Last year, after both musicians moved to Nashville, the duo resurrected their Whitford/St. Holmes band, which released a self-titled album during the summer of 1981. Their sophomore album, the aptly titled Reunion, drops on June 3 — check out an exclusive premiere of the track “Hot For You” below. Whitford/St. Holmes hits the road opening for Whitesnake during June.
“It’s been an unexpected pleasure,” Whitford tells Billboard with a laugh. “Derek and I ended up practically being neighbors in Tennessee, so we just started doing what we do, just playing, and we started writing a lot of songs and it was very organic and it’s been a lot of fun. We have a real good musical connection, so it’s very easy for us to work and play together, and the songs just came.”
St. Holmes adds that, “I almost forgot how cool our partnership was. It’s been, what — 34, 35 years? But it’s as easy and natural now as it was then. There was absolutely no sitting around thinking, ‘Gosh, what’s cool these days?’ We just wanted to play rock n’ roll, the stuff that we wanted to do when we played with Aerosmith and Ted Nugent.”
Whitford and St. Holmes self-produced Reunion at The Castle Studios in Franklin, Tenn., cutting basic tracks in two days and wrapping the entire nine-song set in just 12 days with bassist Chopper Anderson, keyboardist Buck Johnson and Tesla drummer Troy Lucketta. “There’s been a nice evolution, I think, in the songwriting,” says Whitford, who took a more active roll in helping St. Holmes with the lyrics, letting some frustrations from his “other world” bleed into the songs.
“We both come from bands where the fun factor is low, so that worked its way in there,” Whitford acknowledges. “In the case of Aerosmith there’s lots of frustration. It always has been and continues to be such a difficult band to work with and to get things done, so a lot of [the lyrics] came from that.”
Though Aerosmith scrapped a planned North American summer tour for frontman Steven Tyler to finish his country solo album, the group will be getting back together for shows later this fall — starting at the Kaaboo Festival on September 16 and going to South America for nine more dates. The group members all have other projects going on during the summer — Tyler playing solo shows, guitarist Joe Perry touring with Hollywood Vampires and recording a solo album, and bassist Tom Hamilton playing a few anniversary concerts with Thin Lizzy. Whitford, meanwhile, confirms that Aerosmith has been talking about a final tour of some sort, though he anticipates that if that happens it will be a long goodbye.
“We keep talking about doing what we may call a farewell tour, but based on the Kiss approach that could go on for three to five years,” Whitford says with another laugh. “But, yeah, we’re talking about it and seriously looking at that just based on our age and some of the markets, will we ever get back there?” It could start as soon as next year and will likely be a worldwide trek, including Europe and Asia in addition to North America.
“It’ll probably be a bit of a relief,” Whitford confesses. “It’s a struggle to get things done with that band. It can take the wind out of your sails sometime, there’s so much time wasted. For me it’s about the music, and we seem to have lost quite a bit of that energy in the Aerosmith camp. Everything turns out to be about something else, and it has nothing to do with the music. It gets old.”
Regardless of what happens with Aerosmith, however, Whitford and St. Holmes plan to keep their band an active, going concern, with more touring and new music on the horizon. “It’s all about the music, man, none of the other bullshit,” St. Holmes says. “That’s the attitude Brad’s taken, that everyone in the band’s taken. We’re going to hit all the markets we can hit, beat the bushes just like we did when we were 25 years old. We’re all totally sober now — we spend our money in Whole Foods, not the party store. Our extracurricular buzz is getting up there and hearing these songs come together and playing with the guys.”