Steven Tyler Spills Country Crossover Secrets: 'Country's the New Rock 'N' Roll'
By Sophie Schillaci
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Steven Tyler is more country than you'd think.
The Aerosmith rocker surprised fans on Wednesday, when he revealed his first solo single, a country track titled "Love Is Your Name." Earlier this year, Tyler announced that he had signed with Big Machine Records (home to acts like Taylor Swift and Tim McGraw) and now we know that his full-length country album will be released this fall.
The 67-year-old legend sat down with Entertainment Tonight's Nancy O'Dell to spill secrets about his surprising new venture.
"Nobody knows how country I am," he said. "When I was a kid, I used to trudge through 10 miles of snow just for cigarettes and sex, and what in that isn't to write country songs about?"
Tyler credits his upbringing in rural Sunapee, New Hampshire, with molding him into a future country artist. The rock icon even goes so far as to call country music his "first love," while rock 'n' roll came along "right after that." His favorite artist to listen to growing up? The Everly Brothers.
"It's not just about the boots, hats, an accent," Tyler said of country stereotypes. "It's more about freedom and puttin' in a good day's work, and being respectable to everyone in town -- it's just a different breed of person."
These days, Tyler is living and working in Nashville, Tenn., where he's rubbing elbows with the country elite. He teased an upcoming collaboration with Brad Paisley ("[We] promised to write a song together -- craziest title in the world"), and Rascal Flatts ("I think [Gary LeVox] is the best male singer out there and I told him so... it'd be hard to keep me away"), but said that his infatuation with Alison Krauss began long ago.
"I love her and her band so much, I can't even begin to tell you," he gushed. "I called her up 10 years ago, I was going thru a divorce and I heard 'Ghost in this House' and I called her up and I went, 'Who even are you?'"
Then, putting on a pitch perfect female southern twang, continues: "And she goes, 'Well you know what Steven, I got to tell you, I learned to play fiddle to your band and AC/DC.' I went, 'What?! What even -- what?!' I love her she's a dear friend right now and I'd love to do something with her. "
Tyler promised to "go dark" on this album, "like Johnny Cash did," but summed up his signature sound in one, concise bite.
"Rock 'n' roll would be exotic, neurotic, you got it," he said, "and country would be truth, vermouth and one lost tooth."
And if you have any doubts about his future success in the genre, Tyler has a surprisingly spot-on theory to consider.
"I'm a risk taker," he said. "I know what country is today and I know that there's a format that it kinda fits in right now with all the hits, and I'm listening to a lot of guitar players stepping out. I've said that country's the new rock 'n' roll 'cause there's no guitar rock stars except for Joe Perry and Slash and a couple others, there just aren't any and they're starting to do it down there. Rock 'n' roll is taking some risks, and I'm just gonna knock that theory into the middle of next week. I'm just gonna do that -- and why? Because I can."