“Playing outside is my first favorite. As long as it’s above 32 degrees,” said Perry, whose band will play outdoors Friday for the inaugural Twin Cities Summer Jam festival at Canterbury Park.
“Outside there are no walls for the sound to bounce off, no echo. If the weather is good, it’ll be a great show. If the weather is medium, we’ll rock out.
“We’ve played shows where it started raining in the middle and we haven’t stopped. Playing in a festival feels more like what we were born and bred to do.”
You might expect this kind of bluster from Aerosmith’s loose-lipped frontman Steven Tyler, the voice of “Dream On” and “Walk This Way.” But riff master Perry is the straight shooter of the Bad Boys from Boston, who haven’t played the Twin Cities since 2012.
Calling from Vegas as the Rock Hall of Famers approach their 50th anniversary, Perry, 68, talked about a host of topics, including his stormy relationship with Tyler; his side project with Johnny Depp and Alice Cooper called Hollywood Vampires, and his own health after collapsing last November.
On Las Vegas
Perry said Aerosmith’s Sin City gig is like no other. He likes eschewing late-night travel after the show, sleeping in the same bed every night, having his stereo and favorite coffee machine at the ready, playing in a 5,000-seat hall and not having to worry about the sound in a new venue each night.
“The sound system is incredible. The building is designed for music. It’s like playing in a studio,” Perry praised without sounding gushy. “For the seats on each side of the stage — we actually have bleachers there — people get ear buds so the mix is perfect.
“We’ve never done a show as complex and creative. We have a horn player, we have a percussionist and an extra backup singer to help with some of the harmonies and a four-piece string section for some of the ballads. It sounds more like the record.”
“We’re getting along good. We both want the same thing. We just go at it in different ways. That’s one of the things we’ve learned. We don’t let it get personal. We hang out together. We still have our [issues] but it’s only about music.
“With Steven and I, it’s been tumultuous over the years but we don’t want to waste any time on that. We definitely have a good time together.”
In 2009, Perry was making noise about finding a temporary substitute for Tyler, who was in rehab, then went off to Hollywood to be a judge on “American Idol.” So he wasn’t available and the other four members still wanted to rock.
“It never went any farther than talk,” Perry said.
Even so, it didn’t exactly feel like no harm, no foul.
On a new Aerosmith album
“There’s a chance we’re up for it,” said Perry, whose quintet last dropped an album in 2012.
A good sign is that he and Tyler stay in adjacent hotel rooms in Vegas, and they haven’t been literally this close in years.
Having completed two personal projects — his 2018 solo release “Sweetzerland Manifesto” and last month’s “Rise,” the second album by Hollywood Vampires — Perry can start to think about writing for Aerosmith.
“We’re just getting settled into this [Vegas] thing, and I’m hoping the continuity of playing together like this is going to point the way for us to get back to the studio. I’d like to see another album or at least a couple more songs. I know it’s there.”
On his health
“I’m doing really good,” he said. “I don’t have any problem now.”
His collapse in 2016 at a Hollywood Vampires gig was due to “over-the-top fatigue,” he said.
He collapsed again last November and was hospitalized after sitting in at a Billy Joel concert at Madison Square Garden. Perry said he “couldn’t get my breath and I had to sit down. The next thing I know I’m getting oxygen. They call it COPD [chronic obstructive pulmonary disease]. It’s caused from smoking for years.
“I quit smoking. I haven’t had a drink since that night. I’ll be around for a while.”
On Hollywood Vampires
“I like the hours,” Perry pointed out. “Sleep all day, up all night. Except Alice. He plays golf four or five times a week.”
Because Depp has acting commitments and Cooper tours with his own group, Perry said it’s challenging to get this “very exclusive gang” together. But they love hanging out and making music.
“This new record, I haven’t liked a record like that in a long while,” Perry said.
On Johnny Depp
After being captivated by Depp’s Django Reinhardt-like guitar playing in the 2000 movie “Chocolat,” Perry wanted to get to know him.
“The first time I met him, it was all about music and guitars,” Perry recalled.
“He’s rock ’n’ roll through and through. He has guitars hanging on the walls. You’d think it was a musician’s house. We cut both of our albums in his [home] studio.
“He’s a good guitar player, inventive, he comes up with great lines. He’s a major component why I wanted to be in the Vampires.”
On recording ‘Heroes’
Sitting in his kitchen with Perry and Cooper, Depp was taken by the lyrics to David Bowie’s “Heroes” as he read them out loud. Cooper encouraged Depp to try singing the song even though the actor doesn’t fancy himself a singer.
“We got the room dark,” Perry said. “Every time he sang it [‘Heroes’], he cut loose a little bit more. He really connected with the lyrics.”
“Johnny stood on the same spot that Bowie did,” Perry said. “It meant a lot to cover a song at the place where the guy who wrote it actually recorded it.”
On the band’s old van
As seen on TV last Monday, the antique scavengers on History Channel’s “American Pickers” found Aerosmith’s original 1970s touring van.
“We must have spent hundreds and hundreds of hours in that, going gig to gig, club to club,” Perry recalled.
The van was restored and sits in the lobby of the Park Theater in Vegas, where Aerosmith performs.
It’s an icon for garage bands, said Perry: “We represent the archetypal American band of kids who saw the Beatles on ‘Ed Sullivan.’ Hundreds and hundreds of guys picked up guitars because of the British Invasion and for some reason we made it through.”
On Aerosmith’s 50th
“Any gigs we do next year will be celebrated as 50 years,” Perry said. “By no means will it be a farewell tour. Maybe we’ll go to 75. We’ll see.”
Unlike the Rolling Stones, Aerosmith still has its original five members. Only ZZ Top, a trio, can claim the distinction of having the same lineup as it had a half-century ago.
On what’s left to prove
“We have to go out and play better than we did last night.
“You’d think by now that kind of attitude would be long gone. It’s right there. It’s the one thing that keeps us all going.”