Aerosmith's Joe Perry Talks Guns, Politics and Medical Science
Also, on Sept. 10, Perry attended the third Geoffrey Beene's Rock Stars of Science™ campaign celebrating the Geoffrey Beene Dream Team at the Geoffrey Beene Cancer Research Center at Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center. Perry will be featured with the Geoffrey Beene Dream Team in a profile to be published in the December issue of GQ's "Men of the Year" edition. The campaign focuses on world-renowned scientists and the critical need for funding research.
Noisecreep spoke with the iconic guitar slinger and we chatted about guns, politics and the first band that turned his head as a teenager.
Joe, that's a nice-looking cannon you show off on Sons of Guns. Do you collect them?
Well I don't collect cannons per se, but I am a collector. If the opportunity came up to acquire another cannon like that I would definitely be interested. I've been into guns ever since I was a little kid, and the ones that fascinate me most are the black powder guns that people used back in the 17 and 1800s. That cannon you see on the show is actually from World War I. Any things from that era, semi-black power items, I think are fascinating, because of what they were used it for.
What's your favorite piece in your collection?
My favorite is a Kentucky long rifle that my wife had made for me. I'm left-handed, I shoot left-handed, and this rifle, which uses a lint, is safer if the lock is on the opposite side. Finding a left-handed one is very rare, so having one made was a really thoughtful gift. That's probably the favorite gun I own. There's a definite art to shooting one of those and every time I do shoot it, it makes me realize how important those weapons were to people's survival back in the day.
You sound like you're really into the history of it all.
Yes, I am. I'm really into history. It's so important for people to pay attention to history and learn from it, because it's the only thing we've got that's going to help us figure out where we are going. Especially the way things are manipulated in the press today. You have to sort through so much stuff to figure out what is real and what is not. It gets harder every day.
Especially in an election year, which you also seem to pay a lot of attention to.
Absolutely. I'm a Republican, but I'm a Republican from the old school. I was taught that you get what you put into it. You can be anything you want to be if you work hard enough at it, and you can earn your place. That's the old way. Now, it's all meshed together and you can barely figure out one side from the other. My favorite president was actually John Kennedy. Oh, and Eisenhower. I don't think we've had anyone like those guys since Reagan, but you need somebody you can believe in. Look, I didn't believe in everything Kennedy said or did, but you believed in your heart that he was really there and he was going to stand up for what he believed in. That's what is most important. Today they say one thing one day, and another thing another day. You can't figure these guys out.
The bottom line is I'm a definite old school Republican and you can put that in there. I was one of the few people that came out for McCain and got a lot of shit for it. There's an awful lot of people out there in L.A. that were jumping up and down for Obama that aren't right now. It's just what it is. So much of this stuff is politicizing, what the media does is so much about selling a product. It makes me kind of nuts. This band has always had a policy, we're all pretty much on the same page when we start talking politics. We all came up in that era when you were taught that can do anything you set your minds to and by God we walked on the moon, just like JFK said we would.
Joe, last week you appeared at a special function in New York that celebrates science.
It's been ongoing for a couple of years. I did a photo shoot with some other musicians for a photo spread in GQ - rock stars alongside rock stars of science. Some really incredible people. Pulitzer Prize winners – just amazing thinkers. And the idea is to bring to light that being a scientist is very cool thing and a very important thing. While it may not look as glamorous as being a rock star, it's still very much worthwhile. Hey, as far as what I do, the money is great and it's part of the deal, but I didn't pick up the guitar thinking, this is gonna make me a rich man.
The scientists have the same passion – they do it for a love of science. I lost my dad to cancer. My mom has Alzheimer's. I just had a good friend go through hell with cancer, but he made it. We just want to shine a light on why it's important to find new scientists. This county needs to produce more. We are not keeping up. A lot of the scientists that I met that day are from other countries. The media plays up celebrity a lot, but it doesn't hold a candle to being a scientist. There's a lot to be said for what they all do, and are trying to accomplish.
Catch Joe Perry on the newest episode of Sons of Guns which airs Wednesday, Sept. 19 at 9PM EST/PST on Discovery. Aerosmith's 15th studio album, Music From Another Dimension!, will hit stores on Nov. 6.