Aerosmith Fan Katie Talks the Impact of the Music; A Phone-call with Steven Tyler & Meeting the Band
"I really feel like Aerosmith has a song for everyone. They have put out so much music in their career that people are bound to find one they like or that resonates with them." - Katie
Hi Katie! Thank-You so much for agreeing to speak with us today about your love for legendary rock band Aerosmith. I am SO excited to speak with you albeit virtually and to hear more about the impact that they’ve made in your life. So first things first…would you mind introducing yourself to our readers?
Hi, y’all! I’m Katie, I’m 23, and I live in Central Illinois here in the US. I am a recent college graduate (last Fall) where I got my BS in Aviation Management and a minor in Music. Since people always ask, my major taught me pretty much everything relating to the aviation industry EXCEPT actually flying planes. Most people in my major pick a minor like communication or business but, I have never been one to follow the crowd, and went for a minor I knew I would enjoy. I haven’t really started much of a job hunt to start my aviation career because there are not a whole lot of jobs available right now due to Covid. Right now, I am working at a coffee shop in my hometown and loving it! At school, I was very involved in our fine arts program, participating in concert, jazz, and pep bands, which has led me to have a very diverse taste in music! Of course my main interest is in classic rock but I also enjoy the blues, folk rock, jazz, some pop, and a bit of classical.
I always think the best way to kick off each interview is to take a step back in time to the beginning of your journey. With that in mind, I’m curious to ask how your love for Aerosmith began?
From a super young age, I was exposed to classic rock. I remember seeing a home video of myself from when I was about 2 and Led Zeppelin was playing in the background. My mom was always listening to our local classic rock station in the car (when I wasn’t begging her to play Kidz Bop). My love for Aerosmith really began when I saw the movie, “Blades of Glory” for the first time when I was 9. There’s a scene that includes Aerosmith’s hit, “I Don’t Want to Miss a Thing” and I immediately downloaded the song. What really drew me to the song was Steven Tyler’s voice, especially when he hits the super high notes. I had never heard someone sing like that. At that point, I knew who Aerosmith were and I knew a handful of their songs. Then, in 2011, when Steven Tyler became a judge on American Idol for 2 seasons, I felt like I was able to get a good idea of who he was as a person which led to me absorbing as much Aerosmith content as I could. I listened to all of their albums and learned about all of the band members. I was hooked from that point on.
Looking back at your time following the band what sort of impact have they made within your life?
There have been times where it felt like their music was all I had. They (and their music) have been with me for the highest highs and lowest lows in my life. The toughest time of my life, right after my dad died suddenly when I was 13, was a complete blur. I don’t remember much from the first few days, but I remember this moment. My mom and I were speaking with the minister at the church where his funeral was going to be held, making all of the arrangements for that day. The whole conversation was too much for me to handle but thankfully, I had brought my headphones with me. I bet you can guess whose music I chose to listen to.
Aerosmith have been in the business since forming back in 1970 and in that time have lead a colourful and insanely successful career…what is it about them that has gained such longevity in such a fast moving and sadly disposable industry?
I really feel like Aerosmith has a song for everyone. They have put out so much music in their career that people are bound to find one they like or that resonates with them. I also have to give some of the credit to the fans. People that were fans back in the day started families and got their kids into the music!
There has been a lot of highlights over the years but what would you describe as the pinnacle of their career?
The time period that I see as the pinnacle of their career is the late 80’s. Years earlier, in 1979, Joe Perry and Brad Whitford had left the band and pursued other projects. I think many people saw their departure as the end of Aerosmith. They both returned to the band a few years later and the band picked up right where they left off. It was around that time when they collaborated with Run DMC to record the song, “Walk This Way.” Run DMC’s cover of the song was very successful and I believe it set the band on a trajectory to become as popular (if not more popular) as they were in the 70’s.
Elaborating a little upon the previous question…how do you think Aerosmith will be remembered in future? What sort of legacy have they created as a band?
I hope they will be remembered for their resiliency in continuing to be a part of the music industry. All of the guys have been to hell and back both as part of the band and in their own personal lives. Despite all of these struggles, they have continued to get together and keep making music because I feel like they truly care about their fans and putting on a killer show for them.
Hard question I know…but is there a particular Aerosmith song that you’d describe as your favourite? What does it mean to you?
My favorite Aerosmith song changes at least once a week. But, I will say one that has always been at the top of my list is “Amazing.” Listening to it always gets me in my feelings but in the best way possible.
Let’s talk a little about the community surrounding Aerosmith…are you quite involved in the fanbase?
For sure. Aerosmith fans, called the Blue Army, are some of the coolest people in the world. I have been lucky enough to meet up with a handful of them at some of their concerts!
I love the fact that music has the power to bring people together and through our favourite bands or artists, friendships are often created. Has this been the case for you as an Aerosmith fan?
ABSOLUTELY. When I first joined twitter, after following Aerosmith and all of the band members, I started following different people based off of twitter’s suggestions since I followed Aerosmith. I found a few ladies my age and over the years we interacted with each other’s tweets and eventually started a group chat! Our little group, named “The Gorls” talks everyday and hang out on zoom when we can. It would be a dream to meet up with all of them one day and see a concert together.
I think one of the most exciting parts of being a fan is finally getting to see your favourite band in concert, can you remember your first Aerosmith concert? Talk us through the experience…
My first Aerosmith concert was with my mom in 2012 in Chicago. Our seats were in the first row of the third bowl of the arena, so not the best seats. That didn’t matter, though. I was just over the moon to be there. My favorite part was when the encore began. Smoke flooded the end of the catwalk and Steven’s white piano rose up from underneath the stage with him sitting at the bench. When I heard the first few notes of “Dream On” playing, I started crying. That was the first of many times I have cried at one of their shows. That song means so much to me and to finally hear it live after years of being their fan was incredible.
And how would you describe them as live performers? What makes an Aerosmith concert so memorable?
Despite being as old as they are, Aerosmith brings so much energy to every concert they put on. They are constantly moving around. Of course Steven isn’t doing backflips like he did back in the day anymore but, the amount he moves around during shows (while singing as well as he does) would have me winded after one song, and I am a third of his age! During their Vegas show, the theater was set up so they could easily go out into the crowd while playing. They always go the extra mile to interact with fans. During “Walk This Way”, Steven has been known to get girls in the front row to come up on stage and dance with him! I actually know a couple ladies that have gotten to do that!
Having seen them band live on five occasions, has there been a stand out moment for you?
Every single concert has had its own stand out moments but one that comes to mind is right when their concert in Vegas began. I worked my butt off to get there. I bought my own tickets, flight, and hotel because I was so determined to see them during their residency. When the show finally began, it finally hit me that I actually had made it out there and that all the hard work I had put in that summer had paid off. It was my first “big girl trip” traveling somewhere completely alone and I was so proud of myself for doing it and it was totally worth it.
You’ve also had a couple of interactions with various members of band? How on earth that did that come to fruition?! Did they live up to expectations?
Some days I still don’t believe how this came to be. I have a friend that I met through a past boyfriend of my Mom’s. They were coworkers out in LA. When my mom and I flew out to visit her boyfriend, we had to stop by his work on a Saturday to pick something up. His friend just happened to be there too! My mom’s boyfriend had already told him about me and how big of a fan I was so we got to talk for a little bit about the band. He mentioned that two weeks from then, the band would be out in LA playing at the Staples Center and that he was going. (Remember this for later) This friend has known the band since the 70’s when they were first starting out. He and Joey Kramer are especially close. (They’re both drummers.) As far as the band members I’ve met living up to my expectations, they exceeded them BY FAR. All of them were so kind and I could tell they genuinely enjoyed meeting me and talking with me.
I believe you have a story about your meeting with Steven Tyler…would you sharing it with our readers?
So, I actually met Steven in person almost 4 years after I talked with him on the phone. (see the next question for more on this) In 2016 and for a couple years after, Steven did a bit of a side project that had more of a country feel. He toured with the Loving Mary Band and they were playing a show in Chicago! I looked at the meet and greet prices and they were way cheaper than if I wanted to meet him at an Aerosmith show. Ever since I talked on the phone with him, I had wanted to thank him in person and tell him how much that moment changed my life. As soon as I said the name of my friend he remembered the call. I was crying as soon as I saw him but knowing he remembered me completely sent me over the edge. In fact, in our picture together, my face was nearly the same color as the pink shirt he was wearing because of how hard I was crying! It made me so happy to finally be able to thank him for all the kindness he showed me a few years prior.
You also had a phone call with Steven…what was going through your head speaking to him? What did you guys chat about?
Remember a few questions ago where I mentioned that my friend was going to be at Aerosmith’s show in LA a couple weeks after we met? It happened that night. Earlier that day, when my mom picked me up from school, she said that if I get a call from an unknown number to answer it. I somehow put two and two together and figured out that the Aerosmith show in LA and this unknown phone call were somehow related. I had no idea who I would be talking to on the phone at that point. Later that night, my friend was backstage hanging out before the show with the guys and he told Steven about me. I had mentioned earlier that my dad died suddenly when I was 13. This all took place a little over a year later. My friend told all of this to Steven and told him how big of a fan I was. He then proceeded to take my friend’s phone, head to his dressing room, and call me. It was just before 10pm my time when my phone started ringing. It came up on my phone that the call was coming from Los Angeles. I panicked and froze for a couple seconds before my mom yelled at me to answer it. I picked up the phone and I heard on the other end, “Hi Katie, this is Steven Tyler.” He told me about how he had lost both of his parents (I think his dad had passed pretty recently) but how it was so much harder for me because I was so young. I was 13 when my dad died and 14 when he called me. He kept asking me if I was doing okay and I remember one time saying, “I’m great now!” because I was literally on the phone with my idol. In reality, I had been at one of the lowest points of my life. I was still grieving and struggling to adjust to high school. The entire phone call was a bit of a blur to me but I remember saying “Oh my God” like every other sentence. He wrapped up the phone call by saying, “and I just want you to know that I love you.” After I picked my jaw up off the floor, I told him I loved him too. The phone call was fairly short, maybe 3 or 4 minutes long. I spent the following 30 minutes curled up in my bed crying because I couldn’t believe that had just happened. Heck, it has been almost 9 years and I still forget that it actually happened on occasion.
You’ve also had a chance to meet with both Joe Perry and Joey Kramer…can I ask a little about this? What were the guys like in person?
I have met Joey three times at Aerosmith concerts. The first two times, my friend hooked me, my mom, and her boyfriend up with backstage passes. We were in communication with Joey’s assistant who took us back to his dressing room. By the time we got to his dressing room the first time, I was nearly hyperventilating from pure excitement.
I had brought a drumming magazine that featured an interview my friend had done with Joey a few months earlier and he signed it. He also gave me a pair of his signature drum sticks, the same ones he uses when performing. He also signed all of our backstage passes! Joey was so sweet and welcoming. He also gives the best hugs, he’s like a teddy bear. Doing the same thing a year later at another concert had me just as excited as the first time. It was so fun getting to hang out with him for a little bit before the show. The third time, I got tickets to a Q&A session he did before the show. The funniest thing about this time meeting him is that his wife was there too and she recognized me from the photos I had taken with Joey the past two times I met him!
I met Joe in 2014 when I went to one of his book signings when his autobiography, “Rocks”, came out. Everyone got the chance to go up to Joe, get our books signed, and get a photo with him. Joe is one of the more “quiet” members of the band, especially compared to Steven. I was apparently so visibly excited that he was concerned about me when I went up to greet him and he asked if I was okay.
I also noted that you’ve had the chance to go backstage which in itself is really awesome…when you think of going backstage at a rock concert for a band like Aerosmith, I always imagine it would be a flurry of activity? Was the reality as Rock & Roll as one might imagine?
Going backstage both times was pretty chill. Joey’s assistant met us at a door sort of off to the side of where the stage was to take us back to his dressing room. We went through a few hallways, up a flight of stairs, and we were there. I feel like we passed maybe 1 or 2 people backstage on our way there. The area of backstage that I saw just looked like the inside of any other building, really.
Approaching the end of the interview I always like fans to have a chance to share a few words so I wondered if you had a message for the guys from Aerosmith?
You guys have changed my life, both through your music and because of who you are as people. You have been with me in every step of my life since I became a fan of yours. You have been with me as I’ve grown from this shy, little 9 year old girl into this strong, smart 23 year old. I wouldn’t even be close to the same person I am today if it weren’t for you.
And finally…if you could recommend an Aerosmith song to someone who isn’t necessarily familiar with their music what would you choose?
Can I recommend an entire album? If so, listen to “Toys in the Attic.” This album features hits such as “Walk This Way” and “Sweet Emotion” as well as some lesser known gems. I think this album best showcases the band and the range of songs they can perform.
A huge thank-you to Katie for sharing her truly incredible experiences with us. As a big fan of classic rock myself, it's truly awesome to dive into this world through Fan Features and hear more about what the music means to fans like Katie. Aerosmith are a timeless band that will continue to make an impact throughout each generation but to hear first hand just how profound an impact their music has made is what makes them such a significant part of music history. Katie's experiences with each of the band members are ones a fan can only dream of and to hear that the guys have such a deep respect for their fanbase has gained my complete admiration.