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Aerosmith: A Tumbling Down, Then A 'Magic Moment'

Music From Another Dimension!, Aerosmith's first studio album in over a decade, is out Nov. 6. Left to right: Joey Kramer, Brad Whitford, Joe Perry, Steven Tyler and Tom Hamilton. (Courtesy of the artist)

They were there in the 1970s,through the '80s and on into the '90s. Aerosmith has managed to become one of the most enduring bands in American rock history. Now, the group is releasing its first studio album in 11 years. It's called Music from Another Dimension!, and it's out this week.

The album is a labor of love, one that lead singer Steven Tyler says almost didn't happen. Speaking with NPR's Rachel Martin, Tyler points to a particularly rough experience in the time between albums: the day in 2009 when he fell off the stage during a live performance.

"No one in the band called me for a bunch of weeks. I was so unearthed by that," Tyler says. "The pain meds they gave me, I just went off on. I'm a good drug addict and a recovering alcoholic, and I did what we all do well — which was abuse the drugs again."

Tyler entered rehab at the Betty Ford Center. He says that when his stint was finished and he reconnected with the band, everything changed.

"I apologized to the guys. We did two months of laying tracks down. The music started falling out of the sky," Tyler says. "The band was what we were in the beginning — it was such a magic moment again."

Here, Tyler speaks with Martin about growing up around classical music, collaborating with John Lennon's son Julian, what he learned as a judge on American Idol and Aerosmith's pact to be "the last band standing."

Copyright 2014 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.

Transcript

RACHEL MARTIN, HOST:

They were there in the 1970s...

(SOUNDBITE OF SONG, "WALK THIS WAY")

AEROSMITH: (Singing) Backstroke lover, always hiding 'neath the covers, till I talked your daddy, he say...

MARTIN: ...the '80s...

(SOUNDBITE OF SONG)

AEROSMITH: (Singing) (Unintelligible), living (unintelligible)...

MARTIN: ...and the '90s.

(SOUNDBITE OF SONG, "AMAZING")

AEROSMITH: (Singing) It's amazing, with a blink of an eye, you finally see the light...

MARTIN: Aerosmith has managed to become one of the most enduring bands in American rock history. Now, the group is releasing its first studio album in 11 years. It's called "Music from Another Dimension!" and it's out this week.

(SOUNDBITE OF SONG)

AEROSMITH: (Singing) I will catch you, never let you go. I won't let you go (unintelligible)...

MARTIN: The album is a labor of love that lead singer Steven Tyler says almost didn't happen. I spoke with Tyler a couple of days ago, and the rock-star-turned-"American Idol" judge told me about a particularly tough time when drugs and alcohol were tearing the band apart. It all came to a head in 2009 when Tyler actually fell off a stage during a live show.

STEVEN TYLER: No one in the band called me for a bunch of weeks. I was so unearthed by that. The pain meds they gave me, I just went off on them - a good drug addict and recovering alcoholic. And I did what we all do well, which was abuse the drugs again, and I wound up in Betty Ford. I got out and everything changed. From then to now, it was, you know, pretty astounding. I apologized to the guys. We did two months of laying tracks down. The music started falling out of the sky and the band was what we were in the beginning. It was such a magic moment again and it was like things levitated.

(SOUNDBITE OF SONG)

MARTIN: There are all kinds of collaborations on this album. John Lennon's son Julian does background vocals on a song, right?

TYLER: Yeah. Well, you know, I was staying at the Sunset Marquis, where I've stayed for the last 20 years with my family. I had all these lyrics and the songs and I was working double time doing "Idol" and then going into the studio and I couldn't - I needed a place to be by myself, wake up in the middle of the night and nail the music and write these lyrics. So, I moved into the Sunset Marquis. And one day I found out that Julian was in the hotel. And I woke up the next morning, took a shower and I was singing (singing) Julian, seashell eyes, and I heard: Steven. I went: Julian? And the rest is history.

MARTIN: No, that's not true.

AEROSMITH: I gave him my album. He gave me his new album. And so I brought him down to the studio. We happened to be doing that first song. And the first line is (singing) hello...

(SOUNDBITE OF SONG)

AEROSMITH: (Singing) Hello, hello, come on, come on, come on...

TYLER: He's so talented and he's such John's spirit that the world needs to embrace this man because it's what's left of John.

(SOUNDBITE OF SONG)

AEROSMITH: (Singing) Love three times a day, love runs all the way, love three times a day, (unintelligible)...

MARTIN: I've read that the Beatles were a huge influence on your life. But I've also read that your father himself was a musician, which I didn't know. He was a classical pianist and an orchestra director?

TYLER: My dad was Julliard trained. So, when I grew up - I grew up in the Bronx - and I lived in a little, tiny 20-by-15 apartment with a Steinway piano in it. And that's where I grew up under his piano, listening to those notes and I learned the language of music, how to dance with the notes and in between them. So, he taught me those notes you hear. That weirdness in "Dream On" is my father - Bach, Brahms, Beethoven, Debussy - I grew up on that.

(SOUNDBITE OF SONG, "DREAM ON")

AEROSMITH: (Singing) Every time that I look in the mirror, all these lines on my face getting clearer...

TYLER: Those are the notes that are swimming around in my head that I add to the rock and roll of Joe Perry's guitar.

(SOUNDBITE OF SONG, "DREAM ON")

AEROSMITH: (Singing) Dream on, dream on, dream on, dream until your dreams come true...

MARTIN: There are some pretty classic-sounding Aerosmith ballads on this new album. I want to play a bit from a track called "Another Last Goodbye." Let's listen to this.

(SOUNDBITE OF SONG, "ANOTHER LAST GOODBYE")

AEROSMITH: (Singing) I wanna thank you for the ride and pull the thorn out of my side. You call me your baby. I kiss away the tears you cry. When you gonna meet me, please don't (unintelligible), it's all about your sweetness, or maybe it's the devil in your eyes. Yeah, what's it be to make this love set free? Another last goodbye...

MARTIN: Steven, that is pretty amazing. I mean, you've been doing this many, many, many years and you still have this amazing range. Has that changed for you? Have there been chapters where you couldn't hit that note?

TYLER: No. It's been nice. I've written some songs with Joe where he looks at me and he says, remember, you've got to sing that note every night. That's a song that's been sitting around - I swear, the melody's lived in my mind since before "Dream On," but it's so meaningful because it's about every love I've ever had and lost at. There's so much of my soul, my passion in that song that it was actually hard to sing, especially the bridge. I just finished that five months ago. That is the demo. That was done in my barn and that is, you know, we've, of course, added some stuff to it, but that is it.

(SOUNDBITE OF SONG, "ANOTHER LAST GOODBYE")

AEROSMITH: (Singing) I believe I've always been in love with you. Though we got caught up in the (unintelligible). Never know where we'd land, been off the hook and out of hand, sometimes I feel to know the price 'cause I (unintelligible) the very first time you called me your baby...

MARTIN: You're talking to us alone today - your fellow band mates aren't with you. But I want to ask you about Joe Perry, if you had to sum up your relationship with him.

TYLER: I love him and I hate him. I can't tell you - we fight like brothers. I wish I was smarter and went over to house and knocked on his door and wrung his neck. I watched him come from who he thought he was to who he is now, which is the licks on this album - "Legendary Child," for instance, "Out Go the Lights." They're classic songs that I bet Jimmy Page wishes, you know, he could have come up with.

(SOUNDBITE OF SONG)

TYLER: You know, we've made it a pact to be the last band standing, Joe and I. There is no finish line with this band. And our rock universe has found a new center of gravity. You know, welcome to the music of another dimension.

(SOUNDBITE OF SONG)

AEROSMITH: (Singing) (unintelligible) you ain't got nothing at all. 'Cause I want to hold on tight and linger in the front and woke up the back...

MARTIN: Steven Tyler. His new album is called "Music from Another Dimension!" The new album from Aerosmith is out Tuesday. Steven Tyler, thanks so much.

TYLER: OK. You're very welcome.

(SOUNDBITE OF SONG)

AEROSMITH: (Singing) (Unintelligible) like me...

MARTIN: And you can hear more songs from Aerosmith's new album at npr.org. This is WEEKEND EDITION from NPR News. I'm Rachel Martin. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.

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