Aerosmith in Turmoil: Rolling Stone's 2009 Interviews

Page 4 of 5

Brad Whitford

What's the current status of Aerosmith?
The band is in a rather unique position of having our lead singer announce to us this summer that he wanted to take some time off. I kinda think that he put himself in a position where maybe the people that he's surrounded himself have sort of a sense that he can go out and do great things without Aerosmith. Now historically, I've never seen anybody really do that and I get the sense that they've sold him on this and kind of appealed to his ego. I don't think it's a smart thing to do, not with someone who has an ego the size of Steven Tyler.

Would you still bill yourselves as Aerosmith if you toured with a new singer?
That's a good question. I'm not a hundred percent sure on that... I think there's some discussion and feelings about that.

And Joey told me yesterday that he was leaning towards a more famous singer than an unknown.
I think there's some name people out there that might be interested in doing it and I think it would be great to have someone with some history that had a name. But I mean, this is really kind of early on for us, we don't even know if it'll work. We may not be able to find someone to do this so you know someone has to be willing to do it, and then what's the best approach? Do we want to go in and make some new music with a new singer and kind of ... and you know maybe it has a different name, a different slant on it, maybe it's called the same thing. I don't know.

When did things start to collapse? After Steven fell off the stage?
I would go back further than that. There's been a serious lack of commitment on his part for a while. We've been trying to make an album for a few years and he's been the guy that suddenly one day he just doesn't show and the next thing we know he doesn't want to work, he doesn't like the producer, whatever. And we've had these sort of no-show issues with him and tour cancellations and these cancellations have been going on for some time. This unpredictable behavior has just gotten more bizarre and more frequent.

Tell me about the record you tried to cut with Brendan O'Brien.
Now there's a very sad moment we had. The gentleman that we had was number one on our wish list and it was very exciting for us to be working with Brendan. I don't think it lasted more than two, three weeks. And he bent over backwards to do whatever he could to make Steven comfortable.

Did Steve explain why he wasn't happy?
As I recall, he didn't like working with Brendan. You couldn't ask for a nicer person or a more talented musician and producer than Brendan.

How did you feel about him hiring his own manager?
Well, actually he'd been talking about it for years it seems like, and I was always like, "Well, stop talking about it if you feel like you need someone else to represent you, do it, get it done." It was always put in the context of a threat which was not understandable on my part.

I've heard Steven is interested a radio-friendly sound and Joe is into more into straight-ahead rock.
Well, I think there's some validity to that. It's clear to most of the members in Aerosmith that when you look at, you read comments and you read these blogs and you understand the fans want to return to old school and that's obviously what the band has always done best. We've had some success with pop songs and that sort of thing but we've also had some miserable failures with that and pop failures are much harder to take than legitimate rock songs that don't cut it. The pop thing, it doesn't sit well with some of us that you come in to write a song with some sort of preconceived notion, that's not what an artist does. It's a blank canvas and it either comes from your gut or it doesn't. If nothing happens that day, it's fine, come back tomorrow and we'll throw some more paint at it. But to come and go what everybody used to call a single is just a bad idea.

It's pretty late in Steven's career to go solo.
It's incredibly difficult to pull off. I don't really understand it. I think it's one thing to do your own thing and I think everybody would encourage that. Hey you know, I've got three months off and I'm going to do this thing and not make a big deal out of it. I feel like I've gotta do it... not drawing such hard lines.

I was talking to Joey Kramer yesterday and he was saying that Steven needs to get healthy. Is that what you think?
Well I don't hang out with the guy. I very rarely see him and have very rarely seen him in a long time. But his behavior suggests to me that he's... he doesn't act like a sober person.

So do you think he's drinking again or on drugs?
Like I said, I'm not hanging with the guy. But he's had this history of drug abuse that is well documented. And like many other people in this same position, you know the prospects aren't good. For most people, full blown recovery is a tough thing to pull off.

You think that a contributing factor to your problems right now?
Well, I think if that's true then it would be a huge contributing factor.

More Q&As:

Joe Perry

Joey Kramer

Former Aerosmith A&R Rep John Kalodner

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