Once criticized for being a Rolling Stones knockoff, Aerosmith has soared into the pop culture stratosphere for more than 30 years to become one of America's most successful rock ’n' roll bands. And in the cockpit of this often turbulent flight are flamboyant front man Steven Tyler and his longtime creative partner Joe Perry. Currently on tour in anticipation of Music from Another Dimension!, the band's fifteenth studio album and first album of original material since 2001's Just Push Play, Aerosmith appears to be flying high again. But not in the drug-fueled manner that once earned Tyler and Perry the nickname, the Toxic Twins. While Tyler has remained in the spotlight as part of "American Idol," Perry remains the quieter member of the duo. But as the band returns to Atlanta this Thursday for the Global Warming Tour, Perry takes a moment to talk about the band's tumultuous longevity, the new album, and his favorite Georgia memories.
Aerosmith with Cheap Trick. $49.50-$107.50. 7:30 p.m. Thurs., July 26. Philips Arena, 1 Philips Drive. 404-878-3000. Purchase tickets.
A resurgence in '70s and '80s-style rock seems to be a trend in music as of late. Aerosmith was part of that original wave and is still going strong. What are your thoughts on why the style of music you originally made popular is surging once again?
There's a couple of things. One is with the older fans. It reminds them of when they first heard that kind of music and it's comfortable to hear it. I know because I'm a fan and I like listening to the music I heard when I was 18 years old or 20 years old or 25 years old. It brings back those good times. Then there are younger fans who are interested to hear what kind of makes up the music that they like now. Hopefully with this record we'll be bringing up a whole batch of fans that want to hear what an American rock band sounds like when they're in the studio writing new stuff.
Speaking of your new album, this will be the first Aerosmith original studio album in almost twelve years. The band's inner turmoil since then has been documented very well, especially recently. What was it like coming back together after all that's happened to write and record this new album?
The actual writing part of it was pretty close to what we used to do in the '70s. Everybody had bits and pieces. We've been working on this record on and off for the last ten years, so we've written and compiled quite a bit of material to work on. After cutting all the basics last summer, then touring for two months in South America and Japan, it kind of injected another whole level of attitude into the thing. So when we listened to the basics and brought that into it, we were able to lift the whole thing up another whole notch. The whole process has been really good, but it's also been very much like how we made the first couple of records.
Only with the first few records it obviously wasn't a ten-year process.
No. But it's funny how all the things that make it happen can take place over ten years or they can take place over ten days. It's really funny, but then there are a lot of things about life that I think are really funny at this stage of it.
I would imagine so. This is obviously not the first time Aerosmith has had a resurgence in popularity. Some of that can probably be attributed to Steven Tyler being on "American Idol." But how would you say this influx of new fans influences the band's creativity?
Well, it's interesting. But musically, I think the biggest thing for us has been Guitar Hero. We really noticed a difference in the age of the fans coming to the shows and the songs they requested. I'm a little surprised because we're not seeing as many of the younger fans at the meet-and-greets. Certainly the name has gotten more popular, but as far as the people coming to the show I'd say "American Idol" didn't have the same effect as Guitar Hero did, as far as bringing in the young fans. It's still a pretty broad demographic when you look at our audience. We probably had four families come through the other day that ranged from eight-year-olds to mom and pop. So, it's a trip.
How does this change in audience compare to the other times that you've had renewed mainstream success, such as when you collaborated with Run-DMC and had a jolt in your career in the '80s?
That was a whole other thing. In Europe it worked because I think the song itself was a bigger hit in Europe than it was here. But the video had a very big impact and I think that the fact that they hadn't had any black artists on MTV, except for Michael Jackson, played a huge part in things. People think that was a big boost for us here, but we were out there touring and slowly building our touring base up again and we noticed a small jump when the single came out. I think it was a much bigger thing in the media and what it did at MTV than it actually seemed. When it was released here and we didn't notice that much of a jump in bringing people into the arenas, then we went to Europe it's all they talked about.
You're currently touring with Cheap Trick as your opening band. The two of you are rarities in rock in that you've both had almost the same lineups for most of your careers.
Well, let's just say we have an all-original lineup. They just missed it by a year or two because Bun E. [Carlos] is still there and still capable of doing it, he just doesn't want to. So that's something we joke about when we're talking about that. They're about as close as you can get with Rick Nielsen's son playing drums. But it's not Bun E., so there's one more off the list. ZZ Top's still the other band with its original lineup.
But unlike Cheap Trick, Aerosmith has had some very public inner turmoil. We never hear about Cheap Trick fighting, but Aerosmith has clearly had its ups and downs. That being said, what has the touring dynamic between between the two bands?
We're always trying to get them to fight. No, I'm kidding. We're really good friends. They're great guys, we have a lot of respect for them and they're great musicians. They play a great show every night and it's really a lot of fun touring with them because they come from the same era we do and they've been around as long as we have. So they're like brothers to us.
Aerosmith has played in Atlanta on many tours. Are there any particular Atlanta shows or memories that stand out for you?
Yeah. A couple of them I'm going to talk about in my new book. I'm working on an autobiography now and it's going to be out in the fall of 2013. So there's going to be some great stories in there about Atlanta. My wife and I are looking forward to going to visit the Georgia Guidestones. That's one of the stops we're going to make on this trip.
ooooohhhh, I'm so excited!! I can't wait to see them together!
come on man you know you got a bromance. you probably still rock that OutKast…
Yes, 14 is the correct answer. I'll pass your info along to the group's manager,…
That was January of 2007, and they are 21 now, so I'm guessing 14?