Quietly, and without much fanfare, Brad Whitford goes about his business as rhythm guitarist for the rock ‘n’ roll circus known as Aerosmith.
After drugs and infighting almost killed the Boston blues-based hard rock powerhouse, Aerosmith pulled off perhaps the most amazing resurrection in rock history, emerging stronger than ever to perform for the past 22 years with the original lineup and pile up gold and platinum records.
Goldmine talked with Whitford about Aerosmith’s Rock and Roll Hall of Fame career.
Goldmine: It’s been over 30 years since Aerosmith formed. Are you amazed that the band is still going strong’
Brad Whitford: On a daily basis, yes [laughs]. No, I guess not at this point. We’ve just weathered so many different kinds of events and storms and this and that. I have to attribute that to the music that we’ve created and the music we continue to be able to create and the way that we perform together is what really drives the whole machine. Certainly there’s enough things on the outside of that, once you get off that stage, there’s still so much bullshit that can drive anybody crazy.
At this point in my life probably my biggest beef is the travel. I just don’t know how much longer I can do that. It’s a very rough lifestyle. Not too many bands have to do it this long because they just don’t stay together [laughs]. A lot of people return to some sort of normal schedule. The travel is really rough, being away from home; having a lot of separation away from the family does not sit well with my inner self.
GM: As a songwriter you’ve contributed songs to the band on a much smaller scale than say Steven or Joe. Do you regret that you didn’t push your writing with the band earlier in your career’
BW: No, I don’t regret it. It’s just the nature of the way things have gone. I literally got pushed out of the writing circle. I don’t consider myself a terribly prolific writer. I can write music with other people if they’re better songwriters than I am. I really can’t create a song. It’s very difficult to do. That’s why the people that can do it are very few and far between. I’m certainly not that type of a guy. More of a guitar player, more of the kind of [guy] who comes up with enough riffs and ideas to write a song. But to write lyrics and come up with a melody for it, it won’t happen.
GM: Let me throw out a few Aerosmith songs you co-wrote and allow you to share a story behind their creation. Let’s start with ‘Last Child.’
BW: That was really a lick that I had. Steven and I wrote that together. He sat down behind the drums. He’s a drummer and he liked it. That’s where it started. He likes some oddball things sometimes, kind of out of the way riffs. This was kind of a funky riff and he sat down on the drums and in short order we created ‘Last Child.’
GM: How about ‘Kings And Queens’ from the Draw The Line album’
BW: I think I came up with some parts of the basic chord structure. A bunch of us sat down and worked on that. Our producer, Jack Douglas, was a writer on that song, too. I think it’s a classic tune. It’s a very interesting tune. It certainly blows away a lot of other songs, not our songs, but a lot of other material that was created in that era [laughs]. It stands heads and shoulders above a lot of other stuff that was being recorded at the time.
GM: Being from Philadelphia, it seemed that every time I saw Aerosmith play live in the ’70s there was a mishap that occurred, a cherry bomb exploding and hurting the band, a bottle hitting Steven in the face.
BW: I think unfortunately, and I’m afraid to even say it but, that kind of behavior at concerts was the norm. We’ve had everything thrown at us