Chris VanDahl, lead vocalist of the Aerosmith tribute band, Aeromyth, is almost a dead ringer for Boston’s Steven Tyler. Van Dahl is also part of the longest running show in Las Vegas, “Legends in Concert”, at the Flamingo Hotel where he portrays Tyler alongside other notable artists. Without a doubt, he says he’s stopped regularly for autographs and photo ops. Aeromyth is a true tribute band, not a cover band.
Aeromyth came together back in 2003 with the name. “PUMP”, after Aerosmith’s 10th album, released in 1989. The band agreed on the name change because they covered the whole Aerosmith catalog and PUMP was limited. When VanDahl joined the band in 2007, they went through major changes, like eliminating band members who didn’t look the part. Neal Shelton, the Brad Whitford of the band, is the only original member left in the band.
VanDahl didn’t plan on becoming a tribute act, his first years in music were spent with original hard rock bands, LAGuns with Tracii Guns, Cherry Street, and Boneyard. He even went to extremes to change his look over the years because he wanted to be taken seriously as a musician.
Examiner spoke with Van Dahl over the phone while he was prepping himself for his nightly show in Las Vegas, pulling on his leopard jumpsuit and applying his eye liner.
Amy Nachbar: How long have you been doing Steven Tyler and Aeromyth?
Chris VanDahl: I started performing as Tyler about 10 years ago. I was actually approached two years before that, but, at the time I was living in northern Michigan cutting a record with the band, Pack of Wolves with Kenny Olson (formerly of Kid Rock) and Adam Kury of Candlebox.
I received a phone call from Neal Shelton, the Brad Whitford in Aeromyth. He had gotten my number from a mutual friend and told me he was looking for a Steven Tyler. I think I actually laughed when he told me that and said something along the lines of, “Look, I really appreciate your thinking of me but the last thing you will ever catch me doing is performing as Steven Tyler in a tribute band.” Then I mentioned the fact that I no longer lived in California and pointed out I was over 2000 miles away. Shelton, was persistent and kept in contact with me. We actually became friends of a sort at that time. Eventually, I made my way back to California. He badgered me for another year before I finally wore down and told him I would come check out his crappy band LOL!
AN: When you did go to check out the band, what was your first reaction? You made changes almost immediately didn’t you?
CVD: The funny thing is, when I finally went to see them, I had a great time. For the first time I remember thinking I wonder what would happen if I just embraced this? So after rehearsal was over I pulled Shelton aside and said, “Look if you really want me to do this I’m open to it but here’s the deal. We basically fire everybody and get the right guys because there’s no real point unless we nail it.” At the time I was waiting for him to tell me to go screw myself but instead he really surprised me by saying OK let’s do it. That was really the beginning of Aeromyth.
AN: What made you go from being the lead vocalist for LA Guns and other original bands, to an Aerosmith tribute band, an almost perfect replica of Aerosmith?
CVD: It was never really something I set out to do, not in the beginning anyway. I was still in the process of pursuing my career in original music when I got the call. When I eventually opened myself up to it, it just sort of snowballed. It started out as something fun to do. After all, we were covering music by the greatest American rock band in history. That may seem biased but it’s how I feel. The band went from playing $50 night shit holes to touring internationally and selling out large theaters all over the world. It just took on a life of its own.
Then I found myself in a band with Jimmy Crespo who replaced Joe Perry in Aerosmith from 1979 to 1984. After that, I ended up with Legends In Concert and have been doing it ever since.
This year we actually won the title for Best of Vegas.
AN: Do you have any other projects in the works aside from Aeromyth and the Legends show?
CVD: Right now I’m in the process of developing my own show in connection with Legends and Aeromyth. I can’t get into many of the specifics but I can say the people I’m working with to make this happen have a 33 year track record of nothing but success.
Legends In Concert is the longest running show in Las Vegas. As busy as I get balancing between Legends and the band, I’ve never really stopped making music of my own. I’m actually in the process of working on a record now with my guitarist and good friend Todd (Taz) Anthony, for our new band, Angels In Vein. We’re both really busy. Taz is also a producer/engineer and the CEO of Blue Ocean Music Group, but we’ve been slowly chipping away at it over the last year or so. The album is a killer!
AN: Do you have a date for your album release with Angels in Vein?
CVD: We’re not working on a deadline, so, when it’s done it’s done. But, I can tell you that I can’t wait for it to be released. I have a feeling it’s going to turn some heads. This one is nothing but a labor of love. I’ve been listening to some of these songs for nearly a year now and I’m still not sick of them.
That’s really saying something considering I don’t even own copies of a lot of my earlier work. American Hardcore the LA Guns record I did included. Nothing against the record but to be honest, I was an LA Guns fan long before I became a member of the band. To this day, I still think we should’ve changed the name of the band before releasing that album.
When this one comes out on the other hand, I have a feeling it’s going to sit at the top of my playlist for quite a while.