Fans still drive the members of Aerosmith says bassist Tom Hamilton.
“We have this strong connection with people that are fans, no matter what country they’re in,” he says. “We have this really strong emotional connection over this music. You’re in this big room with a bunch of people all hearing the same song and enjoying it and you have this feeling of being close to all these people even though you don’t have any physical contact with them.”
The band’s Blue Army Tour – a nod to its fans – just got underway and comes to Victoria July 16 at Save-On-Foods Memorial Centre.
“It brings to mind when we used to tour the midwest of the United States years and years to get our name out there and get the band going the way we wanted it,” Hamilton explains. “We would get to the venue and driving through the parking lot there’d be a huge line of people with denim jackets on and blue jeans and right away we said ‘look it’s a blue army’ so we’ve been using that term with each other to describe our fans ever since then.”
Hamilton, a founding member of the band that celebrates the 40th anniversary of the release of its Toys in the Attic album this year, co-wrote Sweet Emotion – one of the group’s iconic hits.
“We’re really fortunate that we’ve been able to accumulate all these songs along the way. When we put together a set list we have to struggle to fit in all the songs we’d like the audience to hear. It’s almost impossible to do that in that hour and 45 minutes we play.
“We start rehearsing by bringing a blackboard into the room and bringing all of these songs in – it’s comical watching everybody trying to figure out how to narrow it down to a set list, but we do it.”
Fans can expect to hear old favourites as well as some of the tunes they’ve written in recent decades.
“I would never consider the idea of not playing Sweet Emotion or Dream On or Walk This Way, for instance, I mean they have to be there. Period. And there’s a group of other songs that came along over the years after that we really love to be in there. Songs like Living on the Edge for instance … there are a lot of times in the set where we can switch songs around and we are going to be doing that this summer. People that come to see us who have seen us in the last few years might see some similarities in the flow there but they’re also going to have some surprises. It makes it fun for everybody – including us.”
American rock royalty, Aerosmith has sold more than 150 million albums and been inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. They are the recipients of four Grammys, eight American Music Awards, six Billboard Awards and 12 MTV Video Music Awards, among others. Yet, it’s still the audience that keeps them going, and meeting fans backstage is one of his favourite parts of the gig, says Hamilton.
“Those moments are really cool because these people are so damn excited and flipped out that they’re back there and doing that, it’s raw enthusiasm that you can drag off of them and put in your back pocket for the show. “
Asked if he’d ever been to Victoria before, right away Hamilton answered, “I remember Butchart Gardens, so I know I’ve been there. I don’t know if it’s because we played or we went over there during the weekend. We used to spend a lot of time in Vancouver making records and I remember taking one of those giant ferry boats over to Victoria – you have killer whales going along next to the ship, it was just mind-blowing and then getting over there being a tourist.”
Life on the road for the members of Aerosmith is not too daunting these days, says Hamilton.
“We get to stay in really nice hotels and we fly in a private plane so there’s no complaints. I’m so grateful for the way we get to go out and work but yeah there’s something wearing and isolating about being so far away from your refrigerator or your girl or your family. You really get used to all those things about being home.”
Aerosmith in Victoria July 16 – Tickets at sofmc.com