Earlier this year, Aerosmith recorded a series of demos in Los Angeles. Tentative track titles included "Bobbing For Piranha," "Asphalt" and "Legendary Child." "They still sound like Aerosmith," wrote Rolling Stone's Brian Hiatt in a recent cover story about Tyler. "Slinky, riff-rock, big -chorused soul ballads, leaning more Seventies than Nineties." A representative for Perry told Rolling Stone that the guitarist was "unavailable" for the sessions, but while promoting his new gig on American Idol this year, Tyler repeatedly told the press that he and Perry were exchanging angry text messages.
Aerosmith have not released an album of new material since 2001's Just Push Play. They have toured extensively since then - and in 2004 they released the blues covers album Honkin' On Bobo - but a seemingly endless array of injuries, trips to rehab and public squabbles have made cutting a new album difficult. A few years back, they attempted to record a new album with producer Brendan O'Brien - who has worked extensively with Pearl Jam and Bruce Springsteen. It didn't go well. Tyler claims that both he and Perry were snorting pills during the sessions, and the Aerosmith frontman didn't like O'Brien's methods. "He [came] into our session and set up a piano," Tyler told Rolling Stone earlier this year. "Trying to come up with parts on songs I wrote."
In 2009, Aerosmith guitarist Brad Whitford gave Rolling Stone his account of the sessions. "There's a very sad moment we had," he said. "The gentleman that we had was number one on our wish list and it was very exciting for us to be working with Brendan. I don't think it lasted more than two, three weeks. And he bent over backwards to do whatever he could to make Steven comfortable. As I recall, he didn't like working with Brendan. You couldn't ask for a nicer person or a more talented musician and producer than Brendan." The band's former A&R rep John Kalodner heard similar things. "In the brief conversation I had with Brendan, he said it was a nightmare," Kalodner told Rolling Stone "He couldn't believe I worked with them for all those years."
Band relations reached a new low in the summer of 2009 when Steven Tyler fell off the stage in South Dakota, breaking his shoulder and forcing the cancellation of the band's summer tour. He went to rehab soon afterwards - and the other members of Aerosmith told the press they were going to audition new singers. "I met with the band and begged for their forgiveness," Tyler told Rolling Stone earlier this year. "Only to realize that two of them were still using. So I said, 'You guys f**king think I went to Betty Ford, came out, and you're going to use around me?'"
They managed to patch things up to the point that they toured the world in 2010, but as the tour wrapped up in North America the band began seeing news reports that Tyler had signed on to be a judge on American Idol. He had neglected to inform them. "We sat down not too long ago, when we decided to do this tour, and we basically laid out plans for the next two years," Perry told the Calgary Herald in September of 2010. "When you're sitting there talking about that and one of the band members knows full well he's signed a contract that's taking him out of the music business for seven months of the year - that kind of throws a wrench into things."
Despite all of these problems - and the fact that Tyler's Idol schedule makes him unavailable to tour between for about half of the year - Aerosmith have soldiered on. Tyler recently released the solo song "(It) Feels So Good," but he's made it very clear that he remains committed to Aerosmith. They have eight South American dates booked in October and November, and with Douglas back in the fold, Perry committing to the recording process and Tyler off drugs, a new album seems like a strong possibility this time around.
Photo by Kevin Mazur/WireImages
- Steven Tyler
- Rolling Stone