NEW YORK (Billboard) - Aerosmith has begun its search for a singer to replace Steven Tyler -- though whether it's permanent or temporary is uncertain.
Guitarist Joe Perry told Canada's QMI Agency that the group is "already getting the word out there. The word's been out there for a while."
After his Canadian swing with Motley Crue -- which ends February 5 in Montreal -- Perry said that Aerosmith will "start having some auditions, making some phone calls. Hopefully, we'll have found a new singer by the summer, and Aerosmith will be able to go back out on the road."
Tyler is currently in rehab for an addiction to painkillers after a tumultuous last few months of 2009. In his December 22 announcement, Tyler indicated that he planned to "enthusiastically be writing, recording and performing with Aerosmith as soon as things are handled."
Perry, however, contends that it may take a while for those things to be handled, longer than he and the rest of Aerosmith -- guitarist Brad Whitford, bassist Tom Hamilton and drummer Joey Kramer -- care to wait as they gear up for the group's 40th anniversary in 2011.
"It's kind of hard to get a straight answer about what's going on," Perry said. "He has to have leg surgery and foot surgery and it's basically going to take him out of the picture for about a year, year and a half. So, in the meantime, the rest of the band wants to play. And I want to play with the other guys in Aerosmith. So the four of us are just making our plans. We're gonna find somebody to get in there and fill that spot. Just like when Tom was sick -- we got David Hull to come in and play bass. When Brad was sick, we got somebody else to come in and play for him. That's basically how I look at it; we need another singer to fill in."
Perry would not mention any candidates for the job yet but did say there are "a few people we've talked to, and we'll see how it goes ... As far as auditions go, we'll probably just sit around and have a couple of drinks and see if we get along. Because we're already gonna know that they can sing."
He also said he felt it would be "appropriate" for the new configuration to work under the Aerosmith name, though he expressed hope for Tyler's eventual return to the lineup.
"I'm ready to write with him, to play on stage with him anytime he's physically ready and wants to do it," Perry said. "But it's really up to him ... And the last things he said to the press were that he wanted to work with the band and sing with the band, so we'll see."
The guitarist, meanwhile, is keeping busy with the Joe Perry Project. After the Canadian run Perry is expected to play more U.S. dates (a handful have already been announced) before heading to the U.K. in April to open for Bad Company.