poster I ever hung up in my room. Years later I’m still a massive fan and got my tickets all ready for Aerosmith Rocks Donnington My question for you is what is your current opinion on Rock in a Hard Place? I know before you’ve said a few times you weren’t a big fan of it but I’m curious to find out if you’ve changed your mind on it
Joe: Well, I think that’s great to hear. I think we’re all looking forward to seeing how the fans respond to Donington. I know we’ve never done anything like this before, we spent a lot of time editing and mixing and it’s really been something we’re really excited about. So the Donington show is also a special venue, because it was one of the first places we played when we went to England for the first time, and we have a lot of history there. And the audience was there, and they were just like totally into it, and we were really glad that they were excited about it. And this Thursday – it’s really gonna be – we’ll see how it goes! It’s in HD and mixed in 5:1 and it’s something we’re really excited about, and I hope the fans are too. And for “Rock in a Hard Place” – there’s a couple songs on there I like, actually. There’s one, “Lightning Strikes,” I like that one. That one’s a pretty cool song. And I wouldn’t be surprised if it doesn’t show up in the setlist during the next tour.