Aerosmith: We Have Ways Of Making You Talk

AEROSMITH HAVE JUST BEEN INDUCTED INTO THE ROCK’N’ROLL HALL OF FAME. WE ASKED MAIN MAN STEVEN TYLER ABOUT 25 YEARS ON THE EDGE, NEW ALBUM JUST PUSH PLAY, AND MOVIE STAR DAUGHTERS

Have you already been to the gym this morning?
“Hey, whether I’m doing an interview with Uncut or with Howard Stern, I like to jumpstart the day. I wanna wake up with my pencil sharpened a little bit, y’know? And the reality is we’re going on tour again, and I’ll be out there for two hours every night, and I don’t wanna be huffin’ and puffin’ and falling on my face like I did in the Seventies! I wanna be payin’ the fiddler. I wanna be able to kick some ass. I was pretty fit even back then, I was just under a cloud. OK, I was unfit, I’ll cop to it.”

What was the key thing that made you clean up your act in the mid-Eighties?
“When I realised that my marriage had broken up. As for the band, we’d worked so hard to get a foot in the door in the early days, and we realised we were losing it all. So we put our energy into it again and got serious. We’d set our sights on something and accomplish it, whereas we’d just been doing that in the context of a party head. We just woke up: I was living in New York and my family were in New Hampshire and it wasn’t a good thing. If you’re going to be alive, why not have your eyes open somewhat? But magazines still go on about drugs. Even if I never mention them, they misquote me. I’m like: ‘Speedballs? What the fuck is that any more?'”

This is the first album you’ve co-produced, and the first without the manager you once said “saved your lives” during the dark years. How are you coping?
“We relied on that guy so much, and, like anyone, he’s a human being – he went south, and kinda took us with him for a month before we realised what he was doing. But these are all good things for us – we’ve got to rely on ourselves. When we’re onstage we’re all alone, man. Except for the audience, obviously. But whatever we wrote we’ve gotta play it out there, I’ve gotta keep my throat in shape, we’ve gotta put on a party for 60,000 people every night and remember to invite ourselves to it, which we haven’t always done, and we’ve gotta get the rock out there. Of course you like to think you’re this big star, and I love being embraced by anybody, but it’s really all about songs. You hit on a great song like ‘Jaded’ and you’re ecstatic. What doesn’t kill you makes you stronger.”

So you’re clearly not jaded?
“Oh, I don’t know about that. I’m not at all sure about that. With what we’ve been through? A few lessons have been learned. But I have a lust and longing to play live: Y’know, it’s not about us, or how old we are. Every fuckin’ article I read, it’s ‘the 52-year-old Tyler’. It’s not about me! It’s about the music, that aphrodisiac, and how it makes you feel. It’s about the way listening to Jimi Hendrix and Jimmy Page and Keith Richards made me feel when I was a teenager.

“Through all the noise, this band allows me the freedom to do what I want. I can write a song as stupid as ‘Just Press Play’ or ‘Dude Looks Like A Lady’; I can get my ya-yas out and get away with it! Then the press take the piss out of it, and then it’s Number One the next day. It’s a beautiful thing, man! You can’t keep it down!”

Do you ever listen to your old albums?
“I do when I go away. Soon I’ll inevitably stop off on some island with the family for a coupla weeks and sit outside and reminisce with those albums on.

“It’s like your photo album, y’ know? Looking back at all that shit you wrote so many years ago, it evokes so much emotion, such great feelings. Sure, there are some fillers, but I hate it when bands say their old stuff is crap – like Keith Richards really disappointed me that way once. It may not be ‘adult’, but it catches a moment. If it sucks or it’s good, I’ll take the credit or blame.”

Did you enjoy playing the Superbowl half-time show with Britney Spears?
“Hey, it started off as: do you wanna play with N-Sync? We were: well, that depends. Then we thought, there’ll be like 800 million people watching this around the world. So would we rather be sitting at home watching it on TV or kicking it off on the 50-yard line? Nobody gives a shit who else is on before you; you just blow them off anyway. If you’re proud of your music, that’s kinda what it’s all about. It was phenomenal exposure for the record, and as for playing with Britney – there’s politically correct and there’s musically correct, and music is free. You’ve gotta have the cheek, man. There’s no substitute for arrogance. And again, I’ve been misquoted; I didn’t say anything bad. All I actually said was I did it so I got to trade T-shirts with Britney. I didn’t say anything about her tits. Which I’m sure are beautiful.”

Did you see Almost Famous? Did it ring any bells?
“It was just like that, the whole lifestyle – I nearly married one of those girls. She’s in our book, Walk This Way, but I changed her name cos she’s married to a lawyer now. That’s how it was back then. Touring isn’t as glamorous as you’d think so when we came upon a bunch of girls like that, well, it was a good party time, that’s all I can tell you. There was nothing they wouldn’t do. Lotta fun. I never really ran into The Plastercasters though. Fortunately!”

Did you ever warn Liv away from showbiz?
“No, I always told her – it’s your turn now. And she does it so well. When I first saw her onscreen, I went through 10 minutes of ‘My God, that’s Liv, how beautiful she is’, but then I got caught up in her character. For her father to say that is – wow. She’s got a real knack, and she loves what she’s doing. We call each other up and whine about stuff, of course, so we share the misery but we enjoy the ride. That was one of the best moments for me, when Royston from Spacehog called to say they were getting married. They love each other dearly, and only time will tell, right? Who knows anything, y’know? This whole trip is just so fantastic. It is what it is.”

© Chris RobertsUncut, May 2001

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