Joe Perry: From Aerosmith to "Guitar Hero"

Tell me about Guitar Hero: Aerosmith (RedOctane/Activision). What a coup to be the first band to have the entire game dedicated to the arc of your career.When I saw my son Roman playing Guitar Hero a few years ago, I was blown away. I pick up a lot of stuff from my kids, and I find out what's going on out there that affects the whole entertainment industry. The main thing I've learned here is that kids today really appreciate the classics.

When Cream did those reunion shows in New York in 2005, I was up in Vermont at the time. My son Tony asked me, "Dad, what time are we leaving for the Cream show?" And I said, "Ah, I don't know if we're gonna go or not." And he went, "What do you mean? Are you kidding? We gotta go. This is it. I never got to see them. They're making history." He was 20 at the time. That got me thinking, "This is something. He's really getting it - not just as a musician, but as a kid from this younger generation, appreciating that kind of music and putting such importance on the chance of getting to see Cream play." So I rethought it and said, "I guess we'll go." And we did, and they were great.

I totally agree. I saw the third night myself; what an amazing show, totally worth the price of admission. It was also cool to see the cross-section of the generations of people there, much like what you guys get at your shows. We do get that cross-section of ages, no doubt about it. Though there's less of a "they'll never do this again" vibe at our shows. Cream came from that time period in the '60s where it seemed like so much was happening. It was such a different era in the way music came down the pipeline. It wasn't unusual for a band like Cream to put out a record or two and break up, and then the guys would quickly join up with another band. It was definitely an interesting time, a fantastic time with talented guys and girls coming out with all this great music. To have been 17, 18, 19 years old and see all those bands while growing up in that time period was really a blessing for a musician.

A lot of good vibes and good music came out of that era, for sure. Yeah. And the band tried to reflect that feeling in how we put this game together. We gave it a viable story with subplots. The obvious thing was to follow the chronology of our career. We're a unique band - we're still together after 35-plus years with all the same guys, just barely holding on [laughs]. We're glad to have a job without having to have a real job, you know, and we have a great time playing the kind of music we love listening to. Our story is one that a lot of bands can relate to, from writing the first songs to doing the first rehearsals and gigs, right up to where and how we play today.

On a bigger scale, this game shows another way fans are getting their music. It looks like videogame companies are the new record companies, because some bands are releasing their new singles and albums on games first. It's a great format for getting songs out there. I mean, when do you sit down and listen to music anymore - just listen, and not do anything else? Now it seems like it's always in the background when you're doing other things.

In Guitar Hero: Aerosmith, you really have a chance to get a bit closer to and deeper into the tunes. You actually have to learn the songs to win, so it's a great way to get people to really listen to them and find out what we're doing. It's a blessing, really.

The beauty of it is we'll probably get Guitar Hero: Aerosmith II, and/or you'll make new downloads available. Oh yeah. Actually, as soon as us gimps get our act together [Perry had knee surgery back in March], we're going to start working on a new record. And when we get a few tunes done, we'll probably release them so that people will be able to download them and input them right into the game.

On another tack, there's a vinyl revival going on now. Do you like LPs more than CDs? Without a doubt. For rock & roll, you can't beat it. Nothing sounds like a well-mastered vinyl cut. It doesn't even have to be heard on an expensive record player. There's something about hearing that needle in the groove, man. I just got the remastered 15-LP AC/DC Vinyl Box Set [Sony, 2003], and it sounds incredible. I'm listening to it on 20-year-old JBL speakers, and they sound just as good as ever.

I've always felt that vinyl helps you reconnect with what got you into listening to music in the first place. What do you like better about records? It's the warmth, the bottom end - and the high end, too. You can hear the bass sound warm, and the midrange for guitars; anything in those frequencies sounds great. Actually, all the frequencies seem to have a warmth you can't get from CDs.