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THE MONDAY Q&A / JOE PERRY Add to ...

Joe says it's so. In the mercurial world of the rock band Aerosmith, the guitarist Joe Perry has drawn the line. The erratic singer Steven Tyler, who recently said yes to rehab, either wants to stay in the band or he doesn't - walking this way, or maybe not. Perry? The dark, quiet rocker, he of the nickel-plated riffs and chiselled bronze torso, marches ahead, willing to imagine an Aerosmith without its iconic front man. And while Perry looks for somebody new to sing Sweet Emotion, he's released a solo album. Have Guitar, Will Travel, his fifth release, is not only the record's title but his ethos: This week the 59-year-old guitarist begins his tour across Canada with his own band, opening shows for Motley Crue. Here he comes now.

You've got your solo album out and you're ready to hit the road, but, first, can you tell us the status of Aerosmith?

Right now, we're talking about getting another singer to fill in for Steven. I don't know what's going on with him, but as far as Aerosmith goes, we're going to find somebody to sing.

Will you go the unknown, sound-alike-singer route, or look for a name guy?

I think it would make more sense, with a band like Aerosmith, to get somebody who the fans might recognize. There's no sense going out there and being an Aerosmith clone band. In order for both parties to get something out of this, to move things along musically, it's important to get somebody who's a legitimate headliner on their own.

Your new solo album was recorded live off the floor in the studio. Was this in response to the most recent Aerosmith albums, which had a slicker, more produced feel?

Well, yeah. I've been wanting to make an Aerosmith record in the same fashion for a long time, especially after making Just Push Play in 2001. I kind of felt like I'd lost ownership of the records. The bottom line is that we kept falling into the technology. We lost sight of what Aerosmith does best - and that's playing live.

Aerosmith's former A&R rep John Kalodner recently told Rolling Stone magazine that you guys aren't able to make an album like Toys in the Attic because you're not 23 years old any more. How do you respond to that?

I've been approached by hundreds of fans who've asked me "why don't you do a record like the old ones?" I've tried to figure out exactly what that they're talking about. Is it the sound? The way the songs were written? The lyrics? Is it the way the guitars play?

I think Kalodner's thought is that you're not the same people you were in the 1970s.

When we were 23, only one of us was married. Or maybe he's referring to us being happy-go-lucky, out there playing, just being happy to drink all the Jack Daniels we wanted, and not caring if the managers were stealing from us, as long as our rent was paid. I don't know what part of it he's referring to.

Does Aerosmith have another Toys in the Attic in them?

We've already made that record. I don't want to go and repeat that. But as far as making a record that has that kind of energy you want, there's no reason that we can't - there's no reason at all. Joe Perry opens for Motley Crue on a Canadian tour starting Jan. 23 in Victoria. The 10-city tour hits Toronto on Feb. 4, and ends in Montreal on Feb. 5.

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