Don’t miss a thing: Aerosmith returns to Harveys Lake Tahoe
Special to Lake Tahoe Action
If you go
When: 7 p.m. Friday, July 3
Where: Harveys Lake Tahoe Outdoor Arena
Tickets: $89.50 and up
This summer marks the 40th anniversary of one of the pivotal albums in Aerosmith’s career, “Toys in the Attic.”
The third studio release from the Boston-based band, “Toys in the Attic” gave Aerosmith its commercial breakthrough behind the hits “Sweet Emotion” and “Walk This Way” and remains a favorite album of many fans.
But even though it has become popular for groups to celebrate anniversaries of their key albums by booking tours where they play the albums in their entirety, bassist Tom Hamilton said fans shouldn’t expect his band to make a big deal out of the “Toys in the Attic” anniversary.
“I just don’t really think about it that much,” Hamilton said in a recent teleconference interview. “I don’t know. I guess I’m a little casual about that one.”
Guitarist Brad Whitford, who also participated in the teleconference interview, agreed that an anniversary tour won’t be in the cards, but he brought up an idea that intrigued Hamilton as well.
“I think it would be fun to do,” Whitford said of playing “Toys in the Attic” live, before offering his twist on the idea. “I think I’d love to do that, maybe make a more intimate setting and do “Toys” and
“Rocks” (the band’s 1975 follow-up album) and invite some of our friends from the music industry who claim to have been influenced, have people sit in and join us on playing back some of that stuff. I think it would be really cool.”
Whether such an Aerosmith-and-guests show happens or not, Hamilton and Whitford both consider “Toys in the Attic” an important album, not only for the group’s career, but in its development as a group in the studio.
“We were riding a wave of recording technology getting better when we did ‘Toys in the Attic,’” Whitford said. “I mean, if you listen to the sound of ‘Get Your Wings’ (the 1974 album that preceded ‘Toys in the Attic’) and then you listen to the sound of ‘Toys in the Attic,’ you’ll see how much progress there was in just a few years in recording technology and our own personal technology in terms of our playing it, the engineers and everything.”
“I think it was the first album where myself, and I think the band itself, felt really experienced in the studio and (knew) how to use the studio and (found) better ways to arrange our music,” Hamilton said. “We were able to do that on ‘Toys in the Attic.’ I just remember wanting to play better than I ever had on a record.”
A key contributor in helping Aerosmith develop as a studio band during the “Toys in the Attic” project was producer Jack Douglas, according to Whitford.
“Jack Douglas and his production was absolutely invaluable,” he said. “We really started to develop a style in putting together the music. Jack came up with some absolutely classic mixes and productions of this stuff that still amazes me when I listen to it. I’m very proud of that record. “
“Toys in the Attic,” coupled with the equally strong and also very successful “Rocks” album, established Aerosmith as one of the most popular hard rock groups of the 1970s. But the band would make only one more album, the more uneven “Draw The Line,” before things went seriously off the rails.
Guitarist Joe Perry (a main songwriter) left the band in 1979, and Whitford followed suit in 1981 amidst drug problems and internal turmoil. The remaining band members — singer Steven Tyler, drummer Joey Kramer and Hamilton — attempted to keep the Aerosmith train rolling, but the albums “Night in the Ruts” and “Rock in the Hard Place” were musical and commercial disappointments.
The original lineup reunited in 1984, got clean 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,” and continued to deliver strong albums and maintain arena-headlining popularity into the 2000s.
The past several years have had their ups and downs as Tyler flirted with taking the vocal slot held by Robert Plant for a Led Zeppelin reunion. There were also rumors he would leave Aerosmith for a solo career. But the band worked through its issues and released a studio album, “Music From Another Dimension!,” in 2012 and appears to be getting along well these days.
Still, the album; released when Aerosmith’s label, Columbia Records, was going through a leadership change; was a commercial disappointment.
The lackluster response to “Music from Another Dimension!” has caused two band members in recent interviews — 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 and would like to see the band get to work on a new album much sooner than later. (Tyler, in a new Rolling Stone article, hinted that he expects Aerosmith to record again.)
But it looks highly iffy, at best, that Aerosmith will hit the studio any time soon to make a new album.
“We’re not quite sure when we might get back in the studio,” Whitford said. “Right now, actually, Steven is working on a solo album that he’s been wanting to do for the last 20 years. I think a good deal of inspiration may come out of that. He may want to continue to write. Maybe at some point this year we might get into the studio and record some new music. Currently no plans.”
For now, the band’s attention is focused on a 16-date summer tour. The outing precedes the September release of a concert DVD, “Aerosmith Rocks Donington 2014.” The film debuted in theaters this past February. Filmed in June 2014 at the iconic at Donington Park in Leicestershire in the United Kingdom, the DVD sees the band performing a 19-song set that includes hits like “Love In A Elevator,” “Don’t Wanna Miss A Thing,” “Walk This Way,” “Dream On” and “Sweet Emotion.”
Whitford said just being able to play at Donington is an honor in itself.
“Donington always held a special place for bands of all types, just to be invited at Donington has always been special,” Whitford said. “It just had a magic about it. We were excited just to be there.”
That Aerosmith was on its game as the cameras rolled at Donington made the 2014 show that much more special.
“The band was so tight that night,” Hamilton said. “Yet we could relax and just have fun, get off on the insane crowd there.”
Many of the hits in the Donington show are certain to be in Aerosmith’s live set this summer, but Hamilton said he expects the band to play a few songs fans might not expect as well.
“We’re hoping to extract a few more deep tracks, especially for this summer,” he said. “We’re eager to pull some stuff out of the hat that we haven’t played or maybe never played or only played a few times. We think it’s time to do that. We feel we need to do it. It’s just time. There are a lot of great songs we don’t get out and represent to the crowd. I think they’re ready and we’re ready to do that. Hopefully we’re successful in doing that this year.”
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