AEROSMITH: About To Get A Grip (1991)

By STEVE MASCORD

WE HAD to break the ice, so we DID it,” a buoyant Steven Tyler explains, when asked how he spent his first night in Australia.

The pretty blonde make-up woman next to him doesn’t bat an eyelid. “Yeah, we did it… and, boy was it good,” she says with an unmistakably sordid intonation. . They both grin devilishly at me, like your best mate did when he claimed to have beaten you to losing his virginity.

Nothing happened last night, but that’s beside the point. What about your wife, Steven? Did she come along? “Oh yeah,” the girl says, before Tyler can open those lips, “I love threesomes!”

Without appearing to struggle for a tenuously linked sentence, I must say 1990 was indeed the year Aerosmith ‘did’ it. With a multi-Platinum album, three hit singles, an appearance at Donington and a from-all-accounts cosmic Marquee slot afterwards, last year will be remembered as the one in which Acrosmith went truly global.

Hell, they even toured Australia for the first time in 20 years – and had their first hit single there! The miraculous comeback of Permanent Vacation’gave way to the timeless naughtiness of’Pump. Across the world, Acrosmith were simultaneously cool AND popular, a rare achievement which finally won them a place on the cover of Rolling Stone magazine. After 20 years, sudden popularity.

“It’s not sudden,” fires back Joe Perry, who joins Tyler on the couch of a top-floor room at the Sebcl Townhouse in Sydney. “It took us five years to get back together. It’s only sudden because one day you’re not on the cover of Rolling Stone and the next day you are.

“But to get to that point, it took years and years. It started when wc first started putting the band back together in 1984. For my money, I think wc should have been on the cover of Rolling Stone back then, just for the fact we’d && got back together… If I gave that much of a shit about it.”

THEIR TWO year long tour is over, and the ‘SmifFs are set to take some time off then go into hiding to write a new masterwork. But long before their follow-up, there is the Making Of Pump video just out, the follow-up to Things That Go Pump In The Night video collection.

As The Making Of…. hits the shops, it’s time for the Big K! to find out where the Boston noisemakers are going – and where they think they’ve been.

Perry: “What’s happened is, by sticking to our guns, more people have wanted to hear our kind of music. I’m not just saying Aerosmith but our genre. The fact that Motley Crue can come and sell all the records they do and do what they do, or Guns N’Roses, shows that people have finally decided that that’s what they want to hear.

Tyler and Perry appeared on the ‘Cruc’s Dr Feelgood elpce, of course, and seem to have well and truly embraced today’s Top 40 Metal, pre-packaged as it is. They even feature in Sam Kinison videos!

But they’ve managed to do it with their hard-won new ‘credibility’ intact.

]

Tyler, his jaw going through more muscular contortions than most people’s entire bodies, theorises: “Look at Guns N’ Roses. The reason they’re so popular is that they’re sickeningly f**kin’ real. Slash goes up on TV and says, ‘F**k!’ in front of so many people.”
I’m afraid I have to stop him here. Wasn’t doing something like that simply sickeningly contrived?

“I don’t know if it is,” the scrawnier of the Toxic Twins replies, quickly. “You know what I think is contrived? These managers who go out and say, ‘Buy ’em a set of clothes, cut their hair, sing to some tapes’. That’s contrived!

“But to get abunch of guys up there who’don’t give a f**k but can write some real good songs – now that’s your real meat.”

Drummer Joey Kramer takes the topic on board. “Skid Row, to me, that’s also the real thing, like Guns N’ Roses. The only thing that comes to mind is a band like Warrant, OK?

“To me, that’s the kind of thing that’s contrived. All the leather suits and dyed girly hair.

“Not necessarily to say they can’t play, but it’s something that’s a bit more contrived and the sort of age group they appeal to is that much younger than what we do.”

“ALL OF you together against the wall!” a pushy photographer shouts at the conclusion of another banal press conference. Tyler, shark-tooth necklace a-danglin’, leers back: “That was a big saying in the ’70s!”

Perry doesn’t bat any eyelid: “Yeah, only it was facing the wall.”

Throughout our interview the next day, Tyler – late, as is apparently quite usual – is animated and appears to be genuinely having fun. Kramer is lucid, as is Perry. But when Steve ‘n’ Joe pose for a photograph, Tyler pulls faces at a rather sombre Perry, who’s obviously less than impressed with his partner’s lack of punctuality.

With everything that’s going right, have you ever wondered, Steven, if Aerosmith would be alive today had Joe not returned to the fold?

“It’s hard to say,” he says, chewing on the proposition. “I don’t know if I can answer that. When you’re in the shape that we were in, we would have done anything for the rest of our lives, we would have done it, done it, done it until we had no more fans.

“I was getting fan mail saying, ‘When is Joe gonna be back with the band?’. But we kept it going. There’s a lot of bands… KISS will come back in another five years, these guys will be all old and grey, and they’ll do a reunion tour.
“They’ll always have the core that’ll be there for ’em.

“But nothing would have really happened unless we stopped the substance abuse, cos we were doing that more than anvthing else.”

THE SEBEL townhouse is a plush establishment just down from seedy Kings Cross, Sydney’s red light district. So seedy, in fact, that the band requested to be moved to – and were later moved to – a city hotel to – as I was told “escape the temptations” of the area.

Tyler doesn’t hesitate when I ask him if – after two long, sobre tours – he’s finally recovered from the addiction which inspired “Monkey On My Back”.

“No, and if I ever said I had, I’d be fooling myself,” he says, looking me right in the eye. “You don’t know, because you’re not a drug addic. For me, that’s the height. I love that. I could go grab a gram of blow and some needles and I could go down and get some hookers and have them suck me off while I’m shooting coke.”

But the longer you’re off it, surely the easier it gets?

“I’m no fool, it’s my best friend, that shit. I just don’t see it now. The whole thing, it’s a mind game thing. I don’t really put much weight on it. All I do is, I simply say that I ain’t gonna do any right now, today, until I go to bed tonight.

“Tomorrow, I might do a line with you. You might come back here and we’ll do a line on the table. But today, I just ain’t gonna do it until my head hits the pillow.”

You’ve been through this; could you predict Guns N’ Roses’ substance problems before they happened?

“I could sit here and say on one hand I knew that was going to happen because theywere all f**kcd-up back then. On the other hand, as Joe says, it’s a personal thing.

“We would never tell anyone, “Just don’t!’. That’s like telling a manic depressant to cheer up.”

AEROSMITH’s 173rd show on the Pump World Tour, at the Sydney Entertainment Centre, was probably a long way short
of their best out of the previous 172. Tyler gallivanted aaround the mock hotel rooftop like a gymnast on acid, Perry concentrated on his licks, grooved memorably and was maybe the closest I’ve seen to cool personified. But, I suspect, a shadow of how they would have been at Donington and the Marquee.

“Donington was incredible,” Tyler had told the Sydney press conference. “It was the hugest gig. We hadn’t hit our core audience in Europe in 13,14 years so it was good to get back.”

Soaking up the superlatives, Perry commented dryly: “Plus it wass a good warm-up for the Marquee Club!”, illiciting a couple of halfwit giggles.

“We’ve done big shows before and it was another big festival but playing with Jimmy Page was great and playing with him at Donington was a good warm-up and we got into the real thing at the Marquee.”

Tyler: “We cut our teeth on so much Yardbirds stuff that to have that guy with us up there on stage was a magic moment…”

Filed for: KERRANG!

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