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Q&A: Joe Perry on Aerosmith's New Album

'One riff on this record has to be at least 20 years old,' says guitarist

March 30, 2012 12:05 PM ET
joe perry
Joe Perry of Aerosmith performs at Muhammad Ali's 70th birthday at the MGM Grand Garden Arena in Las Vegas.
Ethan Miller/Getty Images for Keep Memory Alive

Aerosmith guitarist Joe Perry says he's frequently thought about leaving the band. "I've thought very often about throwing it over for just writing and doing my own thing, but nothing excites me as much as getting to do this. It's about being in the studio and working and taking it day by day, and suddenly you find yourself (here) 40 years later."

Rolling Stone spoke one-on-one with the 61-year-old Toxic Twin about the band's first album in eight years, which is almost complete and scheduled for release this summer.

Was it tough rebuilding the bridges to get everyone back in the same place?
No, because the music does that. After a band's been together as long as we have, everybody just gets into their own rhythms. You can't force shit. People do what they're going to do outside of the band, whether it's Steven (Tyler) wanting to put his name on motorcycles or doing American Idol, or Joey (Kramer) writing a book or me putting out a solo record. But the five of us always have this band, and we're constantly amazed that it's still happening.

You worked with producer Jack Douglas through the Seventies and then again on your last album, Honkin' on Bobo, in 2004.
Honkin' on Bobo
was supposed to be this record. As it turned out, the energy around the band wasn't right, but we needed to put something out. We did it in a room not much bigger than this, everybody set up and playing live. And that was what we carried into this record: live, in-the-room excitement.

I don't spend much time listening to the records when they're done. Usually I let go of it. Especially in the Eighties and Nineties – they were like product, almost. (There were) so many people involved, I felt like you lose ownership of the record. But I remember listening back to the tracks in the Seventies a lot, just for the fun of it. And this record, for some reason, I found myself doing that.

Are there any songs left over from Honkin' on Bobo?
Well, there are riffs. It's funny, because some riffs have popped up in different songs that we've tried over the years. One riff on this record has to be at least 20 years old. It's been percolating, waiting for its time. It may end up turning up in a couple of songs on this record, in a mini-opera kind of way.

On recent Aerosmith tours, you've had lots of band injuries. Are you snake-bit?
Hey, man, if you snow-ski, you're going to fall down once in a while. The longer you ski, the more your chances are of falling down. There were years where we never had cancellations. I guess we're just saving it up for the end.

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