Did you have any concerns about joining AMERICAN IDOL?
Steven Tyler: None whatsoever. I got such an identity with this band and for all the videos that I’ve done I figured it’d be a shoe in. The part that’s a little difficult is judging young kids that I think they all have a voice, but actually being honest and open. It took me a couple of minutes to get into the role of that, but I’ve grown accustomed to it and it’s fun, and I get to sit next to J. Lo and Randy taking the you know what out of everybody, and it’s been good. I don’t take whatever happened to me this morning or last night or with the band or with exes, I don’t take that into judging kids like some other people might have. I kind of take what I’ve grown up with, which is being a very harsh judge of myself—my own vocals, my own band—and kind of laid that across the talent that comes across my view.
Have you said anything so far as to any of the contestants during the auditions that you’ve regretted immediately afterwards?
Yes. I made some harsh comments the first week, and they snapped back and said, “What do you mean?” But I only did two of those. There were only two of those because I didn’t want that to happen again. I couldn’t say that you were no good without substantiating why, and a couple times that I said, “You know you just don’t have it,” they did ask me why, and I couldn’t tell them why. I just heard—It’s like I’m looking for that certain something. Well I heard that certain something in a negative way. I didn’t see the star. I didn’t see this and I didn’t have the … to tell them that. I hadn’t ever really watched the show, and I wasn’t really versed in that type of judging. I’ve got three daughters, so it’s hard for me. Those two times after that I was ready to go and I jumped back in both feet.
Do you feel adding someone of your stature gives the show an extra layer of credibility it might not have had before?
I like to think so. It’s interesting; I was just saying I’m not bringing some grumpiness or something in my life that’s not been good. I’m not bringing that to the table, and letting that cloak my judging of these kids. I’m taking what they give me, cutting it up in three different pieces: One is can they sing? Are they in pitch? Two, do they have character? Three, do they have a star quality about them? Kind of folding that all into one but that would be my expertise, and J. Lo’s got her own singing style. But don’t forget I’m a drummer. I’ve got the pitch from my father, Juilliard, my own. I’ve got the drumming sensibility and there’s a tonality and harmonic stuff, and I think I’m going to take it up a notch.
Do you think as a road dog that you can be as sympathetic to some guy who’s been working in a gas station as you can to some guy who’s been out playing every night for the last three or ten years at Joe’s Roadside Tavern?
That’s a great question. I’ve been sympathetic to that because it did color my opinions in the past about someone who didn’t go through the clubs, and didn’t walk the gauntlet in order to get their start. I’m listening to these kids regardless. I listen for that certain something that someone might have— I mean look it I remember what I had before I was allowed in the doors of this club. It’s an incredible thing to be able to come out with the stars that causes me to have character, but if they’re good to begin with I’m hoping to see that. It’s certainly not a coloring my thing. I’ve got my own melodic sensibility that’s judging theirs and regardless of whether you’ve sung in church, and sometimes most people that have put their time in church have a great sense of blues or time or melody more than the other ones. I’m hoping … really close.
One of the most overdone songs on AMERICAN IDOL is “I Don’t Want to Miss a Thing,” which is a song that I don’t think anyone can sing as well as you can. Aerosmith songs get covered actually a lot in the show sometimes with good results a lot of times with bad. I’m just wondering are you going to call moratorium on Aerosmith songs on the show. If not, how would you be able to judge a song that you had sung yourself so well?
Well they have to sing it good, and a moratorium you’re calling, how do you know? They must have sung in the 7 weeks they probably got 15/16 “Don’t Want to Miss a Thing” and a bunch of … song by Pink—they sang that song as well. It was hard for me because it always seemed to me when they said they were going to sing it I knew that someone at home would—“If you sing this song Tyler will be enamored.” When I didn’t like it I felt a little ill at ease to tell them, “You know what you didn’t really sing it good,” but after the third or fourth, like I said I got into it.
I think if anyone’s got anything bad to say about me this season it will get better the next season, and I take that back. It will be easier for me to judge live on TV because I’ve been through this mine field of teenage entitlement with all the songs they brought, but specifically for the Aerosmith songs, wow. I wish they would have sung like a little something else but “Don’t Want to Miss a Thing” is definitely a hard one especially when they have no accompaniment. They would stand in front of me all by themselves and sing it, but if any of them sing it now remember we’re down to 20 great people, so if they did it would be nothing but good.