Speaking with … Joe Perry


Photo by: Melissa Mahoney

By Jae-Ha Kim
Chicago Sun-Times
September 26, 2003

Somehow, you don’t imagine rock guitar god Joe Perry tanning on a beach. But on this afternoon, that’s exactly what the Aerosmith guitarist is doing three hours before a Florida concert. Taking a breather from tanning, he phoned to let us know why Chicago stores love him, his mixed feelings about downloading music and why his kids made him change his bathing suit.

Starting out: When we were coming up, there didn’t seem to be much future in rock ‘n’ roll. It was like live for today and die with a good-looking corpse.

Your motto: There was a line in “Frida” — something like if you’re a painter, you’re gonna paint no matter what. That’s basically what being in Aerosmith is like. We’re driven to do it, and that’s it.

Favorite movie: “Frida.” Salma Hayek was great in it. I was disgusted “Chicago” won the Oscar over it. It wasn’t that good.

What you’d like people to know: That we’re still a vital band that isn’t afraid to go down in the basement and make some new music.

How you embarrass your kids: By wearing those smaller European trunks on the beach. My kids made me promise not to wear them today, so I have these long trunks on. They get really upset at me if I wear the smaller ones.

On being recognized: No one notices me here. We live in an area in Florida where there’s literally nobody except at Easter and Christmas. We can come down here for a week and not say hi to anybody. It’s great.

On loving Chicago: We like taking a pilgrimage up and down Rush Street. There are a couple of good restaurants we like in that area. We love Chicago and spend a lot of time there.

Favorite shops: The Diesel store is a big hit ’cause it’s one of the biggest around. The one in Boston is about the size of a closet compared to the Chicago store.

Why shop owners love you: I’ve done an awful lot of Christmas shopping in Chicago. The stores kind of know us.
The state of the music biz today: I was really happy when Napster came out, except for the part that we weren’t getting paid for it. But the music industry should’ve changed with the times. They should’ve dropped their prices 10 f—— years ago and gone with the flow.

Oldies but goodies: Our older songs are the bedrock of why and what we are. But we like playing the new stuff, too. Some fans like the new songs and others just tolerate them. We’re working with a multi-layered audience that goes from 7 to 67.

Your favorite guitar: I had one custom made with my wife’s picture painted on it. I have four guitars on the bus with me at all times, which is another reason I like traveling on the bus. I always have at least one in each room of my house, too.

Your raison d’etre: Music. It gets me off. That hasn’t changed.

Your secret to staying young at heart: I’m pretty happy with who I am.

On aging: I’m just trying to make 53 look good.

On the public’s perception of you: I definitely live the life you imagine. Every fantasy you might think of, we’ve hit on in some form or another.


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