Tuesday, December 4, 2012

UPDATED 12/6: Aerosmith's Tom Hamilton on creating 'Sweet Emotion': interview

UPDATED 12/6: Aerosmith's Tom Hamilton on overcoming 'breakup 2.0' as band readies Tampa show: interview

Like most serious fans of swaggering 1970s rock, I consider Aerosmith's "Sweet Emotion" to be one of the greatest songs ever recorded.

So when I interviewed the man behind the song's monster riff, bassist Tom Hamilton (pictured, second from left), I couldn't resist bringing it up.

Our exchange won't doesn't appear in my Hamilton story running Thursday in Weekend to advance Aerosmith's Dec. 11 show at the Tampa Bay Times Forum, but lots of other stuff will, like what he thought about the band almost breaking up in 2009.

Anyway, here's Hamilton talking "Sweet Emotion," which first appeared on Aerosmith's landmark 1975 album "Toys in the Attic."

Me: I gotta ask. How did you come up with the killer riff of “Sweet Emotion”? I read you were inspired by Jeff Beck’s “Rough and Ready” (album).

Hamilton: We all lived in this apartment together and we had a stereo set up and listened to music together and Jeff Beck's "Rough and Ready" was on a lot. We're all Jeff Beck fans and he was going through a new phase. We would put it on and I was just absorbing the bass playing, how funky it was and energetic and thought, that is really cool. I didn’t try and learn anything but a lot of ideas just sank in. (On "Sweet Emotion") there's the  intro bass part, then verses, then the fast part, then the parts in between — those were the parts inspired by "Rough and Ready."

Me: Did you know you had come up with something special? Were you like, "Hey guys, listen to this!"

Hamilton: No, I've always been kind of shy about bringing my writing to the band. When I was first starting off with "Sweet Emotion" we were between "Get Your Wings" and "Toys in the Attic" and I played it for Steven and he was kind of encouraging and kind of like, "Next, what's going on?" So I ran back to my corner and developed more parts to my song. Then, what happened was we finished the basic tracks for "Toys" and (producer Jack Douglas) said we had a day to spare and if anyone had a spare riff, let’s hear it. So I stood up and said I have this thing. By the end of the day we had the arrangement done. But then were finished. Joey, Brad and I had to go up to Boston while Steven and Joe finished the album. Six weeks later, Steven and Joe come back all done and I heard that song and the rest of the album and it just blew my mind.

—Publicity photo of Aerosmith — from left  Joe Perry (guitar), Tom Hamilton (bass), Steven Tyler (vocals), Joey Kramer (drums) and Brad Whitford (guitar) — by Ross Haflin.

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