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Issue Date: September 2009


Rock This Way

Despite numerous setbacks, Aerosmith’s Joe Perry says the legendary band is ready to give fans a whole new experience.
Lynne Thompson
editorial@clevelandmagazine.com
The scant 15 minutes scheduled for our telephone interview have long since expired. Joe Perry doesn’t seem to notice.

Aerosmith’s lead guitarist is cruising through New York in his private tour bus to a sold-out show at the Comcast Center near his hometown of Boston. (“I just don’t like flying much,” he confesses.)

He’s thoroughly enjoying the current topic of conversation: the “incredible” time he had in Cleveland at the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame inductions, where he joined Jimmy Page of Led Zeppelin, Ron Wood of the Rolling Stones, Flea of the Red Hot Chili Peppers and new inductees Jeff Beck and Metallica on stage for the traditional end-of-the-night jam.

“In New York, there are a lot of big parties — certainly there’s a lot of glamour there, and that’s where all the media is,” he says. “But you do it in Cleveland and the whole town just rolls out the welcome mat. Everybody we ran into just seemed so happy about the event. It really made it a lot more special.”

Perry returns Sept. 10 for a show with his Aerosmith bandmates and special guest ZZ Top — a band that Perry says “floors me every time” — at Blossom Music Center.

It’s a stop on a lineup of dates admittedly plagued by misfortune. Guitarist Brad Whitford and bassist Tom Hamilton missed dates after unexpected surgeries. Seven shows were postponed after lead singer Steven Tyler injured his leg during a concert in late June. Even work on the long-awaited studio CD that the tour was supposed to support was delayed, first by a surgery to clean out Perry’s infected knee replacement, then by Tyler’s bout with pneumonia.

Despite the mishaps and injuries, Perry says, the band never considered canceling the tour, let alone staying home for good. He dismisses the problems as “just life.”

In fact, Perry promises fans will not see the same old song and dance. “I’m really excited about it. We’ve changed the set around as much as we could, added new songs we’ve never played before,” he says. “And I know there are going to be some more surprises coming up as the tour goes along and we build up steam.”

Specifically, Aerosmith will perform its landmark 1975 disc Toys in the Attic in its entirety. This tour is the first time the band has performed the classic album, which has sold more than 8 million copies and includes the songs “Sweet Emotion” and “Walk This Way,” from beginning to end.

“It’s an idea that we’ve had for quite a while,” Perry explains. “Good friends of ours, Cheap Trick, have done it on a couple of occasions. I like to put records on from beginning to end — it’s kind of cool to hear one song finish and then almost start singing the next song before it starts. It’s also giving us a chance to play songs that we’ve never played before on stage. We’re really looking forward to playing ‘Adam’s Apple’ and ‘Round and Round.’ I’ve always wanted to hear ‘Uncle Salty’ live.”

Perry also notes that vehicles such as the Guitar Hero: Aerosmith video game released last year are introducing their older songs to a whole new generation. Perry says he thinks the band’s younger fans will be impressed when they hear the tracks live.

“We’re the fire that the tribe dances around,” he says. “We like to make it hot.”

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