How Aerosmith Re-entered Orbit on ‘Music From Another Dimension!’
The title of Aerosmith's 2012 album, Music From Another Dimension!, was no misnomer. The Bad Boys From Boston spent the decade leading up to their 15th studio effort clanging around the "way-out-osphere," as frontman Steven Tyler liked to call it, nearly collapsing under the strain of drug relapses, behind-the-back scheming, a reality television stint and the ongoing cold war between Tyler and guitarist Joe Perry.
Aerosmith had entered the millennium on a commercial high with 2001's Just Push Play, which peaked at No. 2 on the Billboard 200, went platinum and spawned the Top 10 hit "Jaded." But the album also widened the chasm between Tyler's full-scale pop ambitions and the band's blues-rock roots. The 2004 blues covers album Honkin' on Bobo acted as a temporary salve, but the Tyler-Perry songwriting team was still operating at half-capacity as Sony and Columbia Records clamored for another LP of original material.
The mid 2000s brought a slew of health concerns, as Tyler battled hepatitis C and underwent throat surgery while Perry had a total knee replacement. The former Toxic Twins both succumbed to the lure of prescription pain pills and did separate stints in rehab. Tyler allegedly went behind his bandmates' backs and stumbled through a "shambolic" audition for Led Zeppelin in 2008, so relationships were already fraught by the time the singer tumbled offstage during Aerosmith's summer 2009 tour with ZZ Top, forcing them to scrap the remaining dates.
Rumors of Tyler's departure abounded as Perry embarked on a solo tour in support of 2009's Have Guitar, Will Travel. (Tyler squashed the rumors when he crashed Perry's November 2009 show at Irving Plaza to sing "Walk This Way" and announced he was "not leaving Aerosmith.") Yet even after Aerosmith rededicated themselves to cutting a new album, they had to contend with Tyler's surprise decision to appear as a judge on American Idol, a gig that lasted for two seasons.
In light of Aerosmith's never-ending personal drama, the songs were the easiest part of Music From Another Dimension! The band reconvened in summer 2011 with former producer Jack Douglas, who helmed mid '70s smashes including Toys in the Attic and Rocks. The sessions yielded a smorgasbord of songs that harked back to every phase of Aerosmith's career. Tyler and Perry collaborated on raunchy album opener "Luv XXX" and the funky blues jam "Out Go the Lights," while the guitarist composed the Stonesy rocker "Oh Yeah" himself. Bassist Tom Hamilton turned in the jangly, Beatlesque "Tell Me," and guitarist Brad Whitford co-wrote the "Toys in the Attic"-inspired rocker "Street Jesus." Perry also stepped behind the microphone for the ragged garage-rocker "Freedom Fighter" and the lurching blues knockabout "Closer," the latter featuring Tyler on drums.
Listen to Aerosmith's 'Oh Yeah'
As with every Aerosmith album since 1987's Permanent Vacation, Music From Another Dimension! has no shortage of ballads, which vary wildly in quality. American Idol winner-turned-country superstar Carrie Underwood duets with Tyler on the Nashville-flecked "Can't Stop Lovin' You," and "I Don't Want to Miss a Thing" author Diane Warren donated the treacly "We All Fall Down." The most successful of the bunch, album closer "Another Last Goodbye," features Tyler's anguished falsetto shrieks over plaintive piano chords and arresting Beach Boys-esque vocal harmonies.
The dichotomy between Aerosmith's hedonistic, hard-rocking past and clean, corporate present was apparent when the band debuted Music From Another Dimension!'s snarling lead single "Legendary Child" on the American Idol season finale in May 2012. The song, which the band first recorded during the Get a Grip sessions, nods to Aerosmith's storied history, nicking a line from the '70s mega-hit "Walk This Way." It was also the first song they finished for the new album, giving them the morale boost they needed to continue. "Joe put the lead lick down. It was, 'Oh my God, we're back,'" Tyler told Rolling Stone in 2012. "It was so incredibly true at that moment to me that the band was back in the severest of ways. I was overjoyed."
Aerosmith released Music From Another Dimension! on Nov. 6, 2012, complete with a pen-and-ink drawing of the band that Guns N' Roses guitarist Slash made in high school in the CD packaging. Despite a warm reception from fans and critics, the album debuted meekly at No. 5 on the Billboard 200, selling 63,000 copies in its first week. It was far cry from Just Push Play's first-week sales of 240,000, and less than half of the 160,000 units that Honkin' on Bobo shifted in its first seven days. Following the 2012-14 Global Warming Tour, all Dimension songs promptly disappeared from Aerosmith's set lists (with the exception of "Freedom Fighter," which snuck into the first handful of dates on 2014's Let Rock Rule Tour).
"The thinking was that because Steven was a high-profile presence in the pop landscape on Idol, the band would benefit," Perry mused in his 2014 memoir Rocks: My Life In and Out of Aerosmith. "That might have happened during the first season, when he was wacky, funny and unpredictable. But unfortunately fame on a show like Idol doesn't translate into ticket sales or turn songs into hits. ... I felt that most of the American Idol watchers weren't the kind of Aerosmith fans who would come to our shows and buy our records. At the same time, hardcore Aerosmith fans might have seen our brand as somewhat tarnished by Steven's association with the show."
Watch Aerosmith's 'Legendary Child' Video
Following the belabored Music From Another Dimension!, the members of Aerosmith seemed eager to move on to greener pastures and put their media circus days behind them. Tyler released his country-fried debut solo album, We're All Somebody From Somewhere, in 2016, and Perry released his sixth solo effort, Sweetzerland Manifesto, in 2018. The guitarist also formed the Hollywood Vampires supergroup with Alice Cooper and Johnny Depp in 2012; the band released its eponymous debut album in 2015 and its sophomore LP, Rise, in 2019. Whitford even rebooted his Whitford / St. Holmes project with former Ted Nugent vocalist Derek St. Holmes, releasing the aptly titled Reunion in 2016.
Aerosmith, meanwhile, continued touring rigorously, hinting at a farewell trek with 2017's Aero-Vederci Baby! Tour. It proved to be a false alarm, though, as the band set up shop in Las Vegas in 2019 for the Deuces Are Wild residency. The Sin City sojourn ground to a halt in early 2020 due to the coronavirus pandemic, and its 2022 return was delayed so Tyler could enter rehab. When the residency finally resumed in September 2022, drum technician John Douglas was playing in place of Joey Kramer, who had taken a "temporary leave of absence," per a band statement. (Kramer's wife, Linda, died in June 2022 at the age of 55.)
The prospect of Aerosmith releasing a follow-up to Music From Another Dimension! seems unlikely, but not impossible. "It would be great to make another record, but it's almost [like], 'Why bother?'" Kramer told UCR in 2014. "There's really no money per se to be made on records. We used to make a lot of money on records. Now all of our money is made on touring. Artistically, it would be fun to make another record and it would be a beautiful thing if we can put it together. But to what avail, I don't know. There's almost no reason to do it, you know, judging from the last one and how it went over."
Perry, however, didn't rule it out. "If you've got some inspiration, it doesn't take long to write a song," he told Eddie Trunk in July 2022 (via Blabbermouth). "Whether it's great or not, you don't know. But all I can say is you never know. I would hate to think that was the last one. But we've got so much stuff out there, it's hard to think about trying to do something new. But what the hell? You never know."