With a hard-rocking new single, “Legendary Child,” and its first album in eight years arriving this fall, Aerosmith is indeed feeling like it’s back in the saddle again.
“We’re pretty geeked because we have all this new material that we feel really strongly about,” bassist Tom Hamilton says, referring to the group’s “Music From Another Dimension!” (Nov. 6). “It makes you feel like you’re walking out there with a loaded weapon, still firing on all cylinders.”
A scant three years ago, of course, the gunfire was blazing from within the band.
In August 2009, after frontman Steven Tyler fell off a stage ramp during a show in Sturgis, S.D., Aerosmith splintered apart, with the other four members (Hamilton, guitarists Joe Perry and Brad Whitford, and drummer Joey Kramer) looking into the possibility of replacing Tyler. Aerosmith patched things up and was back on the road the following year, with Tyler’s judge stint on “American Idol” in its last two seasons also helping raise the band’s profile.
“It is one of the most dysfunctional bands on the planet, yet we’ve kept together,” Tyler says. “Why? That’s the question. Why? It’s because . . . there’s magic there. When we get together in a room, magic happens. We are what we are, and nothing’s ever going to dwarf what we’ve done for 40 years.”
With “Legendary Child” – a track Hamilton says dates back to sessions for 1993’s “Get a Grip” – Aerosmith hopes to add to its legacy of enduring classic rock hits like “Dream On,” “Walk This Way,” “Sweet Emotion” and “Back in the Saddle.”
The group premiered the single during “American Idol” finale week, then focused on taking it to the band’s core audience, according to Columbia Records senior VP of promotion Lee Leipsner. “We could have released a ballad or midtempo, and gone for big mass appeal,” Leipsner says, “but we set out to get the rock roots back. We wanted to define them first and foremost as one of America’s best rock’n’roll bands.”
So far, the single has made an impact, if not necessarily an overpowering showing. It peaked at No. 3 on Billboard’s Heritage Rock airplay chart, No. 17 on Mainstream Rock, No. 19 on Active Rock and No. 31 on Rock Songs, with 17,000 downloads sold, according to Nielsen SoundScan. But it has delivered the message that Aerosmith is back in action, eight years after the predominantly covers album “Honkin’ on Bobo” and 11 years since its all-original “Just Push Play.”
“Audience response has been great thus far,” says Mark Pennington, PD at Greater Media active rock WRIF Detroit. “This seems to be going back to the roots of ’70s Aerosmith, which die-hard fans have been waiting to hear.”
With the album moved from August to November “to give us time to get through the summer”- i ncluding the band’s Global Warming tour that wraps Aug. 12 – Leipsner says promotional plans are coming together. A pair of new singles – one targeting mainstream and adult top 40, the other at rock formats – will be released in early September. Meanwhile, Aerosmith is booked to play the iHeartRadio Music Festival on Sept. 22 in Las Vegas, then returns to the road for another six-week run beginning in late October.
Hamilton says the group is already thinking about recording its next album, in order to avoid another eight-year break between releases.
“We’ve built up a certain creative momentum with his record,” he says. “I have no idea when we’re going into the studio again, but we’ve [written] songs that are not on this album, so you never know. Right now, I’m just so enjoying that this is coming out. Sometimes I’ll be walking around or driving, and that realization that we have this album in the can hits me. Emotionally, it’s definitely a big deal.”