To the sound of a collective "whew" from fans, Aerosmith are – to quote one of their vintage song titles – back in the saddle. Just over two weeks ago, Steven Tyler announced he was leaving his judge post at American Idol, and the band's three-years-in-the-making album, Music from Another Dimension!, will finally be released in November. But as they tell Rolling Stone, Tyler and guitarist Joe Perry may be the most relieved of all – for different reasons.
Tyler now admits that Aerosmith's troubles (his often nasty public spat with the other band members starting in 2009) were the principal reason he signed up with Idol in 2010. "It was something to do while the storm blew by, to be honest," he says, calling the show "not my cup of tea." Regarding his two-season stint, for which he was reportedly paid $10 million a season, he now says, "I loved it and hated it. It was a great job, I sat next to J. Lo and I made a ton of money. It was a moment in life and it became larger than life."
The downside, he says, was the workload and his supposed role as the new Simon Cowell. "It was just hard work: seven-hour days and then I went and did the [Aerosmith] album for eight hours after that," Tyler says. Of criticisms that he and Jennifer Lopez, who is also exiting the show, weren't hard enough on most of the contestants, he explains, "The show's about kids and what you do to nurture their talent. They wanted me to take the piss out of the kids and I don't have that in me. That's not what I'm about. That's more about that other guy. Not me." Tyler declined to comment on rumors that money issues were a factor in his departure from the series.
Perry also seems relieved that his longtime bandmate is no longer on Idol: "There was certainly the fame and notoriety that went with it. But you can't figure out what a band is about reading about it in the gossip column." Perry saw Tyler's double life in action when the two were wrapping up work on Music from Another Dimension! in Los Angeles. "He did double duty," says Perry. "I never felt for a minute he was lagging in the studio because of his other job. He did his whole thing [on Idol] and then showed up at eight at night and was in the studio until two in the morning."
Music From Another Dimension! finds the band working with a number of familiar faces: producer Jack Douglas (who helmed classic Seventies Aerosmith albums like Rocks and Toys in the Attic), songwriter Diane Warren and even guitarist Rick Dufay, who briefly replaced Brad Whitford in the early Eighties. Dufay joined the band on a cover of the Temptations' 1975 hit "Shakey Ground," which Tyler had initially planned to include on a solo album.
The album also includes a number of newer acquaintances. Perry says he was initially skeptical about Carrie Underwood dueting with Tyler on "Can't Stop Loving You," which Tyler describes as "a country-western crossover ballad." But Perry was won over: "Their voices matched up really well. It doesn't sound forced. It was just right." While in Los Angeles working on Idol, Tyler met Julian Lennon in his hotel, and Lennon wound up contributing harmony vocals to "Love Three Times a Day," which Tyler not surprisingly describes as "Beatlesque." "He's such a sweet fucking guy," Tyler says. "And he's John's first son with that voice and sense of humor – gimme a break!" Johnny Depp also added backup vocals to Perry's politically conscious rocker "Freedom Fighter," but the song may end up an outtake or on a later deluxe edition of the album, according to Perry.
Perry says he's happy Music from Another Dimension! has been completed for another reason: The band will finally have new songs to play onstage. They've already incorporated two of them, the rockers "Legendary Child" and "Oh Yeah," into their current Global Warming tour sets. "Everyone wants to hear the same 'Dream On''s and 'Walk This Way''s, but that's not what I had in mind to be in a band – to be the best cover band you can be," Perry says. "We can be the best Aerosmith cover band out there, and I was getting tired of it. So I'm really glad to have this record."