Aerosmith’s frontman Steven Tyler and guitarist Joe Perry used to be known as the Toxic Twins, such was their appetite for drugs.
But that was then, and this is now. Flopped on throne-like chairs in a velvet-draped London hotel suite, sipping mineral water, the sixtysomething Tyler and Perry, pictured, are in bullish mood.
“People say we’re dinosaurs,” says Tyler, 64. “But I see Joe and I as two old snow leopards fighting extinction. That’s better than dinosaurs. Our fortunes ebb and flow, but that’s never been down to old age. Whenever we come back, we come back fitter and stronger.”
And, after 150 million album sales and setbacks that would have finished off lesser outfits, one of America’s most legendary rock groups is indeed back. Their latest album, Music From Another Dimension!, features the same five members who played on their first LP in 1973.
Tyler has spent much of his career battling various demons. Like bandmate Perry, 62, he overcame the addictions of the Seventies and Eighties after stints in rehab.
More recently, he had surgery to tackle severe knee and foot injuries that left him hooked on painkillers.
“The Eighties were a time of excess. Those excesses ultimately caught up with us,” he says. “The problem for successful musicians is they are always looking for something to replicate the adrenalin rush of playing a huge venue like Madison Square Garden.
“The only things that can match that buzz are a couple of shots of Jack Daniel’s or a snort of blow. But our real story isn’t about that – it’s about how we bounced back from it.” Tyler says overcoming his leg injuries, sustained on stage, proved as great a challenge as kicking drink and drugs.
“I had foot operations that almost killed me. In the early Nineties, my feet were so screwed up I couldn’t carry my kids around Disney World. Now it’s different. I can squat and stand straight back up. I go to the gym, and getting on a treadmill is my drug of choice. We’re a better band than we were in the old days.”
Their latest album – their first collection of new songs in 11 years – has all the hallmarks of a classic Aerosmith record. Big rock anthems, such as Luv XXX, are augmented by lavish power ballads like We All Fall Down and the country-tinged Can’t Stop Lovin’ You.
“The album is very old school,” Tyler says. “When we plug in those guitars, we feel the energy, because Joe doesn’t exactly play quietly.”
After forming in Boston in 1970 Aerosmith were derided as Stones copycats, but charted their own course with mega-hits like Dream On and I Don’t Want To Miss A Thing. Their fortunes waned in the early Eighties, but they returned to the big time in 1986 when Run-DMC sampled their hit Walk This Way, introducing Aerosmith to a new generation. “The hook-up with Run-DMC was magic,” says Joe. “I’d heard all about them from my 11-year-old son.”
The band’s reunion was thrown into doubt when Tyler joined the judging panel of American Idol last year. Rumours surfaced that Perry was seeking a new singer. But all was resolved in July when Tyler said he was leaving to return to the group. “American Idol was good fun, but it wasn’t Aerosmith.” Daily Mail