“The whole thing about sound just fascinates me. When it’s done right, it’s like having a movie in your ears.” That’s legendary Aerosmith guitarist Joe Perry, telling me about his lifelong passion: the pursuit of sonic excellence and how best to both capture it in the studio and convey it onstage.
In his best-selling autobiography, Rocks: My Life in and Out of Aerosmith (Simon & Schuster), Perry pulls no punches when discussing things like his struggles with addiction, taking the long road to sobriety on a hard trail riddled with relapses, and his many personal and professional conflicts with his forever bandmate Steven Tyler. But, more importantly for the HRAC universe, he also spends a good amount of time analyzing his ongoing fascination with sound.
In fact, one of the early chapters in the book is titled “Sounds” — Chapter 2 in Part I, “Gestation” — and my favorite quote of his shows up on page 132: “The exploration of sound is endlessly fascinating to me.” In my interview with Joe that was just posted on Digital Trends, I asked the man why sound has been so important in his life.
“I think it’s because it can have such a direct link to the subconscious, and how you can affect people with it — that is, affect them with noises, frequencies, and melodies,” he replied. “I’m sure that painters feel the same way about color and light — all of the elements of what your eyes see, and not necessarily just in a painting, but shapes too. Painting — they live and breathe doing that. To me, sound has a similar impact.
“When you brought up that idea, it made me think of diving and being underwater, and the way sound travels underwater,” he continues. “That used to fascinate me, and it still does — how whales use sound to communicate underwater in ways that you might not normally think of; being able to hear things that are miles away, and yet it feels like they’re right next to you. What came to mind right away is diving off of Maui, hearing a whale, and knowing that they’re just out of sight, because they’re so smart and they use sounds in a way to locate where they are and who’s near them. They stay out of your sightline, they don’t get in your way, and they know what’s dangerous. All of that fascinates me.”
I also asked Joe about his view of hi-res 96/24 downloads: “I love getting sound from that point of view — hearing how it started from that primal place, and then taking it all the way to being in a studio and a 5.1 mixing room with $50,000 monitors.”
If you want to experience Aerosmith in hi res for yourself, you have a fair amount of options. Of the 17 Aerosmith titles Acoustic Sounds Super HiRez offers, 15 of them are in 96/24 FLAC. There’s also a DSD option for 1975’s seminal Toys in the Attic, while the band’s most recent studio album, 2012’s Music From Another Dimension!, is only available in 44/24 FLAC. Over on HDtracks, you can get 11 of the band’s albums in 96/24 in AIFF, ALAC, FLAC, or WAV.
In one of my earlier interviews with Joe, from June 2008, we started talking about Guitar Hero: Aerosmith, but then we got into his view of surround sound in the wake of having his 2005 solo album Joe Perry mixed in 5.1 for a DualDisc release: “I think if you’re a devout fan and spend time sitting down and really listen to music, 5.1 is a fun way to go if it’s been done right, like they used to do with the old English records. That’s how we got all those cool Beatles records with all the vocals on one side and all the music on the other. That drove the Beatles crazy since they didn’t record it that way, but as fans, we hear a Beatles song basically a cappella with music on the other side.”
When Joe and I spoke in May 2005 about surround sound, he said, “At first I thought it was going to be a gimmick, but there’s a richness to the instruments that you just don’t get in stereo.” One thing about Joe — he’s always got a grip on what’s what when it comes to great sound.