Brad Whitford (Aerosmith) Interview
By: Gus Griesinger
Tuesday, April 27, 2010
When thinking of Aerosmith, the first names that may come to mind are Steven Tyler and/or Joe Perry. You may even think of a band that has accumulated numerous awards, including 4 Grammy Awards, 7 American Music Awards, and 10 MTV Video Music Awards. The thought that they have sold a whopping 150 million albums worldwide and have cemented themselves as one of the greatest bands of all time could also cross your mind when thinking about Aerosmith.
Well, the band is much more than any band member, awards they have garnered, or albums they have sold. Last month I got a preview, an inside glimpse at one of the sums of its parts, when I spoke with rhythm guitarist Brad Whitford after his show on the Experience Hendrix Tour in Red Bank, New Jersey. Brad was such a nice guy and I asked him if he was interested in continuing the conversation with me for Backstageaxxess.com. He was more than willing to do so.
A month later, we were finally able to follow through. We, of course, chatted about the upcoming European tour. We also talked about his working relationship with Derrick St. Holmes. Plus, we chatted about plenty of other things including the band and Steven making amends.
So "Walk this Way" to find out what one of the most under appreciated rhythm guitarists had to say.
Gus: I'm glad we were able to make the interview happen after we spoke at the Experience Hendrix show in Red Bank New Jersey last month. Do you remember our conversation?
Brad: Right, Yes!
Gus: Let's start with the interview as I'm sure you are quite busy preparing for the upcoming tour. Steven is back in the fold and the band is ready to embark on a massive European tour this summer. How did the fences get mended between Steven and the rest of the band?
Brad: We just sat down and had a little meeting really. Steven expressed his desire to go on tour with Aerosmith. We were like "great!" He came to us last year and had all of these grand plans that he was going to do this and that. I think there was a change in plans obviously. Maybe what he was going to do didn't pan out or whatever. I don't know. We sat down and decided the best thing for everybody really is for this band is to be out performing and doing what we do.
Gus: How close was the band to going on tour without Steven? Also, did you guys actually hold auditions or was it just asking around to see who was interested?
Brad: We were just asking around with some people who we thought might be interested. some people thought that they'd be interested. Not a whole lot of people really wanted to do it. I don't know if it ever would have worked. It wouldn't have been Aerosmith. We knew that. Rather than all of us just disbanding and going off and doing our own thing we were like...well, we have a pretty good band here, but none of us are great singers. Let's go out and get a singer and do something different. Everyone was so friggin shocked about it. It was like...well, what do you want us to do? We want to play. We're musicians you know (laughs)? That's all that it really amounted to. Maybe it wasn't just going to work ya know?
Gus: What is the present attitude of the band going forward?
Brad: Everybody's psyched! We just stared rehearsal at the beginning of this week. We are in the studio every day going over some of our tunes making sure we remember arrangements and stuff (laughs) and doing a lot of jamming and writing. We had a great time yesterday!
Gus: Any prospects of a new Aerosmith CD?
Brad: Well, we certainly would like to finish it. We started it about three times now over the past five or six years and just can't seem to finish it. Or something happens and it gets disrupted and we stop and we don't return to it. So we are going to, after this touring is over, we are going to try to do it at that point. I guess we will have to see where everyone is at and if everyone is still into it.
Gus: Are there tracks already done? How close are you to the finished product or is it still a while away yet?
Brad: We have a lot of music done, or pretty much done. I don't know if we will keep it. You know what I mean or if it will be on the new record. Myself, I would like the band to start fresh again. Just write all new stuff and at some later point, just put out the stuff that we have. I think it's better to start with new ideas you know? Like it's a new day sort of thing.
Gus: Even though you are considered the rhythm guitar player in Aerosmith, you do some leads on songs like "Last Child," "Nobody's Fault," and "Back in the Saddle." How does it get determined that you would take lead on certain tracks?
Brad: It's always just a kind of an organic approach really. That's kind of the way that Joe and I have always worked. We have a very natural thing with each other. We don't sit down and work out too many things. Through the process of jamming and writing, things are a very natural approach. In the studio, it's like...you play on this one and it's like...ok! Where it usually will work out.
Gus: You played with Joe for almost 40 years. How do you sustain a working relationship for so long?
Brad: It's pretty easy with Joe to do that. He's a good guy and we have a lot of fun together. We share a lot of the same interests. That hasn't been hard at all.
Gus: What song do you still get a thrill out of playing live and why?
Brad: Hmmmmm?. A lot of the songs from the 70s. To me, it's just...that's the stuff! I love listening to it, but being able to perform and own it, it's very cool! Some of those classic rock songs like "Back in the Saddle," or "Sick as a Dog," or "Get the Lead Out" is just great guitar riffy kind of stuff.
Gus: You will be doing a show with the J. Geils Band at Fenway Park on August 14th, which is already sold out. Are there any future plans of doing any more dates in North America in 2010?
Brad: Yes there is. Yeah.
Gus: Is there going to be an announcement soon?
Gus: Anything you want to elaborate on or no?
Brad: Umm? I don't know that much. I haven't seen the actual dates myself. I will probably see them in a matter of days. The actual proposed dates on where we are going to be. I think it will be about somewhere between 20 and 40 shows or something like that.
Gus: That's all in North America?
Brad: Yeah and that's all going to be at the end of July, August, and September. In that whole period is where I think it's going to end up.
Gus: you were previously working on a solo album. Is this something that will come to fruition and if so, when?
Brad: Well, I actually never got in the studio. I'm just working on lots of material all the time. I've been working on a side project with my old friend Derrick St. Holmes. We have been friends for years and we are writing together with Johnny A., whose is also a very old friend. We have been writing and jamming. We hope to put this little side project together so that we can have a lot of fun with it.
Gus: Is this going to be a Whitford/St. Holmes part II?
Brad: Maybe! But I don't know what we are going to call it. It is an evolution of that relationship for sure! We are going to bring some other chemistry to it. Having Johnny A. involved has been a blast! And I just did this thing for Warren Haynes that is a Tommy Bolan tribute album that he is putting together with this producer Greg Hanson. That is going to be a fun project as there will be all kinds of guitar players on that. Before Tommy passed away, he had twenty something tracks that he had been working on and they never got finished. Somehow, these people got control of these tapes from the estate or whatever, so they are going to bring in all of these guitar players to finish the guitar parts on it and finish it up. I did that a couple of weeks ago and that was really fun!
Gus: When is that going to be released?
Brad: I don't know. I was the first guy and so they are going around as they have a lot of guitar payers they are hitting up to be on the record. They really are just getting it started. Warren's doing it so he has to work on it in between the Allman Brothers, Gov't Mule and all of the other stuff he is always doing. It's a cool idea and it will be very cool!
Gus: Howe did you get hooked up with the Experience Hendrix tour?
Brad: John McDermott, the guy who does it from the Hendrix Estate, asked me to be a part of it. I did the last one and this most current one. They are talking about doing some more dates in the fall.
Gus: You took your two sons out with ya. How much of a thrill was that?
Brad: The whole thing was great! It's such a fun tour to be on. Everybody really just has a great time. I think part of it is nobody's playing their own music so there is no pressure. No pressure to go out there and play your own thing, ya know? It's all this wonderful music by Hendrix and everyone has so much fun playing it! It's a great time and a great thing to be a part of.
Gus: Did you ever think your likeness would become a caricature on a video game like Aerosmith Guitar hero?
Brad: Well, after being in the Simpsons and comic book sort of things, I guess it's not that big of a surprise (laughs).
Gus: What is your opinion on those types of games like Rock Band or Guitar Hero?
Brad: I think they are fun. A lot of people I know have fun with those games. If it was a little more instructional somehow, or a little more true to what it actually takes to play guitar. I think it's actually going to evolve into that, where you can have fun with it or it can be a learning tool as well. It's kind of cool because it gets a lot of young people to hear music that they otherwise would never be exposed to. Kids are saying that is cool and this is cool as they are hearing tracks from The Cult and Metallica that they probably wouldn't be exposed to and are really getting turned on by it. It's a pretty powerful medium!
Gus: What can the fans expect from you and Aerosmith going forward in 2010?
Brad: Well, hopefully it's more of the same. We always tried to deliver a high impact, high energy show and just playing the stuff that comes naturally to us. I believe we can maintain that level of excitement for our fans. The last time we were doing this, before our tour ended last year, I thought the band was playing better than ever! That was what made it so difficult when Steven fell down and got hurt. We all had to end there. I'm talking from the inside, but when I'm there, I kind of wish I was in the audience sometimes. It's really good and really well done. There is a lot of passion on that stage for what we do. That's what we are bringing to the game and hope that everyone likes it!
Gus: I want to thank you for talking to us today at Backstageaxxess.com and also would like to thank you, personally as well, for taking the time after your show in Red Bank, N.J., last month to talk to me as well.
Brad: Thank you and see you and everyone out on the road!
We would like to thank Danielle from the Aerosmith camp for setting up the interview with Brad. For more information on the current European tour or anything else Aerosmith, you can go to: http://www.aerosmith.com/ for more info.