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Interview:
Aerosmith Continues To Dream On
 

By GARY GRAFF
Of the Oakland Press

» See more SOUND CHECK

Thirty-six years on, Aerosmith’s Joe Perry fi gures his band “could keep going for quite a while.” “I think it’s gonna depend on how everybody holds up, you know?” the guitarist adds.

That, however, has become an issue in the long-lived rock band’s camp these days.

Earlier this year, the group had to cancel some shows while frontman Steven Tyler underwent surgery on his throat and on one of his heels. More recently, Tyler acknowledged that he endured a long battle with hepatitis C, finally treating it when the band took an 11-month break in August 2004. Now, Tyler says, he’s completely cured.

Meanwhile, bassist Tom Hamilton is sitting out some — and perhaps all — of Aero smith’s Route of all Evil Tour with Mötley Crüe while recovering from chemotherapy to treat throat cancer.

So the group that wasn’t felled by debilitating drug addictions, debauchery and internal rancor — all chronicled in Aerosmith’s harrowing 1997 autobiography “Walk This Way” — is instead grappling with health and age issues. But Perry, 56, is not one to wave the white fl ag yet.

“I’m just not ready to take years off yet,” he says. “I still have too many shows left to play. I think we’ll probably end up doing shorter tours, but I defi nitely think we’re going to do a studio record next spring and then try to do a world tour next year.”

Another ‘classic rocker’

It’s an ambitious agenda, to be sure, but Aerosmith is pursuing it with abandon.

In fact, fans will get to hear some new music sooner rather than later. The group — which formed in 1970 in New Hampshire and racked up an enduring body of rock hits that includes “Dream On,” “Walk This Way,” “Love in an Eleva tor” and the Grammy-winning “Janie’s Got a Gun” — has recorded two fresh tracks for “Devil’s Got a New Disguise: The Very Best of Aerosmith,” which comes out Oct. 17.

“We were working on getting a studio record out, but we just couldn’t do it. There wasn’t enough time,” says Perry, calling the hits set “a good holdover.”

“Devil’s Got a New Disguise” takes its title from one of two new songs that will be included on the 16-track album, a “pared down” singledisc version of 2002’s “O, Yeah! Ultimate Aerosmith Hits.” Perry describes “... New Disguise” as “a classic Aerosmith rocker,” while the other fresh track, “Sedona Sunrise,” has been around for a while and considered for other Aerosmith albums.

“We felt like it really had to come out,” Perry says.

The group has been reaching into its vaults for its next studio album, which it plans to resume recording in February.

Perry says the quintet has been finding inspiration from previous songs and ideas, most of which Perry says “sound like just old-fashioned Aerosmith songs” but “weren’t perceived as being right for that time.”

“There’s a lot of the stuff that inspired the ‘Pump’ songs (in 1989) and even before that,” the guitarist explains. “There’s a lot of songs there that I think have the grit and the meat of what a lot of people expect from Aerosmith.

“We thought we’d take another look at that stuff, and that’s what’s going to be the backbone of this next record.”

Aura of the band’s past

These days, Perry says, Aerosmith is largely “paying attention to what’s going on out there and what our fans want to hear.” He’s also heartened that “we’re seeing such a resurgence in classic rock” — particularly among younger listeners.

“This generation of kids has absolutely no memory of the ’70s or the ’80s,” Perry says. “They just listen to the music, and they’re fascinated with all these songs — not just Aerosmith but all the music from that area. It’s not whether it’s cool or hip or not. They just like the way it sounds.”

And, he suspects, they’re also attracted by some of the attendant nonmusical trappings that are part of the package.

“There’s a kind of legacy to it, and a mystery,” Perry explains. “There was a whole aura, at least when I was growing up. Rock stars rode around in limos, spent money like water and partied. There was this whole lifestyle thing. I don’t know if the generation of kids now perceive their rock bands in that same way.

“But when they see bands like the (Rolling) Stones or Aerosmith and U2 living these kinds of lives, there’s another whole layer of intrigue to it. So maybe that’s part of it.”

An Aerosmith/Mötley Crüe tour plays right into that interest. There was a time when such an outing tour would have been a veritable rock ’n’ roll bacchanal — habits the Crüe also chronicled in its book, “The Dirt.” Perry says the Crüe’s story is “pretty hairy,” even in comparison with his own. But these days both bands are far more sober and focused on what they’re doing onstage rather than backstage.

“I think it’s kind of cool that we’ve gone through all that — the good times, bad times and all that — and we’ve got it under our belts,” Perry says. “The fans are gonna get the benefi t of all that. At least they can count on seeing the band play, not fall off the stage, y’know?”







Aerosmith and Mötley Crüe perform at 7:30 p.m. Wednesday (October 11th) at the DTE Energy Music Theatre, Sashabaw Road north of I-75, Independence Township. Tickets are $145 pavilion, $45 lawn. Call (248) 377-0100 or visit

Web Site: www.palacenet.com

Send your thoughts and comments to Gary Graff

 



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