The Hollywood Vampires, bandet som består av rockkungligheter som hyllar döda kamrater, besökte nyligen Stockholm. Rocksverige fick en exklusiv liten pratstund med självaste Joe Perry.
What´s it like playing with the Hollywood Vampires?
It´s great! It´s really unique because I´ve jammed with other bands, I´ve had my own solo band and we put out albums together and so on, but the way this came together was so different. Everybody is at their top of the game and the whole thing started to come together like day by day. Johnny and Alice were in London and was like “Wow, he can play guitar!”, so they wrote some songs and when they came back to LA, they started recording and I was living in one of Johnny´s guest houses, working on my book, and they kept calling me going “Can you come down? We need you to play some guitar and we need you for this and we need you for that.” Next thing I know I´m like… because everybody´s not part of the LA gang, but after spending three or four years there, I became part of the Hollywood gang and I felt like I was kinda representing the east coasters that had spent so much time their time at the Rainbow. Every generation has spent their time there. Alice was first and as he was making the record he decided “Why can´t we make this a dedication for all these guys that have passed on?” and some of them directly because of the alcohol they consumed and other things. Bottom line is that it kinda came together piece by piece and we said “Man, this sounds so good. Why don´t we see if we can tour?” Johnny´s schedule was way off and Alice was on the road and I was working on my solo stuff and the book and pulling it all together… I mean, our managers were really pulling their hair off trying to put it together. It was so late in the touring season and most bands put their tickets on sale in January and some of our tickets are even not on sale yet in the States. To see this kinda response at all has been nothing but mind blowing. That´s just one part of it. To play with these guys is, because we´ve all paid our dues… Alice besides the drinking and myself besides the partying and all that and what Johnny does is a lot the same. He entertains people in front of the camera, but he´s a musician first and when we finally got together and said “Look, we´re gonna do this.”, each went to our managers and they got together and then we started seeing how we could do it. The response, first it was a little slow because, you know, “Can Johnny really play?” and Alice was on the road and all that stuff and I was talking with Aerosmith about the next project or whatever. I mean, (Steven) Tyler´s doing his solo thing for the first time, but anyway, the whole thing just kinda… we had some free time and just to be able to get out there… I mean, it really started deep down in Rio and then we came to Lisbon and the promoters started calling and it started to be a real thing. I think as we play more and people start to see that the band is the real deal, I think we´ll start getting more offers.
Tell me about the Supro amps you´re playing? Did you play them way back when?
Well, the legend is that Jimmy Page played…
“Stairway to heaven” right?
Well, I´ve talked to him and he´s a real good friend of mine and those first couple of records were really done on the road, so he probably used any amp he could plug into, because he was also known for having the latest food pedals and he usually used a Telecaster. Anyway, that whole Supro legend, I´m sure he used that particular amp, but knowing how people recorded back in those days, he used pretty much what was around. When these amps came out… they made a lot of different models and then the small things in the great scheme of things, like having a combo with a 15 inch speaker is kinda old fashioned and a 15 inch speaker tubes to reproduce guitar as supposed to bass and that kinda thing. There are a lot of great amps that are being built that really are going for that old sound of those pld amps and there are a lot of good ones. As it turns out, I was using 15 inch speakers in some of my other amps and it was like one of those things…in Aerosmith I have to get a number of different sounds for the different songs. I can do a whole show with one but if I want to reproduce as close to what the record sounds like as possible, I have to have some different choices and not just amps but guitars. What I found was a combination of speakers, watts and all that stuff over the years and I´ve finally been able to get the right combination. There´s one particular model with a 15 inch speaker, the Thunderbolt, it does the trick because it gives me that bottom and the body in the sound. The 15 inch speaker is tuned basically for guitars opposed to bass. When you hear it alongside a 12 or a 10, as the sound comes away from the wall of amps… again, it´s not about volume, it´s about the sound matching up as it moves away, ideally in the studio, you would have a microphone right up to the amp and maybe one 10 feet away and maybe 20 feet away, so you can kinda balance the sound. With the 15, the waves are big and with like, say top end, it´s like this and the sound develops to a point where it doesn´t really sound very good a few feet from it, whereas the 15 you can go 20 feet away. The way they´re put together and designed make it so that they balance out a lot closer together. They´re just a good balance. The main thing is that I like to have as clean a sound as possible and at the same time have the sound be rich enough without compressing too much. Everybody wants that distorted sound, like the blues, but I kinda like having an amp that is transparent, so you can hear what a Strat sounds like or whatever guitar I´m playing. Basically that´s the goal and that´s why we´re changing things.
A final question, a new album with Aerosmith? Possible?
I can´t say when. I don´t know. I mean, we´ve talked about it, but I´m not sure what´s going on? I mean, Steven´s doing his solo thing and I´m working on solo stuff and I don´t know what´s gonna happen? All I know is, I plan pretty much day to day, practically speaking. Even getting this (Hollywood Vampires) together was an amazing event. Playing with these guys is just amazing. They´re all great players. Not just good players, but great players. Anyway, we´ll get through this European run and then we´re gonna go through the States and play five or six weeks. After that, I don´t know. We´ll see what happens. I know the rest of the guys… I mean, the vibe is “They don´t get along really good.” and that´s bullshit. The band (Aerosmith) gets along great and we all fucking talk to each other and we all have different things to do and we all get along. It´s the same thing that it was when we first got together. We have different tastes in the way we feel like to get the music across and the kinda show we want for the audience. But you know what, we´re still brothers and we still like to go out and play. Tyler wants to do his solo thing and he´s been waiting for years and years so let him do it, man. It´s given me time to do this.
Text: Niclas Müller-Hansen
Foto: Therés Stephansdotter Björk