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.
“Nobody has even mentioned it,” Perry tells Billboard. “Look, he’s a really private guy. He’s dealing with it, but as far as the band goes, nobody gives a shit. Everybody’s interested in his playing, y’know. I’m sure there’s the first minute of the first song where people are curious to see what he’s going to do or what he’s gonna look like or whatever, but after that they just listen to him play and then they get off on the band. It’s as simple as that. But [the divorce] is a whole other world. All that trash that’s out there doesn’t have anything to do with us.”
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The Vampires, which Depp co-founded with Alice Cooper after the two worked together on the 2012 film adaptation of Dark Shadows, has turned into much more than the one-off all-star project the duo envisioned. After a handful of shows in Los Angeles and Rio following their self-titled album, the troupe — with former Guns N’ Roses/Velvet Revolver drummer Matt Sorum and Stone Temple Pilots’ Robert DeLeo taking Duff McKagan’s spot on bass — is touring Europe and North America. It’s a surprising development that none of the Vampires are complaining about.
“This is something that kind of went day to day,” says Perry, who became an official Vampire after playing on sessions for the album. “After the shows last year we all told our managers, ‘We’re gonna cut some time out and we really want to take this on the road’ and we got it together. It’s kind of like we’re a baby band on one hand, ’cause the fans really don’t know what to expect, then on the other hand we’re all veterans who have played hundreds and hundreds of shows. It’s a very cool thing.”
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If Perry, Cooper and Depp have their way, the Vampires will be returning to the studio, too. Cooper has already said that he has some original material ready for a sophomore effort to add to the group’s repertoire of songs such as “Raise The Dead,” “My Dead Drunk Friends” and “As Bad As I Am.” Everyone’s schedule is tricky with other commitments, but there’s confidence that the Vampires will be together moving forward.
“If we can plan far enough ahead we’ll be able to knock off some more songs and do some short runs [of shows],” he says. “All of us are hoping that can happen. It’s something I’ve never done before. I’ve jammed before with other bands but there’s nothing like having it be a real band. I don’t know if I’m having more fun watching the audience or watching the other guys. It’s a hard feeling to describe.”
Perry, of course, will also have to navigate whatever is ahead for Aerosmith, too. With the individual members scattered at the moment — including frontman Steven Tyler, whose first solo album We’re All Somebody From Somewhere drops July 15 — the group has dates, mostly in South America, this fall. There’s also been a great deal of speculation about a farewell tour, though Perry contends that’s still in the discussion phase.
“We’ve talked about it over the years,” acknowledges the guitarist, who’s also been working on new solo material. “Frankly I can see starting a tour that’s called the final tour, but do I think there’s going to be a last Aerosmith gig? That’s a little tough for me to wrap my head around. We all know age is creeping up on us, but we’ve followed the lead of the original blues guys and early rockers and learned so much from them and how they just kept playing. But I think we’d like to do a tour where we play every place that we’ve ever played and maybe some places that we’ve never played and just do that on the premise that it’s [a final] tour. That’s the kind of stuff we’ve been talking about. I have a feeling that there’ll be a tour that we’ll call the final tour, but when will it end? That I can’t say.”
By Gary Graff for Billboard