This past July, Aerosmith released their first concert film in 9 years titled Rock for the Rising Sun. The simultaneous release on DVD, Blu-Ray and digital formats offers a portrayal of life on the road with the band combining superb live performances, as they toured Japan only seven to eight months after the country experienced a mega earthquake and killer tsunami.
On March 11, 2011, at 2:46 p.m. local time, a magnitude-9.0 earthquake ruptured a 500-kilometer-long [310.686 miles] fault area off the northeast coast of Japan shaking violently for six minutes causing the subsequent meltdown of the Fukushima nuclear plant. The town of Honshu was moved just about 2.4 meters eastward causing seismic waves on the Pacific Ocean floor. This set off tsunami waves traveling at the speed of a jet plane and as high as 125 feet crashing on the shoreline and reaching as far as six miles inland; it was estimated that 30,000 plus people were killed in Japan. The destruction did not stop there as tsunami waves also swept across the Pacific, causing damage in Hawaii, California, Oregon, Washington and British Columbia.
With such a tragic event befalling a country, one wouldn’t think to venture to that part of the world without reservation, but though they were warned to stay away due to the destruction [and you truly don’t know what is leaking in the air from a nuclear meltdown], Aerosmith took the bull by the horns and got on a plane to bring their Back On The Road tour to Japan, a country with which they’d always had a special relationship. The Japanese fans came out in droves supporting one of their favorite rock bands and Aerosmith responded with some of the finest shows of their distinguished career. This film follows the band on that tour merging full-length live tracks with behind the scenes footage, which is at times touching and emotional and at others humorous and insightful. More than anything else it demonstrates the Japanese fans’ love affair with Aerosmith and their music.
Drummer Joey Hamilton sounds upbeat and eager to talk about the documentary, and what he’s been up to of late with Aerosmith and his own ventures as the summer of 2013 turns to autumn in September.
“Well, Japan has always been very special to us,” says Hamilton, “the people have always treated us well, we’ve always enjoyed playing there, and I think the first time we went there to tour was in 1976. When the devastation of that tsunami came, they announced how dangerous it would be to be there and we just completely disregarded that and said, ‘we love these people and let’s go.’ And so we were there; it was a ‘no brainer.’ We were there and what we were doing was pretty humanitarian. Music is a big healer and it makes people forget and forgive and that’s what we were doing.”
Frontman Steven Tyler originally brought in filmmaker Casey Patrick Tebo over four years ago to, as he jokingly put it, film a day in the life of Aerosmith because of the turbulence going on within and outside of the band. Tebo originally flew with the band at that time, with the intention of only shooting one live show in Japan. What he came back with was a feature-length documentary. Though Kramer didn’t get a chance to see what was being done, the final film speaks for itself. “Well, we didn’t really see that much of it because we weren’t really out and about so I didn’t really actually witness what the guys filmed for the movie,” explains Hamilton. “We traveled by bus and I think… I’m trying to remember… I think we were on the train too. For that tour we played I think seven or eight dates. That’s pretty much all there is in Japan being it’s a small country. We usually go in and play all the domes and then we’re done. The people of Japan have always been very gracious and they’re a humble people and that’s why we have the affinity for them. I can’t say that there was a different way they reacted to us, but I think they were grateful that we were there and grateful that we felt the way we did in order to be there to begin with because they knew we were warned against coming and they appreciate that; it speaks within itself that humility is a very strong voice to me.”
Japanese audiences are very different from U.S. crowds and anyone who saw the B’s at the Gibson Amphitheater in Universal City, CA would agree. “Oh yeah they play with us when we’re over there! Because of their humility,” Kramer states with a laugh, “the one thing that I don’t feel is strange to me or Aerosmith anymore is the behavior but when you’re in the middle of a show, after every song they will applaud and then they STOP; waiting for the next one to come. In between songs, there’s actually a spot where there’s silence. I remember the first time I witnessed that; it was pretty strange.”
When Aerosmith were trekking through Japan, their 2012 release, Music from another Dimension, had not come together yet but there was talk. “Ah yeah, we talked about that album for a long time!” laughs Hamilton; a lightness takes over his voice and a slight laugh follows. “It took even longer doing it. It’s not doing as well as we hoped it would do and I think it was probably not the record a lot of fans wanted to hear; even though we thought that it was because to me it was very reminiscent of our older stuff and we’ve gotten the message loud and clear that they love Toys and Rocks and those albums back then, so we kind of geared it toward that and there’s a lot of really great songs on the record; a lot of great playing in my opinion and for some reason it’s just kind of sitting there, which is happening with a lot of things not just the music industry and I don’t know why or if there’s really a particular reason for it but that’s the way that it is. The music industry is dying man, it’s dying. Everything is just so disposable now… if they like it they take a bit and if they don’t they spit it out and they’re onto the next.”
Aerosmith will be back out on the road this fall/winter, but when left to their own devices, they live in different parts of the country and each has their own endeavors they’re bringing to life. Hamilton is no different; he’s been working hard on his project—you could say he has something…percolating. “Right now I’m home working on my extra curricular activity, which is a coffee company,” states Hamilton. “I’m currently getting retail stores and supermarkets in line to sell my coffee; Rockin’ and Roastin’. You can get it at www.rockinandroastin.com right now, otherwise we’ll be all across New England in stores, which will be displayed on the website and that’s what I’ve been doing; for probably about a year or so and all of a sudden it’s just taken off; I mean faster than I expected it to and that’s kind of a pleasant surprise but it takes a lot of work because I’m not that kind of guy; you know, another celebrity putting my name on a product to make money. What ever I come out with has to have a certain level of quality otherwise I won’t put my name on it. The beans are from Sumatra, Guatemala and Ethiopia. Those are my three favorite places for beans. So the coffee itself will come in whole bean, ground and somewhere along the lines of single serve cups.” Life seems to be moving along and Hamilton is happy where he is at this time in his life. “I live about 20 minutes outside of Austin [proper] the big music scene is 6th street with clubs on either side of the street all the way up and down. That’s our little music scene here. A lot of musicians and actors have moved here because it’s got a very hip attitude so to speak. Everybody is really nice, super courteous and everyone respects everyone else’s privacy and it’s just really a nice place to be. I know Robert Plant has a place here, Johnny Depp has a place here, multitudes of different musicians I know have a place here; it’s just a really nice place.”
When all is said and done, we come back to a well made documentary featuring some of Aerosmith’s classic tunes like Love In An Elevator, Livin’ On The Edge, Last Child, Walk This Way, Draw The Line, Sweet Emotion, Hangman Jury and that’s just what comes to mind because their songbook is huge and this film is just another success in the long line of accomplishments Aerosmith puts forth whether it be Music from another Dimension or Rock For The Rising Sun.