Q&A: Aerosmith’s Tom Hamilton Talks New Tour, Dressing in Drag, and More
It’s been decades since Aerosmith ventured from the area toward ultimate fame and global stardom, and the band shows no signs of letting up. Next month they embark on a European tour after just returning from a leg in Central and South America last fall.
Lately, Tom Hamilton has been busy putting together Banned in Boston, an annual charity sketch-comedy event he’s been involved with for more than 15 years. Local celebs and politicians from the Boston area team up with Urban Improv to put on a show you’d never expect from such serious public figures. Alongside Hamilton will be Governor Deval Patrick, Martha Coakley, and so many more folks you’d never expect to crack a joke.
Hamilton recently talked with us about traveling to Europe, dressing in drag, and his real passion for sketch comedy:
So Aerosmith is heading out for a European tour next month.
Yeah, we start on the 14th of May in Istanbul. I have a tendency to save things for the last minute, but I’m determined this time to start getting ready as of about a month ago.
Do you have a space at home where you practice or do you have a rehearsal space?
Kind of both. There’s a lot of practicing, a lot of thinking, a lot of visualizing about the tour in general. It’s a European tour also, so it’s a slightly different approach song-wise. But I live in Brookline—I just moved here last year from Newton. Moving was an absolute nightmare, but it was worth it.
You guys have days, sometimes weeks off, between show dates over in Europe. You once talked about how the space is necessary to save the wear on Steven Tyler’s voice. What will you guys be up to in your down time?
Traveling, kind of roughing around on tour. We have more time between shows, so there’s definitely a lot of practicing and writing to be done no matter where I am. I have my little setup I bring with me so I can play and record while hanging out in my room. Get some room service, grab my guitar, do the same thing I do at home.
What’s the biggest difference between touring in the U.S. and touring in Europe?
I’d say there used to be a pretty big difference. The audience over there was not quite as crazy as American audiences. American shows were always bigger, louder, and had a lot more frenzy. But that’s kind of changed. Over there they still have general admission seating. You can’t really do that in the States anymore, everybody needs to stay near their seats. So the European shows have more of an energetic feel now.
Your annual charity event called Banned in Boston is next week. Do you have a preparation ritual?
I helped out with the script writing years ago so I had a chance to get accustomed to what my part was going to be [ahead of time]. But basically no. The only way we get people to do it is by having no rehearsal, really. Most people don’t learn their lines. Some of them are high-powered businessmen, so they just kind of read it off the page. But while I’m in Boston, I’m not really working. So I have time to learn my lines and really try to ham it up. I’m really into script-writing and satire. The script is always really good.
Past years you had some awesome guests like Governor Patrick and U.S. Senator Elizabeth Warren. Who do you guys have lined up this year?
A lot of these people are pretty sophisticated. It’s a fun time to interact with everybody, but everybody’s mind is on the same thing. Learn your lines, try to be funny. Everybody’s way outside of the boundaries they’re used to. Marty Walsh will be in it this year.
It looks like you’re a fan of working behind the scenes. Is that what you like most about working in this show?
It’s the fun of doing comedy. I’ve always fantasized about doing sketch comedy. It’s really fun to go out there and make ’em laugh. [Our show] is a very amateur thing, so we ham it up and make it obvious. But the people who are involved in it are really awesome people. They’re hyper, intelligent, involved, caring people. They really want to offer their help where help is needed. That feeling is very genuine.
I’ve been into comedy my whole life. It’s kind of like when the band was on Saturday Night Live. That was so fun. We got to rehearsal, they gave us our scripts, and I couldn’t believe the lines we had. I went back to the hotel and spent the next three days learning my lines so I could deliver them well.
Are there any sketches from past shows that absolutely killed it with the audience?
I’ve done quite a few in drag. Those are the ones to remember. It’s pretty easy to be funny when you’re a guy dressed up as a woman.
Banned in Boston will be held on Friday, April 11, at 6 p.m at the House of Blues. Ticket details and additional information can be found at urbanimprov.org.