Just push 'patriotic' for a new attitude
Aerosmith's Tyler calls for serious thinking
October 25, 2001
BY BRIAN MCCOLLUM
FREE PRESS POP MUSIC WRITER
If you don't believe America is a different place these days, just chat with Steven Tyler.
The Aerosmith vocalist -- certifiably one of the 1970s' most decadent rock 'n' roll wild men -- has wrapped himself in the red, white and blue. And he has some unexpected pronouncements to make.
Like this one: "We need to go back to the way it was 30 years ago, when everybody had Grandma and Grandpa, and we were willing to pass moral judgments about right and wrong."
Or this: "We may need to change the way we think. As in Israel, I think there should be a mandatory draft, where you go away for the service of your country for three years."
Tyler, 53, relishes the idea of " 'America the Beautiful,' flags in school, children respecting their hometown." He's all for sky marshals on airplanes, and he has some choice, non-newspaper words for terrorists. No pacifist counterculture sentiments here.
Tyler -- who quit drugs and alcohol several years ago -- talked with the Free Press as Aerosmith headed to its third Detroit show this year. The group played a pair of sold-out dates at DTE Energy Music Theatre in July.
Some readers may be startled to hear such conservative-sounding ideas coming from somebody like you.
Well, there's the American thinking: "How can he be saying this? He was a drug addict!" But (Sept. 11) brought me to my knees. It made me change. When that second airplane hit the building, we all changed. We need to get back to some serious thinking.
Does your music maintain a vital role amid all this?
Well, I'm still also "Steven Tyler from Aerosmith," a guy who needs to celebrate that when the music plays, the channels change. It's that whole idea of "been working hard, now it's Friday night." Aerosmith is the fountain of youth. It's a time machine.
I was really concerned that Tuesday (Sept. 11) that we were supposed to play that Friday in Washington, D.C. We talked about it and finally canceled that weekend. Did we really want to go back in and play songs like "Mama Kin" and "Dude Looks Like a Lady" while people were burying their dead? But we did get on with business as usual, which is to rock out and forget about everything else.
Your latest album ("Just Push Play") failed to match the sales success of other recent Aerosmith releases. Should we put much stock in that?
Nothing is ever a barometer. Nothing is ever for sure except that this band has been around forever. (Laughs) . . . We wanted to produce the record ourselves, so we did. And it only sold 2.5 million around the world. That's not bad, but it's not great.
You've managed to maintain your upper range and projection well beyond the age most rock vocalists lose their potency.
It's very simple. We used to be on tour for a year-and-a-half, never taking time off. When we felt tired, bored, we'd take a little coke, have a drink. But you pay for it the next day onstage. The interesting thing is that I was never really singing. Yeah, I got it right on the records, in the studio, but you listen back to the live stuff, and it was godawful.
Now it's the dream tour. One day on, one day off. We're still going for a year-and-half stretch, but we get a day to recuperate. . . . Now that I'm in it with my eyes open, it's rejuvenating. I sweat my ass off, and I'm in better shape than ever. And it's still so beautiful to look out and know that a song you wrote in your basement is moving all these people.