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article imageInterview with Tom Hamilton of Aerosmith Special

By Adrian Peel     Jun 3, 2014 in Music
The bass player and occasional songwriter with Boston's finest export discusses the band's upcoming US tour, among other things, with Digital Journal.
There are great American rock bands and then there's Aerosmith. Active since the early '70s, the classic line-up of Steven Tyler (lead vocals/harmonica/percussion/piano), Joe Perry (lead guitar/vocals), Tom Hamilton (bass/vocals), Brad Whitford (guitar) and Joey Kramer (drums) is still going strong, despite a few well-publicised setbacks over the last few years.
Happily, the boys now seem to have weathered the storm that was Tom Hamilton's battle with cancer, Tyler's dramatic fall from the stage at a show in South Dakota in 2009, Whitford's head surgery and persistent rumours that the charismatic lead singer, the iconic 'Demon of Sceamin'', was to leave the group.
Speaking to me from Denmark, where Aerosmith - unsurprisingly given their prolific track record - is currently on tour, I broached the subject of their recent troubles with Mr. Hamilton, after first inquiring into the state of his health.
"I feel great," he assures me. "I had a couple of situations last year that I'm past. Sometimes the after effects of cancer treatment sort of come back to bite you later on down the road. That happened last year, but I'm feeling great now - having an awesome time out here."
On the turbulent last five years or so, the globetrotting musician, well aware of what Aerosmith means to an ever-increasing number of people, remarks, "The realisation of what we have and how worthy it is of our protection is something that's come with experience.
"These things would have broken the band apart for long periods of time in the past, but people come back together and forgive and get into that mode where they're ready to move on a little bit faster than they used to.
"I think we all know that we're nearer the end than the beginning of this whole thing and nobody wants to miss anything - I certainly don't. I don't want to miss all the amazing stuff there is out in the world for us right now just because of an argument or because somebody is too burned out and they lash out, or something. Everything is forgivable when you consider what's out there for us if we can keep it together..."
Aerosmith's upcoming summer tour is entitled 'Let Rock Rule' and will see the formidable five-piece team up with Slash ft. Myles Kennedy and the Conspirators as they take their unmissable show on the road across America and Canada from mid July to mid September.
"Well I don't know exactly how that came about," admits Tom, referring to the recruitment of one of rock's most dynamic guitarists, "but I think we've always thought that would be a great line-up for an Aerosmith tour because Slash is a good friend of ours and we have a lot of respect for Guns 'N' Roses and all the other stuff that he's done... I think it's gonna be fantastic - I'm really looking forward to it."
As well as opening the shows, might Slash join Aerosmith on stage for a couple of songs?
"Well I hope so... That's not something that's been planned out. I mean the way it's set up right now is that those guys will open and we'll headline. But, I think it would be a missed opportunity if we didn't get up there and do something together at the end of the night.
"If Slash and his band can hang out and they don't have to leave early to go do something else, then yeah it would be really fun to have them come up and jam with us."
With such a wide array of hits to choose from (their first song to crack the charts was "Dream On" - later sampled to great effect by Eminem of course - way back in 1973), I wondered what songs fans can expect to hear this time around.
Will tracks from the band's most recent album, 2012's Music from Another Dimension! get an airing, or will the setlist consist largely of 'tried-and-tested' classics?
"It will be songs from our entire career," replies the Colorado-born bassist, the tallest member of the group. "There'll be two or maybe three songs from the new album, but we've never believed in forcing the audience to sit through an entire new album, which a lot of bands do.
"We realise how much effort and expense it takes to come to one of our shows and when we play, we're really interested in how the audience is responding. We want to inspire the audience, not make them sit through stuff that we're just playing for our own heads..."
Which are Tom's favourite tunes to play live? I ventured that "Sweet Emotion," a song the 62 year old co-wrote with Steven Tyler, might be one of them?
"Yeah, that's my little spot! So that's fun... But I love playing 'Livin' On The Edge'. It's just a really cool song for me... We play 'No More No More' from our Toys in the Attic album and that one's pretty great to play. I wish I had the list in front of me! We played 'Back In The Saddle' the other night, that was great. I suppose it changes a lot...
"Sometimes, believe it or not, some of those slow songs are really actually fun to play because they can be challenging and they take a lot of emotion and concentration and heart. It feels good to have played the song well and to have maybe added something to it that you haven't played before."
"That's tough..." muses Mr. Sweet Emotion, who achieved a long-held ambition a couple of years ago by writing and singing a song on an Aerosmith album ("Up On The Mountain" was included on the deluxe edition of Music from Another Dimension!), when pushed to name his favourite cities and venues.
"Sometimes the most fun places to play are in the smaller cities because the audience they're not quite as jaded; every band doesn't necessary come play there, but most of the places we play are in the big cities...
"I love playing at Madison Square Garden because it really makes us feel proud to be able to go into that venue with all its tradition and history and do a show that's worthy of being added to the list, and for some reason, even though it's New York City and they have access to any band on the planet, it's a really responsive audience. They really show how much fun they're having."
To conclude, I was curious to know what one of Aerosmith's founding members enjoys most about touring and whether he's ever considered retiring.
"Yeah, we have periods when we're off the road for a few months at a time... But I start to realise that I'm so used to being out on the road that sometimes being at home I feel like I don't do it right!
"I like having nice long breaks in between tours, but I do get itchy to get back out here, especially knowing that there's a lot of people that want us. They're waiting for us to come back. That's something that's a joy for us..."
Aerosmith's Let Rock Rule tour kicks off in Wantagh, NY on July 10th and ends on September 12th in Sydney, Nova Scotia.
Tickets are available from Live Nation.
For more information, visit Aerosmith's official website.
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