John Kalodner Talks About Killing Aerosmith’s ‘Crappy Songs’
It's very common for an artist to say his most recent songs are his favorites, which is why an impartial opinion from an outside observer is often necessary in order to separate the wheat from the chaff and figure out which songs truly deserve to go on the next record. Legendary A&R exec John Kalodner filled that role for Aerosmith — among many other acts — during his illustrious career, but as he recently told the L.A. Weekly, his input wasn't always welcome in the studio.
Kalodner told the paper he and Aerosmith parted ways after the recording of 2001's Just Push Play over a disagreement regarding "Jaded," a hit single from the album. "That was such a great song. And I thought it was really poorly recorded digitally, and I complained about the sound of the record and I didn’t want them to record digitally," he recalled. "And [Steven] Tyler and [Joe] Perry were really pissed off. They got me tossed off after that. And they never had another hit again."
That break in their relationship came after a ton of albums sold in the '80s and early '90s — and a ton of arguments over which songs should make the cut. Kalodner remains particularly proud of the group's Get a Grip LP, which he said he forced them to re-record from scratch. "I made them write with all these different people. They were very resistant. The record is an interesting eclectic record with, like, five hit singles, very rare in music," he noted. "It sold like 20 million copies worldwide."
And from Kalodner's point of view, it was only whipped into multi-platinum shape after being mercilessly purged of subpar songs. "I threw out three or four or five of [Tyler's] crappy songs. For a genius performer, songwriter and singer to have such crappy songs, I just threw them out," he said. "I think they later used them on some record they put out in the last few years, or whatever. In any case, he would tell writers that the songs are his children, and so I kill his children. It’s a great quote. Only when you know him can you really appreciate it."
Kalodner retired in 2006, and as he sees it, there really aren't any A&R execs left who are willing to offer the type of honesty major artists need in order to save themselves from their own worst instincts — and sales have suffered accordingly.
"It’s very hard to tell superstars that their songs aren’t good enough, which is the main problem with most of these records, and there are only pussified people in the music business who will not tell ... you know, either they’re afraid for their salaries, their reputations, being disliked by the artists, there are many reasons why they won’t tell the artist the truth," he argued. "It’s a very hard thing to do."
Aerosmith Albums Ranked Worst to Best