After spending more than three decades dealing with the business that is rock ‘n’ roll, Aerosmith co-founder Joe Perry dreams of a time when he can focus on nothing but playing his guitar.
With a new album and summer-long U.S. tour that kicked off earlier this month in Hartford, Conn., Perry and the Boston-based quintet has been busy – making videos, contributing to movie soundtracks, going to awards ceremonies, performing at sporting events and working with other artists.
While it’s the kind of success most bands dream of, for Perry, it’s become another day at the office.
“It seems like Aerosmith has turned into a full-time job, which is kind of a drag because I got into this business so I wouldn’t have to work,” Perry said in a recent telephone interview with The Associated Press from his home in Cohasset, Mass.
“We just want to play our guitars, get out there, get a little instant energy, adrenaline rush and move on to the next show,” he said. “But it seems there’s so much other stuff that goes along with it now.”
Perry, now 50, has seen it all. He and flamboyant lead singer Steven Tyler formed Aerosmith in 1970. They became the U.S. answer to British invasion bands like the Rolling Stones and The Who, with hits like “Dream On” and “Sweet Emotion.”
But along with fame came unbridled excesses of sex, alcohol, drugs and infighting that they now say twisted the music and caused the band to split.
A sobered-up band reunited in the mid-1980s. They teamed with rappers Run-DMC for a remix of Aerosmith’s signature song “Walk This Way” and rode the crossover hit back into mainstream stardom. Soon they transformed themselves into rock’s comeback story of the decade.
“I’d like to think that we’re living proof that you can have a career in a business that’s designed to chew people up and spit them out,” said Perry.
The success continued in the ’90s, and along with it came respect. They won Grammys, MTV music video awards, and hit the top of the singles charts for the first time with “I Don’t Want to Miss a Thing.”
Now, they are enjoying success in the new millennium as well. Their latest album, “Just Push Play,” has been certified platinum, and in March, they were inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame.
“Aerosmith is one of America’s great bands,” said Howard Kramer, the hall’s associate curator. “It’s a miracle they’ve been able to survive, considering physically what they put themselves through.”
Although they still kick out ear-bleeding, riff-based hits, but have found more success in melodic power ballads like “Jaded” that receive widespread radio play.
Perry admits that both the music, and the band members, have changed over the years.
“There’s only a couple of us that have long hair anymore. You can’t stay the same. I think it’s boring,” said Perry. “But I still like leather pants, I don’t think that’s going to change anytime soon… they’re just not as tight as they used to be, but they’re still leather.”
With their status in rock history firmly established, the demands of the music industry increasing and all the members of Aerosmith at or fast approaching the half century mark (Tyler is 52), why does the band keep coming back for more?
“I’ve been around the block with it. Should a 50-year-old man be jumping around on stage with his guitar? I don’t know,” Perry said. “But why not? If people are crazy enough to see me do it, I’m crazy enough to do it.”
“If I was to retire what would I do? Well, I would probably call Steven up and put a band together,” Perry said.