with Cheap Trick
When: 7:30 p.m. Friday
Where: Times Union Center, 51 S. Pearl St., Albany
How Much: $149.50, $99.50, $63
It’s actually happening — Aerosmith is releasing a new album in 2012.
“A lot of people didn’t think it was going to be possible for us to get a record done this year,” bassist Tom Hamilton said recently from Chicago, an early stop on the band’s Global Warming Tour of the U.S. to advance the new album, “Music From Another Dimension!” The album is due out Aug. 28. Meanwhile, the tour heads to the Times Union Center on Friday night with Cheap Trick also on the bill.
“But, you know what, it’s done. We won’t be hearing it for a few months, but it’s ready to go.”
During the past few years, the notoriously troubled band nearly imploded. In 2009, lead singer Steven Tyler pulled out of a South American tour and announced his intention to work on a solo career. Guitarist Joe Perry then announced that Aerosmith would be looking for a new singer.
It was the beginning of close to a year of back-and-forth drama between the band’s two principal members. First Tyler appeared onstage during Perry’s late 2009 solo tour. Then in December 2009, Tyler entered a rehabilitation facility to manage an addiction to painkillers.
In January of 2010, Perry announced that Aerosmith was indeed looking for a replacement singer; at one point, Lenny Kravitz was in the running. But in June 2010, the band — with Tyler — headlined that year’s Download Festival in Britain’s Donington Park as part of its Cocked, Locked, Ready to Rock Tour.
When Tyler was announced as a new judge on “American Idol” later that summer, Perry voiced his disapproval. But in the summer of 2011, the band entered the studio. The now finished album is the band’s first since 2004’s blues-rock excursion “Honkin’ on Bobo” and first all-original album since 2001’s “Just Push Play.”
“I feel like I’ve been working on this record for years,” Hamilton said. “I set myself a couple of musical goals, so I’ve been really sort of in my own lonesome struggle, trying to meet these goals. So there’s a couple songs on the record that I wrote — that was my goal, to get back and be a part of, an important part of, my band, coming out with this great, career-defining record. It’s up to the fans whether it is a career-defining record, in a good way or a bad way, but we’re pretty excited.”
He didn’t directly address any of the drama between Tyler and Perry during his interview with The Gazette. But at least for now, the band’s members are getting along.
“I think pretty much for most of this year it’s been pretty cool,” he said. “We’ve gotten a lot done. Where in the past this kind of stuff derailed projects like records and tours, we’re actually in a mode where we’re really moving forward in terms of the live shows and our recording career.”
“Music From Another Dimension!” also marks the return of producer Jack Douglas, who shepherded a string of hit albums for Aerosmith in the ’70s including the classic “Toys in the Attic” (1975) and “Rocks” (1976). First single “Legendary Child,” a holdover from the band’s 1993 album “Get a Grip,” was released in May, offering a rawer, harder-rocking sound than the band’s polished “Just Push Play.”
So far two new songs have been added to the set list on the Global Warming Tour, alongside the usual hits such as “Sweet Emotion” and “Walk This Way.”
“I’ve learned not to expect the crowd to go crazy over new material that they haven’t assimilated from listening to the record,” Hamilton said. “But I think audiences are enjoying hearing it. I think they enjoy the fact that they haven’t heard these songs before. Most songs you have to hear a couple times before you have any familiarity with them, but people seem to be digging it. Fans’ real reaction to the record, we won’t know until it comes out and people have had a chance to digest it.”
Despite Perry’s initial objections to Tyler’s new role on “American Idol,” Hamilton can’t deny that the stint has helped to reinvigorate the band in some ways. “You know, it’s interesting — Steven being on ‘American Idol’ has obviously raised the profile of the band by a lot,” he said. “Whether we’re gonna see our career progress at a multiplying rate from it is a whole [other] question; I’m not seeing that yet.”
The band as a whole has a history of taking on unusual projects like this, from their genre-blending collaboration with rap group Run-D.M.C. in the ’80s on a remake of “Walk This Way,” to appearances on Mike Myers’ “Saturday Night Live” skit “Wayne’s World” and the subsequent movie “Wayne’s World 2.”
“We’re always curious for these kind of things,” Hamilton said. “We like doing new stuff, trying new technologies, new situations that we’ve never been in before. I love the irony that when we started out, bands made records and went on tour and that was it — there was no rock on TV except for a couple of TV shows on the weekends.”
“Wayne’s World” in particular was a lot of fun for the band to do, according to Hamilton. The now infamous sketch on the show in the early ’90s featured Tom Hanks as the band’s roadie, with the group singing the “Wayne’s World” theme song with Myers and fellow “Saturday Night Live” cast member Dana Carvey, who played Wayne’s sidekick Garth in the sketches.
“You know, when ‘SNL’ first came on the air, it was always a tradition where the band would — the band of the night would wind up in one of the skits,” Hamilton said.
“That kind of faded over the years, but when we got asked to do this particular one, I remember asking our manager, ‘Please ask them if we can be in one of the skits.’ Their answer was, ‘Well, maybe, we don’t guarantee anything.’ But when we got there, we found out it was this scene down in Wayne’s basement, and we knew right away it was gonna be a funny bit. . . . That skit turned out to be one of the most popular of all time — as you can see, a movie came out of it. I wish we would have been in the first one, but we decided for some harebrained reason to wait and be in the second one.”
Not only have these crossover appearances kept the band fresh in the mainstream public’s mind, they’ve also provided incentive to keep the band going — in spite of their tumultuous interpersonal relationships over the years. With “Music From Another Dimension!” the band has embraced digital recording technology — in particular, Hamilton used the recording program Logic to demo complete songs for his bandmates.
“In order to be a part of that, we have to keep the band together,” he said. “It’s just an amazing feeling — sometimes we might feel like, gosh, this band must be just about over, but then we find out that there are all these people around the world, literally, that want to hear us play. It’s really a very — it’s something I’m very grateful for.
“We’ve all contemplated the idea of, what would life be without Aerosmith? What would I do, what kind of career could I have without Aerosmith? There’s a lot of very tantalizing, interesting things out there that we could be doing, but there’s nothing I’ve thought of yet that would be more fun, on more of a level than Aerosmith. It’s by far the coolest, highest magnitude thing any one of us could do.”