Those of us who were born before 1990 know Steven Tyler as the huge-lipped, wailing frontman of one of the most enduring rock bands of all time. And now a whole new generation will know him as the wacky judge who replaced Simon Cowell on American Idol. If the upcoming season of Idol proves to be anything like the conference call Tyler held with reporters this morning, we're in for a somewhat nonsensical, magical mystery ride. Over the course of the 25-minute event (which occurred during his lunch break with what sounded like his entourage in the background), an unfiltered Tyler made not-so-subtle references to Simon Cowell's unnecessary grumpiness, discussed J.Lo's foxiness, and hinted at what Aerosmith fans can expect from him as an American Idol judge.
He started off with this:
Should I give them a limerick? There once was a man from Kent, who had one so long that it—nah, I won’t go there. I absolutely will not go there.
On his approach to being an Idol judge:
I don’t take whatever happened to me this morning or last night or with the band or with [my] exes into judging kids like other people might have. I take what I’ve grown up with, which is being a very harsh judge of myself.
On what he'll bring to the show:
I’m just bringing my Italian, I-know-how-to-work-a-room, Aunt-Phyllis honesty—40 years as a front guy for Aerosmith who has judged the hell out of himself and has made a good career out of it and with hopes to find some kids in America to take the stage. No more, no less.
On looking to his rocky, alcohol- and drug-addled past for inspiration:
Someday I’ll have my own show called Different Type of Survivor. They’ll put me in a barrel and they’ll throw me into the ocean. It’ll be called Message in a Bottle. They’ll see what shore I land on. Then I’ll marry the person and we’ll see what our kids look like.
On his impression of (his fellow new judge) J.Lo before he met her:
On the way from England to America I saw her movie Half-Time, Part-Time—[pauses to talk to people in the room with him]—The Back-Up Plan. And I fell in love with her. The way she played that to a guy that was just falling in love with her, I could so relate to. Anybody that can be this open and honest, even in acting, I fell for her.
[In case you happen to have missed that one in theaters...]
On which former Idol contestants are his favorites:
Carrie Underwood. A great good friend of mine wrote her hit. So I’ve been following her. And of course—[pause, followed by mumbling in the background: "No, not Daughtry, the girl... Yeah, Kelly"]—Kelly Clarkson. I’ve done photo shoots with her and I’m enamored with her songs she’s put out. Hugely so. Yeah, them. Them two.
Then it was my turn to ask a question, about whether he's concerned with what longtime Aerosmith fans might think of his decision to appear on Idol. But first I had to introduce myself...
A lot of Diamonds? Do you have a lotta diamonds? I love it. What’s going on, doll?
But then he answered thusly:
[What] the TV is getting is that other side of me in a way that would be like if there were reality cameras in my house as my kids were growing up. And if Aerosmith fans don’t like that, then all they saw was the ominous dark or that bigger-than-both-of-us Aerosmith thing. Here I get to be vulnerable, more honest, more open, more in-the-moment, and less colored by the songs I wrote.
And finally, on judging people who sing those songs:
Well, they have to sing it good. In the seven weeks [of auditions] I probably got fifteen or sixteen "I Don’t Wanna Miss a Thing"s. It was hard for me. It always seemed to me when they said they were going to sing it, I knew that someone at home had said, "if you sing that song Tyler will be enamored." And when I didn’t like it I felt a little ill-at-ease to tell them.