Steven Rosen of Ultimate-Guitar.com recently conducted an interview with AEROSMITH guitarist Joe Perry. A couple of excerpts from the chat follow below.
Ultimate-Guitar.com: It has been 10 years since you released “Just Push Play”. When you went into record “Music From Another Dimension!”, did you take into account how much music had changed in the past decade? Did that influence the songwriting at all?
Joe Perry: After that first time around, that generation of music changed pretty fast. Disco came out and punk came out and we’re amateur musicologists so we know that there are trends. When you’re in the middle of it and you see it happen, even in our genre there are those times when this band is the hottest or that band is the hottest. And there’s always a new one coming up. So you kinda like pay attention and listen to what’s going on but we’ve always pretty much stuck to what we do. Every couple of years somebody will say, “Hey, I hear guitar music is back” and we’ll all kind of laugh because it’s really all about the songs.
Ultimate-Guitar.com: There were a couple of false starts with “Music From Another Dimension!”
Joe Perry: We got together six years ago and started working on new tracks with [producer] Jack Douglas and we ran out of time. The circumstances weren’t right and we ended up doing “Honkin’ On Bobo”. Then we went through some ups and downs, some thicks and thins and then just went in the studio with Brendan O’Brien for a month. Again, every time we did that, we brought along some of the old licks, wrote some new ones, put some stuff down on tape, demoed some things but the Brendan O’Brien thing didn’t work out. So this is really the culmination of 10 years of wanting to do a record, but the timing just wasn’t right. Whether it was a physical thing and people were sick and whatever — life. And touring and all that. Everything kind of lined up for this one.
Ultimate-Guitar.com: You knew you wanted to work with Jack Douglas again?
Joe Perry: Jack was available and we had a bunch of riffs and songs we had accumulated. It was a really interesting process because we did the record pretty much how we did probably “Toys In the Attic”. The whole band got in a room with Jack and everybody had riffs; everything from riffs to songs to completed songs to literally one riff. But we all got in the studio and kind of slapped it all together. Then last summer we laid down I’d say about 20 tracks of basics and then we went on the road, which was really a gift. Because we got a chance to play in front of some of the best crowds we ever played for in South American and then onto Japan.
Ultimate-Guitar.com: Working with Jack Douglas again brought back that feeling of working on the “Toys In the Attic” and “Rocks” albums?
Joe Perry: That side is always there. There’s so many different facets to any artist when they go into the studio. It depends what facet you want to polish. We’ve been on the road and touring constantly over the last 10 years as much as we could. And that side like I said where a band really lives and Jack wants to get that essence. That’s the hard part. Anybody can go in and lay parts down and build tracks and you don’t have spent three years working your ass off in clubs to go in and lay tracks down and make potentially great music. But it’s another thing to capture an essence of five guys that have worked together for 40 years and get some of that indefinable magic and try and get it on tape and that’s always been Jack‘s job.
Ultimate-Guitar.com: You did work with some outside songwriters: Jim Vallance co-wrote “Legendary Child”, Desmond Child co-wrote “Another Last Goodbye” and Diane Warren wrote “We All Fall Down”.
Joe Perry: Even though there are some outside songwriters on there, how that happened is sometimes the basic guts of a song might have been written with an outside writer. But all the stuff that really gives it the personality and the flavor on this record is different than on other records. Where we worked with the other songwriters right up until the final track. We took riffs like “Legendary Child”, the opening riff I wrote 20 years ago. It actually appears in another song and we liked that riff so much, we wanted to use it and so we put it in some different places. When we started playing this other song, we realized, “Hey, wait a second. It goes to the riff to ‘Legendary Child’.” So we left it in there.
Ultimate-Guitar.com: That sounds like something AEROSMITH would have done back in the day.
Joe Perry: It sounds a little different but it’s still the same basic melody and the same structure. But we went ahead and left it in because it felt right and it worked right. So we took some liberties like that. We didn’t go back and go, “Oh, that’s against the rules. You can’t use that riff more than once.” But I think there are a lot of songs like that. Tom [Hamilton, bass] has a couple of songs on the record and one of which he sings and does a duet with Steven [Tyler, vocals]. I think people are gonna be really happy with this record as far as, “Why don’t you go back to basics and make a record like the old ones?”
Ultimate-Guitar.com: Have you truly captured the essence and passion of records like “Toys In the Attic” and “Rocks”?
Joe Perry: You can never do that. One of the things that makes those records what they are is age and they’ve been around for so long. You can never have another “Walk This Way”. You can certainly have a song that has that funk and that kind of breathing room between the riffs and has a great melody and all of that. But it’s never gonna be “Walk This Way” and it won’t be for another 40 years. [laughs] But it works you know what I mean? And I think there’s a lot of songs like that on the record. I can’t remember the last time I’ve actually enjoyed listening back to a record at this point in its making. Usually by now I’m so sick of it with the writing, recording and mixing and all of that — the editing and mastering, I’m so sick of hearing those songs. But I’m actually getting off on listening to the record. For me that’s saying something.
Read the entire interview from Ultimate-Guitar.com.