While Aerosmith fans settle in and wait for their next album of new material, they can pass the time with 'Rock for the Rising Sun,' a just-released live DVD that, as guitarist Brad Whitford sees it, offers the culmination of a long love affair between the band and its Japanese fans.

"We thought the Japanese people needed a little spirit-lifting," Whitford told Rock Cellar Magazine during a recent interview, recalling the fallout from the earthquake, tsunami, and nuclear reactor meltdown that befell the nation in the Fall of 2011. "The opportunity came up to play shows in Japan and we felt we owed it to our fans over there to show them that despite all the tragedy, let us come over and play for them. Japanese audiences are so great anyway. Our Japanese fans are very unique."

It's a relationship that stretches back to the beginning of Aerosmith's career. As Whitford went on to explain, "When we first went over to Japan in the mid-‘70s it was a very unique experience at that time because the audience was unlike any others we’ve ever experienced. They would settle down and be just stone quiet and wait for a song to start and listen very intently while we played and maybe they’d sing along. And then they’d graciously applaud at the end of the song and then go quiet again when we kicked into another song."

Noting that the audience's intense listening means "you really do have to up your game a little bit," Whitford continued, "That’s unique and I think that set the tone for our relationship with Japanese audiences through the years. That’s reflected on the new DVD too. You can sense how much they appreciate the music and that makes you feel great. They really have a different level of appreciation than other audiences."

Fortunately, Whitford believes the band is "playing far better than we ever have." As he put it, "It’s really incredibly fun to plan an Aerosmith show now because we do it so well, if I say so myself. I think the musicianship in the band has gone up quite a bit and I think with everybody playing a lot better and being a lot more accomplished at their instruments, it’s easier to bring back sort of that original attitude."

Of course, as longtime fans know, it hasn't always been fun. In fact, it wasn't so long ago that it looked like Aerosmith might split up -- or hire a new lead singer to replace Steven Tyler. While shrugging off their recent troubles by saying "it’s always been a tenuous situation with this band," Whitford admitted they really were thinking about having someone else step up to the mic in Tyler's stead, although it wasn't a particularly attractive option.

"We just felt like we couldn’t just let the band fall apart," he explained. "It never went any further than kind of talking about it. We spoke to maybe one or two singers about the idea but that was about as far as it went. I don’t think anybody in the band was terribly keen about getting in a new lead singer. I think we were all just thinking about survival at that point. We weren’t ready to give up on the band."

Ultimately, they found their way back together, as 2012's 'Music from Another Dimension!' can attest. "It was just pretty obvious we needed to stick together," Whitford mused. "We felt we had plenty left in us and there was no sense in doing anything else. We’ve had different experiences with people off doing some of their own music here and there and that was fun but it doesn’t come close to the Aerosmith experience."

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