Steven Tyler

HOW THE devil are you?

Excellent! Man, we’re moving hellfire here and getting ready to burn up the West Coast, then we’re home, 10 days off and on to South America for five dates, then it’s the Brandenburg Gate in Berlin, then we go back to the States again for a little clean-up run – we had a lot of snow dates to do from last winter. We start our new album in March, so we should be just about finished by August – kicking ass and leaving footprints!

What do you think of when you think of Q?

I love it! I love the way you take the piss out of people right off the bang.

How’s your life changed in the last eight years?

The last eight years have been what the first 10 were supposed to be like. We had a great run in the ’70s, then in the ’80s we started to fizzle out. Then eight years ago we climbed out of the ashes. One of the biggest hurdles was, Would I still be creative if I don’t smoke a joint first? Can I get a flow of thoughts out of my head without a line of cocaine or whatever my drug of choice was? Then you come to find out that you can get it back, and then some. You can actually remember things without a tape-recorder!

And your albums…

We had a great string of albums on Geffen. I had a very hard time doing Done With Mirrors but a fucking great time doing Pump. That shows me that we’re doing something right, that we’re having more fun than we had before. It used to be tearing your hair out and spending more money on drugs than on the recording procedure. It’s been phenomenal.

How else have things been better?

We’ve had a chance to go to South America, Budapest and Prague, places in Europe where we’d never been before, because our management was too worried about our drug use, and a lot of places in Canada where we couldn’t get anybody to let us into their house, let alone play. A lot of good shit has come to us.

Happy days!

We’ve had a chance to do it all over again. The only thing we ever wanted was to make it big in a fucking rock ‘n ‘roll band and have people like us. If you peel back the layers of the onion, you get to, Why do you want to play the fucking Ramrod Room in New York, the Scene, and go on tour with The Kinks and The Mahavishnu Orchestra? Because you saw your peers doing it, and you couldn’t believe they did it so well. And you figured that if they could make it, you could get somewhere. It’s above and beyond your wildest when it hits.

Did you always know that you’d make it?

I used to say in the ’70s that there were 10,000 rock ‘n’ roll bands trying to make it in Boston, and we got picked. But the buzz is so phenomenonal the second time around. It’s so intoxicating. We’re a band that loves to play, that needs to play. We like what MTV do for us, but we didn’t need them in the ’70s and we don’t need them now. We’re still a people’s band, and that’s what gets me off the most. We like to rape, pillage and get out of town, but at least we leave a good flavour in the mouth of the kids who come to hear us. It’s like Chrissie Hynde says: “I was a good time!” It’s all I can hope for, and I feel really blessed, and really lucky.

When are the best times of all?

There’s moments on stage when I’m almost stoned – it’s like lucid dreaming. I can’t believe I’m really up there. Kids going fucking apeshit, and I don’t even know where I am half the time. I’m in a spin-out – fuck work, fuck the rent, I’m going to have a good time tonight.

How was Woodstock 2?

Not as much fun as the first one. The first one I showed up as a spectator, but this one I was the carrot on the end of the stick. When I sat and watched Hendrix and Joe Cocker in 1960-whatever – and The Who especially – I had those deranged thoughts watching them up on stage thinking, Some day I could be that spectacular – the experience totally outweighed this one. This one, we came in on a boat – we decided not to helicopter after all the deaths, like Stevie Ray – took a huge land yacht in. It was about 10 o’clock at night, and we didn’t go on until two. You have all those people backstage and the press is coming to you – every time I went out of my trailer there were millions of flash cubes in my face. It wasn’t my idea of Woodstock. I would rather have been out there rolling around in the mud. Had I been there as a spectator, I’d have been fucked up and had that experience again.

Tell us about the first Woodstock.

I went with a friend and somebody stole the gas cap to the car and since it rained for two days, the gas tank got full of water and we couldn’t leave. After everybody else had left, the fields all around looked like there’d been a war but with no bodies – sleeping bags instead of bodies. I still have a Coca-Cola cooler that I’d stolen, and I went around picking up everybody’s pipes. There’s a banner that hung behind us at Woodstock with a stick figure holding a cornucopia, and with a dick, or a tail, between his legs – I stole that. My tent was over at Wavy Gravy’s Hog Farm where the helicopters were dropping hot dogs out of the sky when it was declared a disaster area. So I had to walk to the Hog Farm through a strip of woods with Christmas lights running through them about a quarter-mile – it was called Groovy Way – and after everybody left I stole these banners and had them duplicated. That’s what we used to use in 1971 for our backdrop when Aerosmith used to do those clubs in New York that we still have scars from, though I wouldn’t trade those days for anything. Having done that, tripping so much and meeting Joey Kramer, our drummer there – and I bumped into Janis Joplin walking down that path – it was such a trip, something I’ll never forget, ever. I was walking down this path, both tripping our asses off, I didn’t realise it was him until about five feet from him – we grunted and went on our merry way.

This time, I’ll never forget walking on stage and the good Lord, in his great sense of humour, as soon as I sang the first lyric in ‘Eat The Rich’, started pouring profusely. The first Woodstock was Woodstock; this one just used the name.

What are you doing over Christmas?

Being on the road like this for over a year and half, time goes so fast, so I’m looking forward to some home life for my psyche to get a sense of a fresh beginning. Christmas is a good time to be with my family – the kids, Mia and Liv, and snow and sleigh-riding and Christmas tree and carols. I love that sort of thing – I had a great childhood with that. But I need to get away somewhere, to an island – I don’t know. But at Christmas I’m gonna be a daddy – after all, I’ve been a fuckin’ mutha the last year and a half! Hahahaha!

Tell us a joke.

How about a limerick? OK, lemme see what I got here:

There once was a girl from Tobruk,

Who referred to her…

Yes, we think we’ve probably heard this one before…

…as a nook.

It’s as deep as it’s wide,

You can crawl up inside,

With a nice easy chair and a book.

© Mat SnowQ, January 1995

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