Aerosmith fans might be more than a little surprised to learn that Steven Tyler has always been a fan of country music. Tyler recalls with fondness that he spent many summer afternoons in New Hampshire rigging up his own homemade antenna, which consisted of a 50-foot wire and an old apple tree, just so Steven could pick up WOWO, a Fort Wayne, Indiana station.
“I’d listen to things like Johnny Horton’s ‘The Battle of New Orleans,’ ” Tyler says. “I loved the Everly Brothers, Duane Eddy, Jerry Lee Lewis.”
Steven has recently been exploring this new world of music as a musician with his first single, “Love Is Your Name,” debuting at Number 33 on the Billboard Country Airplay chart.
“I feel like a kid who just got laid for the first time,” says Tyler, 67. “Sometimes doing the same-old same-old gets a little constricting.”
Tyler could have settled down anyplace to compose the country music that calls to his heart, but he decided to let those creative juices flow in Nashville.
“I was here two years ago to present at a few awards shows, and I just fell in love with the place. I met [Big Machine Records CEO] Scott Borchetta. He offered to sign me to his label, and the rest is history,” said Steven. “Nashville is a mecca of song-age. I feel like one of the Three Wise Men that saw the star falling into Bethlehem.”
Steven Tyler is best known for rocking with Aerosmith and the singer-songwriter confesses that he was concerned his fans wouldn’t understand his need to explore country music, but, in the end, it’s about the creativity, not the popularity.
“It was kind of like taking American Idol. I thought, ‘Would Bob Dylan have taken Idol?’ But my heart and my muse sent me here,” Mr. Tyler says. “You know what I tell Aerosmith fans? Live with it. They don’t know that Dan Hicks is huge for me, and I listened to him while making our first album. It’s one of the things that spurred ‘Big Ten Inch Record.'”
Steven confesses that “Big Ten Inch Record” wasn’t the only song to have been influenced by his life-long interest in country music. Tyler lists just a few hits that spring to mind, when asked which songs fall under this same category.
“‘Cryin’. Listen to the lyrics. It was country — we just Aerosmith’d it. And how about ‘I Don’t Want to Miss a Thing’? Mark Chesnutt put out a country version and had a Number One hit,” Mr. Tyler points out.
When asked about the appeal for him personally, Steven lists the honesty as a big draw, Mr. Tyler says country music really exposes the male mind in a way that no other medium does.
“But country is changing. Jaren Johnston and the Cadillac Three and Florida Georgia Line are proving that you can go any which way. Modern country might add a little a cappella or raps or heavier beats,” says Steven, referring now more to music style than lyrics. “God knows Brad Paisley plays guitar like a motherfucker. I think country is the new rock & roll — everyone is trying to stretch out.”
Steven hasn’t given up on his rock and roll fans, he says. While exploring a new genre has been exhilarating for Tyler, he says it’s a side project and that his first love is still Aerosmith. In fact, Tyler looks forward to touring with Aerosmith with great anticipation.
“[Aerosmith is] the best rock & roll on the planet. Joe Perry is one of the last great touring guitar legends. The energy I feel with this band is ridonculous. I feel better than I ever did. We’re going to kick some a–.”
Rumors that the band hasn’t been getting along should be ignored, Steven warns. Tyler says that he and his fellow bandmates have never gotten along better.
“When Joe gets up in my s–t about something, I say, “Don’t squat with your spurs on.” It’s a band, and it’s a family. I’ll do it until I come screeching to a halt, all broken and battered and can’t stand up anymore. I’ll scream, ‘Yee-haw, what a ride!'”
Once Aerosmith finishes their tour, Steven says he’s looking forward to a solo tour to promote his solo album as well.
[Featured image: Steven Tyler courtesy of Taylor Hill/Getty Images for Miller Lite]