Aerosmith Relishes 'Icon' Status (continued)

Part two of interview with Aerosmith's Tom Hamilton.

What can you tell us about the show Aerosmith is doing in Japan at the end of June?

Well, this show in Japan is the finale of the World Cup, which outside of America is beyond gigantic. Wars could get started over these things. For us to be asked to come and play at that, wow! It's just going to be a great chance for us to spread the word, you know? Spread the germs! I don't think we're doing a full gig. I think we'll do an hour-and-twenty or an hour. I'm sure it's part of a show where a lot of other stuff is going on. I don't know how many other bands are going to be on it or if it's going to be a rock show.

Could you see that leading to more shows this year?

Well, we're dying to go back out in the fall. We've basically done North America twice, although it was all major markets, which is the first time we've really ever done a tour that was all major markets. A lot of places where we only booked one show, we found we could have done two shows. So we went back and covered a lot of them again. As far as, have we worn out our welcome? We're not sure. But we want to make sure if we go back out that there's serious interest in it. We're just watching that now.

What about touring in Europe?

We haven't done Europe at all on this tour yet. My take is that we were totally into the North American mode, and then September 11th happened. That had a chilling effect on people planning tours in Europe. Somebody actually came up to me and said, 'Well maybe in Europe, parents don't want kids to go to your shows because you're Americans and you might get attacked!'

Did you guys ever get the chance to play in a smaller venue, just for kicks?

Yeah, we played the Joint in Las Vegas. That's one of the nights that we filmed, on 16mm, in fact. We've got all that to look at. We did one small show in Munich when we were over there on our press tour right when the record was coming out. We played at a decent-sized club. I think there were 900 people there. Those are so fun. That's when we really feel confident to bring out the old bluesy stuff. It definitely influences the set list. Very much so.

I've got to ask you about a couple of rumors I've heard. One is that Nikki Sixx from Motley Crue penned a song for possible inclusion on an Aerosmith record.

Not that I know of! It's possible. Did that happen sometime in the last eight or nine years? That fax has not come across my machine.

There is a rumor that Eminem is covering "Dream On" on his next album in some form.

Yeah. We hope so. I don't know at what stage that's at. You never know until it comes out. You know what, I don't want to say because I'm not sure whether just going to sample part of it or what. Something he's doing has its basis in the song.

Has Aerosmith considered making archival material available online in some form?

Yeah. I would really like to. First of all, we need to digitize all this stuff that we have. We had it archived, and the book, I swear, is five inches thick. A listing of all the little tidbits, everything from doing IDs in Japan, to filming little special things for conventions or something.

I think now that we're off the road, we can start thinking about our Web site more. We've got this 3-D Web site called Aerosmith World. You go in, and you pick an avatar. Then you go walking around in these rooms that are custom designed, according to our little tastes and quirks.

I have this vision of little areas where you would run across film bits. How that would then evolve into something you could go and buy, I'm not sure. But, you know, we've just got such a huge supply that it would be nice to do something like that and have it be available, for hopefully a really reasonable price.

The band definitely is interested in getting into projects that are not the once-every-two-years, blockbuster, career making or breaking album-type mode that we've been in. That has been the tradition in the industry until recently. People are starting to get used to the idea of things being a little more immediate and spontaneous. We want to do that. We also want to have our major presentations, but we're definitely interested in doing other things that would be smaller projects. You never know: the thing that makes a project big or small is how many people buy the record. So, we're always talking. And I think we're going to try a couple of those things.

Overall, "Just Push Play" seems a little more immediate than "Nine Lives." Can you talk about the process that went into making both albums?

I tend to look at records based on how it was to make them. "Nine Lives" was torture. We got a whole s***load recorded, but then we had this big meltdown in the band, so that this original wave of material that we did with Glen Ballard never saw the light of day. The idea was that we were going to go in with a different producer, Kevin Shirley, and re-record a few of them. And we wound up just making a whole new record. We also had a management regime change in there, and unfortunately there was some nasty press about that. It was really hard on the band emotionally. We probably came pretty close to just saying f*** it.

When we went to do this record, we were determined not to go through anything like that. We have new management that treats us like adults, so that's one thing. We were ready to go into the studio with a big producer and make an Aerosmith record, but something weird happened with the timing where he couldn't come up. We just started writing and demoing, and that just morphed into being the actual recording. Then we decided, 'Wait a minute. We want to keep going this way for awhile and see what happens.' The record company supported us in doing it, so the record was put together very spontaneously and in a very organic, creative process.

Instead of having a flurry of writing where Steven and Joe were traveling to all the different cities in the country working with this guy or that guy, we did it all close to home. And all as one long continuous process, as opposed to in the past, where there'd be a three or four week blast of writing, and then there'd be some inane appearance we'd have to go do that would completely break up the momentum. This time, it was like, 'You guys are in the studio and that's it until the record is finished.' We got a lot of support from the record company and from management in respecting the old-fashioned creative process.

At this point in Aerosmith's career, would you foresee doing an album with all band-written songs?

Yeah, well, I think so. I think that would be based on what I was talking about before, about having smaller projects come around from time-to-time, instead of one giant one. That's when I think everybody could relax about the make-or-break career decisions.

I think with the way people are wanting to get music these days, they want to go download it a piece at a time. Obviously I hope there's a resolution where people still want to buy music to some extent. But I think there's a desire out there for immediacy, and I think along with that desire is some understanding that it's not going to be the blockbuster syndrome. Things will be a little funkier. We can throw stuff on our Web site, pictures and stuff, that we've snapped that afternoon, and put it up there immediately. It has to be interesting and entertaining but it doesn't have to be perfectly, professionally polished.

What keeps you busy when Aerosmith is not all that active?

Jeez. We got home from Japan about five weeks ago, and I couldn't stay out of my studio. I have to be careful because when I come home off the road, I need to re-up with my family, you know? I come off the road and I get into this thought process where I go,'Okay, this is a writing period,' and I'm desperate to be out here doing it every day. So, coming home, I had to adapt that way.

I've got a good balance of enjoying the simple things of life right now, like enjoying a meal, or enjoying driving down Storrow Drive down by the river [in Cambridge, Mass.]. Stuff like that, which I've always kind of put in the background because I was desperate to be a relevant part of the creative process. I love playing live. It's a blast. But one of the things I love about being at home is that I can pick up my guitar for the fun of it, and let my mind wander. I can come up to the studio, record ideas, and develop them. It's kind of like the musical equivalent of daydreaming, which I just love.

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