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Days before the presidential election, we talked politics with Aerosmith bassist Tom Hamilton, co-credited on group classics “Kings and Queens,” “Uncle Salty,” “Sweet Emotion,” “Sick as a Dog,” “Critical Mass,” and “Janie’s Got a Gun.” – Raoul Hernandez
Austin Chronicle: John Lydon recently spoke to the Chronicle about all heavy metallers being “Republican pigs.” Is that true? Is the hard rock/heavy metal community primarily a conservative one?
Tom Hamilton: I wouldn’t know about the metal people, although the vibe I get is, yes, very rightwing, a lot of people. But as far as my kind of band, I’m not even sure how to define my band. Hard rock is what I’ve said all my life. As a matter of fact, I’ve always hated it when we were lumped in with metal, not that I don’t love that kind of music. It’s just not what we are. So, I don’t know if you can say what the general political slant is of people in loud, crunchy, rock bands. Interesting question.
AC: Have any politicians licensed an Aerosmith song for a campaign?
TH: We were asked by the Kerry campaign, and it was very close to happening. They wanted to use “Walk This Way.” And I remember thinking, “Why on earth would they want to use a song about having sex with teenage girls?” [Laughs] So, that didn’t really stay on track. Hopefully some brainiac in the organization realized what the song was about.
AC: Funny that the Thin Lizzy estate didn’t want Mitt Romney’s campaign using “The Boys Are Back in Town.”
TH: Oh, I commend his taste, I have to say.
With the Formula One Grand Prix in town this weekend, we wondered if Cheap Trick singer Robin Zander had any interest in racing.
“When I was a young boy, a stock car guy used to live across the street from me, so I was close to that while growing up,” he recalls. “In Rockford [Illinois] there was the Rockford Speedway, and we used to attend that all the time.”
Cheap Trick has been opening for Aerosmith since May, and it’s rumored there’s a competition of sorts between the two 40-year-old rock bands.
“The truth is that we’ve known each other a long time and we’re pretty good friends,” chuckles the frontman. “We put up with each other’s egos and all that junk. Of course we go out and try to kick their asses every night. That’s just natural. But it’s all in good fun.
“They’re a great rock & roll band. We love touring with them. There’s a lot of connections over the years, so it’s like family. They’re our big brothers, and you just want to slap them around a little if you can.”
Zander also hints at a new project coming from his quartet in the new year, although he’s pretty cryptic about what it is.
“It’s going to be cool. It’s Cheap Trick!
“People know what we sound like and look like and some people even know what we smell like. But we’ve a got a lot of creativity within the group. Those juices flow once or twice a year, and we do something special with them. This time we’ve got a something-that’s-never-been-done-before kind of record.
“We think we’ve got something special going on.”
– Jim Caligiuri