I'm not sure anyone, including veteran rocker Danny Deane, ever plans on being a tribute artist from a young age. A few decades ago, back in Ontario, he and his band, Mr. Bones, were on their way to becoming Canadian rock gods. But the music industry is a fickle mistress and although they had great success on the local club circuit and beyond, the big break never came through.
Deane once described Mr. Bones as "two guitars, a bass, drums and a screaming white guy up front." Even though years have passed, Deane's latest project, Aerosmith Rocks, follows the same formula for making great music.
Deane had been told he could probably pull off being a Steven Tyler tribute artist. He knew Aerosmith was one of the richest North American bands to draw from as far as demographics went, and they had an amazing track record that started in the mid-70s. Armed with his raw talent and a lot of enthusiasm, he formed Aerosmith Rocks in 2008.
"I never would have seen myself doing this years ago," said Deane from his home in Victoria. "But, as time goes on you realize there is a bit better structure and a working mans aspect to the tribute scene. The gigs are better and you get better players who are seasoned in the industry."
Deane worked on launching the new band and building up their name. Before they went live they produced some demos and much to Deane's surprise he got drafted into the longest running Aerosmith Tribute band, the Toxic Twins, out of the United Kingdom. He went on tour for two years throughout the greater UK, Scotland, Belgium, the Netherlands and the Channel Islands.
When he returned to Victoria he wanted to put Aerosmith Rocks back together again. At that time the only two members of the band left were Deane as Stephen Tyler and Dan Parker as Brad Whitford. "When I got back to Canada a friend of mine was launching Victoria Idol," said Deane. " I was asked to come and play as Aerosmith Rocks. Problem was, there was only Dan and me. I ended up hiring some members of That '70s Band to fill in for bass, drummer and guitar."
After the gig was over Deane was going to head to Vancouver to look for the three missing members. As it turned out the guys from That 70s Band decided to stay on. The band was now complete and comprised of Scott Oakley on lead portraying Joe “f'ing” Perry, Dan Parker on rhythm guitar as Brad Whitford, Gordon Grand on bass being Mr. Tom Hamilton, Duane Franklin as Joey Kramer on drums, and Danny Deane as lead singer, Steven Tyler.
"The guys were great," said Deane. "We took a year to rehearse in order for us to get the quality of the gigs we were after. Our first gig after Victoria Idol was New Years of 2011 when we played Fort McMurray for two nights. We've been clicking well ever since."
Deane says the band is giving their youngest member, Dan Parker, the wrong impression of the music industry. "The industry should be fraught with assholes but we all work so well together and wherever we've played the people have been great. Everyone at every venue from production staff to the crowds has been golden. The local media has received us well and know this is a hot act."
Being a hot act comes with its own set of pitfalls. "There is pressure on our shoulders to deliver," explains Deane. "We have to prove ourselves. My greatest area of pride within this band is that no one is a clone or spitting image, but we have a great sensibility and take all of the Aerosmith material to a very discerning audience. At the end of the day for us it is more than just a five-minute visual presentation. It's about recreating a 90 minute sound experience."
Deane was asked if being a tribute artist took away from his vision of what it means to be a professional musician. "This is the best job a career minded musician can have to remain actively employed in music they enjoy and be proud of what they are putting on stage. I went into this whole thing a little uneasy as these are very big shoes to fill."
Deane and the rest of Aerosmith Rocks fill those shoes quite nicely. With a new Aerosmith album due out this year, Aerosmith Rocks will definitely be in demand for a few years to come.
Gigs for 2012 include:
Summerland Action Fest, (BC) June 3, 97 St. Pub (Kelowna, BC) June 30, Funtastic Music Festival in Vernon (BC) on July 1, the Edson (AB) Slo-Pitch Tournament on August 4, the Lethbridge (AB) Monster Jam on August 10, Sun Peaks Resort (BC) on August 18 and the Camrose Music Festival (AB), on August 25.
For more information on Aerosmith Rocks and upcoming tour dates go to aerosmithrocks.ca