Chances are good if you’ve been a fan of music, or at least enjoy some classic rock you’ve at least heard of Joe Perry. Just in case you need a refresher, Joe is one of the founding members and lead guitar player for Aerosmith. He also has had a prolific solo career and has recently teamed up with Alice Cooper and Johnny Depp in the supergroup Hollywood Vampires. Joe Perry is truly a legend and an icon in the music industry, and suffice to say I’ve been a huge fan for years. He’s recently partnered with Monster to bring some classic rock tuning to a pair of Monster speakers.
I recently had the opportunity to chat with Joe about his upcoming partnership with Monster, and what brought them together. I tried to keep my complete and utter fanboy-ing to a minimum, but believe me, I was quietly freaking out on my end of the phone call. Monster will be releasing a pair of speakers specially tuned by Joe to really push the classic rock sound. First up is a refresh of the Monster Blaster, the Classic Rock Edition. Next is the Monster Firecracker, Classic Rock edition, which provides big sound in a smaller package. Both speakers should be available soon, and you can read more about them in the full press release at the end of this article.
But really, you’re here to read what Joe had to say. Responses have been lightly edited for clarity. The initial interview took place back in May, 2017, so several references point to events that have already happened. We did get a chance to meet Joe at CES 2018 (and I think I managed to keep the “fanboy” in check pretty well!) though with his busy schedule surrounding the show we really just had time for a quick photo. We do have the new Monster Blaster in for review as well, so keep an eye on Techaeris for more on Monster’s new boombox! Without further ado, on to the interview!
Techaeris: This is Justin from Techaeris.com, and I would I would just love to say what an honor it is to talk to you. I’ve been a huge fan for years, really since probably about first grade. I really only fairly recently had a chance to see Aerosmith live when you came through Chicago touring with Slash, and it was just an incredible show.
Joe Perry: Well, thank you, thanks a lot, man.
TA: So, let’s start out with the details on your new Monster speakers. How did you first get in touch with Noel (Noel Lee, Head Monster) and the team at Monster, and why did you decide to work with them?
JP: Well, I’ve had a relationship with Noel of Monster for years, I was just talking about that. I can’t remember how long ago it was, but it was probably 20-25 years ago that I got my first patch cord from Noel, and literally, ever since then I’ve been using their products. To the point where they wired my studio. When I refurbished my studio about 10 years ago, we used all of their, everything they could, the wires, the patches, products I didn’t even know they made, frankly, but they wired my whole studio. It’s a very esoteric room, it’s got an ancient board, all tube equipment, and it just sounds amazing, and I have to think that at least part of that is the Monster stuff. But to answer your question, I’ve had, ever since then, we’ve had a connection with Monster and they’ve always been there, so when they approached me about this, being kind of a spokesman about the classic rock thing, it sounded like an exciting project.
TA: Speaking of the product itself, what made you choose to start with speakers rather than a pair of headphones or something else?
JP: Well, I know a lot of people, probably most people hear their music in the car, or in earbuds. I like to listen to music when it fills the room. I’ve always had a boombox, or some kind of stereo on the road. So it’s a component that’s as much a part of my daily routine as my toothbrush, I always have music in the room. I’ve always been trying to get the best piece of equipment that will work. I remember in the 70’s I had a whole stereo built into a road box and they lugged that around with my suitcases. I’ve had multiple boomboxes over the years. When talking with Noel, and talking with Greg (Greg Pedersen, Head of Marketing) and all of their creative people and when they showed me this, and more importantly played some music through it, it really blew me away. I think that Noel loves music, basically. The whole team there loves music, but I think classic rock has a kind of a warm spot in those guys’ hearts, so we relate there. Classic rock to me, I know it’s different to some people, the categories and all of that stuff, I think it’s anything before 1980. You know, it doesn’t matter, some people may think it’s anything before 1965, or 1970, whatever. All I know is that the music from those eras, I think it all falls into that category. So when they came to me and asked my opinion about stuff, they kind of built it to this, and the newest generation of their products. The bass wasn’t quite as hyped, it sounded pretty flat across the board, and sonically, I find myself, I mean, some of the earbuds that i have from Monster just sound the best to my ears. The boombox just seemed to be, again, because it’s just such a central part of my existence, you know, having music all the time, it’s like I couldn’t have designed it any better, except for maybe one or two switches, which we’re gonna fix, but other than that, it’s done.
TA: That leads me perfectly into my next question. Monster is really known for their Pure Monster Sound. What, if any changes did you make to the overall mix to tweak it to more make it match your style?
JP: I don’t know if there’s an exact date, but in the 60’s and into the 70’s bass wasn’t quite as prominent. I think I first heard Jimi Hendrix Purple Haze on a little 4” speaker in my car, you know, in the station wagon on an AM radio, and bass just wasn’t what it is today. So what we did, because this box is capable of getting way down there, I noticed that some of the early stuff, say like the Byrds, even the Beatles, all of that stuff, the bass just wasn’t as present as it is now by any means, and there’s nothing that really could reproduce it even though you might hear it in the studio. So like when you listen to a Byrds record, you can hear the bass but you really can’t feel it, and I think what we did was we listened to everything, from early Elvis stuff, and everything in that genre, and everything through the early 60’s and what I noticed was with this feature that we put on the box, those records sounded a little bit fuller. You know, you can’t put bass in there that isn’t on the tape, so to speak, but you can make it so you can hear as much as is there. I think that the way a lot of pieces of equipment don’t address that because of the way that bass has been so hyped, those frequencies don’t need to be exaggerated on those records, so we kind of put a low frequency thing on there and it just makes those records sound fuller. But for the later stuff, we just overall made sure that the bass wasn’t too boomy and it’s tight. And to me, I listen to a Sly record, and the boombox would literally jump itself right off of the table, the bass is so tight. And it’s tough because every record is a little different, everything has been mastered a little different. I would put an EQ setting for almost everything from that era, but that’s totally impossible. This box, overall, I feel like I can put anything into it, and I can hear pretty much exactly what is going on. In fact, we used it as a reference when I was mixing my new solo record.
TA: Throughout your entire career, which has obviously been a very long and storied career with Aerosmith, your solo stuff, and everything else, what has been your favorite place to perform?
JP: To perform? *laughs* That’s tough, I don’t know, across the board it’s tough to say.
TA: Maybe not necessarily favorite, but what are some highlights maybe?
JP: OK, I’ll give you one, Mexico City. The first time we played there. The audiences down there are absolutely wild in South America and Mexico. Anyway, it was indoors, and this was back when people had lighters. We were playing a song, something like “Rag Doll,” or something like that with a deep groove. The kids were lighting their lighters in time with the music. And as we were watching it, because the place was filled from one end to the other, and at the front of the stage they would hear the beat and they’d light their Bics, and it looked like a wave, going out to the back because of the sound difference, because at the back of the hall they’re hearing the sound about a half a second difference. So, it looked like a wave of lighters in time with the music, and it was amazing, because you could see how they were hearing it. So rather than everybody doing it in time from front to back, it was like this wave of light in time with the music going from the front of the hall to the back of the hall. I’ve never seen anything like that before or since.
TA: I think some of our readers would be interested to know if you use an iPhone or an Android phone.
JP: *laughs* How about no phone? I have an iPhone, but I don’t live or die by it, meaning I don’t carry it with me all the time.
TA: What is next for Joe Perry? What is coming up in the pipeline? I know you’re working on some solo stuff, but are there any plans for touring? What’s new and exciting?
JP: Well, I’m leaving for Tel Aviv tomorrow to tour with Aerosmith, and we’re going to be in Europe for close to two months and we’re really looking forward to that. We revamped the set, and the band was rehearsing last week and it sounded great. That, along with this stuff with Monster, which is really exciting for me because I’ve never done anything like this before, so we’re doing that. Coincidentally, Gibson is putting out another signature guitar, which happens to be gold, in honor of the gold top Les Paul, so kind of interesting that that’s coming out at the same time as this gold boombox. And then, I’ve got a new record coming out, we’ll probably release a single this summer, and release the whole thing this fall. And then, the Hollywood Vampires should be going out on the road next year, that’s on deck right now. There will be a few shows with Aerosmith, and then one way or another we’ll be back in the studio probably in the fall and we’ll see what comes out. Either with the Vampires or with Aerosmith, I’m not sure. We’ll see whose creative juices start flowing sooner, but that’s what’s on deck. So there’s a lot going on. I’m most excited about my new record and coinciding with the Monster thing like I said, we’re using that as a reference, but there’s a lot happening. I’m entertained, believe me.
TA: *laughs* Keeping yourself busy, that’s good to hear! If I had more time, I could talk to you forever Joe, it’s been truly an honor and a pleasure to chat with you.
JP: Well thanks very much!