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Aerosmith seeks equilibrium after rocky year

of the Oakland Press

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“The f***-yous run deep in a band like Aerosmith,” frontman Steven Tyler says of his band’s famously combative and combustible nature — especially during the past year.

But, he quickly adds, “the best part about it is the make-up. We live to be on stage with each other and play — because we don’t really know what else to do, to be honest with you!”

Aerosmith is, in fact, back on stage and playing, taking its “Cocked, Locked and Ready to Rock” tour around North America after romps through South America and Europe. It comes after a particularly tumultuous year of inner-band turmoil for the Boston quintet — during which Tyler may or may not have quit and his bandmates began looking for a replacement — but the renewed bonhomme appears to be holding.

Perhaps just barely.

The latest arc in the Aerosmith saga is the reported courtship of “American Idol” to Tyler as a new judge for the Fox reality show’s 10th season. Nobody has made a firm announcement yet, but Tyler intimated to TMZ that it is indeed a done deal, and the Hollywood Reporter quoted a pair of anonymous sources confirming the move. And Aerosmith bassist Tom Hamilton told an interviewer that “the ink is dry” on Tyler’s “Idol” deal.

The issue has once again raised hackles in the Aerosmith camp, which was in disarray after Tyler told an interviewer last fall he was devoting his time to “brand Tyler,” including a solo album and an autobiography, rather than the band — which in turn set off a very public search for a new singer. Tyler, 62, subsequently checked himself into rehab for an addiction to painkillers brought on by orthopedic problems, and detente was achieved after a February band meeting that was prompted by the singer’s threat to take legal action if he was replaced.

Guitarist Joe Perry has expressed anger about the possibility of the band being sidelined while Tyler is “Idol”ing, but drummer Joey Kramer takes the position that “it could be a very positive thing. We’ve been talking about it ... and it’s made me come to realize what a positive impact it could have for (Aerosmith). The possibilities are kind of infinite with something like that happening, us being exposed to a whole new generation of people.

“So we’ll see what happens. It should be interesting.”

Aerosmith’s reps, meanwhile, have had to do a bit of damage control over some supposed onstage physical confrontations between Tyler and Perry — in particular an episode on Aug. 17 in Toronto when Perry appeared to bump Tyler with his hip, knocking him off a side-stage ramp and into the crowd. A spokeswoman told TMZ that “Joe wanted his fans to know he would never deliberately push Steven off the stage. (Perry is) a total gentleman.”

Sammy Hagar, who’s opening Aerosmith’s North American dates and was rumored to be one of the replacement singer candidates, says he’s “really impressed with Steven right now. He’s bringing it home, singing his a** off, performing his a** off every night.” Hagar acknowledges that there’s some tension backstage, but not among the members of Aerosmith.

“I’ve stood there with every guy in the band, talking to them all at the same time, and we’re all having a good time,” Hagar says. “So I don’t really see the drama — I only read about it.”

Tyler, in fact, contends that the current tour “is like the best Aerosmith has played in 40 years. It’s been the best tour that I can remember in my life.” And Perry, 59, adds that, “We’ve been pulling out some of the old tricks that we used to do back in the ’70s, only now it’s a lot better because we’re in a lot better shape. I mean, we’re in the best shape we’ve ever been.”

Nevertheless, the singer admits that “differences do get in the way. There’s a lot of things I hate Joe for saying and he hates me for saying and things we’ve done back and forth. But this was interesting this time around because now that we’re back together, it’s like deprivation. It’s not even a reminder, a wake-up call. It just is the truth of why we were both born and put on this planet.”

Perry says that: “We’ve been together for so long that my heart ... is never more than six inches away from Steven’s, ever. Even though we may not talk for a short amount of time or a long amount of time ... I always have a feeling deep inside that we’re always going to be together. This is it. And that’s what makes Aerosmith last as long as it has.”

Kramer, 60 — who recently published a paperback edition of his 2009 memoir “Hit Hard: A Story of Hitting Rock Bottom at the Top” — concurs that Aerosmith’s recent upheavals not only brought the quintet closer together but brought a new perspective on the group’s 40-year history.

“Everybody has realized what we have together is a great thing,” the drummer explains. “We have a great band — why not enjoy it? Why not enjoy the power that we have and what it is we do instead of all the nonsense and drama that’s gone on? I just think everybody’s got to the point where they get that now.”

And though it may be complicated if Tyler takes the “Idol” gig, the next item on Aerosmith’s agenda is a new album, its first since 2004’s “Honkin’ On Bobo.” The group did some recording with producer Brendan O’Brien in 2008 but halted because of Tyler’s health problems. Now Tyler — who’s also still working on his book “Does the Noise in My Head Bother You?” — says that new music is “coming down the pike” and that playing live “kinda kindles the fire for (song) writing.” An album, he says, is “something we all want to do and all are going to do, and that’s that. God knows Joe kept writing and I’m writing, and we’re going to put it back together.”

And, Perry notes: “The bottom line is we haven’t done our best record yet, and we feel like, first of all, we owe it to ourselves, and second of all we owe it to our fans. So it’s a priority.”

Aerosmith and Sammy Hagar & the Wabos perform at 7:30 p.m. Tuesday, Aug. 31, at the Palace of Auburn Hills, Lapeer Road at I-75, Auburn Hills. Tickets are $49.50-125. Call 248-377-0100 or visit www.palacenet.com.

Web Site: www.palacenet.com

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