Four Grammy Awards, nine number-one tracks, ten MTV Video Music Awards and 150 millions albums sold globally. That's a pretty decent track record for any band, regardless of whether or not they've been in the public conscious for over four decades, not to mention the fact that they encountered some speed bumps in their rise to fame – for nearly a decade – in the mid-'80s. Aerosmith, nonetheless, has managed to stay musically and culturally relevant – evolving and growing their style over the years, in a way that even their contemporaries and peers in legendary bands like the Rolling Stones and Black Sabbath haven't necessarily been able to.
With a new album on the horizon (Music from Another Dimension releases in late August), Aerosmith is once again back on the road, playing sold-out stadiums and amphitheaters, in support of their first studio album in eight years. When you take a look at the celebrity of the individual members of the band, it's easy to see why this album took nearly a decade to put together. "We've been touring," says drummer Joey Kramer, "and life takes you in different directions. Steven [Tyler] was doing the [American ] Idol thing; we all kind of have our own things going on."
Perhaps the greatest feat of all is that Aerosmith has achieved the honor of being the best-selling American rock band of all time, having sold nearly 70 million albums in the States alone, in addition to having achieved the most gold and multi-platinum albums by an American band. There are likely many bands that would rest on their laurels after having garnered so much success over the course of a career – but not these dudes. "I'm grateful to still be able to make music," says Kramer, "and people still love it."
Staying relevant is something that any artist struggles with, even if it's four years. But to have stayed in the forefront of the public's mind and musical taste for 42 years? Well, that's almost a feat of magic. And on top of that, how does a grouping of individuals – all of the creative variety – sustain positive relationships with each other over the course of nearly a half-decade? "The ability to maintain our relationships personally," says Kramer. "We all love to play music, get in front of an audience and the love to play. If we let all the nonsense get in the way, that won't happen."
Regardless of what secret combination of luck, perseverance, awareness and ability it takes to grow, evolve and thrive in an ever-changing music industry, there isn't much you can say to detract from the fact that these five gentleman are still putting out an enjoyable mix of their signature combo of rock, blues and pop. "The new record has an old-school feel and material," says Kramer, "but with a new-school feel – and there's a few surprises on there, too. Making the record was fun this time, making it an old-school way."
Odds are – after this much time, success and sustained popularity – their live show will continue to feature that same new-school, old-school hybrid that has become their stylistic feature. And, of course, a dynamic stage presence and individual talent doesn't hurt either. | RDW
Aerosmith with Cheap Trick • 7/5, 6 p.m. • The Palace of Auburn Hills • 6 Championship Dr., Auburn Hills • 248.377.0100 • palacenet.com • $29.50-$149.50