Joe Perry on Aerosmith’s ‘Deuces Are Wild’ Las Vegas Residency, His Iconic Guitar and A Possible Broadway Show

Joe Perry and his famous Bladerunner guitar (Photo: Zach Whitford)

Joe Perry is the lead guitarist and co-founder of Aerosmith. The legendary band has been performing for nearly five decades. The group, which also features Steven Tyler (vocals), Perry (lead guitar), Brad Whitford (guitar), Tom Hamilton (bass) and Joey Kramer (drums), has sold 150 million albums worldwide. They have been inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame and won four Grammys. A few months ago, Aerosmith kicked off their 35-date MGM Las Vegas residency, Aerosmith: Deuces are Wild at the Park Theater at the new Park MGM resort. In August, the show travels east for a special edition East Coast run at MGM National Harbor in Maryland, Borgata Hotel Casino & Spa in Atlantic City and MGM Springfield in Massachusetts. The show was inspired by the Cirque du Soleil show, The Beatles LOVE. The immersive show has state-of-the art audio and video technology, along with never-before-seen visuals and audio from the Aerosmith archives.

With all the shows about the evolution of great bands like Jersey Boys and Ain’t Too Proud, do you envision a Broadway show about Aerosmith? You have been together for so many decades and must have so many great stories.
Joe Perry: I’d like to think so. We have been approached at the level of, “Would you want to do it?” We haven’t even gotten to the level of how it would come out, the creative part. My manager has said there has been some rumblings about it. But we have been so involved with this show. We started almost a year ago with the design and then, as it progressed, it got more and more intense. But it’s certainly something we’d like we would like to entertain when we get a little time.

What inspired you to create the Aerosmith: Deuces are Wild tour?
JP: It is something very different than we have ever done before. The offer to play in Las Vegas was a hovering weight over our shoulders for the last bunch of years. We thought, “Well, let’s give it a try.” We had played in Las Vegas many times at 12,000-seat arenas, but they were one-night gigs. Another stop on the road. But to actually build a show, like a Broadway or Las Vegas show, we wanted it to be something a step above.

On the music side, the only thing that comes close is The Beatles’ LOVE by Cirque du Soleil show in Las Vegas. We were really inspired by that. In fact, we got the music director for that show (Giles Martin), who worked with George Harrison to do some of the sound design for our show. We found the best people we could for every aspect of the show. Whether it was the lights, sound, mechanics – all the moving parts. I believe there are around 10,000 pounds of metal hanging above our heads. They first started welding four or five months ago. The people who do the video for the computer graphics for Game of Thrones designed some of the visuals.

Your Guild X-100 Bladerunner guitar, which you used in the “Walk This Way” video with Run-DMC, is currently on view in the “Play It Loud: Instruments of Rock & Roll” exhibit at the Metropolitan Museum of Art.
JP: I got it when we were working on songs for our album Permanent Vacation. It was not the kind of guitar that I would normally have in my collection. I collect a lot of Italian-made guitars from the 1950s and 1960s. I am fascinated how people try to change guitar shapes, rather than have the standard West Coast thing, which evolved from The Spanish Guitar.

The distributor at Guild Guitars came by with this bizarre guitar called the Bladerunner. The guitar had an amazing, striking look. Everything from the shape to the holes in was just cool. It was just so obtuse and different, I had to grab it. I wouldn’t let the guy leave unless he gave it to me, which he did. It is an amazing example of somebody’s wild idea of a different way to make a guitar. It is remarkably comfortable to play, and sounds really good for a certain type of playing.

How do you get ready to go on stage?
JP
: When I wake up, it’s kind of a countdown to the show when I have to walk out there. We usually do a meet-and-greet or an interview. Then I like to spend the last hour or so playing my guitar, getting into that space. I just have to play and get my fingers warmed up. Also, my wife, Billie, greatly factors into my routine. I ask her what shirt I should wear. I don’t know what will work. She sees what I look like in the lights, and what I’m going to move in better. So I divide my time between that and playing my guitar. Usually, I’m pretty psyched up by the time I walk on stage.

By Jeryl Brunner

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