Exclusive: Aerosmith’s Joey Kramer On The Band’s Legacy + Their Plans To ‘Let Rock Rule’ This Summer
Aerosmith and Slash are teaming up for what is sure to be one of this summer’s hottest rock tours, an outing that they’ve dubbed quite appropriately ‘Let Rock Rule.’ The tour will begin on July 10 in Wantagh, New York and will run for three months, covering cities in the U.S. and Canada prior to wrapping up in Nova Scotia on September 12.
With two months of European dates scheduled prior to the tour with Slash, Aerosmith should be well-primed by the time they get back to the States.
We spoke with Aerosmith drummer Joey Kramer about the ‘Let Rock Rule’ tour and he said that the band is quite “excited” about the upcoming dates with Slash. As he told Ultimate Classic Rock, they got their first look at Slash when Guns N’ Roses toured with Aerosmith in ‘88 during the ‘Permanent Vacation’ tour.
“It was kind of interesting to watch them get their feel for what was to come later. It turned out the way that it did and the rest of it is history.”
Aerosmith and Slash have added a lot of pages to those history books in the 26 years since they first shared the stage together. During our conversation, Kramer spent some time reflecting and also shared some thoughts on what we can look forward to from Aerosmith.
What are your memories of that tour and touring with Guns N’ Roses? Sobriety was pretty fresh in the Aerosmith camp at that time. Meanwhile, Guns N’ Roses were certainly the opposite to that.
I remember them getting rid of their sea legs, so to speak, to get more familiar and more comfortable on a big stage. It was a little awkward because of the fact that we were all sober and they weren’t, but because of who we were and who they were, there was a respect on their part and they didn’t get involved with that around us or in front of us. They pretty much kept to themselves and in their dressing rooms. So they were respectful of what we were doing.
There’s a band that was clearly influenced by the template of what bands like Aerosmith had done. It has to be a heavy thing for you when you start to see that materialize, bands and players that are influenced by what you and your band have done. Even today, new generations and bands are being influenced by Aerosmith.
Yeah, well I think that’s called the test of time, which is the toughest test of them all. I think that so far, we’ve passed it. We’re still going strong.
There was the kick-off event for the tour at the Whisky and there was some jamming that went on there with Aerosmith and Slash. Is it a safe bet to say that there will be something similar at the shows this summer?
I don’t know for sure, but I would certainly imagine so. I would imagine that he’ll come up and join us for a song, maybe two.
What’s on tap for the tour this summer? It’s been said that the band would like to hopefully play more music from the latest album.
I don’t really know. We’re going to Europe first for two months and I don’t think that the record really has any legs there. So I don’t know if we’ll be bombarding them with any material from the new record. I’m more concerned with giving the audience what it is that they’ve come to hear. I still enjoy playing all of those songs -- they’re really fun. If you can bring that to the audience and they enjoy it then that’s what it’s all about.
The band was slated to play the entire ‘Toys In The Attic’ album on the 2009 tour. Do you think the band would ever take another shot at playing a full album?
No, I don’t think so and I’ll tell you why. We tried that and as with any album and every album, everybody doesn’t like all of the songs on every album. So therefore hypothetically, you would have to have an audience full of ‘Toys In the Attic’ fans in order to enjoy that show. Even though it’s 10 songs, which is like half a show, not everybody wants to hear all of those songs.
Off of ‘Toys’ in particular, they want to hear ‘Sweet Emotion,’ ‘Walk This Way’ and maybe another one, so there might be maybe three songs at the most that people really want to hear off of that particular record and those are the songs that we play. To sit there and play all of these other songs for our own selves and anybody else not really enjoying them or getting off on it is kind of a waste of time and energy and it’s selfish.
Are there things that you would like to see the band play?
I don’t know, the setlist the last time we were out, has been really good the way that it was. We were playing most of the “have to” songs and we would indulge ourselves a little bit and we would dig out songs like ‘Last Child’ or….
‘Combination’ was one, right?
Yeah, ‘Combination’ was one. So we’ll dig those out from time to time and people enjoy those. People like the old stuff, which there’s usually a bunch of people in the audience that enjoy that stuff, so that’s fine. But to play the stuff that they don’t know at all is just kind of silly.
When I spoke with Brad Whitford last year about the response to the ‘Music From Another Dimension’ album, he said “I think we were genuinely disappointed. We’re old school and albums just aren’t what they were. The whole process has changed and they don’t sell like they used to for almost all bands.” A lot of work went into that album. Does it knock you back a bit? How easily can the band regroup and move forward from something like that?
In terms of making another record?
Yeah. How easily can the band regroup and move forward from an experience like that to look at making a new record?
Well, I don’t know. It would be great to make another record, but it’s almost [like] “Why bother?” Records don’t sell and they don’t do anything. There’s no record companies to pay for it, so you have to pay for it out of your pocket. Especially with us now, because we’re a free agent -- we’re no longer with a record company.
There’s really no money per se to be made on records. We used to make a lot of money on records. Now all of our money is made on touring. Artistically, it would be fun to make another record and it would be a beautiful thing if we can put it together. But to what avail, I don’t know. There’s almost no reason to do it, you know, judging from the last one and how it went over.
Your band is not the only one in that situation. It seems like creatively and artistically that would be frustrating.
Well, it is -- it’s frustrating, because personally I think it’s a really good record. It’s an Aerosmith record and it was done the way that we used to do them. But there were certain things that held it back, one of them being the industry and the state that it’s in at present. So what do you do from there?
That record, I think there’s a couple of songs that may become classics after being played for years, just like a lot of our other ones have. Because it’s going to be around and it’s going to be be played 15 years from now, 20 years from now unlike what’s going on now. Music now is so disposable. It’s so like “Okay, here it is and five minutes later there’s something else.” We’re not the Justin Biebers and the Nicki Minajs of the world, so unfortunately records don’t make sense.
It definitely sounded like an Aerosmith record. Working with Jack Douglas, did he help to bring the right mojo to the sessions on that?
Yes, he did. He brings a lot of the fun factor to the table.
What else is coming up for you that you’re excited about?
Well for me, I have my new coffee company, which I’ve been working really hard at for the last six or seven months. That’s been taking up a lot of my time lately. It’s moving right along and it’s coming right along. It’s called ‘Rockin’ & Roastin’’ and it’s really great coffee!
I’m not sure that Joey Kramer back in the day would have seen himself making coffee someday.
Well, it’s not just making the coffee. It’s [also] being involved in the business world and challenging myself even further than doing what I do. Because it’s kind of the opposite end of the spectrum and I love a good challenge. ‘Rockin’ & Roastin’’ has been that challenge for me and I’m making it happen. It’s working and I’m really proud of it. We’ll see what becomes of it.