Despite comments from Joe Perry, Joey Kramer, and Brad Whitford during interviews with Rolling Stone magazine, the future of Aerosmith is no less certain than it has been since Steven Tyler fell off the stage and brought the group’s tour to an abrupt end back in August.
There are some subtle and not-so-subtle indications from some band members that Steven Tyler is having problems with substance abuse again, and if the likes of Perry, Kramer, and Whitford are to be believed, Tyler’s behavior does strongly suggest that he’s a man with something to hide.
Tyler, referred to as “a brother” by more than one of his band mates, has distanced himself from the group for reasons that are not entirely clear. I don’t think it’s unfair to speculate about the man’s sobriety in light of the way his relationship with the rest of the group has evolved.
Tyler had reportedly been making noises about wanting to hire his own management – separate from Aerosmith’s – for a while, which at least some members of the group seemed to be a bit tired of hearing, and encouraged him to go ahead and do it. His decision to go through with it may have been the beginning of the rift that opened between himself and the rest of Aerosmith; a rift that seems to be growing wider as time passes.
Despite Steven Tyler’s recent surprise appearance at one of Joe Perry’s gigs, where he announced he was not leaving Aerosmith, his behavior doesn’t suggest that he’s in any big hurry to form up with his old buddies and get back to work on any kind of Aerosmith project. A two-year break still appears to be in the cards according to the other guys, even though a Tyler spokesman was quoted not too long ago saying that Tyler’s absence “won’t be substantial.”
One could easily infer that there is indeed some substance to Tyler’s desire to distance himself from the rest of the group if his odd behavior is any indication. Joe Perry reports that any communication between Tyler and the rest of Aerosmith has been conducted through their respective management companies. Tyler’s brief chat with Joe Perry before sitting in with his band is a notable exception, although Perry reports that Tyler simply disappeared after he finished his performance and has not seen him since.
Perry also reports calling Tyler to talk about doing some shows in South America. Beyond saying he was not interested, Tyler reportedly just hung up on his old friend. “I called him a little while back about doing these South American dates. He said that he didn’t want to do them and then I realized there was nobody on the other end of the line. So yeah, I guess he hung up,” Perry said.
Other band members say their experiences have been similar. Drummer Joey Kramer is said to have attempted to contact Tyler by telephone and text message, but does not get a response. Guitarist Brad Whitford refers to Tyler’s behavior over the last few month as “unpredictable” and that it “has just gotten more bizarre and more frequent.” Whitford goes on to say, “his behavior suggests to me that he’s… he doesn’t act like a sober person.”
Whatever the state of Steven Tyler’s sobriety, the words of his band mates suggest that they will always be ready to welcome him back into the fold, and are willing to do whatever they can to help him. Joe Perry, Tyler’s former “toxic twin,” can certainly relate to the tremendous challenge that addiction represents, and seems genuinely ready to do whatever he can on Tyler’s behalf if he’s given the chance.
No matter what Steven Tyler has planned for himself, it’s clear that the rest of the group wants to work. The big question is: Can Aerosmith really be Aerosmith without the larger-than-life Steven Tyler out front? The group is entertaining thoughts of filling the void in his absence, but do not even seem sure if they would be calling themselves Aerosmith under those circumstances.
There will surely be more to come regarding this drama as more and more media attention is focused on it, and fans wonder what will become of Aerosmith.
For the time being, most of the others in the band have opened up. I’m sure his fellow band members and fans would love to hear some straight talk from Tyler himself. Things like this usually end better when all involved parties are willing to lay their cards on the table.
For more details, see Rolling Stone.