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Interview By: Jo Robinson

Written & Edited By: Michael D. Vogel

© March 7, 1997. Michael D. Vogel.  All Rights Reserved.

Published in:   

The Album Network magazine – March 21, 1997


The modern sound of rock’s landscape echoes from distorted guitars and angst-ridden lyrics of the younger alternative movement. By today’s standards, Aerosmith can be described as almost a dinosaur. However, Aerosmith is the biggest dinosaur around, and they scream extremely loud every three or four years.

Over the last 25 years, Aerosmith has definitely enjoyed the fruits of their labors. With over 70 million records sold world-wide, never-ending tours, video arcade games, a CD-ROM adventure game and a ground-breaking collaboration with rappers Run-DMC, the bad boys from Boston demonstrate that they are truly multi-dimensional. At the center of this onslaught are five totally dedicated musicians.

The band has always tried to live life on the edge, never afraid to pull the skin back and expose the true insides to one of America’s premier rock bands. Nine Lives, their twelfth studio album, and the first for Columbia in nearly fifteen years, erupts with the sex-filled, raucous bump and grind that longtime fans lust for, no matter what trends fixate the current climate of pop culture.

Let’s get right to the point – does Aerosmith have Nine Lives?

Steven Tyler: “I think somewhere around 20, based on our past behaviors, is a little more accurate. There are too many coincidences to name, in the life of Aerosmith, that aim solely in that direction.”

After a 15-year absence, why re-sign with Columbia? 

ST: “For the same reason a salmon spawns up stream. Sometimes you need to go back to where you came from. We had a lot of luck with CBS Records in the 70′s, mostly because they believed in us. When we found out that Donny Ienner and Tommy Mottola, who are stone-buck Aerosmith freaks, were now in charge of the label, we knew we had come home. Besides, they gave us an offer we couldn’t refuse.”

Joe Perry: “Actually, they came to us long before it was time to think about signing with a new record company. We were in the middle of our contract with Geffen at the time. But, they approached us anyway with a commitment to our long-term future that really blew our minds. Besides, most of our old records are now on Columbia. So it really has been a full circle, coming back to the home base, for this record.”

How did you come to collaborate with Glen Ballard? 

ST: “We learned early on that Glen is really a wonderful human being who loves to work with musicians. We wanted a producer that would encourage us to try different things, but at the same time have their business priorities happening first. Because Glen is our first new producer in years, we felt being in the studio with him really allowed us to try and start something new.”

How did the Middle Eastern influence come about? 

ST: “My parents used to play Donovan and Ima Sumak records when I was a kid. But the middle eastern flavor has been floating around for years. I’d be a fool not to credit the Rolling Stones and Glen Ballard as influences on my melodies. But the influence is infectious, affecting the songs `Nine Lives’, `Hole In My Soul’ and `A Taste Of India’ as well. So it just gave us a great excuse to stretch out a little.”

After touring for nearly two years in support Get A Grip, do you plan to be on the road that long promoting Nine Lives? 

Brad Whitford: “We have so many places to go, I don’t think there’s any way not to be on the road for that long. It’s not so much physically but more of a mindset.  With the level of excitement around this record and the fact that we are having such a good time really helps to promote the ease and longevity of the tour.”

How are the audiences abroad different from those in the United States? 

Joey Kramer: “In Japan, for instance, there are a lot of people who don’t speak the language but understand it what is being said. The only place where I have noticed a significant difference are those fans in South America. Those kids are really nuts, but, of course, I say that in a good way.”

ST: “We do this thing before `Crying’ where we get the audience to count off. It’s amazing how many places that don’t speak English, or have a very slight grasp of the language, are able to join in. In fact, the only place we had any trouble was Vermont – we just couldn’t get them to participate.”

How do you continue to motivate yourselves to play?

TH: “A lot of people think that we have already arrived at a certain point musically. Yet, it never feels like you are ever really quite there. Personally, it feels as if I’m only half way to where I want to be with this instrument. But, like any exercise, there is a physical as well as a spiritual side you have to keep up with.”

JK: “Playing a musical instrument is like having a life-long love affair. As a result, you never reach a true level of perfection. The biggest part of it comes back to the mindset. If you think you can-you can, and if you think you can’t- then you can’t. After we gear up to do a record, which could be anywhere from five months to a year, I like to get away and distance myself from it altogether. That way, when you come back to it, everything sounds fresh and new again.”

When writing new material, do you think about simply maintaining the die-hard fans or do you look at bringing in new fans as well? 

ST: “We’re just thinking about making a record that we like and are proud of. We don’t sit around pondering whether people will like this song or that song. We are people too, not unlike 80 million other rock fans out there listening to the music. So, we try to please ourselves first and along with that the people who enjoy our music.”

After nearly twenty-five years, countless albums and tours, what keeps Aerosmith together? 

ST: “I think we all realize what we are as a band and what we couldn’t be singularly. An intense amount of energy is created when we get together. The love affair of writing a song and getting it back almost immediately is absolutely incredible. We all have aspirations of things we’d like to do, but we also get direct results out of being together in a band. For example, people come and see our concerts and buy our records. We also write songs that, keeping my fingers crossed, in some cases the world will hopefully sing along with. To have these kinds of things come to fruition is really second to none.”

In the past few years, the music world has seen many tragic deaths of up-and-coming artists. Do you feel, as a band or as individuals, any sense of responsibility to try and help? 

ST: “It was a good thing the band broke up when we did. We got a chance to see that the band was the most important thing in the world to us, not the drugs and alcohol. If it meant giving up certain substances, then so be it. As a result, we have been asked many times to tell people of the dangers of drug and alcohol abuse. But, that’s like telling a clinically depressed individual to cheer-up. People use drugs and alcohol because it makes them feel good. In order to change their lives, they need to hit rock bottom. The best thing we can do is accept we had a problem and know we kicked it. There is always hope. For us, it was the band and the music.”

Having performed with Stone Temple Pilots and being friendly with Scott Weiland, have you shared some of your personal insights with him? 

ST: “I choose to call it my program. It’s something personal between Scott and myself that I don’t really want to make public. However, I can tell you, he is doing great. He’s really trying and that’s what is important. This is going to be an on going process for him. Personally, it took me three or four times through rehabilitation before I came around. But, unlike other people, I choose not to talk about it.” ^m^



Boston, MA


Steven Tyler – Vocals/Keys/Percussions/Hammer/Dulcimer/Harmonica    

Joe Perry – Guitar/Dulcimer/Vocals                    

Brad Whitford – Guitar                                       

Tom Hamilton – Bass/Chapman stick

Joey Kramer – Drums

About The Current CD:

Nine Lives is Aerosmith’s 12th studio album; the first to be released by Columbia in 15 years.


Nine Lives (Columbia, 1997)                           Night In The Ruts (Columbia, 1979) 

Get A Grip (Geffen, 1993)                                  Draw The Line (Columbia, 1977)

Pump (Geffen, 1989)                                            Rocks (Columbia, 1976)

Permanent Vacation (Geffen, 1987)            Toys In The Attic (Columbia, 1975) 

Done With Mirrors (Geffen, 1985)                 Get Your Wings (Columbia, 1974)

Rock In A Hard Place (Columbia, 1982)     Aerosmith (Columbia, 1973)                         

Produced By:

Kevin Shirley with additional production by Aerosmith






© March 7, 1997. Michael D. Vogel.  All Rights Reserved. This originally appeared on the Vogelism blog at https://www.vogelism.com, authored by Michael D. Vogel. This article may be shared or reprinted as long as the entire copyright message, including the source location of this article, accompanies it.


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