Pure Grain Audio
By: Mitch Lafon
October 26, 2012
Aerosmith’s Music From Another Dimension was eleven years in the making and was originally slated to be released in August 2012. Prior to that time, I was given the opportunity to sit down with bassist, Tom Hamilton. At the time we discussed the 25th anniversary of their landmark album, Permanent Vacation, upcoming tour plans and much more. With the album delayed however, the interview was more window dressing than promo for the new disc. At the time it was promised that a second interview would happen and as we approached the release date and Aerosmith’s team came through without hesitation. In this, my second interview with Tom this year, he addresses the band’s duet with Carrie Underwood, working with Jack Douglas and whether or not he thinks KISS is a “comic book” band (as his bandmate, Steven Tyler, recently suggested).
The first two words that come to mind when you think of Aerosmith’s Music From Another Dimension are Jack Douglas. He was involved in the making of Toys In The Attic, Rocks and other Aerosmith albums. How was it going back to Jack?
Tom: The thing that made that so great was that everyone in the band was completely down with it and inspired by the idea. There are times in the past where we thought we’d record stuff for an album and “wouldn’t it be great to work with Jack?” Everyone would kind of nod, but it seemed… is this really a great idea? Are we trying to go back to the past or what? There came a moment when there was absolutely no doubt and once that happened; it’s what got us into the studio and making this record because it’s been a long time since the last record was out.
Tom: Yeah and Jack Douglas… I’ll go out far on the limb and say he’s the reason there is an album, really. One of the big reasons.
Through the history of Aerosmith, you’re the only guy that’s never checked out of the band. Brad did Whitford/St.Holmes. Joe had his project. Steven did American Idol. Joey’s written his book and he had personal issues around the Nine Lives album. But you’ve always been there. No solo project. Never written a book. What’s kept you as the stead of the band?
Tom: I’m a procrastinator. I’m a late bloomer in a lot of ways. I never felt there was stuff to do outside of this band that would be more interesting than this band. Everybody has moments doing this where they say, “God, it would be so great to do something on my own and not have to deal with these frigging guys.” It’s just something that comes around sometimes. Other than that, there are musical ideas that we don’t all necessarily share, but we all have things we want to say musically. I can see a time in the not distant future at all where I do a lot more of that kind of stuff, but I’m a laid back easy going “hey isn’t this fun” kind of guy, so in spite of all the chaos that has come and gone in our career… I’ve had moments where I thought, “wouldn’t it be great?” But I’ve never really thought that would be something that I would rather do instead of this band. As far as doing things along side the band, that’s something I look forward to.
But in a sense that’s also what has caused some of the friction over the last few years within the band (that Steven did go outside of the band), so if you started to do it or if Joe did more of it, wouldn’t that cause more friction?
Tom: Potentially, but not necessarily. I guess it would depend on how the person did it. If it’s done in a way that didn’t negatively affect the rest of the band, I think everybody would be supportive. When Joe did his solo album (I think two years ago)… There was a time in the past where I would have thought, “Oh my God – what’s going to happen now? What if Joe leaves the band to go do his solo career?” But I didn’t feel that this time. My reaction was “wow – good for him. He’s frustrated and wants to get this process going.” That’s the spirit he made his record in.
Let’s go back to Music From Another Dimension. You took eleven years between this and Just Push Play. Was there any fear or trepidation before going into the studio? Do you worry about what kind of Aerosmith you want to present? From a fans’ perspective there’s really three Aerosmiths – ’70s Aerosmith, ’80s Aerosmith and ’90s and beyond Aerosmith. Do you try to create a new sound for today? Make a great ’70s-sounding Aerosmith album. Do you try for Permanent Vacation Part II?
Tom: We really wanted to pay attention to our roots and how this style came about. That was one thing about working with Jack. It was one way of connection, but without trying to imitate. There was nothing like, “hey we need to do a ’70s album, because of this reason or that reason.” First of all, everybody wanted to make an album. Everybody was coming up with stuff, writing, recording riffs, songs and ideas. I think everybody got real hungry to get those things out. Working with Jack, you know you have a better chance of getting more of that stuff happening because Jack is very interested in the weird and the strange and not necessarily the commercial.
You mentioned that “everybody wanted to make this album”, so for the last eleven years did people just not want to make an album or was it simply a creative break?
Tom: I don’t think everybody wanted it really, really bad. At the stage that we are in our lives… our career. I don’t think it would happen without everybody wanting it really bad. There was a day that we would do it because that was our cycle. We would tour for a couple of years and make a record. That’s not so true now. The last ten years, we’ve had a blast touring all over North America, South America, Japan… We were really in “road mode” for a long time. Some of us were very anxious to get in there and see what we could come up with for a record, but it took a while until everybody was really “focused the same way”….