When: circa November/December 1973
Where: Hollywood, California (Continental Hyatt House - the “Riot” House as it was later dubbed, was situated right in the middle of the Sunset Strip. It was one of the few establishments back in the 70s that would allow rock and roll bands to stay in their rooms. In fact, they even encouraged it (hence the new appellation).
The band’s sophomore album, Draw The Line
, had not yet been released, and save for some airplay with “Dream On” from the first album, nobody really knew who Aerosmith was. This, in fact, was probably one of the first 10-20 interviews I ever did and they didn’t have much of an impact on me. In all honesty, I was not much of a fan at that point. I thought their first album was a bad rip of The Yardbirds and The Stones. And Joe Perry
as a guitar player was, well, not even capable enough of changing Jeff Beck
’s guitar strings.
The band had performed at the Whisky the night before and for a Monday night in Hollywood, the place rocked. All five members were feeling pretty good. Steven Tyler, Joe Perry, Brad Whitford, Tom Hamilton, and Joey Kramer were all sitting around a large table in the Riot House restaurant. It was breakfast-time and eggs and cereal and coffee was being ordered and consumed amidst my questions and the group’s answers.
Most of the time, one member spoke right over another and it was impossible to make out any response whatsoever.
But I do remember that all five Bostonians were pretty exuberant and positive and genuinely enthralled about being part of the interview. Even at that early stage, it was pretty evident that Tyler and Perry were the focal/vocal points though Brad Hamilton said more than his fair share.
When you play a show where things aren’t going right onstage, does it make you feel funny when people later admit that they enjoyed the show?
Tom: The thing is you can’t say that. They’re listening from the standpoint of entertainment. You’re entertaining even if know that you’ve played 80 percent of how you can be. If you have a perfect night and for some reason it doesn’t seem to be projecting as strong, then maybe you’re technically inferior that night and you get a bad review.
How do you feel when you know you’ve done a good show and people don’t get off?
Steven: It’s rare that we do a good show and people don’t get off on it. It’s very rare.
Joe: There’s nothing we can do about it if they didn’t get off and you played your best. If you don’t play up to par, then you know. If we played the best we could and felt the show was good and they didn’t like it, there’s not much you can do about that.
You got cut short on the first show, but I think that a band that does a short set like that is good.
Steven: I agree 100 percent.
I think you left people wanting more.
Steven: Great; that’s it.
Tom: A lot of people have told me a lot of times people go to hear the first set and then they just go up to The Roxy or The Rainbow.
It’s a rare occasion that the Whisky is full on a Monday night.
Tom: There were a lot of repeats tonight; we had a really good group. It was nice.
What’s the second album like?
Tom: The second album is kind of hard to describe and different from the first album. The recording part is going to be 100 percent different. For the recording we found a great producer, Jack Douglas, who has been the engineer on most of the Alice Cooper albums. He actually produced his most recent one. If you listen to the album - whether you like the album or not - the production is great. The recording is fantastic.
I think the production on the first album was okay, though.
Steven: So do a lot of people.
Tom: The songs are really good, but there are a lot of them that are very mushy.
You had Adrian Barber working on the first album. He’s worked with Cream in the past. Did that shape the sound at all?
Steven: Sure, a little bit.
Joe: Maybe the microphones he used!
Tom: It had the energy.
Joe: It didn’t have the technical aspect because he let a lot of stuff by. He really didn’t have that much to do with producing the song, arranging them. Steve was there for all the mixing of it. He let a lot of stuff by that we wouldn’t have if we had more experience or were more on top of it.
Tom: We would have been able to know more of what we could do and what we wanted to get down, as opposed to, “Well…”
Joe: It was a good experience. This time we said, “Okay, let’s do this.” We did the whole album in 2 weeks or something. Was it 9 days or something? Yeah.
Is there much music coming out of Boston?
|"People are just starting to realize that we're a band."|
Tom: There is now. There is a couple of real good bands in Boston that are pushing along. We just saw one, and there are a couple of bands that cut their own material and stuff. It’s pretty hard in Boston because like I was saying before, Boston doesn’t have a scene that’s a center point where something like that can grow.
Was it a big jump playing outside of Boston?
Tom: We’ve been waiting for a long time.
Steven: I was hoping for a little bit warmer winter.
How did the tour with Mott The Hoople go?
Steven: Great, fantastic.
You toured the Midwest and the South?
Steven: Uh-huh. Florida, Canada, the Midwest.
Tom: Kansas, Nebraska, South Dakota…
How serious is the band about the music? There is a lot more to this band than just the image - isn’t there?
Joe: A lot of people say we’re Boston’s exponents of glitter and flash. The only flash comes from the music, except for the pants we wore last night. But those looked good. Nobody wears platforms. The music is the selling point of the band. It always has been. It’s always been our greatest consideration. We’ve been classed as a glitter band but we ain’t.
Tom: I think we’ve got pretty good priorities. Either they (audience) put us down for being like the Stones or being glitter. But I just wish they’d recognize the music.
It’s really good music. I can hear a little bit of Hendrix and Allman Brothers in you. You’re able to cross both markets.
Joe: We weren’t into it for the lifestyle as much as it was the music. I still love writing songs.
Joey: When we recorded, we went for a really live sound. That’s another thing. We’ve always been very much concerned with what’s we’re putting across. There are bands now that have really big records and don’t know the logistics of playing a big hall. They don’t know what you have to do to put it across so that the guy in the back row can hear it clear and loud. There’s a zillion bands now that have big records but don’t know the first thing about the logistics of playing in a big hall.
Is it hard touring with a band like Mott The Hoople?
Steven: We’re very compatible.
Joe: When we were with Mott on the road, wherever we went we’d sell a lot of albums there. The thing about the album is, wherever it gets exposed and played, people respond to it. So, it’s a combination of the two.
Just from the standpoint that they were established and you are basically simply starting out.
Tom: What was that interview…(thinks to himself) He’s comparing himself to David Bowie and talking about his association with him. I don’t know. I lost track of what I was thinking. A lot of other people forget what it’s like to be really struggling and hustling to be a good band, to make a name for yourself. Because even now as they’re getting to that, he even said himself that they don’t forget.
What has the response to the band been?
Steven: People are just starting to realize that we’re a band. The album cover (for Aerosmith) really set us back we feel; the production set us back and then they didn’t help us for nine months... We’ve learned more and more. We just got written off and it went down the tubes. Just by playing in bars together and playing our songs, it started with one radio station and it built from there. We’ve sold over, what is it? 110,000 albums and 120,000 singles. That’s still like nothing. I can think of like 2 ads we’ve had in national papers and shitty reviews.
And the thing is, we did it on our playing; we sold more albums in boston than J. Geils.
Tom: A lot are good. As a matter of fact, most of the reviews for the album have been good.
Do you think you accomplished a lot more with the second album?
Joe: Oh, yeah.
How long have you guys been on the road?
|"The only flash comes from the music, except for the pants we wore last night."|
Joe: When we were first together, we could fuck off for a week there or a week there and not work. But probably since we signed, we work all the time. There’s never been a time when we’ve had more than a few days off.
Joey: Especially when we’re in Boston.
Joe: The last gig we did in Boston, we headlined and sold it out with 6,000 people. All we’ve got to do is do that all over. I think the next place we’re going to be able to play is like Cincinnati. That’s a really strong place for all. We’ve done really well. It’s almost like Boston. Philly was a good place, too. We love going there but everything was fucked up at the airlines. We were left there with one guitar and everything else was rented. Brad had to play a rented guitar; Tom had to play a rented guitar. We didn’t even get a soundcheck, just threw everything up there.
Steven: Rented drums, rented amps.
Joe: Then we went up 100 miles north to Seattle to this stinking club.
Tom: It was really nice. Seattle is the greatest town. Ever been there?
Tom: It’s a big dance town. Getting laid and getting drunk club. We went on about 30 minutes late. About 1 o’clock?
Joey: There was a fireplace in the middle of the floor. That’s how they heat the building. The dressing room was so cold.
Tom: Oh, yeah.
Who picked the single?
Tom: We had another one we threw out originally.
Joe: The one that is on the other side. That’s what Colombia wants.
(several people talk over each other)
Joe: …”Dream On” is the single…We weren’t really aware of singles. Just by being able to realize the market, you can’t just put out our favorite songs out there because it’s just a whole different thing. So it’s too bad that we couldn’t have a super rock and roll song.
Tom: The thing is that we’re doing so well on our live dates and “Dream On” does really well.
Joe: There are a couple of slower type songs. I don’t know if they want us to follow the same thing.
For the next potential single?
Joe: It’s a real strange market. It’s a whole another thing. It’s like the Dick Clark Show, which we were on the other day.
Tom: Yeah, we did a taping. It’s going to be on the 15th.
Have you done other shows like “Midnight Special”?
Is it harder to break in now?
Tom: I think it is harder now. There are also a lot more bands, I think.
More bands than in New York?
Tom: I think so.
Steven: In New York?
Steven: Than out here?
Tom: I think so.
So what are you doing now?
Joe: We’re going into the studio in December, I think. It’s sort of like to touch it some more and we’re going to do what Jack tells us we have to do. Then we’ll have a lot more to work with when we start touring in February, both albums.
(Various people chat about Led Zeppelin; inaudible.)
I’ve said before that now is the time for a good band because people are really starving for one.
Joey: It’s just like at first nobody could get up and relate to any of our songs because they didn’t’ know what it was. But with a little record action and a little radio action and bingo - the magic number.
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