Band of Brooders
After everything Aerosmith has been through in the past year — rehab, injuries, infighting — the question isn’t why America’s most dysfunctional rock band would finally break up, it’s what the hell has kept it together for so long.
Whenever anyone has threatened to break up the Aerosmith family, Tyler has been the one to bring them in line. The time Perry said he was going to join Alice Cooper’s band, Tyler immediately contacted him. When Kramer was about to join a new group, Tyler called him back to the studio to cut the next Aerosmith album. Maybe it was a coincidence, but when Perry said he was “definitely” looking for a new singer, Tyler showed up to reassert himself the very next night. This time, he had his lawyer send the band a stern letter that said he would sue to stop them from kicking him out.
Tyler considers himself both the progenitor and protector of Aerosmith, and, as such, he’s never been able to understand why anyone would ever doubt his commitment to it. He never believed his own side projects posed a threat, even while he constantly felt threatened by those belonging to the other members. “He’s your typical American alpha male,” says a former band insider. “He wants to fuck who he wants to fuck, but he doesn’t want his wife to cheat.”
In February, at Tyler’s request, the group convened at their rehearsal space in Massachusetts. It was the first time they’d all been together anywhere besides a stage for months. Everyone, as Hamilton put it, was “lawyered up” with their own representatives, and all aired their various grievances. If past history is any indication, they didn’t exactly settle their old resentments, but they were in the same room. That was a start. Aerosmith’s biggest problems come when the band members ignore one another. As long as they’ve been able to talk — and fight — they’ve always managed to reach an uneasy détente.
They did at least hash out one thing: Tyler agreed to head out on that tour of South America, the one he had said no to back in Hawaii. “It’s sort of like a marriage: You’ve got to make concessions to keep everybody happy,” says Tabano, the former guitarist. “I think they realize that today.”
Not long after the meeting, Kramer took to Twitter with the following message: “Aerosmith is back!”
ON FEBRUARY 24, 2010, the band put a video on their website announcing the new tour. In it, they’re sitting in a recording studio: Tyler is in the middle, with Perry, Hamilton, and Kramer around him (Whitford was traveling). The opening guitar riff of “Back in the Saddle” plays in the background.
“We’re Aerosmith, and you know what, the rumors are true,” Perry says, adding, “I think.” Tyler looks at him. “You think?”