Back in the saddle, Aerosmith is rocking again after a turbulent spell.
Steven Tyler left American Idol -- a two-year solo gig that created tension in the band. Sober after a recent relapse, he also mended a rift with guitarist Joe Perry.
The quintet -- which includes bass player Tom Hamilton, drummer Joey Kramer and guitarist Brad Whitford -- is touring to promote the harder-edged Music From Another Dimension! The 15th studio album marks the first to feature all-original fare since Just Push Play (2001).
"There's room for deviation," Hamilton said. "We've gone through periods where a lot of radio stations are playing our music, then periods where not so many were doing it. We've learned to adapt."
Still, he said, "We want to be playing for the fans."
Hamilton, 60, talked in advance of the Aerosmith show on Sunday at Nationwide Arena.
Q: What got the band in the studio again after so long?
A: A few years ago, we had a near disaster. We lost half of a tour. Steven had an accident; he fell off the stage and hurt himself. Later that year (in 2009), things got really, really rough.
We were as close to breaking up as bands get. When we finally worked our way through that, it was like rejuvenation.
All five members got on the same team and focused on Jack Douglas, who produced Toys in the Attic (1975). The producer is the equivalent of the coach on a football team -- the one who makes sure of the work flow, that we're getting stuff done, if a song's going to work.
When you listen to this album, it's going to have a flavor you recognize from the distant past and ideas from the very recent past.
Q: How are Steven and Joe getting along these days?
A: There's always a crisis going on. It keeps us on our toes. But we're doing really good. Everyone's united. Personally, emotionally, everybody is really hungry to do something that showed everything we've learned since we started making albums.
Q: The record includes Carrie Underwood and -- of all people -- Johnny Depp on vocals. What's up with that?
A: Can't Stop Loving You (featuring Underwood) came out with a different country flavor. Steven went out and secretly set up a recording session at the studio, got Carrie to come over and sing. We're like "OK, all right."
I was a little nervous. I'm looking forward to people focusing on this as a rock album. But I think it just adds to the whole thing.
A lot of times, if we're doing a session, whoever's in the studio gets invited to pitch in. This past summer, . . . (Depp) came down to visit. On Freedom Fighter, I don't know if you can tell it's him.
Q: What made the band plant roots in Boston? Would your story be the same if it started in, say, St. Louis?
A: When I was a teenager, I lived in a tiny little (New Hampshire) town called New London. During the summer, all these kids would come up from New York and Boston; they would bring all the cool new albums coming out. Joe and I used to play every summer.
We just wanted to move to Boston because it was the nearest big city. Steven decided to join up with us. He was a legend already. Boston was a magnet for all of us. I know there would not be an Aerosmith if we hadn't all met there.
Q: How have you processed playing in new places -- the Middle East, for example?
A: It was amazing. Dubai and Abu Dhabi are very international cities. I think that most of the people who were at our shows were from Europe and all over the word.
When we first went to Dubai, I was in my hotel room up on the 12th floor and I heard this weird singing from outside, from a mosque. I was hearing the imam calling all the people to prayer.
I had my bass; I was kind of playing along with it, trying to find what key it was in. It was an interesting moment.
We went from there to India, the city of Bangalore. They were so enthusiastic about the idea of a big rock show coming to town.
Q: What keeps Aerosmith going?
A: It's the same feeling as when we started. We very much wanted to make it, to be successful. We wanted to play in front of people to show off, basically.
There are a lot of things each of us could do as individuals but nothing that could have the magnitude of the five of us playing. I don't know what the future's going to hold, how long the band's going to last, how long we'll be able to stand each other.
Even recently, when the band was on the verge of hanging it up, you find out about all these people who would love to come hear you play. Once you hear that, all thoughts of doing anything else go away.
Distributed by MCT Information Services
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