Even as they contemplate working with another singer, Steven Tyler's Aerosmith bandmates say they're worried about their frontman's health and well being.
"Steven, he isolates more and more all the time -- that's what gives it away to me that there's something going on," drummer Joey Kramer tells Billboard.com. "I don't know what that is. I know he's made some not so great choices and he's got some negative influences around him now. I love the guy. I just want to see him get some help."
Kramer demures on discussing the specific rumors of substance abuse swirling around Tyler via online reports, but guitarist Brad Whitford acknowledges that "this guy has a tremendous history of drug abuse, and you have to be suspicious that this is something that's probably going on with him. I have a feeling we might be looking at someone who's just really struggling very badly." Whitford adds that Tyler's behavior in recent years "was becoming more erratic and unreasonable" leading to the singer's recent decision to take two years away from Aerosmith to focus on what he refers to as "brand Tyler."
Kramer and Whitford both say Tyler has become increasingly isolated from the rest of the band, hiring separate management and not communicating directly with anyone. "I have called him and left voice mails and texted him to no avail," says Kramer, who chronicles his complex, passive-aggressive relationship with Tyler in his new memoir "Hit Hard: A Story of Hitting Rock Bottom at the Top." "I get no reply. One of his biggest things is that, 'Well, nobody calls me.' Well, that's bullshit, 'cause I have. I've always been there for him and I probably always will be. I can only hope and pray that Steven will put the focus on Steven and get healthy."
Tyler's only public comment about the matter came on Nov. 10, when he made a surprise encore appearance at the Joe Perry Project's concert in New York City and announced that "I'm not leaving Aerosmith." The rest of the band, meanwhile -- including guitarist Perry and bassist Tom Hamilton -- is in daily communication and focusing on what it wants to do next.
The group does seem resolved in its decision to look for another singer to work with. Whitford predicts that while "no one can fill Steven Tyler's shoes," the selection process will come down to "people that we know or are friends that we think might consider doing it." Sharing names "wouldn't be prudent right now," according to the guitarist, but he says that "hopefully we'll do something creative and push the boundaries of what we do, maybe make some new music, not just go out there and be, like, an Aerosmith cover band."
Even the band name is up for grabs, as fan sentiment online is running decidedly against using Aerosmith for a group without Tyler. "We're contemplating our options, and (the name) is one of them," Kramer says. "I don't know that we have the answers yet. But no matter what you do, you can never make everybody happy...You've just got to come from your heart and do what you think is the right thing to do and hopefully people will adapt. Brad and Tom and Joe and I wish to continue to play and tour as a band, so whatever is involved in that, in moving forward, that's what we intend to do. The four of us stand united."
Whitford says the group will choose its course of action "ideally sooner than later" but acknowledges that "I have my doubts about us being able to pull this off any time soon." He's also not ruling out a reconciliation with Tyler.
"We would love to see that happen," Whitford says. "I hear all the fans and everybody, but no group of guys would like him back more than we would. We would never shut the door -- there might be a sign on that door that has a list of qualifications, but we would never shut the door."