Back in the Saddle

It was the most rock star of injuries: Dude smashed his head getting out of his Ferrari.

Scratch the rhythm guitarist for a bit.

Then the singer, a loose-hipped live wire who doubles as a fount of kinetic energy, hurt his leg during a show.

Finally, the bassist, a cancer survivor, had to undergo surgery unexpectedly.

Boston rockers Aerosmith have been through a lot in their 30-plus year existence, but they’ve never been through anything like this. On their current tour, they’ve had to postpone a slew of shows.

"Instead of hitting us a little bit at a time, we’ve gotten it all at once," guitarist Joe Perry says with a rueful little chuckle. "I just have to look at the big picture, and since the band got back together, I don’t think we’ve canceled more than two shows — and we’ve toured a lot since then. These things are just life; it can happen to anybody. I don’t think we’re breaking down or anything like that. Stuff happens, you know?"

Perry knows of which he speaks. He’s long battled a chronic sore knee after falling down onstage 25 years ago, and at a 2006 gig at the MGM Grand, he almost suffered a far worse injury, getting mashed in the face by a swinging camera rig.

Still, the guy finished the show, even though the next day, his swollen jaw line made it look as if he had gone 12 rounds with a cheesed-off grizzly bear.

But battle scars aside, the train keeps a rollin’ for Aerosmith, as their song goes.

The band has remained a consistent arena filler on practically an annual basis, and this time out, they’re trying something different, playing their classic 1975 blues-rock firebomb "Toys in the Attic" from front to back.

"We had talked about doing it for a long time, years and years," Perry says of playing a record in its entirety. "We had seen our friends do it, like Cheap Trick. We thought that was a really cool idea.

"The idea was to get four or five records ready to go so that we could pick one at any given time," he continues. "By the time we got everybody going, we just kind of settled into ‘Toys’ and Steven (Tyler, singer) got hurt, so all these things that we had planned kind of had to take a backseat. But we are playing some different songs, some songs that we haven’t played in a while. By no means is it just another repeat of the last set list in a different order."

In revisiting some songs he hadn’t played in decades, Perry underwent a period of rediscovery, and his relationship to some of the material changed.

Suddenly, old tunes began to take on a new meaning.

"Sometimes when you write a song, as it evolves, you’re not even sure what it’s about — and not just lyrically, but what makes it a good song or a great song or whatever," Perry explains. "Once it makes the cut and you like it enough to put it on the record, you kind of go, ‘OK, next song.’ Then you think about mixing the record and the sequencing and all that stuff.

"When you start playing it live, then you really start to learn what the song is about, because very often the songs are recorded in pieces, very basically," he adds. "A song like ‘Uncle Salty,’ we probably did that with three guys playing it, then we overdubbed some stuff and went on to the next song. So taking it apart and playing it live, we realized what a good song it was after 30 years."

Of course, looking back on the past eventually leads one to the present, and Aerosmith has yet to track the follow-up to the 2005 blues excursion "Honkin’ On Bobo," and hasn’t issued an album of all new material since 2001’s "Just Push Play."

"We have about 15 songs ready to lay down," Perry says. "I would expect that we’ll have it in the can sometime within the next six months and set it up and release it probably early next spring, I would imagine."

In the meantime, the band has dropped one big-selling new release, "Aerosmith: Guitar Hero," their own entry into the hugely popular video game series.

"I watched my kids play it, then the next thing I did was call my manager and say, ‘We’ve gotta get some more songs on one of these things,’ " Perry says. "The next thing I know, we’ve got our own game. It’s turned out to have as much an impact, if not more, than putting out a record.

"We’ve always had an attitude of, ‘Let’s try it.’ We call it, ‘Dare to suck,’ " he continues. "And that goes for everything, whether it’s doing videos or recording on computers instead of tape. Just try it, see if it works. We’re always trying new things. It’s managed to sustain us."

Contact reporter Jason Bracelin at jbracelin@ or 702-383-0476.

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