By Nekesa Mumbi Moody
NEW YORK (AP) — Steven Tyler can laugh about it now.
The fall off the stage that caused the cancellation of Aerosmith’s 2009 summer tour. His stint in rehab for prescription drug abuse. The fights with his bandmates, and the talk of replacing him as lead singer for Aerosmith.
That’s because now that he’s back at the helm of the group — belting out songs in front of thousands of fans — nothing else matters.
“The band has never been better; I’m singing better,” said an energetic Tyler in a recent phone interview. “It’s been beautiful and I realized when I was taking care of my problems that the band is all I really care about.’’
Tyler — who is on tour with Aerosmith in Europe and starts a U.S. tour with the band on July 23 in Oakland, Calif. — talked recently about his battle for sobriety, putting the discord behind him and being a “dancing fool’’ at 62.
What has it been like to play with the band after the tumultuous last year?
Steven Tyler: It’s been a great tour. You know it’s a little hard for me. Being in Aerosmith is like living on the tail of a comet. I’ve had a lot of injuries over the last couple of the years. I had ACL reconstruction on my knee … operations on my feet, my mom passed away. A lot of things came to play that made it easy for me to abuse some things. …
Even though some of the people in the band were going public with some of the stuff which turned very ugly, I managed to pull it all back together again and say, “Look, let’s just get out there and be the band that we know we are and not argue about this crap anymore.’’
How easy was that after the ugliness?
Tyler: I realize that certain people that decide to go in the press with dirty laundry, I just have to look the other way and realize I need to keep my side of the street clean, and they do what they do. It’s really unfortunate that certain people were Twittering and going to the press. It got really ugly, but you know, again, I just went back to them and I said … “More than anything, I really want to play with this band. I really love this band and I love who I’ve become because of the band.’’ … Everyone’s got their problems and their demons, but when we get onstage and play as five, that really all goes away, and that’s really all I look at now.
There has been tension in Aerosmith throughout the years. Are you still able to be friends as well as bandmates?
Tyler: I’m doing a book called “Does the Noise in My Head Bother You,” and I will be speaking about what it’s like to be married to four other guys, and what I’ve had to put up with. … There will never be another band like Aerosmith, and I just don’t want to do anything to hurt that. I love the band so much.
You are in pain and have battled back from an addiction to pain medicines. How do you prevent yourself from falling into past patterns on this new tour?
Tyler: I realize that the best part of me is who I am sober, so that’s all there is to it. … I don’t know whether I will use tomorrow, but today I’m happy. … There’s a 500-pound gorilla on my back, waiting in the parking lot for me that wants to take me down, and I won’t for any reason go out there and deal with that. I have to get a knee replacement, I have to have another operation on my feet, and I’ll let a nurse take care of my stuff. I just can’t be around that stuff anymore. I need to be a power of example for my bandmates, don’t I? (laughs)… I’m still in Aerosmith, so the circus is still in town. So when it comes to dealing with the band, I take it a day at a time with these guys.
Is a new Aerosmith album coming?
Tyler: The truth is, I’ve never stopped writing. I’ve got 12 songs I’m sitting on right now for a solo record. Aerosmith has to finish a studio album; we’re gonna do that first.
Do you feel that you are more careful onstage now? Are you tentative?
Tyler: I’m a dancing fool out there. I’m my own worst enemy when it comes to risk-taking, but I do what I do. … I am (more careful) when it’s raining. I don’t do anything … I’m real careful when it comes to that. But ordinarily, I’ve gotten real strong jumping over all the pedals my guitar players have out there in the middle of the stage and the monitor wedges. It’s like a little hurdle out there for me.
Can you see yourself doing this 10, 15 years from now?
Tyler: I’ll be doing this 20 years from now. I’ll be doing this as long as sound comes out of my mouth.
For related items that you may enjoy in our Goldmine store:
• Get the invaluable record collector’s resource: Goldmine® Record Album Price Guide, 6th Edition
• Get “The Everything Bass Guitar Book,” with CD, From lines and licks to chords and charts
• Download Goldmine’s Guide to Led Zeppelin (PDF download)