“I think that we’re at a point in our lives now that we’re old enough to realise that by virtue of the five of us staying together and continuing to do what we do, there’s something really special there and we’ve finally gotten that and decided that there really isn’t too much that we should let get in the way of that, and so we’re not going to.”
Aerosmith are a band that needs no introduction, but we’ll give you one anyway. Ladies and Gentlemen, Aerosmith.
We chatted to Aerosmith drummer Joey Kramer all about the bands brand new album ‘Music From Another Dimension’ and why we didn’t get to hear it in August as originally planned, as well as touring, American Idol, and how they’re still able to do what they do some forty years on…
Thanks for taking the time to talk to us Joey. ‘Music From Another Dimension’ is your first album of all new material in eleven years, why was now the right time to release an album?
It’s not necessarily that now was the right time, but it was according to when we got it done. We didn’t wait eleven years on purpose, the time wasn’t right, the stars weren’t aligned let’s just say.
It’s a killer album, and after so many years between releases, when you were putting it together, was there a clear idea of how you wanted the record to sound?
We just knew how we were going to make it, we didn’t really have a clear picture of it because we were just leaving ourselves up to what it is that we do and the way that it comes out no matter how we play is going to be an Aerosmith record because it’s the five of us playing the music. So by virtue of getting Jack Douglas on board and going in to the studio and playing tracks live and concentrating on learning the arrangements there on the spot before we went in the studio, we were all working together and playing live in the studio. Jack brings a large fun factor to the party and when something is fun it usually comes out pretty good.
There is such a deep groove to Aerosmith in the rhythm section, is this something yourself and Tom work on outside of the band’s normal rehearsing, or do you all work on the new songs together as a full band, and then refine your drum and bass parts further/together without the rest of the band?
No, Tom and I go in, you know we’ve been playing together so long we make mistakes together, but it’s just something that happens. After you’ve been in the same band for forty years some things happen that even amaze me, sometimes we go in to the studio and play, the stuff that will come is is just buy the virtue of being together so long you don’t even know how well you know one another.
Were you able to do anything on this album you hadn’t considered doing before?
Well, not really, other than just playing the best that I know how to play and got some song writing in there this time. We all got together and did some song writing sessions, a few songs came out of that, plus I wrote a song with Marti Frederiksen and that’s on there, a song called ‘Closer.’ Other than that, I’m doing the same old thing, which is playing drums.
Can you give us the meaning behind naming the album ‘Music From Another Dimension’?
I think it’s kind of a take-off on the old, are you familiar with ‘The Outer Limits’, the old show that used to be on TV, it’s kind of our take-off on that. The beginning and the end of the album is actually Jack Douglas doing all that speaking.
‘What Could Have Been Love’ sounds like it could be ‘I Don’t Want to Miss a Thing’ part 2. What a track! Can we expect to hear this on a blockbuster movie anytime soon?
Not so far, but you never know, we’ll see what happens when the album comes out and what movies come along, I mean that stuff all happens as we go. As soon as the record comes out we’ll see.
In a random turn of events, Johnny Depp makes an appearance on the album too on the track ‘Freedom Fighter’, how did that come about?
I don’t know, I think Joe and Steven just kind of met him. He came to Hollywood to begin with to be in a band, which he did and he’s actually even played with us at The Hollywood Bowl, he came out and played ‘Train Kept a Rollin’ with us, and he’s actually a pretty good guitar player.
The album was due to come out in August but was pushed back to November was there a specific reason as to why?
Yes there was as a matter of fact and that reason was there was a new G.I. Joe movie that was coming out in July or August and that’s when the album was originally going to be released. That’s why we did ‘Legendary Child’ on American Idol because we were premiering the song and the movie was to follow and then what happened was that they put the movie back until next March as they got scared that the movie wasn’t going to do well because of all the competition that was around at the moment, so what happened was that we got beat and cut out of all the promo that the movie was going to give us because we were going to be in all the trailers and such, and now we had to do it on our own. We had to give the album back to the record company and it takes the record company about three months to set up an album before it can be released, so instead of being released in August we had to put it off until November. We got word they were going to put the movie back the night we were doing Idol, so they kind of pulled it on us at the last minute, so we didn’t really have too much of a choice, I think there’s actually a lawsuit going on as we were banking on all that promo and we were banking on that movie being out and us riding the tail of ‘Legendary Child’ being in the movie and we moved around dates for that and they were going to do a big premiere in Dallas and all of that stuff got cancelled and we lost millions of dollars by virtue of them changing their minds, so that’s all got to get settled out.
Back in August we got given the track listing and now it seems to have changed slightly, was that a change because of what you just mentioned above?
Well nothing like that gets written in stone until the very end, there’s things always changing, we’ve been changing things up until yesterday on the record, the last minute details because you want to get everything right as we’ve reinvented ourselves once again and we want everything for the record to be perfect so we’re just trying to make everything right. It’s finally done, the record’s been in the can since August, it’s all mastered, sitting there, the artwork’s all done, everything’s all set and you’ll see it in November.
Now, the last time you were in Australia was 1990… I guess the question is, are there any plans at all to come back and see us, we’d love to have you back?
You know, I would imagine so, it all depends on record sales and the demand and when we can get down there if we can, we’d like to come back too. Australia is beautiful and we enjoyed it the last time we were there and I know we’ve only been there once but we’re definitely due back there.
After all these years on the road, playing gig and touring the world, do you still get excited walking out on the stage?
I do! I do, when I sit down to play my drums on stage behind this band it’s where I can fly; it’s the only time during the day or the only time I can get where I can be myself and I don’t have to listen to anybody’s shit one way or another and I can just do whatever the hell I want. When you have twenty or thirty thousand people responding to you the way our fans respond to us there’s really no other feeling quite like it.
Obviously Steven became that ‘public’ figure on American Idol, were you in any way worried at the way it would be perceived or harm the band?
You know there was a lot of speculation about it and I thought about it myself, but in my heart I kinda knew that it wouldn’t do us any harm and it was only going to do us good, it was kind of a drag when it happened as he had a job and the rest of us were left with ‘well, what are we going to do?’ So we had to deal with that whole situation, and as it turned out, it worked out well but we weren’t able to work as much as we wanted to in those two years he was doing Idol, but I never lost any faith or never thought that Aerosmith had played its last show.
There were rumours though about replacing him and all sorts of things, these were all just made up by the media am I correct?
It’s all bullshit. The media takes stuff out of context and they run with it and just to make stuff happen and create what they call news. It’s no better or worse than ‘Keeping Up with The Kardashians’ and that stuff only happens in America. It’s all bullshit.
What do you think it is that keeps everyone together, where in other bands members come and go, Aerosmith still stand as a unit, is there something specific that allows this to happen?
Well you know, I don’t know that there’s any one particular thing that does that for us, or one particular reason but I think that we’re at a point in our lives now that we’re old enough to realise that by virtue of the five of us staying together and continuing to do what we do, there’s something really special there and we’ve finally gotten that and decided that there really isn’t too much that we should let get in the way of that, and so we’re not going to. I think there’s a lot more juice left in this band than anybody thinks.
What’s left to do that you haven’t done in your now over 40 year career?
Come back to Australia (laughs). Somewhere down the line I’d like to do a Rhythm and Blues record with a horn section, just some fun, maybe take the band out on the road and tour a little bit, and do some clubs. I’ll take out my own band at some point in time, but with doing what we do there’s not a lot of time because there’s so much stuff to do other than play.
I guess on the flip side to that, in that time is there anything you would’ve done differently?
I don’t think so you know… I’m a big believer in that we wouldn’t be where we are unless we’ve gone through all the shit both personally and as a band as we have. We’ve been through everything from nervous breakdowns to cancer to hepatitis C, to you name it and if that hasn’t brought us down I don’t know what’s going to.
Is there one song from your entire back catalogue that you think defines Aerosmith, not by popularity but as a song that you are most proud of being a part of?
Oh God… that’s a really hard question just to narrow it down to one song… I don’t know that I could do that.
Well what about the one you enjoy playing the most?
Probably ‘Lord of the Thighs’.
With the music industry changing so much over the years what is it about Aerosmith that is still relevant in today’s day and age?
I think that we’ve just managed to stay relevant, I don’t think there’s anything particularly relevant about us, but I think what’s happening nowadays is that the music industry is dead for the most part and I think that young people are beginning to question where everything they’re listening to today comes from, and where it originated and what the source of it is, the same that we tried to find out what was the source of Aerosmith or The Yardbirds or Led Zeppelin or The Kinks, you know, where all the stuff comes from. It came from old American Blues guys and I think that now, all the so called music that’s out there, a lot of kids are getting tired of it and they want to know about the old stuff and where did it come from, where is all this shit coming from and what it’s about. They’re starting to ask these questions and I think that’s a good thing for us because a lot of it comes from us.
That was one thing that I did like about the Idol thing with Steven as it did put the band’s name back out there…
Oh yeah, we definitely captured another genre of kids but that doesn’t necessarily translate in to ticket sales because those kind of kids don’t really buy tickets. They download stuff that they listen too off the record, now I don’t know how old you are but when I was a kid we used to go out and buy a new record we would bring it home, sit down and smoke some pot and listen to the record, whereas now, kids when something new comes out they put it on and it’s just kind of in the background you know, it’s not really a focal point.
Well I’m thirty six and I still take it all in, love reading the liner notes and playing start to finish…
Right, well if you were a kid today and listening to the likes of Lady GaGa or Nikki Minaj you’re not asking any deep questions as to where what she’s doing came from.
Yeah I’m not really interested in the inspiration behind those songs…
You wrote and released your book ‘Hit Hard’ back in 2009 and were the first member to really get it all out there about the band, Steven has since followed, but at the time how was it perceived by the guys for you to be telling it how it was?
They were all good with it, the only problem with my book, it was released and the same week it was released was the same week Michael Jackson passed, and so I kinda got beat a little bit because my book kinda got lost in the media shuffle of Michael Jackson dying. It’s a funny thing, because of the subject matter of my book, it’s not something that just goes away, it’s something that stays around and has a pretty long shelf life and people are asking me about it all the time, more and more lately about when I’m going to write another one, or thanking me for writing this one because it’s so relevant for them and how much they got off of it. So the book is kinda starting to take on life again, so we’ll see how that goes.
Are there plans for a second one?
I guess so, I’m thinking about it but I just don’t know, I just have to get my wits together and sit down and think about it, because if you do a second one, it’s gotta be better than the first and the first one was pretty good. It took me four years to do the first one.
To finish up, I wanted to jump back to touring, as it seems you’ve packaged up with some monster bands such as KISS and Motley Crue, have you got any plans for another of these kind of tours?
Um… well… you never know… there’s some stuff brewing but I’m not at liberty to talk about it right now.
Well whatever it is, bring it down here…
Alright… you’re just so goddamn far away (laughs).
From: Boston, USA
Band members: Steven Tyler – Vocals, Joe Perry – Guitar, Tom Hamilton – Bass, Brad Whitford – Guitar, Joey Kramer – Drums
Latest release: Music From Another Dimension (Sony Music Australia)