There is no more quintessential “Boston” rock band than Aerosmith. Since their formation some more than 45 years ago (!) they’ve proudly stood for everything Beantown, and even have an official city historical plaque in front of their old living/rehearsal space.
But goddamn – it’s cold up there! That’s why drummer Joey Kramer is more than happy to enjoy the much warmer climate of his current home in Texas.
“It’s wonderful to live here in Austin. I lived in New England for 40 years, and the winters were brutal. I’m glad to be out of the cold!” Kramer – whose wife is originally from Cypress in North Houston – says. “We talked about moving to Texas, and I didn’t want to go to Houston or Dallas. I just love the people and vibe about Austin.”
Houstonian or Dallasite Aerosmith fans shouldn’t take that preference personally. And members of their dedicated “Blue Army” (so named for their preference for denim) enthused about their recent full-length concert film Aerosmith Rocks Donnington.
The 19-song set list, filmed at the massive Festival last year, covers the band’s career timeline. But did Kramer, Tyler, and band mates Joe Perry, Tom Hamilton, and Brad Whitford alter their stage norm for historical posterity?
“I don’t think about we went about our show any differently, though it would have been easy to let it happen. You’re in front of 100,000 people and have cameras pointed in your face,” Kramer adds.
“But the best thing for us to be doing onstage is to be relaxed. As long as we are and the audience is with us, you’re in for a hell of a ride. I just worried about [the cameras] when my arms started flailing!”
Aerosmith is also one of the few classic rock bands still touring with an intact classic lineup (Whitford was an early, but not original member). And while there have been some periods in their history where that hasn’t been the case, Kramer likens this quintet to…food.
“It’s just not the same without the five of us. You can’t take an apple pie, slice it out, take out a piece, and replace it with a piece of blueberry. I mean, you can, but it’s not the same,” he says. “After all this time, Tom and I are so tight, we make fucking mistakes together!”
Aerosmith also has something of a literary legacy, having already published an official oral history. And while Steven Tyler’s (Does the Noise in My Head Bother You?) and Joe Perry’s (Rocks) autobiographies got more attention, Kramer’s Hit Hard was the first to come out in 2009.
As much (if not more) of a story about his substance abuse and addiction/recovery – as well as detailing a fraught relationship with his father – Kramer says he’s surprised that people still talk to him about it today.
“It took me four years to write. Most people don’t spend that much time, but I wanted it to be a certain way. The original manuscript was 1,000 pages, and the finished book was 250,” Kramer says. Unfortunately from a marketing perspective, it was also released the day that Michael Jackson died.
“But at the same time, I felt it covered the important things, and it was a personally cathartic experience for. Not just talking about gossip and what kind of drugs we took and girls we fucked. It was about me and my story.”
And what of Perry’s book, that the guitarist said had not sent to his band mates prior to publication?
“Yeah…I read it,” Kramer says. “He was honest in what he chose to talk about. I mentioned some of the same things he did, but didn’t spend a lot of time on it. My book isn’t about anybody else in the band, it’s about me.”
Kramer has also expanded his business resume as the force and co-founder behind Rockin’ and Roastin’ Coffee. A venture he’s quick to point out he doesn’t just lend a famous name to.
“I’m very hands on. I’ve cut the coffee, came up with the artwork, and my wife came up with the name,” he offers for the brew that is also the official coffee for the House of Blues Chain.
Speaking of voodoo – or bad juju – we had to ask Kramer about his participation in the 1978 film Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band. Aerosmith appeared as the “Future Villain Band” and battled the Bees Gees and Peter Frampton in a climactic fight. Their cover of “Come Together” the only song from the trumpeted double LP ever played today, besides Earth, Wind & Fire’s “Got to Get You Into My Life.”
“Oh my lord!” Kramer laughs. “What do I remember other than the fact that it was probably the worst movie ever made? Hey, that was in the ‘70s, and my memories of the ‘70s is extremely vague, as it that film! But I’m sure I had fun doing it!”
A version of this interview originally appeared in The Houston Press.