Aerosmith and Slash to rock Harveys Lake Tahoe Outdoor Arena
August 6, 2014
If you go
What: Aerosmith: Let Rock Rule with Slash
When: 7 p.m. Friday, Aug. 8
Where: Harveys Lake Tahoe Outdoor Arena
Tickets: $89.50 and up
Aerosmith's most recent album, 2012's "Music From Another Dimension!," didn't come close to achieving the success the band anticipated.
Singer Steven Tyler, in a teleconference interview to promote a summer tour that preceded the November 2012 release of the album, went as far as to say he felt "Music From Another Dimension!" could go five singles deep.
Four singles were released, but only one of those, "Lonely Child," even cracked the top 20 on Billboard magazine's rock singles chart. And after notching disappointing first-week sales of 65,000 copies, "Music from Another Dimension!" faded from the Billboard album chart.
"We definitely didn't have that immediate acceptance of it by the fans," Aerosmith bassist Tom Hamilton acknowledged in an early July phone interview. "Unfortunately the leadership of our record company was coming apart when it came out, and there just were some things going on that didn't lead to a real organized release or promotion.
"And yeah, I've read some good responses to some of it, but some of it has been frustrating," he said. "I think there are a lot of real Aerosmith fans that haven't really heard the album."
The lackluster response to "Music from Another Dimension!" has caused two band members in recent interviews – guitarist Joe Perry (in Billboard) and drummer Joey Kramer (in Ultimate Classic Rock) – to question whether there's any point in Aerosmith making future albums.
Hamilton doesn't agree. He very much wants to make another Aerosmith album, and while he remains pleased with "Music from Another Dimension!," part of his motivation comes from feeling the band can improve on that album.
"I know what we need to do different on the next record," Hamilton said. "And I feel a lot more confident that there will be another one, and I think that the smart thing for this band would be to do it within the next year or two."
Hamilton feels Aerosmith should get to work on new songs soon to capitalize on the momentum of having been on tour. Whether the rest of the band – Perry, Kramer, singer Steven Tyler and guitarist Brad Whitford – will want to tackle a new album is another question.
If the band records – either soon or down the road – Hamilton feels the project has to happen under the right circumstances. For one thing, the group needs to find a more cohesive musical voice. That's something that was lacking on "Music from Another Dimension!," which seemed to divide the music between Perry's preference for rockers and Tyler's taste for big pop ballads.
"I think that the band needs to have a unified concept of what Aerosmith is to our fans," Hamilton said. "Without trying to pander and do market research, we need to get closer to understanding our history and the band that the world wants Aerosmith to be. And I think it's a combination of the stuff that we did in the '70s when we really started learning the studio, like the 'Toys (in the Attic)' album and the 'Rocks' album, and then some from the later era of the band, when we did the 'Pump' album and the 'Permanent Vacation' album. I think you could take those four albums and those albums describe what this band is about musically."
Hamilton also feels the band members should put their trust in a strong producer and let him guide the project through to its completion.
"One of the flaws about our band is we really need a coach," Hamilton said. "For 'Toys' and 'Rocks,' we had (producer) Jack Douglas. He was a great leader and a coach. Then we had Bruce Fairbairn on those other two albums, 'Permanent Vacation' and 'Pump.' And he was a very strong leader character, like a coach on a sports team. We need that to do our best record. The thing is you have to get everybody in the band to allow that to happen. Some people want to be the boss and they want to say they did everything and they want to have that attitude of 'We don' t need a producer. We know how to make a damn record. We'll produce it ourselves, by God.' That's a big mistake, I think, for 90 percent of bands, a big mistake to think that way. We've committed that mistake a lot.
"So when I talk about being back in the studio in a year or two, I mean, with a figure like that being involved," he said. "And that's something the band has to struggle with and go through whatever we have to go through to get everybody up and running on that idea. I think if we can do that and succeed at that, then I think everybody will feel a lot stronger about going back into the studio. "
That sort of environment didn't fully exist in making "Music from Another Dimension!" Although Douglas returned as producer, he had to defer to band members at certain points, according to Hamilton.
"I think the only reason we have a finished album is because of Jack. He was a very unifying influence on us," Hamilton said. "But I just saw a little too much of people wanting to get in there and wanting to take over those functions. That's not what I feel is right for this band."
"Music from Another Dimension!" came after a particularly rocky period for Aerosmith. Tension is nothing new for the group. It became an arena-level band in the mid 1970s behind "Toys in the Attic" and "Rocks," only to fall apart shortly after that, as Perry (a main songwriter) and Whitford left the group amidst drug problems and internal turmoil.
The original lineup reunited in 1984, and in its second go-round, Aerosmith recaptured its hit-making touch, hitting another musical peak on the late-1980s albums "Permanent Vacation" and "Pump." Aerosmith stayed on a mostly forward path before problems surfaced in the latter part of the previous decade.
A 2009 tour ended prematurely when Tyler was seriously injured after falling off stage at an Aug. 5, 2009 show in Sturgis, S.D. His bandmates were miffed at the singer's carelessness and Tyler, in turn, grew angered when none of his Aerosmith members visited him in the hospital and later learned the band had considered hiring a new singer while Tyler was recovering. Further tensions arose when Tyler agreed – without the band's knowledge – to join "American Idol" as a judge and flirted with the idea of joining Jimmy Page and John Paul Jones in a new edition of Led Zeppelin.
But finally, all five band members decided to let bygones be bygones and reconvened to make "Music from Another Dimension!" Life in the group has been better since, and having already done an extensive European tour, Aerosmith now has a run of U.S. dates with Slash (former Guns 'N Roses/Velvet Revolver guitarist) as the opening act.
The band has tried to craft a well-rounded set for the summer.
"You have literal hits that were fan favorites. Then you have fan favorites that weren't necessarily the mainstream hits," Hamilton said. "And so there's a sweet spot in there of picking those songs, songs like 'Kings and Queens,' a song called 'Monkey on My Back' from the 'Pump' album. We want to really give those songs their due. And they are, they're fan favorites. So we're looking forward to bringing some of these songs (into the set). We really want to make sure that people go home happy."