Categories: Brad Whitford
Press Of Atlantic City, NJ
August 26, 2010
This year got off to an admittedly rough start for “America’s Greatest Rock and Roll Band.” Aerosmith lead singer Steven Tyler seemed to be out, due to a 2009 rehab stint and planned surgery to his legs. Meanwhile, Rock and Roll Hall of Famer and lead guitarist, Joe Perry, announced a search for a new vocalist.
Then, as so often happens in the tumultuous world of rock, the band managed to patch things up, and get back on the road, including a stop Saturday, Aug. 28, at Boardwalk Hall for the Cocked, Locked and Ready to Rock Tour.
Brad Whitford, who has been with the group almost since its 1970 inception, talks about the state of the band and why, despite four decades of ups and downs, Aerosmith still clicks.
Q: Did you think you’d get to this point, with Aerosmith making music again with Steven and Joe?
A: We went down to South America (earlier in the summer) to do the first shows on the tour. It was a nice surprise to get back on stage. And a reminder of what we were supposed to be doing and what we should be doing.
We just had such great times. It was a reaffirmation that happened for us all. The band is playing better than I’ve ever heard.
There’s some kind of glue that happens when you play with the same guys for so many years. It becomes very unique and very special.
Q: For anyone who has never been to an Aerosmith show, what’s the experience like?
A: I would say the energy of it – people get off on the passion. The passion we have for our music is pretty evident when you see us playing, and that energy swirls all over the room.
Q: How is it for you, as a trained musician who attended the Berklee College of Music, to collaborate with Joe Perry, who is self-taught?
A: It was always as very organic approach for us. Both us really shoot from the hip. There’s a lot of improvisation – we weren’t the type to sit down and work out a lot of stuff.
We just play and it just kind of happens. It’s always been that way. Sometimes there are parts that are worked out, but a lot of it is very natural.
Q: Does the same hold true for the rest of the band?
A: There’s definitely a chemistry – that’s something you really find out when you don’t have the whole band together.
We’ve had situations where we’ve had someone else sit in for (bassist) Tom (Hamilton) when he wasn’t able to play. It changes the whole sound and feel of the band.
Chemistry is really an interesting thing. It’s very amazing when it works – it’s just a God-given thing, something you can’t put your finger on it.
It’s like apple pie – these are the ingredients and these are the results – and you can’t just have any other ingredients.
Q: You left the band in the early ’80s and returned after you got sober. How were you able to get back in the groove with the band?
A: When we started working back in the early ’70s, we were too young to be looking out for ourselves, and I don’t think the people we were working with were really interested in the preservation of it. We were never looking at it – it was just work, work, work, work – (so) we never really stopped.
We still have that tendency to say, “Yeah, we’ll do it,” and we need to be a little more aware and be more reasonable of what we can and what we can’t do.
You have to have a life outside of this thing to bring energy back to it. You have to give yourself energy to have a life outside the band and inside the band.
Probably due to the fact that we’re all around 60 years old, it just gets forced upon you.
Q: Would you say the band is living a cleaner version of the rock ‘n’ roll lifestyle?
A: We couldn’t live the way we used to. It was pretty much a constant party going on. We all know what happens if we do that – you kill yourself.
So it’s a balance in everything, and sometimes that takes a lifetime to figure out.