The rock gods of Kiss bow down to no one – except maybe Aerosmith.
When the two bands start their tour together on Saturday in Hartford, Connecticut, Kiss’ pyrotechnic extravaganza will be followed by the bluesy hard rock of Boston’s finest. The show is being billed as a co-headlining tour, but it will be the first time since 1974 that Kiss will take the stage before another band night after night.
So, how did Aerosmith get Gene Simmons and Paul Stanley to agree to such conditions?
“Um, I’m not sure, actually,” Aerosmith guitarist Joe Perry said. “I think it just kind of worked out that way. We’re just glad to be closing the show, and I think it’s gonna make for a whole rocking evening.”
Of course, having to go on after an explosive display of blood-spitting, fire-breathing, levitation, makeup and costumes can be a daunting proposition, but for Aerosmith that’s part of the kick.
“Not only is the audience warmed up beyond belief, but it makes you want to go out there and put on the best show you can,” Perry said. “So in the end, the audience wins. It’s gonna be the kind of experience that doesn’t come around often.”
Aerosmith and Kiss both emerged in the ’70s and quickly climbed to the top of the hard rock scene. Aerosmith struck first in 1973 with Aerosmith, which featured the hit “Dream On.” A mere 15 months later, the group issued its second disc, Get Your Wings, which featured a cover of the Tiny Bradshaw jump blues classic “The Train Kept a Rollin'” and “Same Old Song and Dance.” A month later, Kiss drew blood with their self-titled debut, which included the classics “Strutter,” “Firehouse,” “Cold Gin” and “Deuce.”
“We watched their meteoric rise right behind us,” Perry said. “We’re friends and our paths have crossed. I remember playing a few shows with them in the early ’70s, but we’ve never toured together.”
One reason fans have never been treated to a road trip of this magnitude is because the two bands’ tour schedules have never allowed it. When Kiss zigged, Aerosmith zagged. But that wasn’t the biggest problem.
“The idea of getting us to get together to share the same bill was easy,” Perry said. “The harder part was technically fitting both shows on the stage. That was really tough.”
During the tour, Aerosmith plan to play three or four songs from their upcoming blues album on a small revolving stage. They’ll likely film these segments for possible inclusion on a DVD that may accompany their new disc, due in January.
In addition to covers of songs by Blind Willie McTell (“Broke Down Engine”), Little Walter (“Temperature”), and Willie Dixon and Muddy Waters (“I’m Ready”), the blues album will feature four originals. “Those songs are cut from the same cloth as the other songs,” Perry said. “Some of the riffs came out of the jamming and the rehearsals, so the songs fit in the format of the record.”
While the record will include some shuffling rhythms and heart-ripping guitar and vocal passages, this won’t be your grandpappy’s kind of blues album. Aerosmith pay reverence to their influences for sure, but they modernize the oldies by playing ’em in their own style.
“Some of the songs sound like classic Aerosmith from the ’70s,” Perry said. “Others sound like old blues songs, but we had a really good time playing it all, and I think that translates when you hear the tracks. We really wanted to get back in the basement and play a live record. And this seemed like the obvious way to go.”
The Aerosmith and Kiss tour runs through October 18 in Devore, California. Saliva will open all dates.