Talk This Way: Rolling Stone's 1994 Interview With Aerosmith's Steven Tyler

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Do you have a scarf roadie now?
Myself. [Laughs] I don't bother with getting glammed out with fancy stuff like I used to. Now I look for all the bootleg Aerosmith T-shirts, cut all the cool stuff off 'em and have Teresa or Lisa — my wife and her twin sister — make 'em into pants. And what I've got for scarves now is rips and remnants of my old stage clothes. I had six scarves last time, and I used them on the whole tour.

Let's talk about sex. If your lyrics are any indication, sex is an obsession if not an addiction. Do you think about it as often as "Love in an Elevator" would suggest?
It's always been in me. I've always been sexually active. If "to climax " is what the term means, to climax, why don't we do it all the time? We should be doing it three or four times a day. It's not about stupid and nasty. It's what we should all be doing.

But today when I go on tour, because I'm in this band, I'm always approached by people seeing my sexuality, and I'm caught in a loop. Girls will come up to me and go like this [lifts his shirt]. When you ask me how much I think about sex, it's a lot more when I'm on the road because people approach me about it. On the other hand I'm like Madonna. I figure, why else would it be so popular? Because people want it, and they don't get enough of it.

As a songwriter, your strong point is the power of suggestion — the way you drawl, "Going down" in "Love in an Elevator" or the double-entendres in "Walk This Way." If you actually said the word "fuck" as often as you imply it, your albums would be covered with parental-advisory stickers.
That's correct. And there's another added benefit. People come to the conclusion themselves. "Whoa!" And they'll remember the lyric even more. The thing for me has always been not to be blatant.

But the difference between you and me is, you sit down as a writer with a preconceived thought. I don't. I just go blither, blither, blither. With "Walk This Way," I did not go: "Masturbation. Let's see. I can do it with one hand or the other, pretend one of them is a girl. Hmm. 'Backstroke lover/Always hiding 'neath the covers/Till I turned to my daddy, he say/You ain't seen nothin'/Till you been down on the muffin/Then you sure to be walkin' this way.' " It's just boom. Like you tap a hole in the side of your head and it falls out.

You also write a lot of ballads now, like "Angel" and "Cryin'." Has marriage made you more romantic?
I still have those feelings. But somebody once said that being married is about having a best friend. It means I'm going to tell my wife everything I would tell a best friend. Like I'm walking down the street with my best friend and going, "Look at the way that stocking seam goes up that chick's legs." I'm going to tell her stuff that goes through boys' minds. And when I start sharing on that level, it's not me wanting to drop and give that girl 10. I might want to in another lifetime, but I'm not going to now because I love my wife.

Your daughter Liv is a successful model and was in the "Crazy" video. As her father, how do you relate to her being objectified as a sex symbol in the same way that you've objectified women in your music and otherwise?
As a father I'm a realist. You can teach your children well and hope you've taught them some good sense. When I was a kid there was no AIDS. Now there is. "AIDS will kill you. You gotta be aware. Take this rubber."

I had a long talk with Liv and Mia about it. They were 15. I said, "What's goin' on?" They told me things that they never told anybody else. And I thought that was great because I'm open with sexuality. I told them stuff I got caught up on, how the moment that you come you're in such bliss that you could suck the chrome off a tow hitch.

I told my daughters that stuff. "You still want to flaunt it? Flaunt it. But if you lift your skirt, every little boy's tongue's gonna want to be up there. And if you smoke pot, know that it can lead to heroin like it did with me."

There are some commercials that throw me for a loop. A father can't talk to his daughter about sex. To me, that is the farthest thing from reality. They really go through that joke — "Ask your mother." That is exactly why your daughter went out and got pregnant. You didn't talk about it. It's as clear as the balls on a tall dog.

Given your own experiences, do you worry about the ups and downs that Liv might go through in her career?
Am I worried that Liv will make the same mistakes as me? Yeah. Am I worried that she's one of those people that likes to climb trees, out on the farthest limbs? I hope she does. I've seen too many fuckin' people who are dead before they're alive. They don't want to take a risk. They don't want to take a chance. They are B and C personalities, they're happy enough to work in a Laundromat. God bless 'em. But I gotta tell you, there are a lot more rewards out there.

Do you think she's better equipped to maintain her equilibrium than you were?
She's already plugged in. She knows both sides. But, yeah, I have my fears. I knew both sides, too. I know what it's like to be a child. I wrote something about it [pulls out one of his notebooks]: "The experience of being a teen-ager is like taking a test before you've been given the lessons. And being middle-aged is cool because you've already seen the answers. And being old is like watching reruns on TV — it's frustrating because you can't change the channel anymore."

I think she's being given the chances, based on her knowing the way I ruined my life. But, hey, even I changed the channel. It's about being enriched with knowledge. It's about being happy, joyous, free and enlightened. And I'm thirsty for knowledge.

Today, I live for someone telling me, "Don't do that!" Oh, yeah? I'm not gonna run. I'll wait a couple of months. But I'll fix his ass. I live for can-ing other people's can'ts.


Steven Tyler Tells All: The Real Story Behind His Aerosmith Battles and 'American Idol' Triumph

Choice Excerpts From Steven Tyler's Cover Story: The Aerosmith Frontman on Addiction, Sex and 'American Idol'

Photos: Four Decades of Aerosmith Live and Unleashed

Rob Sheffield Picks Aerosmith's Best Deep Cuts

The 10 Best Aerosmith Music Videos

Musical Musical Gender-Benders: Kurt Cobain, David Bowie, Marilyn Manson and Other Dudes Who Have Sometimes Looked Like Ladies

Aerosmith in Turmoil: Rolling Stone's 2009 Interviews

Aerosmith, Rock's Longest-Running Dysfunctional Family Sitcom: Rolling Stone's 2001 Cover Story

Video: Steven Tyler Reminisces at Rolling Stone Cover Shoot

To read the new issue of Rolling Stone online, plus the entire RS archive: Click Here

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