Joe Perry’s Sweet Emotion

Interviews

Aerosmith guitarist Joe Perry is used to the rigors of gigging, but he’s unsure about the intensity of his forthcoming
book tour, which comes to Tempe and Scottsdale this month.

Perry is hitting bookstores and Guitar Center locations to push his autobiography “Rocks: My Life In and Out of Aerosmith,” which arrives in stores October 7.

“I’ve done some pretty crazy things with the band, like doing a gig in one place and jetting off to some other place,” says Perry, the co-founder of Aerosmith and songwriter alongside singer Steven Tyler. “But [touring with Aerosmith is]a little slower. We’re often waiting for equipment to show up. This is a whole new ballgame for me, pouring out my heart and soul like I did for this book. To be able to get out there and talk to people about it—I’m really fascinated by the whole thing.”

Perry spoke to The Entertainer! about “Rocks,” his love of Jack Kerouac and his ties to Arizona.

The Entertainer!: Was writing the book a good experience or was it difficult?

Perry: I think—no, I know—it was a lot more work than I expected, first off. I’m a big fan of the Jack Kerouac school of just letting it flow, then moving on. I think there were some fun parts of reliving some of the good times. Then there was also the aspect of getting into some of the stuff, some of the decisions I made, or certain circumstances that I had to relive and really get into that wasn’t so much fun, frankly. It was tough emotionally. I think the overall experience was really amazing. Knowing what I know now, I wouldn’t want to go through it again.

Your bandmates have written books as well. How does this one differ?

My book follows that traditional autobiographical format. Certainly there are going to be a lot of surprises in there for people. I didn’t want to write a sex, drugs and rock ‘n’ roll book. We kind of did that in “Walk This Way.” It’s been done so many times. It’s part of our story. I didn’t want to disregard that as part of the whole Aerosmith thing. I wanted to go deeper than that. That was the focus to get down to human nature.

How have your shows been in Arizona in the past?

It’s been a while since we played there. It’s been about six years, which is really a shame. It’s always been a great place for us to play. We really like it there. My mother lived in Sedona for 13 years. It’s always a great stop for us. We’d always make time to go up and visit her. That was back in the ‘90s and she has since moved back to the East, in New Hampshire, and she passed away last year. But yeah, Phoenix was always one of those stops that I look forward to. The fans have always been great there.

Sedona is amazing.

I know. You talk to people you live there and they go on—and I don’t blame them—about it being more and more commercialized. It was still kind of this undiscovered spiritual place. There was a lot of focus on that. Of course there are a lot more Pink Jeeps running around. It’s still an amazing place. When we do get a chance—it hasn’t been for a while—we [go]up there to visit, even though my mother isn’t there.

Have your bandmates read the book yet?

Not yet. I really wanted to give it to them in a totally complete form. I just got the completed copies with the pictures and the cover, all the elements, the way it’s going to be on the bookshelf about a week ago. I wanted them to see it like that. I didn’t see the point in showing them the galleys when there was still editing going on.

Were you worried about revealing anything to the public in “Rocks”?

Yeah. It’s not in my nature to open up certain parts of my personal life—my heart and soul, so to speak. That’s on the personal level. It is basically an autobiography about my life. Certainly Aerosmith fans will be looking to see more about the Aerosmith news, to see if there’s anything new in there—which I’m sure there will be. There’s the dynamic between Steven and I. I actually got a question a couple days ago: “Is the band still together?” It just goes to show how far afield some of these stories can get or people’s perceptions can get. The fact that we’re still able to do it 42 years later and deal with all that … I just wanted to try to get it as close to the truth of what I recall and taking responsibility for the good and the bad, whether it’s my own personal life or the band’s life.

What’s in the plans for Aerosmith?

Everybody’s sitting around shaking off the last three years. It’s been a constant run since the start of the making of the last album. This is the first break we’ve had in over four years, I think, where we actually have six to eight months before we would normally tour. We’re talking about different options right now. But I think everybody’s just enjoying their time off. I’m just starting to realize I don’t have to get up and get on a plane again. We do have a private party, but that’s kind of like a one-off kind of thing. It’s one of those things we like doing, a low-pressure thing and it’s fun playing those kinds of shows. Actually, that’s when I’ll give the guys the book. I’m just trying to figure out when the best time is to give it to them.

JOE PERRY BOOK SIGNING

Changing Hands Bookstore, 6428 S. McClintock Drive, Tempe, 480.730.0205, changinghands.com, Saturday, October 18, 6 p.m. to 8:30 p.m., charge for books

Guitar Center, 8949 E. Indian Bend Road, Scottsdale, 480.362.1150, guitarcenter.com, Sunday, October 19, 2 p.m. to 4 p.m., free

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