Brad Whitford of Aerosmith Talks "Rock for the Rising Sun", Japan, and So Much More
Thu, 18 Jul 2013 16:24:38
Aerosmith have pretty much conquered the entire world at this point. That's an indisputable fact. Impressively, the Boston legends remain as focused and fiery as ever on recent tours. A lot of that fire comes from the interplay between guitarists Brad Whitford and Joe Perry. Nobody can ever forget those big Aerosmith riffs, and there's nothing like hearing them live and loud. One country the band has a special relationship feels that same enchantment. Japan is totally crazy for the boys, and it's all chronicled on their raucous, rowdy, and rollicking new DVD, Rock for the Rising Sun [also on Blu-ra, out July 23. It's essential viewing for all rock fans…
In this exclusive interview with ARTISTdirect.com editor in chief Rick Florino, Brad Whitford of Aerosmith talks Rock for the Rising Sun, the band's special relationship with Japan, and so much more.
What was your first tour of Japan like?
Our first time there was around 1975 or 1976. It was our first time playing in front of a Japanese audience, and it was really unique and different. We were used to playing in front of all of these rowdy crowds. They were completely the opposite, and they were very intent on listening to the music. We'd play a song. They'd applaud. Then, they'd go completely quiet anxiously awaiting the next song. They'd listen very intently through that with no noise. I thought, "Wow, these people are not letting anything interfere with the experience". We developed a great appreciation for that audience over the years.
Is it a different kind of energy to feed off of?
Well, it was different initially getting used to the fact that they were just listening and not doing anything else. We weren't used to that. It's definitely a different kind of energy. I guess it's more cerebral. It did take a little getting used to for sure. We're more used to a chaotic setting for sure [Laughs] It's far less chaotic.
How has your relationship with Japan grown over the years?
Because of that element of appreciation for the music and their fondness for it, we have probably some of the most loyal fans on the planet there. If we're over there, we always travel around the country on the Bullet Train. We'll have an entourage of fans that will come and see every single show. We have some Japanese fans who travel around the world to see our shows. Probably the most infamous is a friend of ours named Nobu. He's seen somewhere north of 200 shows over his career as a fan [Laughs]. That's pretty incredible. I can't imagine having seen The Rolling Stones or someone 200 times.
What songs do you love to play the most?
I think I have a greater appreciation for the songs. A great song is so much fun to perform, whether it's "Walk This Way" for the thousandth time or whatever. It's never dull. We're break out things like "Back in the Saddle", and they still get my heart going. I'll hear it on the radio, and it doesn't lose its fire for me. I have to say. I enjoy playing all of it.
Was there a favorite show from Rock for the Rising Sun?
Well, the band is playing so well these days. We don't have too many flat moments anymore. They all have a different energy about them. I don't know what it is whether it's what you had for breakfast or a pretty girl standing in front of you. I don't know what the elements are. It's always a great energy and communication that you have with the audience. It's always a great experience. It's a privilege and to be able to do that.
Is it important to capture that live energy in the studio?
It was always a show for us. It wasn't a collection of songs. We designed a lot of material that we would feel one-hundred percent comfortable playing in the live setting and had a certain level of excitement we wanted to create for ourselves through of the live shows we did in the early days. You test the waters, and you find out what things work and don't work. We've always maintained that sensibility about our music. You want to feel to get up and play it in front of a little club or a large arena. It had to pass our litmus test to end up on a record. That didn't always work [Laughs]. There's some stuff in the library that we'll never play again. I guess that's what happens. They can't all be hits!
What does Aerosmith mean to you in 2013?
It's been my whole adult life. It's intertwined with everything that's happened. My relationships and family have all been intertwined with Aerosmith. There are a lot of special moments associated with that. Two of my sons have performed with Aerosmith in live situations. A lot of the women in my life wouldn't have been there without Aerosmith [Laughs]. Just because, that's what I did from the time I was nineteen until now. I have a great appreciation for it, and I think we all do. I think we really honor what we have by getting out there and doing the best possible performance we can. We're really enjoying it now more than ever.
How did "Can't Stop Lovin' You" and "Lover A lot" on Music from Another Dimension! come about?
They fit like a glove. That's the mentality about being on stage and trying to marry one good song and having a flow that means something or seems to mean something. It's not disjointed. We're always thinking about that. Every single night before a show, we're revisiting our set list and asking, "Is this working? Is that working? Do we want to do something different?" We're always looking at that. It's partly for ourselves and the audience.
What's next for you?
We're about to head back to Japan in a couple of weeks. We're doing our first couple of concerts in China in August. That should be pretty interesting. We come back and play the Harley Davidson anniversary. Then, we're going to South America. That will probably take us through to the end of the year. Next year, we're hoping to go back to Europe and also play some dates in this country.
What's your favorite Aerosmith song?