Aerosmith’s Deuces Are Wild residency at the MGM Resorts Park Theater in Las Vegas, which opened this past April and runs into the new year, boasts a number of cutting-edge audio, video, and experiential enhancements. Among them is the THX Sound System, which gives fans the option to watch the show from onstage, with headphone access to studio-quality audio direct from the Aerosmith mixing board. We asked founding drummer Joey Kramer and recently added percussionist Colin Douglas to share their thoughts on this latest chapter of the band’s storied career.
“I have to say, I’m a fan of playing in one location for an extended period. It’s nice to not have to jump on a plane and keep switching up hotels every few days. I also like having my drums in one place because they get acclimated to the temperature they’re sitting in for three weeks. So they don’t go from AC to a road case and in the back of a hot truck. As we all know, temperature changes affect wood and the sound of the drums.
I endorsed Pearl drums, and I helped them design the Vegas kit with my drum tech, John Douglas. It represents what Vegas is all about, with lots of bling and flash that look amazing under the lights. The last few years I used an acrylic kit, but this time around I went with a maple Masterworks set, which has a 9×13 tom, 16×16 and 18×18 floor toms, and an 18×24 bass drum. For my snare, I’m using a 6.5×14 aluminum UltraCast model. I use Remo drumheads and a mix of Zildjian A crashes, Rezo hi-hats, and my trusty Z 21″ Mega Bell ride.
The THX mix is something we wanted to do for the audience to have an experience like never before. I’m a creature of habit; I’ve had the ear mix that I like for many years, and I don’t mess with it. But I hear from everyone who’s seen the show that the sound is amazing. Ironically, I’ll never get to hear what we sound like live!
I work out a lot when I’m home, but when we’re on the road, playing almost two hours a night, three or four shows a week, is my workout. If we have more than a few days off in between shows, I’ll hit the hotel gym. I like doing workouts with TRX straps and riding the bike.
You have to entertain yourself onstage and feed off the audience as well. We switch up the set list with a few songs but keep the core list. There’s a certain momentum that happens when you play the same set nightly. A couple of the songs I like to play every night are “Love in an Elevator” and “Lord of the Thighs.” Both of those allow me to stretch out a bit more than normal.”
Tools of the Trade
Joey Kramer plays Pearl drums, Zildjian cymbals and sticks, and Remo heads. Colin Douglas plays Pearl percussion, including Bobby Allende signature congas and bongos, Marc Quinones signature timbales, and various tambourines, cowbells, and shakers.
“So far it’s been an amazing experience playing with Aerosmith for this Vegas residency. I have to say, when I first got the call I was a little surprised that the band wanted to add a percussionist. Though I’d worked a bit with Joe Perry on his latest solo release, and I knew that he loved experimenting with percussion and exploring the African roots of early rock ’n’ roll. Of course when I dug into the Aerosmith catalog, I soon realized that their music has tons of percussion. It made a lot of sense when we started rehearsing, and I realized that in addition to Joey being an amazing drummer/percussionist, Steven Tyler is great as well. He would often stand behind my setup and make up really cool patterns.
My whole world [depends on] what I get in my in-ear monitors. My job basically is to stick to Joey like glue with my percussion parts and make sure we’re sounding tight as a unit out in the house.
From the feedback I hear, the THX system is amazing. I know the fans in the side-stage area have in-ears and can choose from several different mixes including Stevens’ in-ear mix. That idea is really cool, especially for someone who’s been to a lot of Aerosmith shows and wants a new, more immersive way to experience the band. I think the main challenge for the band and the producers is to find a middle ground between the precision/repetition of a typical Vegas show and the incredible spontaneous energy of an Aerosmith live show. I think they’ve done a great job.”
The THX Experience
Concertgoers who purchase tickets for the onstage VIP section on Aerosmith’s Vegas residency receive their own pair of THX-certified 1MORE Triple Driver in-ear headphones to use during the show and take home afterwards. The VIP “bar area” is designed to offer an unparalleled onstage vantage point in the middle of the action. Via the headphones, fans gain access to studio-quality audio direct from the Aerosmith mixing board, via Mixhalo audio technology.
THX Ltd. was founded in 1983 by filmmaker George Lucas (Star Wars, Indiana Jones) and partners to provide premium entertainment experiences in the cinema, in the home, and on the go. Every vantage point in the Park Theater, the first THX-certified live performance venue featuring L-Acoustics L-ISA Immersive Hyperreal Sound, brings fans “face to face” with the band. Included in the production design is a walkway that stretches from the stage to the balcony seats.
To win an opportunity to see Aerosmith and experience this immersive new technology, visit moderndrummer.com/VIP, and take part in our Give the Drummer Some VIP contest.