Perry hunting Tyler replacement

Joe Perry

Joe Perry

, QMI Agency

, Last Updated: 3:14 PM ET

Joe Perry is on the hunt.

"I was just chasing down some wild turkeys with my flintlock rifle," says the 59-year-old guitar hero from his farm in Vermont. "I'm just trying to get the wind going, you know. Since I'm going to be touring Canada with the Joe Perry Project, I didn't think slamming right into three feet of snow was a good idea. So I've been outside going up and down hills, getting in shape."

But his no-pressure stint as the opening act on Motley Crue's Dead of Winter tour isn't the real reason he's got to work out. Perry's also on the hunt for much bigger game than wild turkey -- he and his Aerosmith bandmates have begun beating the bushes for a new singer to fill in temporarily for AWOL frontman Steven Tyler.

"We're already getting the word out there. The word's been out there for a while. After my Motley Crue tour, we'll start having some auditions, making some phone calls," he says. "Hopefully, we'll have found a new singer by the summer, and Aerosmith will be able to go back out on the road."

As fans know, the Boston blues-rockers' 2009 summer tour slammed to a halt when Tyler spun out and tumbled off a stage in Sturgis, S.D., fracturing his shoulder. In the wake of the incident, the band itself has broken into two warring camps. On that side: Tyler, who went back to rehab for an addiction to painkillers shortly before Christmas, and has made conflicting statements about whether he wants to be in the band or have a solo career. On this side: Perry and the rest of Aerosmith, who want to keep working but can't do it with a singer who doesn't speak to them.

Luckily, Perry was more than willing to talk to us about it. Here's some of what he had to say:

So what's the status of Aerosmith now? Is Steven in or out?

From what I've heard, he hasn't left the band. As far as I'm concerned, he hasn't left the band. He's never said he was going to leave the band. It's just that he wanted to go off and do some of his own things. He just never told anybody in the band about it. And so far, he hasn't talked to anybody in the band. But his manager has told our manager that he wants to take some time off. And then lately he's been saying he wants to come back. And what his lawyers and his managers have been telling our lawyers and managers is different than what he's been telling the press. So it's kind of hard to get a straight answer about what's going on. But he has to have leg surgery and foot surgery and it's basically going to take him out of the picture for about a year, year and a half. So, in the meantime, the rest of the band wants to play. And I want to play with the other guys in Aerosmith. So the four of us are just making our plans. We're gonna find somebody to get in there and fill that spot. Just like when Tom was sick -- we got David Hull to come in and play bass. When Brad was sick, we got somebody else to come in and play for him. That's basically how I look at it; we need another singer to fill in.

Are you going to have auditions?

The people we're talking about, as far as auditions go, we'll probably just sit around and have a couple of drinks and see if we get along. Because we're already gonna know that they can sing.

Do you have a short list of people?

I can't say who we've been talking to. But it's funny because a lot of people have been Twittering us with lists of different singers that they'd like. And there's some good ideas in there. But we have a few people we've talked to and we'll see how it goes.

Will you tour as Aerosmith?

I think it would be appropriate to call it Aerosmith. We'll play Aerosmith songs. Maybe we'll do five shows, maybe we'll do 20 shows, I don't know. And hopefully sometime Steven will come back.

But even after Tyler finishes rehab and has surgery, don't you still have a lot of hurdles to overcome to get Aerosmith back together? It doesn't seem like you guys are on the same page.

I'm ready to write with him, to play on stage with him anytime he's physically ready and wants to do it. But it's really up to him. His doctor says he's gotta have surgery on his legs and his feet and he's gonna be out of the picture for a year. In that time, he should be able to come around. And the last things he said to the press were that he wanted to work with the band and sing with the band, so we'll see.

How does his return to rehab colour your feelings of what happened in Sturgis?

Well, if you know somebody as well as I know Steven -- and I probably know him better than some of the people in my family -- I don't think he would have fallen off the stage if he were in better shape. He's done those twirls and spins a million times. And if you look at all the videos from that night, you can come to your own conclusions. And that's really all I can say.

Despite all the hassle, it's still worth it to you to get Aerosmith back together?

Yeah. I've put a lot of time into it. And there's no four other guys on the planet who have been through what I've been through. It would be great if Steven would come back and be the same guy he was 10, 12 years ago. The rest of us are. And we really want to get back to rocking and doing what Aerosmith does best. I think we owe our fans who have stuck by us for 40 years. That's the one thing that gets left out of all this talk; we owe the fans a real big debt for all the support they've given us. That's what I think of first. And I'm bummed out about what's happened because I think we've let the fans down. And we've already done it once by messing up in the late '70s.

You must be glad to see the end of 2009.

It was kind of rough. I put in a lot of work. And over this last month, I've really been trying to calm down. But now I'm starting to gear up again. There's a lot of exciting things happening. I'm going to get to play a lot of good music this year.

Here's the list of tour dates:

Jan 23: Victoria, Save-On Foods Memorial Centre
Jan 24: Vancouver, GM Place
Jan 26: Calgary, Saddledome
Jan 27: Edmonton, Rexall Place
Jan 28: Regina, Brandt Centre
Jan 29: Winnipeg, MTS Centre
Feb 1: London, John Labatt Centre
Feb 2: Quebec City, Colisee Pepsi
Feb 4: Toronto, Air Canada Centre
Feb 5: Montreal, Bell Centre


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