Instead of holing themselves up in a studio as they have for past records, the members of Aerosmith chose to record their upcoming blues album at guitarist Joe Perry's ranch near Boston.
"I have a lot of motorized vehicles and plenty of firearms," Perry said. "It was a good time."
Fortunately no one in the band was mistaken for a deer and accidentally shot during a nature walk in the woods. But there was one mishap that could have jeopardized Aerosmith's recording plans and current tour with Kiss.
"We were riding around on dirtbikes and somebody forgot that I have a swimming pool," Perry said, refusing to name the scatterbrained individual. "They came up over the hill and slammed the brakes on really hard, and we got to see just how many times a dirtbike can go end over end. Fortunately there were no broken bones."
Even without any serious injuries to delay them, Aerosmith have bumped their record, tentatively called Honking on Bobo, from January to March in order to finish tweaking a few tracks. The disc will feature classic blues songs by Muddy Waters, Fisher/Hopkins, Blind Willie McTell and others done Aerosmith-style, and a few originals including "Into the Grind" (see "Aerosmith Get The Blues On New Album").
"It's kind of a response to what a lot of fans have been asking for," Perry said. "If I hear it once, I hear it a hundred times. People come up and say, 'Wow, I like your new stuff, but when are you gonna make a record that's really raw, and that sounds like the old Aerosmith?' With this one, we tried to keep the songs more immediate and not really think about what's on the charts. It was very reminiscent of the Rocks era."
The recordings were produced by Jack Douglas, who worked with the band from 1974 to 1979, and listening back to the songs, Perry is pleased with the spontaneity the band was able to capture in the studio. He's especially fond of versions of Mississippi Fred McDowell's "Back Back Train" and Aretha Franklin's "I Never Loved a Man," which Aerosmith reworked as "Never Loved a Woman." Perry also loves their take on Muddy Waters' "Baby Please Don't Go," but one reason the record has been delayed is because the band can't decide whether to go with a studio or live version of the song.
"We learned it and recorded it in the studio and it sounded great because it had a very spontaneous and unaffected air to it," Perry said. "But since we've been playing it live every night, it's started to take on this whole other vibe. We've been recording the shows every night, and one of those performances may be the one that ends up on the record because when you have 20,000 people cheering, that adds an extra level of intensity."
Singer Steven Tyler came up with the title Honking on Bobo, which everyone in the band seems happy with. But Perry admits that the name might not play so well from a marketing standpoint, and could be changed. "We like it because it's funny," he said. "It's one of those phrases that Steven said, and I don't know where he heard it from, but when he mentioned it, we all started laughing."
Laughter was an important part of the creative process for Honking on Bobo. Aerosmith didn't sweat out the songs. They didn't pull out their hair. They took their time, played only when they were in a good mood and gained inspiration by having fun and striving to be original.
"We wanted to do something we haven't done before and that excites us," Perry said. "That's what makes us want to do another record. Otherwise, we'd say, 'OK, we've done everything we can do, so why bother even going in again?’ "
Aerosmith will tour with Kiss through December 20 in Fresno, California, and will head out again to promote their blues album early next year.