Rock Vault – Joe Perry On His New Book – Rocks: My Life In and Out of Aerosmith – I Think We Would Have Gotten More Studio Records Done If We Weren’t Messed Up!

Rock Vault - Joe Perry On His New Book - Rocks: My Life In and Out of Aerosmith - I Think We Would Have Gotten More Studio Records Done...

 

Interview and Live Photos By Robert Cavuoto

Twitter : @RobertCavuoto

 

Vault Date: 2014

Rock Vault

 

 

Joe Perry, the guitarist for the legendary band Aerosmith, released a new book, Rocks: My Life In and Out of Aerosmith. The book chronicles his turbulent experiences in Aerosmith, from their crude beginnings to selling over 150 million albums to being induction into the Rock & Roll Hall. Joe doesn’t spare any of the intense details and his critical involvement that help propel Aerosmith to be one of the biggest rock bands in the world, not once but twice!

What makes this book truly interesting is that there are four stories contained within the book; the story of Aerosmith’s history, finding the love of his life, navigating the music business while in a drug-induced haze, and exposing his volatile and dramatic relationship with lead singer, Steven Tyler.

It was an honor to sit with my guitar heroes to get his insight and candid perspective of life with Aerosmith over the past 40 years. The sacrifices and compromises he made to ignite the band to save it from the brink of disaster and what he does now to ensure that disaster never strikes again!

 

 

Robert Cavuoto: It seems as if the band’s lack of communication has been its Achilles’ heel. Do you find that to be the case throughout the band’s career?

Joe Perry: It’s tough looking back on a career that has bucked the odds. You could say that it would have been a nice thing to have it, but on the other hand, it’s worked! [laughing]. It may have made life better, or maybe it kept us going. I can think back to a bunch of circumstances had communication been better; it may have taken away some of the fire and drive.

Take, for instance, when I first left the band, I had to say to the people knocking down the door telling us we were broke and had to go back on the road, “Fuck you! We’re all fucked up and high beyond belief; let’s take a vacation! We can’t be broke, go out and get an advance while we take the break.” Who knows how that would have played out? We communicate when needed; we all get along, and somehow we figured it out.

Robert: Looking back, do you think all the drugs and alcohol helped foster writing hit songs, or did it hinder the band from writing more hits?

Joe Perry: I think in the early years, it helped. It’s part of the creative story with any artists experimenting with it. In many of the arts, some of the most creative people used chemicals to get the shortcut to creativity, and when it stops working, they either figure their way around it or suffer the consequences. In a perfect world, I think we would have gotten more done in the way of studio records if we weren’t messed up. I look back on our career and wish we had been able to do more at the time. I think growing up during that time was conducive to that party lifestyle.

In the 70s, we were successful, and when the money was rolling in, we weren’t thinking about getting back in the studio. Looking back, I do wish we had spent less time on the road and more in the studio, particularly after Toys in the Attic and Rocks, because we were really hitting our musical stride. At the same time, we were selling out everywhere and making a lot of money for a lot of people. They had no interest in us taking time off to be in the studio. We would sell every ticket, and people were making money. The cards were stacked against us from getting back in the studio and completing records in a shorter period of time. I know for myself that as soon as things started to fall apart with the band, I kept writing. I put out five solo records compared to the band’s 15. There is something to be said about that.

Robert: You’ve had the fortune of creating success with Aerosmith not once but twice; there have been some pretty incredible highs and very dark lows. What was the band’s darkest period?

Joe Perry: Oh god, that’s what makes this book different from a lot of books I’ve read. Like my co-writer said, “There are four main stories to this book.” Most autobiographies follow one person’s dynamic but in this case; you have the band as a whole – dissolving, then coming back from nothing and having success a second time, the story of finding the love of my life – a love story that spans 30 years in the insane world of entertainment, the story about Steven and me – figure that out [laughing] and then the story with Tim Collin. We’ve kept that story under wraps for a long time. At first, it was genius. He had a vision and put us on a path to a whole new era. Then it got to a point where we felt like he was trying to tear the band down. It got insane, and we had to come to terms with it, which was probably the toughest thing to own back then. When I was writing the book, to see my ideals compromised and what we were willing to put up with just to hold on to the success was nuts. We put up with it for as long as we could, and maybe we should have seen the light earlier; that in the background, this evil guy was getting into the bricks and mortar of the band. Getting into our private lives and how we should live them. That was way over the boundaries of what a manager should be. Manage the band, leave us alone. But he couldn’t do that, and the results were what they were. So that was the lowest part.

Robert: That part of the book with Tim Collin was riveting, like quicksand; the more the band struggled, the deeper you were pulled in, looking back, was there a better way to get out from under him?

Joe Perry: We probably should have put him in his place sooner and realized that all the power was in the band’s hands. There’s a perception out there with many managers, agents, and people in the position of control that they are more important than the band. Most managers think they are the ones who put it all together, that they’re the ones that have the power to make or break the band. We were the ones holding all the cards, were the ones out there on stage, and all we had to do was say that we were not going to go out on the road or get the fuck out of the room and be our manager. In fact, that is what we tried to do at the end. We gave Tim the option to be on board with managing the band and get out of our lives, but he couldn’t do it. He didn’t show up to the meetings, and we gave him plenty of fucking chances to change. We should have done that sooner.

Robert: If you could go back to the 70s, what piece of advice would you give yourself?

Joe Perry: The advice I would give myself would be to clean up a little bit and reinforce that the band is really in charge. The stress and the strain of touring was part of the fallout of the 70s. Plus, being told that overseas is not a big market for the band. We heard excuses that we used drugs and might get arrested – all that other bullshit [laughing]. We were having a good time here in the states, so we let it go. Had we really had our eyes open, it may have changed things. The band had the power, but we were buried under a pile of bullshit.

Robert: Over the years, you have seemed to have a better grasp on how to deal with Steven Tyler’s antics. Have you found a way to work better with him over the years?

Joe Perry: Steve has become more driven and hungry for acceptance and fame than he was in the 70s or even the early 80s. He was more of a team player back then. Even when I first met him, I knew he was going to be a handful. There was something about him that was off [laughing]. But hey, everybody is quirky! He is also an incredibly talented musician and drummer with an incredible voice. I figured whatever comes along with that package; I could deal with it.

Robert: Tell me about how you have grown and matured as a person and how you moved forward in a successful way?

Joe Perry: For me, it’s really about keeping my eyes open and having faith in my own instincts. When I was back working in the factory plotting my next move, it was always about self-confidence, going against the flow, and not really caring where the chips fell. If it feels right and I’m honest with myself, that is how I’ll live my life. I’ve certainly made mistakes and had to make compromises, but not in the places that I think are important, which are my relationships.

Robert: With the advent of social media and the fact that something you say right now or a rumor could go viral, causing a stir within the band, is that something that has been hard for the band to adjust to?

Joe Perry: We have been dealing with it from the beginning; now, it just takes longer for it to go away. In the mid-80s, the press said that Stevie Nicks was having my baby. It came out and hung out there for a few weeks. You can answer those types of things or just let it go. I can’t remember if we even put out a press release saying that I didn’t even know her. Now everything is so much faster, but you still have to put up with that stuff. I often get asked if it bothers me when people ask for an autograph; it’s just part of my life now. I won’t be doing what I’m doing if it wasn’t for these people and playing guitar for a living. I try and be as friendly as I can in the time I have by signing an autograph or taking a photo with a fan.

Robert: Has the band read your book, and if so, what has their reaction been?

Joe Perry: Actually, I’ve enjoyed watching them squirm a little [laughing]. I’ll give them copies once it’s completely finished with the cover, photos, and all the pieces assembled. I want them to see the whole thing done. The advance copy you got was for the press to read. Other than that, they haven’t seen it that I know.

Robert: Was there ever a song in your career that you were confident would be a hit and wasn’t?

Joe Perry: Yeah, the song “Get a Grip.” When Steven and I write, we think in terms of how they are going would go down live. That’s the cloth were cut from. Back then, you wrote songs not only to get on the radio but to play them live. So when we wrote that song, we were still in the mindset of playing it live and exposing our audience to our music. It was a song that had all the elements of getting people up and moving. I can still remember playing it live after the record came out, and there was silence after we played it [laughing]. We played it at three or four more shows, and for some reason, it just didn’t catch. It was like a learning experience; I still love the song.

 

www.joeperry.com

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