Aerosmith Back in the Saddle with Diverse Projects

By | March 26, 2002 at 12:00 AM

The train keeps a-rollin’ for Aerosmith, the bad boys of American rock ‘n’ roll, who are working on a slew of projects before returning to the concert circuit in the fall. The veteran quintet, which wrapped up an eight-month tour of North America and Japan in early February, said last week that it will be the subject of MTV’s second annual mtvICON tribute concert in Los Angeles next month.

Kid Rock, rapper Nelly and pop singer Pink were the first to commit to the show, which will be taped at a Hollywood movie studio on April 14 and air on April 17 on the music cable network.

Singer Steven Tyler and lead guitarist Joe Perry told Reuters in separate interviews the band also has recorded new songs for a greatest-hits album in the summer and the upcoming “Spider-Man” film. Other plans include a visit to Japan in June to play at a World Cup soccer match and revived plans to make a blues album.

“A band isn’t a band unless they’re playing together,” said Perry, 51. “Otherwise it’s just five guys that are living off their royalty checks.”

The checks have poured in since Aerosmith regrouped in the late 1980s from the excesses of drugs and ego that cut short its initial run of success in the 1970s, a time when the band rocked the charts and arenas with such hits as “Walk This Way” and “Sweet Emotion.”

“I don’t know whether we’re making up for lost time, but we floundered along for so long, and then we lost everything from those insidious ’80s when the rug was pulled out from under our feet from being the rebels that we so loved to be,” said Tyler, who turns 54 on March 26.

“I thought I was going to grow up and be an ex-con. Here I am an icon!”

Rounded out by rhythm guitarist Brad Whitford, 50, bassist Tom Hamilton, 50, and drummer Joey Kramer, 51, Aerosmith has indeed reached a new generation of fans through ballads like “I Don’t Want to Miss A Thing” and such trademark saucy ditties as “Love In An Elevator.”

LOVE IN A SPACE STATION?

Tyler and Perry, sometimes known as the Toxic Twins but now very much sober, also are working on projects aside from the band. Tyler is seriously thinking of raising $20 million so he can fly to the International Space Station, write a song there and perform it for a global audience.

“Every bit of this… life is a dream, and to make dreams come to true that’s what I do,” he said.

He also wants to follow in the footsteps of Perry and Whitford by recording a solo album. He feels that tunes he records at home, he said, lose some of their spark when he brings them to the band to perform.

“It just affords you to do things you can’t do with the band. If I went out and wrote a song with Flea (of the Red Hot Chili Peppers), who’s going to play the bass when I bring it to my band? I’d rather have Flea on it.”

Besides Flea, Tyler’s wish list of collaborators includes Rolling Stones guitarist Keith Richards, veteran pianist Johnnie Johnson and bluegrass musician Alison Krauss, whom Tyler has spent a lot of time with recently.

Chili peppers also figure in Perry’s plans, literally. The lifelong chile aficionado will launch a line of hot sauces, called “Joe Perry’s Rock Your World Hot Sauce” in the next month. The logo will feature a flaming skull.

“There’s a lot of closet hot sauce fans out there,” Perry said. “I’ve been a fan forever. I can remember being 12 and being the only one that would go for the mustard and Tabasco.”

Aerosmith always has possessed an entrepreneurial flair, and was an initial investor in the House of Blues chain. Perry and Tyler own a restaurant in their Boston hometown, while Whitford operates an indoor race track in the city.

SPIDER-MAN AND BLUES

On the music front, Aerosmith has recorded a new song called “Bad Enough” for the keenly awaited “Spider-Man” movie, which opens in North America on May 3. The band received a huge boost a few years ago when its ballad “I Don’t Want to Miss A Thing” was included on the “Armageddon” soundtrack.

Perry, a comic book buff, wrote the theme music for a “Spider-Man” cartoon a few years ago and even has a Spider-Man guitar. The film soundtrack is still being put together, and the band does not know whether its song will make the cut.

That song, along with “Girls of Summer” and “Climbing the Walls,” was recorded earlier this month during a band retreat in Hawaii. The tunes will probably see the light of day on the upcoming hits record, due out in June or July even though the band’s former Geffen Records label released a 2-CD compilation, “Young Lust: The Aerosmith Anthology,” just last November.

The blues record was first proposed about five years ago by Columbia Records, Aerosmith’s current and original label, and the project took on new urgency after Tyler and Perry heard a tribute album “Sweet Emotion: Songs of Aerosmith,” featuring artists performing blues renditions of the band’s tracks.

“There’s gonna be stuff that’ll sound like classic blues, and we’ll probably pay homage to some of that,” said Perry. “But I also think there’s gonna be a little experimenting in there that we haven’t done in a long while.”

Details about the soccer performance in Japan are sketchy, but Perry was looking forward to it because his knowledge of the game, he said, extends only as far as news reports about hooligans.

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