Rock 'n' roll survivors Aerosmith going strong

Sunday, August 1, 2004

TOKYO -- As the gates at the Tokyo Dome were just opening and thousands of fans beginning to stream in for the night's sold-out show, Aerosmith lead singer Steven Tyler offered a simple explanation of what it feels like to be a rock 'n' roll icon:

"First of all, you walk out in front of 42,000 people," Tyler said as he and guitarist Joe Perry waited backstage, the smell of incense wafting through the air and the sound of distant drums reverberating through the walls. "It's like taking a wire, stripping it, wrapping it around your neck, and plugging it into the wall.

"Either your head pops, or you learn to love it."

Tyler's head has survived. And Aerosmith has proven to be one of the most successful -- and long-lived -- bands in the history of the business. They've grown rich and famous enough to take a step back from the industry -- and they don't necessarily like what they see.

"The business has changed 100 percent since we got started," said Perry. "It's a totally different thing. It's gotten so huge and overblown. Now it's melting in front of our eyes like a glacier in the tropics. It's totally collapsing."

Perry said the increasing focus on sales and marketing has shut out many talented young bands who can't get signed, and squelched creativity in favor of the familiar.

"It's always been the case that the record company says, 'That's not a single,' but it somehow slips through the cracks and becomes the next big thing," he said. "But now, the industry has gotten so big and there's so much money to be made and there's so many bands, it's harder to make a mark."

Perry believes that the era of the Super Band -- like Aerosmith, which was inducted into the Rock 'n' Roll Hall of Fame three years ago -- may also be over.

"I don't know if you'll ever get another world-changing phenomenon like the Beatles," he said. "But there's music being made today that will stand the test of time. People will play it in 10 years, 20 years, 30 years and it will end up on greatest hits compilations."

Tyler agreed.

"There's a huge wave right now of everybody following the trend, which makes everything sound the same," he said.

But Aerosmith is still willing to explore.

"We could tour for the rest of our lives without putting out another studio album," he said, but "it's great playing new things off of a new album. That's what we're addicted to."

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