In 2016, various members of Aerosmith indulged their outside musical interests. Steven Tyler went to south to record a country album in Nashville, Joe Perry headed west to record with the Hollywood Vampires, and Brad Whitford revived his 1981 side project with Ted Nugent singer Derek St. Holmes. But Aerosmith's spiky-haired, funk-adoring drummer Joey Kramer used the reprieve to focus on a different dream: running a coffee business.
"We took a year off," said Kramer. "And this is what I decided to do." Joey Kramer's Rockin' and Roastin' Cafe opened its first location in North Attleboro, Massachusetts, in July. When he visits, Kramer mixes the espresso and the Sumatra together. "Served black," he said, "It's delicious."
Kramer's friend, billionaire Boston car magnate Ernie Boch Jr., gave Kramer the real estate for his first brick-and-mortar store. Boch told Kramer he didn't want to see the space go to another Starbucks. "I'm about quality, and [Starbucks] is about quantity," the drummer says. "It's a really competitive industry for independent roasters like us." The store marks the culmination of Kramer's now-five-year-old coffee-roasting company.
Kramer got the idea when he and his wife Linda, a Houston native and former HP executive, moved to a quiet ranch outside San Antonio. In Texas, the drummer was inspired by the homegrown coffee scene percolating in Austin. He sampled and took ideas from the miscellany of boutique stores, including coffee served on tap that's cold brewed with nitrogen, giving it a slight carbonation.
But while Kramer has been soaking in the art of coffee-brewing and learning how to run a small business, the Aerosmith breakup rumor mill has quickened. Last year, Steven Tyler told shock jock Howard Stern than Aerosmith's next tour would be their last. Months later, guitarist Joe Perry collapsed onstage in Brooklyn, New York, allegedly due to exhaustion. It's caused fans to wonder: Even if Aerosmith wanted to tour again, are they able to?
Kramer is also dubious about the band's immediate future. But he says it's not because of Steven Tyler, who he says has the right to enjoy his solo career. "It's something he needed to get out of his system," said Kramer of Tyler's solo act. "He can put that notch on his pistol as long as it doesn't interfere with what he's doing in [Aerosmith]."
The drummer is more concerned with the toll touring takes on the health of his bandmates. Perry is on the mend ("playing better than ever in my opinion"), he said, but the challenges of touring in one's sixties are daunting. In 2014, Kramer also fell onstage during an Aerosmith concert during their Let Rock Rule tour, suffering a heart issue that turned out to be chronic and resulted in surgery.
"It surprised the shit out of me when it happened," Kramer says. "I exercise every day, I'm conscientious about my health. I thought it was heartburn or indigestion. We're not 25-year-olds anymore – we can't play as many shows as we used to. Steven can't sing two nights in a row or three to four nights a week – it's physically impossible. So it becomes a question of going out [on tour] less than we used to, or not doing it at all."
"Aerosmith is all of our first loves, but I also don't know many other people who have consistently done the same job for 45 years," said Kramer. "As we're getting older, we've been kicking the idea [to end the band], but a final decision hasn't been made."