For Joe Perry, a chunk of 2022 was supposed to put him back onstage with Aerosmith for the first time in more than two years. All of that changed when the band announced that Steven Tyler would be heading to rehab, forcing them to postpone their Las Vegas residency from June to September.
The guitar legend suddenly found himself with more unexpected free time — and when offers came in to do some solo shows, he was happily able to say yes, which is not always the case. “It’s really hard, you know, you can’t just pick up a suitcase and go,” he explains to UCR, noting that he typically gets similar requests a couple of times each year. “You’ve got to rehearse the band and see who’s available and all that. So, this worked out really well.”
As a result, the Joe Perry Project will reconvene for a trio of U.S. dates, with Extreme‘s Gary Cherone once again handling vocals. Perry’s ’80s-era Project associate Joe Pet will be behind the drums, and bassist Chris Wyse and keyboardist Buck Johnson will fill out the lineup.
The short run includes an opening slot for ZZ Top, and Perry regrets that the calendar won’t allow for more dates. “I wish we had time for more, but it won’t be long before we’re back in New England rehearsing for the next Vegas [residency],” he explains. “Aerosmith has a show in Maine, and then the show at Fenway Park, which is kind of a homecoming gig to kick off the 50th anniversary of the first record.”
Aerosmith will then head to Vegas to resume their Deuces are Wild residency on Sept. 14. What’s in the cards beyond that? “Next year, we’ll see,” Perry allows.
During a recent phone conversation, the guitarist detailed some of the plans for future archival reissues from Aerosmith, while also digging into what fans can expect from these Joe Perry Project gigs. He also looked back on the genesis of his solo band, which first came to life at the end of the ’70s when he stepped away from Aerosmith.
As you mentioned prior to the start of the interview, you can’t wait to get back to the stage. I would imagine it’s been really weird for you, being away so long.
It’s been really different. It’s been certainly the longest I’ve been off the road. For me and Billie [Perry’s wife], the amount of time where we didn’t have to [do something was nice]. Even when we had time off, we always knew we were going to start up again in six months, three months or whatever. We’d start packing our suitcases again. This time, we thought it was going to be a year, and then it was another year, and then another year of canceling stuff. It was really amazing to be able to sleep in our own beds. You think about it, this is how most people live. We missed being on the road, but we also were digging being around the house. It was a two-edged sword. Certainly, the plague was terrible. All of the unknowns and people passing away, that was terrible. You can’t lose sight of that, for sure. We still have to worry about it. It’s a whole new thing out there. You’ve got to still worry about not getting sick.
With your current downtime from Aerosmith, you’re bringing the Joe Perry Project back together. I love that Joe Pet is in the lineup for this run.
I’m excited to play with Joe again! Some of the guys weren’t available. [Bassist] David Hull was definitely on my list, but he wasn’t able to make it. It would have been great to have him too. He’s one of the early members of the Project, so I always love playing with him. I’m sure he’ll be back again the next time we do stuff. Playing with this band is going to be great. They’re all friends of mine. Buck Johnson plays with me in Aerosmith and Hollywood Vampires. Chris Wyse plays bass in the Vampires with us. The fact that we were able to get these gigs on such short notice is amazing. We’ve got Gary from Extreme.
He’s a monster singer.
He’s just great. He’ll take anything on and he kills it. He sang on one of the songs on the second edition of [Sweetzerland Manifesto]. One of the things I like to do is maybe pull out a couple of Aerosmith songs that we never play. Gary always has a couple of requests for songs that he likes to sing, the Aerosmith stuff that he likes. We all put our heads together and put a set together. Playing with ZZ Top is going to be great. I think I did a tour with them, opening one summer. I think we did like 20 shows with them, with the Project, way back when.
Let’s go back a bit. How did you write “Let the Music Do the Talking” for the Project originally?
It was one of those licks that was left over, probably from the Draw the Line sessions. I think that was a riff I had floating around. I remember when I heard Ralph Morman sing with a band, Daddy Warbux [later just Bux], in Boston, I said, “I’d like to play with him.” They had a record deal and singles and stuff. They were pretty big in Boston. We kind of lost track over the years, but when I was putting the solo thing together, he was the first guy I called. He just fit right in with that stuff I had lined up. We play it a little more stretched out, my version, but when [Aerosmith] got back together, Steven said he really wanted to do that song, but he wanted to rewrite the lyrics so it fit a little more with his style. So it’s two different versions. I kind of like the drive of the Aerosmith version, but there’s a certain kind of funk to the first one. That one, you’ll hear.
Watch the Video for Aerosmith’s ‘Let the Music Do the Talking’
You had to prove yourself again, in a sense, with the Joe Perry Project, after leaving Aerosmith. But it seems like listening to the music, you were up for the challenge.
Well, you know, I had a lot on my mind and a lot of songs that just never made it to the A list for Aerosmith, but that’s just how we write. I would write a bunch of riffs and also, just jamming with Steven, he would pull out what worked for him.
When I put out the solo record, I think “Let the Music Do the Talking” got a lot of play. But back then, record companies and managers, they really held all of the cards. I wrote about this in my book, but my record was out on Columbia. They said, “Listen, don’t push this record, we’ll starve him back to Aerosmith.” I heard those words years later when I was talking with those guys. Who knows, but I just put out what I felt like putting out. I wasn’t writing singles, I just wanted to put out music that I loved to play. It worked out.
With this second version of Sweetzerland Manifesto, I think it’s coming up on eight solo records. I never really got a chance to push them, to get out and do proper tours, except for maybe those four years when I was away from Aerosmith. After that, I would just do them, and once in a while I’d get to play one of them with the band. I think “Shakin’ My Cage,” we played it with Aerosmith. It’s just fun writing music for the sake of it and then being able to go back with your gang.
You mentioned earlier that Gary will suggest songs. What are some of the songs that are on the table this time around?
We’ve got the short list [of songs we have to play]. I’m going to talk to Gary and see if there’s a couple of others we might want to look at. He had “Chip Away the Stone” on his first list. There’s some songs that really need two guitar players. A lot of our stuff is based on Brad [Whitford] and I playing stuff together. Buck, the keyboard player, can do some of the stuff. But still, we just wouldn’t be able to do “Adam’s Apple” without Brad. We’ve got a good cross-section of stuff. We throw some of my solo stuff in there. There’s always going to be some surprises.
Watch the Video for Aerosmith’s ‘Chip Away the Stone’
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