Entertainment behind the scenes
Back in their youthful heyday, the members of Aerosmith indulged in every sort of hedonistic pursuit backstage after their concerts. These days, they head straight to the tour bus and surf the Web to see what their fans thought about the show, says lead guitarist Joe Perry.
The feedback is important in the early stages of a tour, such as the one that began last Wednesday in St. Louis, as the band struggles to regain match form after a 20-month absence from the stage.
“They don’t hold anything back,” Perry said of the comments on sites such as the official Web site, aeroforceone.com. “It’s a lot of fun to read it. Some of it isn’t so much fun, but it still gives you good feedback … We can take care of the technical stuff and what we expect out of ourselves, but the most important thing is how it affects the fans.”
With just two shows of the tour under its belt, the set list will undergo some major changes, and fan input will be an influence, Perry told Reuters on Sunday, calling from the bus taking him from Milwaukee back to the band’s Boston hometown.
“The bottom line is we’re entertainers. We want to keep the fans happy. We’re not these egotistical artists that dictate, ‘Well you must listen to this one and you must like it whether you applaud or not.’”
The centerpiece of each show on the new tour is the performance of an early album in its entirety, front to back. For at least the next two weeks, that album is the 1975 smash “Toys in the Attic,” which features the hits “Walk This Way” and “Sweet Emotion.” (The album closer “You See Me Crying” is currently absent from the set list because it is “one of the toughest songs probably in our catalog,” Perry said, and vocalist Steven Tyler needs two more shows to get his throat into shape).
Once the band settles into a groove, it will probably dust off its 1976 follow-up “Rocks,” which features the top-40 tunes “Back in the Saddle” and “Last Child.” The band’s first two albums, its 1973 self-titled debut and 1974′s “Get Your Wings” are also candidates for a revival.
But what Perry really wants to do is exhume is the unloved 1979 album “Night in the Ruts,” recorded during the band’s lengthy, drug-fueled nadir. Perry plays on only some of the tracks because he left the band before the album was released.
“I think there are probably two songs on there that we could play pretty much right off the bat,” he said. “The rest of them we’d have to sit down and really take them apart, relearn all the guitar parts. There are some rockin’ songs on there and it would be fun to play them live.”
So far on the tour Perry takes to the microphone for the “Rocks” cut “Combination,” and he envisages adding other solo outings such as “Bright Light Fight” (from 1979′s “Draw the Line”) and “Walk on Down” (from 1993′s “Get a Grip”).
In the meantime, he started mixing a new solo album on Sunday, and hopes to premiere some new music during the summer ahead of an official release in September or October. The nine-track disc was recorded during a frantic 40-day burst of activity after sessions for Aerosmith’s long-delayed album were postponed when Tyler came down with pneumonia.
The album, with the working title of “Freedom,” will be credited to the Joe Perry Project, a combo he formed during his five-year hiatus from Aerosmith.
Perry does some vocals, and also brought in a singer in the bluesy Paul Rodgers mold, whom he declined to identify. One of the tracks Perry sings is called “Oh Lord,” which he likened to a Jim Morrison-style prayer set to music. Some high-school choristers, including his son Roman, are featured on the tune.
“That’s the kind of thing I really don’t hear on an Aerosmith record,” Perry said.