Aerosmith on 'Music From Another Dimension!': 'It Could Be Our Last Record' (EXCLUSIVE INTERVIEW)
It's an honest, recklessly fun, addictingly appealing record that reminds us why we fell in love with these guys all those years ago. With obvious nods toward the commercial (a Carrie Underwood duet and song penned by Diane Warren), there's also plenty of bluesy, greasy guitar magic from Joe Perry and Brad Whitford, the ever-reliable locked-on rhythm section of Joey Kramer and Tom Hamilton, and Steven Tyler's world class vocals. Of course, having veteran Aerosmith producer Jack Douglas at the board didn't hurt either.
Noisecreep has the honor of sitting around a table with all five guys in Aerosmith. In person, the brotherhood they share is palpable. There are inside jokes, dirty looks, and much rolling of the eyes, all of which starts to give a clue to what this band has been through both together and apart over the years. As an added bonus, you can stream the entire new album at this link!
Guys, it's been a long time coming and there have been many false starts. What sort of pressure did you feel when you finally got back together to do this?
Tom Hamilton: Everyone wanted to make a statement. Not that I really buy into this thinking, but it could be our last record. It's very possible. And it's been a long time so we were very focused on doing what was really right for the band.
Joe Perry: This is an important record, Steven has used this term – it's an "event." And it really is an event, a milestone, a big fucking piece granite stuck in the ground of rock 'n' roll.
Hamilton: When we made Rocks (1976), we had rest of our lives ahead of us if it didn't come out great. But now, it's like, this might be your last chance. Make it great!
It seems like Jack Douglas is to you what George Martin was to the Beatles – a truly guiding force in the studio. Is that accurate?
Brad Whitford: Absolutely, he understood from day one what we were about. The first night we met Jack Douglas we were playing a high school north of Boston. He came and saw our show and experienced what we were like. We met him after the show and he got it – he understood it. So he just always got us from day one. [Producer] Bruce Fairbairn got us to a point. He was great. But Jack? He is like our George Martin. He is like a member of this band.
Joey Kramer: We had a good coach in Jack Douglas. He's of the mind that no idea is a bad idea. And so we tried so many ideas. Between him producing and us all playing together in the studio, that had a lot to do with what we ended up with. We did it that way with Toys in the Attic (1975) and Rocks and so having Jack there is like having an old shoe.
Hamilton: We started working with him on second album, Get Your Wings (1974). Then Toys, Rocks and Draw the Line (1977). We were learning how to relate to being in a studio and put records together back then and we learned it all with him. That way of doing things was the same for this one too. We wanted to do something true to our history, without trying to concoct anything.
There's a lot of material on this record, including some really solid bonus tracks. Did you go back to the vault for much, or focus on entirely new things?
Joe Perry: There are some songs that may have some similar riffs – like "Legendary Child," but it never felt right to finish it until now. The press puts a stamp on anything old. If it didn't make a record it wasn't good enough, that's what they say. But that's not true. We always have riffs lying around. Any record we've done we pull from stuff before. But a bunch of new stuff developed too. One thing about Aerosmith, we're not a band that does an album, does a tour, then says "See ya in five years." We've been on the road 10 years on top of trying to make this record.
Steven Tyler: Joe had a bunch so many good songs – just amazing stuff. That's why there's all these cool bonus tracks –these are all good songs. So many contenders. Maybe we're thinking of it as our last record. Even so, that's not why we made it this good, but still, who the hell knows?
Hamilton: You accumulate bonus things and "Up on the Mountain" was one of them. With so many things on this record we were like, wouldn't it be great if... Then all of a sudden, before you know it, there they are. What gave me confidence singing though was knowing I'd have Steven as a background vocalist [laughs].
Perry: That tune with Tom singing is a bonus track with a capital "B" [laughs].
Tyler: I really like "Street Jesus." That one started out as "Sweet Jesus." It was a jam - a rough –a nothing. I was singing Sweet Jesus, then Jack mentioned Street Jesus – and every day I came to the studio I crossed Sunset Strip and I'd see this guy dressed up just like Jesus - I'd yell 'Hey Jesus!' – and he'd make the motion like he was blessing me – so it just had to become "Street Jesus!" These songs are just so new. So cool to have so much new stuff to play.