By John Voket / LiveDaily Contributor
Brad at the Orpheum Theatre in Boston - October 18, 2008. Photo by: P. Mason
Brad Whitford--who, along with Joe Perry, handles guitar duties in Aerosmith told LiveDaily Sunday (10/20) that the group is on track to launch a spring 2009 tour.
During a candid conversation backstage at a Waterbury, CT, stop on the "Experience Hendrix Tour," Whitford said he was hopeful, but not counting on, Aerosmith to be ready to present concertgoers with new material when the band hits the road next spring.
In the meantime, the accomplished guitarist--who said he bought his first Fender Stratocaster the day after seeing the late Jimi Hendrix perform live--will be playing with the cross country "Experience Hendrix" ensemble through the tour's Oct. 26 performance at the Chicago Theater in Chicago.
Sporting a gray goatee, and a sharp black pinstripe shirt with matching fedora, Whitford chatted about his early guitar influences, as well as his even earlier affinity for muscle cars and drag racing, before discussing the eventual return to his "regular" job backing Perry and bandmates Steven Tyler, Tom Hamilton and Joey Kramer.
"We've been offered to go out and do a tour next year starting in March, I guess," Whitford said. "Providing the sky doesn't fall, that's what we'll be doing."
Whitford said Aerosmith has the "guts of a new album," and a lot of new material not recorded yet. "I don't know if we're actually gonna get that together before we go out," he said. "Typical Aerosmith: everybody's off in their own little world and I'm not sure we're going to get it done before we go out, which is unfortunate, because it would be nice to have some new music to play. But I don't see it happening, so it will be a run through of the old favorites at this point, anyway," he added.
Whitford said it doesn't make too much sense to go out showcasing new material in concert if Aerosmith can't issue some new recordings ahead of the 2009 tour. But he does have a few ideas about how Aerosmith can tickle its fan base without necessarily delivering a package of new work. That idea involves digging into the grooves of some of the band's old work.
"I would think we could go out and take a very different approach than what we've done in the past," Whitford said. "I've always wanted to do a lot of deep cuts. The thing I've always wanted to do--that I have never been able to get the guys to do, which would be very cool--is doing albums in sequence. I think it would be great to do a concert playing "Rocks" and "Toys in the Attic," that's the set list. And play it the way you hear it."
Whitford said he's enjoyed playing tried and true favorites like "Walk This Way" every show, but he would enjoy playing any material from the band.
"There's plenty of good ones out there," he observed, adding that since the band saves its set lists, it's easy for him to compare song choices from 10 or even 20 years ago.
"You look at set lists 15 years apart and they're practically identical except for a couple of new songs here and there," he said. "Trying to get this band off its ass and do things different--it's like going to the dentist."
Speaking of doing something different, Whitford said he is jonesing to unearth Aerosmith's high-definition "MTV Unplugged" performance, which aired from New York's Ed Sullivan Theater on Sept. 20, 1990.
According to an article on the Swedish fan site RockThisWay.de, "Song selections include 'Toys in the Attic,' 'Hang Man Jury,' 'Big 10 Inch,' 'Dream On,' 'Walkin' the Dog,' and 'Train Kept a Rollin.' Aerosmith's 'MTV Unplugged' performance, featuring high-definition imaging by Captain of America, marks the first airing of a high-definition program on the network."
The 13 song set featured almost as many numbers that were left un-aired on the 30-minute special including: "Monkey on My Back," "Love Me Two Times," "Seasons of Wither," "One Way Street," "Smokestack Lightning," "Milk Cow Blues," and the "Unplugged" encore, "Last Child."
"I think it was on once," Whitford said, "and it's sitting in a can somewhere waiting to see the light of day. I don't know why we're sitting on it, but I'm sure it's got something to do with the record company."
Whitford said his current stint on the "Experience Hendrix" tour is like a pro musicians' rock fantasy camp, and he treasures the nightly opportunity to share the Hendrix spot with Buddy Guy performing "Red House," backed by Billy Cox and Mitch Mitchell from The Jimi Hendrix Experience. "Since the first time I heard him, and right up until today, [Hendrix] has been an important influence on me--on all of us," he said.
While Whitford and fellow Aerosmith axe man Joe Perry both share a love for Jeff Beck, he admits to leaning toward Hendrix as an influence, while he says Perry gravitated more towards the Jimmy Page style of playing.
Whitford credits the British Invasion for turning his interest from trumpet and piano to guitar, but said it was his father who brought home his first guitar.
"My father loved the sound of electric guitar. And he brought home this Japanese electric where the action between the strings and the neck was like, in separate counties," Whitford said, laughing. "I got to see Hendrix play in '68 in Boston Garden with Mitch and Noel Redding and it was like, 'Wow.' I bought a Fender guitar the very next day.
Check out some photos from the show at the Palace Theater in Waterbury, CT on October 19th HERE!