After Aerosmith's Steven Tyler and Joe Perry present a Grammy on Sunday, they'll return to Boston to put the finishing touches on their long-promised blues album, Honkin' on Bobo, due March 30.
The band hasn't yet decided on a single, and Perry said finding one that will work on modern radio is difficult. "I don't know if there's a top-40 radio hit in there," he said. "I'd like to see something with a hard bluesy vibe get played, but I don't know if there's anything like that on the charts right now. What we're doing definitely isn't hip-hop."
It also isn't exactly the blues — at least not your grandfather's style of blues. While Honkin' on Bobo will include covers of songs by Muddy Waters, Fisher/Hopkins and Blind Willie McTell, the tunes have been reinterpreted in a way that's distinctly Aerosmith.
"We started out by saying, 'We're not gonna try to define what blues is or fit what you think blues is,' " Perry said. "This is just our interpretation of the music that influenced us, and it was very easy to call it blues, but there's R&B, funk and other elements in there as well."
One reason Aerosmith decided to record a blues-based rock record was to get back in touch with their gritty roots. Not that they're tired of playing ballads like "Cryin' " and "Crazy," they just longed to revisit a place that existed long before commercial viability became a prime concern.
"When we did Just Push Play I thought that there were some good songs on there, but looking back at it, I can see that it certainly doesn't sound like the first record," Perry said. "I don't think we could ever sound like that again, but we can definitely take the attitude we had when we recorded those songs. On this record we worked to keep things more immediate and not really think about what's on the charts."
Aerosmith first announced they would record a blues album back in August 2002, and they entered the studio to begin the project in April 2003. The record was originally slated for release last September, but the band decided to record a handful of songs live during its tour with Kiss and possibly include them with the studio recordings (see "Aerosmith Blues Album Inspired By Bike Crashes And Funny Phrases"). Further delays occurred after the tour, when the group decided to go back into Perry's studio and tweak some of the mixes.
Jack Douglas has been in the studio with Aerosmith working on the new record. While Douglas' last full project with the band was 1977's Draw the Line, he has returned over the years to work on various best-of packages. That ongoing communication allowed him to fully reconvene with the band for Bobo.
"This was the first time in a long time that we worked with him for any length of time, and it was great," Perry said. "I think it helped facilitate that feeling of a band being together and playing together in a room. He was the last person to do that with us from the beginning of the band's origin. He was there when we started to learn how to use a studio and he taught us a lot back then. So to have him there as a familiar face was important."
Aerosmith will hit the road with Cheap Trick on March 11 in Lubbock, Texas, for a tour that runs through June 28 in Cuyahoga Falls, Ohio.