"The Joe Perry Project got put together over the summer of '79. Ralph Mormon was the singer. I remembered him from when Frank Connally managed his outrageous band Daddy Warbux. He reminded me a lot of Paul Rodgers [Bad Company], always my favorite singer after Steven. Ralph was just great, but he drank a lot and was terrible on the road.
David Hull played bass and a lot of rhythm--really good. He came from a Connecticut band, the Dirty Angles. Before that, he'd played bass with Buddy Mile's band, which is how Steven knew him. Steven introduced me to David, who became my druggie bud. We roomed together, found girls to party with, copped dope. One of the first drummers we auditioned at the Wherehouse was Ronnie Stewart, who worked at E.U.Wurlitzer's music store in Boston. People told me he was the best drummer in Boston not involved in some other band. He was jazz-oriented but also played hot, funky rock and we hired him on the spot.
This band played all that summer and fall in my basement. Ronnie kept his day job. Our first gig was the Rathskeller---in reality, a cafeteria at Boston College---on November 17, 1979: I'm pacing nervously around a classroom upstairs, smoking two cigarettes at once. The set list was written on the blackboard. Steven Tyler came, said hello, and left before we played. People were kidding me: "Hey, you've played in arena's all over the world. What the fuck are you nervous about?" Little did they know.
The place was packed with kids hanging from the rafters and standing on tables. We played "Same Old Song And Dance". "Walk This Way", "Get The Lead Out". I sang on Jimi Hendrix's "Red House" and Elvis's "Heartbreak Hotel". We walked off and they started chanting. "We want Joe!" and "Two more!" We didn't know two more songs. The encore was "Life At A Glance", which I literally written the night before the gig. And that was it. The Joe Perry Project was off and running."
" We worked on the album for two months that winter, me and Elyssa living in Bob Casper's penthouse on Sutton Place, making the record with Jack. We cut the basic tracks in five days, finished the album in six weeks, and came under budget. I'd preproduced, arranged everything at the Wherehouse, so we went in the studio and played the tracks live, no bullshit. It was like the first Aerosmith album--a soundtrack of live shows. There was a lot of fun, dealers and friends in and out.
The songs came really fast. I wrote the riff on "Let The Music Do The Talking" when I was still in Aerosmith. It stuck to me like flypaper. The title of the song had to do with how sick I was talking about Aerosmith. Let the music do the talking now. "Conflict Of Interest" was about Krebs and my whole situation. "Rockin' Train" was the kind of funky, R&B-type song that I loved to do and could have done with Aerosmith. Ralph did the lyrics on that one. "Discount Dogs" was originally "Discount Drugs". "Break Song" was a jam we did. David Hull showed me the riff and I arranged it into one minute and fifty seconds of screaming guitar. "Shooting Star" and "Ready On The Firing Line" were just riffs that I liked. "The Mist Is Rising" was written at 4 a.m. at my house in Chestnut Hill. "life At A Glance" was about my life, pure and simple. That was the record. I sang on four and a half songs, Ralph sang four and a half, and David Hull sang backing vocals.
The album came out on Columbia in March 1980. The cover was a picture of nine suits sitting around a glass boardroom table. I'm standing up holding the master tape to the album. The reviewers were kind [Creem: "This album could boil boil Iran off the map".] but we didn't get much airplay. The fix was in and it didn't happen. David Krebs has admitted burying the record on more than one occasion. Years later, Tim Collins heard from Bruce Lundvall that they made every effort to squash it in order to get me back in the band. It was fucked up.
There was another factor too. I was going after the feeling I got when I first heard the Sex Pistols. I'd been shut up in my basement, a frustrated New Waver. But by then the New Wave was already over. We [Aerosmith] had left this great gaping hole for the West Coast thing and for Van Halen. In 1979 Eddie Van Halen came out and started taking the lid off gutar playing again. Much later, Eddie told me that he'd started out on the suburban L.A. club curcuit, playing Aerosmith songs.