By John J. Moser
Leigh Valley Music
Two years ago, Aerosmith seemed at a crossroads.The band hadn’t released a disc of new material in a decade. Albums and tours had been abandoned mid-stream (a 2009 stop in Hershey canceled) and lead singer Steven Tyler was going through recurring rehabilitation for drug addiction. There was even talk of him going solo and being replaced.
It didn’t seem to help when Tyler then took a seemingly sedentary seat as a judge on FOX-TV’s “American Idol.”
Fast forward two years. Tyler is healthy and sober and, after two successful years on “Idol,” has quit the show to again make music full time. Aerosmith is on a tour that stops today at Wells Fargo Center in Philadelphia.
And Hamilton says the band has an album, “Music From Another Dimension!,” that’s not only done, but is so strong that its record company has delayed releasing it from August to Nov. 6 so it can be properly promoted.
In a recent telephone interview from a tour stop in Montreal, Canada, to promote the Philadelphia show, Hamilton spoke about the band’s foibles, the new album and the future of Aerosmith.
Here’s a transcript of the call:
LEHIGH VALLEY MUSIC: How’s the tour going?
TOM HAMILTON: “The tour is going really great. We were on tour, actually, last fall overseas. We did a tour of Japan and South America. So we’re still pretty tight from all that touring we did last fall. So we kind of picked up right where we left off when we started this one.
“The nice thing about this one is we’ve got a couple of new songs in the set.”
And I’m going to ask you about that in a minute. I just want to first get a couple of things out of the way that come up in interviews like this. How is the relationship between Steven and you guys? Is all of that out of the way now?
“Um, you know, we’re just .. .this band has always been a band of extremes in terms of how great it’s going or how not great it’s going. Right now we’re hitting on all cylinders – everybody’s really excited because we have this record finished. So we’re just really having a good time, you know? Enjoying the fun we’re having right now. And I don’t anticipate anything un-fun coming up – for a long time, I hope.”
Fair enough. Now let me ask you about the new disc. The disc is already done? It’s in the process?
“Yeah, it’s just being mastered, which was pretty much last week. So there’s a lot of little mini-corrections and tweaks being done. But no – the record is finished, yeah.”
The release date is still looking like November now?
“Yup. We were originally going to release it at the end of August. But the record company is really enthusiastic about this record, and they suggested – they said – ‘Listen you guys, you got to give us a little more time because we want to really put a super campaign together to get the word out on this record.
“And another thing they thought was important, we tried to find a week where there aren’t a lot of other releases so that we don’t step on any other the other stuff that’s going on out there. Try to find a week that will be all ours.”
And the title’s still “Music From Another Dimension!”?
OK, great. Now tell me a little about it. First of all, tell me about the song you’re doing in your set. What are we going to hear?
“Well, right now, we’re playing ‘Legendary Child,’ which is out there. Hopefully most Aerosmith fans have heard it by now. It’s a song that we debuted on ‘American Idol.’ It’s a rocker, you know? It’s a rocker, but with a lot of melody in it, and it’s a song that the band has loved. And we’re just grateful that we finally got it on a record.
“And then there’s another song called ‘Oh Yeah’ that Joe wrote. And it’s kind of a simple, very basic kind of just a fun party rocker. And people seem to be really liking it, so that’s great because it’s fun to play.”
Yeah, I liked the performance of you guys on ‘Idol.’ It almost struck me as a song that’s very Aerosmith, but kind of has an updated, newer sound to it.
Did you do much writing on the disc?
“Yeah, I wrote two songs. One of them is called ‘Tell Me,’ and it’s Steven singing it. And then there’s another song I wrote that I sing. It’s going to be an extra track on the deluxe version of the record. So everybody get out there and buy the deluxe version [laughs]. And you’ll hear my singing debut!”
Cool. And then tell me about the rest of the record. Carrie Underwood’s going to be on it?
“Yeah. Hopefully what people say when they hear this record is that they take the nice route and say how we had a long of range.”
“[Laughs] Because the record really does cover a lot stylistically, and there is a song with Carrie Underwood on it, and it was a song that just happened to come sounding like it could have been Aerosmith’s take on a country-style song. I mean, we didn’t really sit down and say, ‘Let’s write something that sounds country, but it did come out, you know? And it’s just a reflection of the fact that everybody in the band loves country music, so it’s going to be an influence at some point.
“So yeah, we have that song, and we have just a lot of sort of really fast, hard, crunchy rockers, and some really nice ballads. There’s going to be 15 songs on the record, and then as I mentioned before, there will be a deluxe version that’s going to have at least another four songs.”
Yeah, well, you guys have some catching up to do. It’s been a while since the last disc came out, so you’re making up for lost time.
“We did. And you know what? Everybody really had a lot to say. Everybody really, at this point in our career, everybody really wanted to have a voice on this record and be heard in terms of their contribution. And so that’s why there are so many songs on the record. You know, in order for everybody to really feel like their ideas had been represented, that came up to a lot of songs – 15. So we put them all on there.”
Now I read, before all of the stuff happened with Steven, there was reports that you guys had, what, half an album put together or something. Did those songs survive the process, or did you start over? What was the deal?
“I think … that’s a good question. You’re making me sort of want to dig that out and check on it myself. No, most of the … I think there might have been a couple of songs that we had worked up with another producer a few years ago. But no, most of the songs are different. I mean, we got a pile of stuff. “
[Laughs] I’m really looking forward to it. Like I said, the performance on “Idol” gave me just a little taste, and if the stuff is that good, I want to hear it.
A little bit more about Steven – how does the band look at his time on “American Idol”? [Tyler announced July 12 that he wouldn’t return to the show for a third season as a judge, saying he wanted to focus on music]. What does that mean to Aerosmith?
“Well, it’s kind of vague, you know? It’s not really clear exactly what influence that’s had on our career or on the band. I think that it would be absurd to say it hasn’t had any effect. But we don’t see this sort of definite cause-and-effect relationship there. You know, I got to think it’s just that many more kids and other people who will now maybe have their Aerosmith antenna up a little higher. And maybe a little more enthusiastic when they hear the new Aerosmith songs coming out. But we’re not really sure. You know, the shows – it seems like we’ve got most of the fans that we’ve had for a long time.”
How’s your health? [Hamilton had surgery for throat and tongue cancer in 2006, which caused him to be replaced for a tour – the only Aerosmith shows he’s ever missed.]
“Oh, I’m doing good. I had a check-up a couple of months ago, and everything’s fine. Knock on wood – good to go for the moment.”
You are still cancer-free?
Great. Good to hear it.
“Of course I knock on wood when I say that.”
[Laughs] And here’s a question I can’t help but ask: What’s the prognosis for the band? I mean, do you think about, logically, how far out do you take this? Or very far into the future – do you think about that stuff?
“Well, I think … I guess a little bit. But in terms of realizing that it’s not open-ended anymore, you know? We’re probably closer to the end of our career than we are to the beginning – although, still, nobody in this band is bored, by any means. And I think we pushed ourselves really, really hard to get this record done, because, as I mentioned before, we’ve had some false starts. And it was to the point where, really, a lot of people thought that we just weren’t really going to make a whole record. But some of us, myself included, were just really, really starving to get out there and show that we’re not just a band that hangs around and only goes out and plays their old songs. We want people to know that we’re creative and that we’re still hungry to put stuff out there and to look for that kind of recognition.”
Very well put.
Listen, Tom, those were the questions I prepared for you. Is there anything I missed?
“I’m just so excited about this record. It’s going to be frustrating to wait until November for it to come out. But every morning when I wake up, I realize, by god, we’ve got an album in the can. And it’s been a long time coming, and like I said before, a lot of people thought we couldn’t do it. But it’s very satisfying to know we’ve got this thing, and we’re very much looking forward to see how everybody likes it.”