AEROSMITH Guitarist Addresses 'Sellout' Accusations

AEROSMITH guitarist Joe Perry recently spoke to Classic Rock Revisited about his upcoming self-titled solo album and AEROSMITH's future plans. A couple of excerpts from the interview follow:

Classic Rock Revisited: So how does it feel to be a lead singer?

Joe Perry: "I am not a lead singer; I am a vocal stylist. I come from the school that believes you need vocals to take up space between guitar solos. I think the biggest thing that is different from this record from anything else I have done is that I have found a place where I feel comfortable with my voice and hearing my voice being played back. I am not straining to compete with other, much better singers — one in particular that I know of, who is one of the best that I have had the good fortune to be in a band with all these years.

"It is tough because I compare everything to how he sings. I have always tried to go for that and it always felt like I was pushing it. My wife goes, 'Everybody seems to like it when you're singing blues stuff.' I started going downstairs to my studio and began tinkering around with different covers to kind of keep the ball rolling. I came across 'Crystal Ship' and it was in my range. I was able to hear that one back without cringing and it led the way to try singing.

"I have always been fascinated with a lot of Jimi Hendrix stuff. In a lot of songs he is very conversational. He is playing and kind of talking. The band would be ripping it up in back of him and he would just be having this conversation with you. I tried to take a cue from that. Again, I just imagined having the band going the way it was going while I had a speaking, conversational vocal style. You're hearing what the result is."

Classic Rock Revisited: You have heard, "AEROSMITH have sold out" time and time again from the older rockers. My question is this: Do you feel there is any validity to that point? How do you respond to your critics?

Joe Perry: "'Get a Grip' was totally our biggest selling record. It is hard to say. It's a struggle to keep current. It's much more easy to settle back on your laurels and go out and rely on your first three records for your live shows. We have always tried to keep pushing forward with our recordings — we try really hard to keep current. At this point, the fans really love the early stuff. I thought that we would have gotten more response from 'Honkin' On Bobo' because that sounds like what people had been asking for — that stuff is still in us. We are always trying to experiment musically and push the edge.

"It is hard to answer that question. I think there are different kinds of selling out. I am totally comfortable using songs in commercials; it is another way to get your music out. Obviously, if you're just doing it for the money and you have songs planned for some product that you would never use or be caught dead with then it is wrong. If it is a marginal thing then it isn't bad but if it is something that you totally don't agree with then that kind of sucks. For the most part, it is usually just benign. I think being able to hear 'Rock 'n Roll' by LED ZEPPELIN 16 times a night on television doesn't suck. They could be using a lot worse music.

"Doing the Gap commercial got AEROSMITH more credibility then some of the albums we were doing. It is funny how that works. The times have changed. I think there are things we have done recently that we never thought we would do way back when. The business and the industry have changed so much that it is hard to know. There are certainly some songs that we have done that I have gone like, 'Well… ya know…' But it is a band and you have to go with how the group feels is best. If that is the way they want to go then that is the way it is going to go. Musically is the only way I can answer your question so my answer is that musically, we are always experimenting and trying different things. There are some songs on some of the recent records that we never ended up playing live. But you just have to keep trying different things. There are also people who think we made a big mistake doing 'Honkin' on Bobo'. They think we should have gone and done another studio album. They are asking, 'Where is our big ballad?' It's hard to keep everyone happy without getting an arrow stuck in your back."

Read the entire interview at Classic Rock Revisited.

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