JOE PERRY Duxbury Basement “RUFF RIFFS” from before the Boneyard was a studio

A tape with rough guitar riffs recorded at Joe’s old Duxbury home basement, in Cohasset, Massachusetts, was recorded with a simple tape machine containing 10 riff ideas and variations. The full tape run for 1h41m40s but included extensive blank spaces and the same recording repeated twice, with the second pass sounding lower and clearer.

  • Riff 1: 1m18s | 124BPM
    A basic riff and chord play that resembles the untitled DWM test pressing jam at times.
  • Riff 2: 1m20s | 145BPM
    An opening riff that evokes the verses of Movin’ Out from Aerosmith’s first album.
  • Riff 3: 1m42s | 132BPM
    An aggressive riff that could have worked for a JPP song.
  • Riff 4: 24s | 125BPM
    This is a very simple chord play played on an unplugged electric guitar (could be a hollow one).
  • Riff 5A: 55s | 136BPM
  • Riff 5B: 1m16s | 132BPM
  • Riff 5C: 18s | 136BPM
    These riffs were recorded during the same session, with the tape stopping 3 times and Joe coming back to play different variations of the same sequence of riffs at a very similar tempo, any combination could work well for a song.
  • Riff 6: 3m14s | 75BPM
    This riff does not fit the traditional Aerosmith style, running behind a percussion loop, it evokes mystery and could have worked for a Perry solo instrumental or for a crime-solving/detective soundtrack.
  • Riff 7: 3m33s | 126BPM
    Playing behind a programmed drum loop, this is more of a fun and playful chord progression that would have fitted the chorus of a Joe Perry Project era song.
  • Riff 8: 1m30s | 82BPM
    The only riff idea with Joe playing slide. The simple melody Joe plays quickly could fit any Aerosmith blues-influenced song at that tempo.
  • Riff 9: 24s | 118BPM
    This short riff is accompanied by a drum loop while Joe plays some aggressive chords, ala “Can’t Stop Messing with It” and “Head First”, until he gets interrupted by a female voice calling him (possibly his wife Billy).
  • Riff 10: 5m22m | 80BPM
    The riff is a play between D and A; it evokes vibes of the “Guilty Kilt/Out Goes the Lights” and “Last Child” riffs, running at a similar tempo. Joe, along with a live drummer, plays around with a riff that he is clearly still figuring out. Joe stops halfway to ask about screaming in the background, and a voice answers “yeah, Jason is getting chased by a dog” – it is assumed “Jason” was a kid playing with the dog outside the studio. Joe follows by saying “oh, I see; that’s a pretty cool riff”. The live drummer could be Steven, but unlikely as he would often scat a few vocal melodies while playing to the riff – and Steven’s unique voice is not heard during the recording. There is, however, someone else’s voice in the background, perhaps a producer/friend present in his studio to help with pre-production ideas. It ends with Joe saying “that’s pretty cool, we could do something with that.”

The tape did not show a specific recording date, however, we can assume that it was recorded over the years when Joe’s basement was not yet a proper studio (as stated in the tape that it was recorded at the “Duxbury basement”), as he registered song ideas that could later be used by the band.

Married in 1985, the Perrys moved to Duxbury in 1988, but it wasn’t until late 1991, when Aerosmith continued work on “Get a Grip”, that the Boneyard was transformed into a proper studio.

That summer we continued work on Grip in the Boneyard, a full-blown studio in the basement of my house. The name had originally been ascribed to my gym, which stood in the space now occupied by the studio. No matter how hard I worked out, I was always going to be skin and bones —thus the Boneyard. At first I just wanted a place to lay down my ideas on equipment good enough to capture great guitar sounds. But with the help of Billie, who acted as general contractor and oversaw the construction, Michael Blackmer, who forged the sonic design, and Perry Margouleff, who put together the equipment, and brought in the world-famous sound engineer George Augsberger, the Boneyard became a world-class studio capable of hosting full-band recording sessions.

Joe Perry, Rocks: My life in and out of Aerosmith, 2014

Yet, judging by the sound of most of the riffs and the guitar effects used, we could narrow down the recording dates to more plausible ones; they were most likely ideas considered for the “Pump” sessions, hinting to Oct-Nov 1988.

The tape had “PCM” written on it; Pulse-Code Modulation (PCM) technology refers to a type of digital audio recording. PCM is the conventional method for converting analog audio into digital audio, so perhaps this was a copy from a digital source. It also stated “2-track mix”, this must refer to the Joe using a simple ambient stereo recorder, or a basic tape machine with 2 microphones – one next to the amp, one closer to Joe (as the clean strings can be heard on the left channel) – but it is clear that this was not a professional recording that went through a console, nor does it sound like mixed audio.

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