Boston Herald, MA
June 13, 2009
Punks are supposed to hate classic rock dinosaurs. The whole punk movement was founded on kicking the sonic stuffing out of the wheezing, bloated establishment.
In reality, it just doesn’t work that way. The Clash opened for The Who; Green Day recorded with U2; and, on Tuesday, in a coming together of Boston’s two biggest bands, the Dropkick Murphys and Aerosmith blow the roof off the Comcast Center together.
Unfortunately, Aerosmith’s health problems continue: Guitarist Brad Whitford is sitting out the opening of the tour as he recovers from surgery (Bobby Schneck, who has worked with Weezer and Green Day, will fill in); Steven Tyler got hit with pneumonia the week he was to start recording vocals for the band’s still-unfinished new album. No matter, Aerosmith soldiers on with this historic Dropkicks show.
To figure out just how this unlikely tag team came to be, the Herald jumped on a conference call with Aerosmith guitarist Joe Perry and Dropkicks founder and bassist Ken Casey.
Herald: I’ve been puzzling over the show and I have to admit I can’t really guess how you guys hooked up to do this.
Casey: Joe and I were just jamming down in his basement one night and I came up with the idea. No, no (Laughs). A mutual friend, John Bionelli, came up with the idea, and Joe called me and asked us to do it (when regular tour openers ZZ Top couldn’t make it due to commitments in Europe). I was thrilled to get the call.
Both of you founded quintessential Boston bands, but are still from totally different worlds. How aware were you of each other’s music?
Casey: Our very first tour, right when we were getting out of Boston in late ’96 or maybe early ’97, we’d spent every cent we had buying an MBTA handicap van. We didn’t even have money for cymbals and, through John, Aerosmith got us cymbals to go on tour. So going back 13 plus years, they did us a solid. Besides that, Aerosmith had some of the first records I ever owned. If I wasn’t turned on to Aerosmith by some of the other kids in my neighborhood at 8 years old, well, who knows? I could have been given a Neil Diamond record and God knows what the Dropkick Murphys would have become (Laughs).
Perry: I’ve followed their career as they’ve moved along and I’ve really admired how they’ve called their own shots and not got sucked into the vast maw of the record industry. I really envy how they came up. When we were coming up, the industry was a machine and the artists were making all the money and making all these other guys rich. I’m glad to see the industry is starting to shift, and the Dropkick Murphys are a prime example of that shift. These guys own Boston and for them to play with us is going to make a really special night.
Herald: Whoa, Ken. Joe Perry just said the Dropkick Murphys own Boston. What’s that feel like?
Casey: Aerosmith owns Boston. We’re just leasing it from them for a good rate. No, from a guy who is from here, that’s about as high a compliment as you can receive in this business. I think what I appreciate more than anything is that Joe has been aware of how we operated and how we’ve conducted ourselves. Because I take more pride in being able to call our own shots and still be in the league of bands invited to play with Aerosmith than selling “x” amount of records.
Herald: Let’s talk about the overlap in the fan base. First off, is there any?
Casey: Any punk rocker in their 30s or 40s that says they weren’t an Aerosmith fan is probably a liar. And this is the kind of bill where a father can bring their kid. Maybe the kid likes the Dropkick Murphys and the father likes Aerosmith or vice-versa.
Perry: It’s high points like this that you remember in a career. It’s not how many gold records you sell or selling 125 shirts at some early show or finally getting a real tour bus. None of that stuff really matters. It’s not what you remember. It’s the events you play, and the people you get to play with, and watching the fans get off on it. And the fans are going to get off on this.
Herald: Joe, right as Aerosmith exploded, punk rock was picking up momentum. Were you a fan of punk? Did you get into the scene at all?
Perry: The night we got signed and played Max’s Kansas City (in New York City), we went down to the Mercer Arts Center in (Greenwich) Village and saw the (New York) Dolls. Right then, they were our competition. They had just gotten a record deal within a week of us, and we had the same managers, and they were getting all this press in New York. The only thing is, well, they really didn’t play very well. They had a lot of energy and had high-heel shoes and sparkly, spandex pants and some really good songs. I really liked them. I liked them a lot. But I said right there, “Holy (expletive), does this mean I have to wear a tutu to go out on stage now?” That was the first taste I got of punk. But I considered myself punk at heart and had the same kind of attitude. When the Ramones and the Sex Pistols started, it was still rock ‘n’ roll, just a little looser.
Herald: So what song are you going to do together on Tuesday?
Perry: (Laughs) Everybody is asking us that.
Herald: That’s because that’s what everybody is wondering.
Perry: Well, we’re both bands from Boston and, well, we’re going to talk about it. Each band has its show and wants to put on the best show for its fans. Sometimes, that doesn’t include interrupting the show with something that could end up like a train wreck.
Casey: Joe, if you’ve ever seen all the (expletive) that get up and interrupt our show on a regular basis, you’ll know it’s not a problem on our end.
Perry: (Laughs) Yeah, well sometimes a train wreck isn’t such a bad thing. I know it’s a prime opportunity and I don’t want to pass that up.
Aerosmith, with the Dropkick Murphys, at the Comcast Center, Mansfield, Tuesday. Tickets: $35-$129.50; 508-339-2333.