Aerosmith tried to record what would ultimately become Music From Another Dimension at least two times prior to the sessions with producer Jack Douglas during 2011 and 2012. In 2006 the band entered the studio to supposedly work on a new album. Those sessions resulted in the two tracks “Sedona Sunrise” and “Devil's Got a New Disguise” that were included on the compilation Devil's Got a New Disguise. Both songs were re-worked leftovers from as far back as Pump and Get A Grip. A second batch of sessions with producer Brendan O'Brien was held in the spring of 2009, but those were halted when the band couldn't finish recording in time for their summer tour with ZZ Top. After that there were a few tumultuous years for the band but the guys finally managed recording their new album in July 2011.
Music From Another Dimension contains some riffs and song ideas from sessions dating as far back as when the band was working on the Pump album. But what makes this recording special is that it has contributions from all five band members. Usually it is just Steven Tyler and Joe Perry who write the bulk of the tracks, along with songwriter Marti Frederiksen. This time around, bassist Tom Hamilton has contributed the song “Tell Me.” Although he has been credited as co-writer on a couple of songs in the past, most notably “Sweet Emotion,” it is the first time that he has penned an Aerosmith song by himself. There are also a couple of Tyler/Perry compositions on the album “LUV XXX,” and “Out Go the Lights.” These two songs are probably the strongest songs on the album,
With the songs “LUV XXX,” and “Out Go the Lights” it is the first time that songs penned solely by Tyler/Perry have appeared on an Aerosmith album since the song “Fever” on Get A Grip in 1993. The basis for “Out Go The Lights” had been around for quite some time, as Steven Tyler explained to Classic Rock in their December 2012 issue: “They were just sitting there. The song 'Out Go The Lights' was originally 'Bobbing For Piranha' [from the 1989 sessions for Pump], but I just never wrote lyrics to it. It was a great Joe Perry lick, and I arranged it with the band a gazillion years ago, but we never added any lyrics and I knew the lick was so good. Jimmy Page would have paid good money for it. All I had to do was finish it.”
Another song that dates back to the Pump era is the first single from Music From Another Dimension, “Legendary Child.” The riff for the song was actually used by Aerosmith in 1990 on the Pump Tour. The song was co-written with Canadian songwriter Jim Vallance, who also co-wrote the Aerosmith mega-hit “Rag Doll.” But both Tyler and Perry are quick to point out that although some of the songs on the new album might stem from old recording sessions, they were far from finished pieces of music. Whitford commented on the riff for “Street Jesus” in an interview with MusicRadar: “The lick itself I've been kicking around for years; it was waiting around, looking for something to latch onto.”
Most of the new Aerosmith album was recorded in the band's Vindaloo Studio. But some tracks were recorded in Joe Perry's basement studio, the Boneyard. Perry said in an interview with Guitar World, in their Holiday 2012 issue: “I have certain pieces of old equipment that we don't have at the other studio, and I really like the guitar sounds I get at the Boneyard... I have a little collection of old Maestro stuff, the old Gibson effect boxes. It's so easy to plug any of that stuff in.”
When it came to guitars, Perry relied heavily on his latest Gibson Les Paul signature Les Paul. Perry told Guitar World “I used the second signature model Gibson made for me, because of the way the pickups are turned on those. On those models I did the same thing as on the fabled Peter Green Les Paul, where the magnets in the bridge pickup weren't put in the way they were supposed to be. If you put the pickup selector in the middle position and set the tone controls right, you can get close to the sound that I think Les himself was going for.”
It wasn't only Joe Perry that used Gibson equipment during the recording of Music From Another Dimension. Brad Whitford had a Gibson Goldtop as his main guitar during the sessions, as he told MusicRadar: “I used to have a '68 Les Paul goldtop P-90 guitar that ended up going by the wayside. I've looked all over to try to find a substitute, and I managed to find another one up in Boston. That guitar was a real go-to for the album.” Whitford continues by saying “I'm still enamored with guitars, and I'm still out there buying them, although I don't need to. Really – over the last few months, I've bought three different Les Pauls, all beautiful guitars.”
The acoustic guitar heard on the Perry-penned and sung track “Freedom Fighter” is a Gibson L00 from the 1930s. The guitar came from actor Johnny Depp's guitar collection, as Perry explains to Guitar World: “He's got one of the finest acoustic guitar collections of anybody I know. And that's where I got that old Gibson acoustic.” Depp himself actually sings background vocals on the track.
Music From Another Dimension debuted at #5 on the Billboard 200 chart and Aerosmith have just wrapped up a U.S. tour in support of the album. Can we assume that a second leg, and perhaps a trip to Europe is in the books for 2013?