Steven Tyler: a little bit country, a little bit rock'n'roll
Aerosmith’s frontman Steven Tyler is the latest rock star to head to Nashville with new album We're All Someobody From Somewhere
At the age of 68, Steven Tyler continues to surprise. Long-time Aerosmith fans might be scratching their heads at news that the band’s frontman has just made a country solo album, We’re All Somebody From Somewhere. But on closer listening to Aerosmith’s rich catalogue, the DNA of country holds flavour in the group’s body of work. From the wistful delicacy of Seasons Of Wither and Dream On to late-80s mega hits, Cryin’, Amazing and What It Takes, stylistically all of those tracks fit comfortably alongside the pop-country hits of 2016. And adding further credence to that notion, Tyler’s new album features his countryfied rendition of one of the group’s biggest hits: Janie’s Got A Gun.
Asked what sparked his idea to go it alone and record his first solo album, he says: “It kind of started when Aerosmith started putting little snippets in the press about lead singers, and I’m not doing this and that, and there were just little things every now and then that people in the band were saying about me doing a solo project. And I love jumping – I’ve always jumped into things with both feet whether it was an Aerosmith album or this thing. I came to Nashville. I rented a house. Now I just bought a house, so I’m living here full-on. It’s a musical Mecca."
He admits it was scary at first. “Scott Borchetta from Big Machine [the country record company] said: ‘I want you on my label,’” he recalls. “I said: ‘All right. But let’s wait two months because I want to see what we get for music. I don’t know what I’m going to get. I could get nothing. I could come down here and just…’ I didn’t know what I was going to get. And I love that place. It’s scary. It was risky. It was a case of ‘Let’s just do it.’”
Accordingly, Tyler started working with songwriters and reaped promising results. “Within two months I got five of some of the greatest songs I’ve ever written or been part of writing,” he says. “I co-wrote with everyone down here, and I think I’ve done some of my best work through this country head. Whatever it is that runs through Nashville… it’s like it’s something in the water. Actually, the main route through Nashville is Route 440. And that’s what you tune all the instruments on planet earth to. An A note is 440 [Hertz]. A friend noticed it and he brought it up, and I just went, holy shit, what are the chances?”
“This town still has the passion for music. It hasn’t lost it through business and money, which may be big here but the music aspect still has the passion. Artists come here come from all over the world to be part of it, and there’s so much music dripping out of the honeycomb of this town that I’m in it. I’m in it neck-deep. I’m going to stay here, I’m going to live here. I love it here.”
One wonders if Tyler, working in the solo milieu away from the safe confines of Aerosmith, experiences a new-found creativity and freedom when separated from long-time collaborators such as Joe Perry and Brad Whitford.