Interview with Aerosmith’s Joe Perry SPECIAL

Currently riding high in the New York Times Best Seller list with his acclaimed autobiography, the guitar legend discusses his book with Digital Journal and sets the record straight on a few things.

 Throughout most of the 1970s, Aerosmith frontmen, Steven Tyler and Joe Perry, were notorious for their love of the rock ‘n’ roll lifestyle and their taste for narcotics, later being dubbed ‘The Toxic Twins’ on account of all the illegal substances that flowed vigorously through their veins
 However, if the softly-spoken 64-year-old, the self-confessed “quiet guy of the Aerosmith Toxic Twins,” is suffering from the after-affects of all the years of drug and alcohol abuse, then it certainly doesn’t show, as I found him to be alert, articulate and able to recall events with the utmost clarity, something that is obviously important when it comes to writing a memoir.

His in-depth autobiography, Rocks: My Life In and Out of Aerosmith, co-written with David Ritz, with a foreword by Johnny Depp, charts the many ups and downs that this unassuming character who, without even trying is the epitome of rock star cool, has experienced over the last six decades.

 “I felt like it was just time,” explains the member of the Rock ‘N’ Roll Hall of Fame (Joe was inducted alongside bandmates, Steven Tyler, Brad Whitford,Tom Hamilton and Joey Kramer, in 2001), chatting to me from a recording studio out on the west coast where he’s been busy working on some solo material that is set to see the light of day “sooner rather than later.”

“The band’s 40th anniversary was coming up, we were finishing the last Sony album (Music from Another Dimension), there were some personal things in my life that were changing – it seemed like the end of an era in terms of the music business… I’d been thinking about it for a while, so I set about doing it.”

Was writing the book a pleasant trip down memory lane?

“Yeah, I really enjoyed the early stuff, talking about my youth and meeting Tom (Hamilton) and all the times up at the lake. Those are pretty amazing years in anybody’s life.

 “I look back at it and it seems like just looking out into the future, you have an infinite amount of time and you have pretty much no responsibility. You’re with friends and the whole thing. It was a very interesting time to relive.”

I was aware that Joe had read Does the Noise in My Head Bother You?, Steven Tyler’s autobiography, released in 2011, and that he had been unhappy with some of the things his long-time friend and musical partner-in-crime had written, believing that the singer had failed to correctly recall specific moments in the band’s history. Did the guitarist therefore see Rocks as a chance to redress the balance?

 “Well actually, no. I can’t say specifically what things he said. I just remember after reading the book, I was left with this feeling of ‘I don’t remember a lot of this stuff happening this way.’

“But it was his book and that’s the way he saw it… When I went to write my book I had the same attitude: ‘This is my book, I’m gonna write it the way I see it and the way I feel it.’ I wouldn’t be surprised if there are certain things where we’re both telling the same story and we both got it right.

“Then there’s other stuff that’s gonna be totally opposite to what he said. But I really can’t remember anything specific, except maybe some of the chronology, how things happened the way he might have remembered it as opposed to the way I remembered it.

“I went back and I looked at all the interviews and David Ritz did the same thing. He went back and looked at all the interviews, all the other books that have been written, all the unauthorised books that have been written – the Walk This Way book…

 “We asked a lot of people about times and dates and almost everything that I have that’s in the book is backed up with either emails or notes or letters from people who had actually been there in certain situations, because I really wanted to get it as accurate as I could.

“But it wasn’t as a reaction to Steven’s book, or anything at all. I’m not gonna sit there and try and argue with him about ‘Well this happened this way or that way,’ or whatever because it’s his book, man. I’m not gonna get in the way of it and I wouldn’t expect him to get in the way of mine.”

 Books of this nature, where famous – and occasionally infamous – rock stars provide an insight into their hectic and often very complicated lives, generally tend to contain shocking revelations that may cause damage or distress to others.

“I really didn’t worry about that as far as the band goes,” states the inspirational musician (a major influence on the likes of Slash and Kurt Cobain), who has been very busy publicising his memoir at book signings across the country – and on TV .

 “I was more worried about my kids. I don’t think I would have written the book 20 years ago because they were younger. Basically, the book started with Billie (Joe’s wife of nearly 30 years) and I talking about it. ‘How do you feel about me airing some of our dirty laundry?’

“We knew we’d have to put some stuff out there where I had to hold my hands up to my own mistakes and all that stuff. We decided that if we wanted it to be as good a book as it could be, we’d have to put both sides of the story in there. It just came natural anyway – it’s part of my nature to do that. I don’t go out there pointing fingers at people and blaming them.”

 “Nowhere near what I thought,” answers the avid guitar collector, number 84 in Rolling Stone‘s 2011 countdown of the 100 Greatest Guitarists, in answer to the question of whether the drugs he may have been on ‘back in the day’ had made it difficult to remember particular events from the group’s long and often turbulent past.

“I remember 90% of everything. It was more the chronology of it – exactly when things happened. It was pretty easy to kind of figure that out; just look at when the records came out and then you can work back from there.

 “How much time you would spend on the road between records, that kind of thing. It was easy to get the timeline accurate, so that then I could fill it with all the stories.”

The last few years have been eventful, to say the least, for Boston’s finest. Injuries to their charismatic lead singer, whose stint on American Idol also caused friction, a bass player undergoing treatment for cancer and the possibility of having to look for a new frontman, meant Aerosmith were rarely out of the news.

“Well some of it I got in there, some of it there just wasn’t room,” explains the down-to-earth husband and father (two of his sons are in a band called Dead Boots), revealing the extent to which this difficult period in the group’s history is documented in the book.

Rocks109 C Roman Perry 3318518

Joe with Family – Roman Perry

“But mainly, I think I set the record straight from my point-of-view, again backed up by emails and conferences with other people. That was totally out of context… I mean Steven officially left at one point, and he never mentions that when he gets interviewed, and I don’t think he mentioned it in his book.

 “He said, ‘I’m leaving for two years. I don’t know what I’m gonna do, but I’m leaving the band for two years.’ So we definitely had to talk about what was going on and somehow it leaked to the press that we were thinking about getting another singer.

“Of course we were thinking that that was one of the options, but we never tried anybody out – we never talked to anybody about it. I never did, anyway, and this was way before the American Idol thing.

“It was something that he was gonna do and it was at least a year before American Idol. Anyway, that I wanted to get straight because it made it look like he was ill and we didn’t give a shit about him and that we were out looking for another singer.

“He quit the band. We got a letter from his lawyer. He said, ‘I’m leaving the band, I’m gonna do Brand Tyler. I don’t know what that is, but I need two years off.’ That’s what we were left with. We had to figure out what we wanted to do and then he came back. So anyway, I kind of spelled all that stuff out and how it happened.”

The hardback edition of the latest in a series of Aerosmith-related publications (drummer Joey Kramer’s account of his time in the band came out in 2009) was released last month and became an instant critical and commercial success.

The unflinchingly honest account of life behind the scenes in America’s Greatest Rock and Roll Band subsequently peaked at number eight on the New York Times Bestseller list.

“I’m surprised,” admits the clearly very grateful star, who cites performing with Tom Jones at the Concert for Diana in 2007 as one of his career highlights. “When we found out it had made the Top 10 on the New York Times list, we were just blown away – Billie and I were speechless for days. It’s way more than I ever expected. I’m just really happy it went that way.

 “We worked really hard on it and it’s amazing that it’s not so much the story, it’s more that it came out as a piece of literature, so to speak, as opposed to, say, a journal. No matter what the content was, I wanted it to be readable and enjoyable.

“I’ve read books where I’ve had to work my way through, so I really wanted it to be as good as it could be on every level. I’m really happy about it.”

Rocks: My Life In and Out of Aerosmith is available now on Amazon.
For more information on Joe Perry, visit his official website.
For more on Aerosmith, visit theirs.

By Digital Journal
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