Tyler recalls when he was growing up in New Hampshire and picking up a country station in Fort Wayne, Ind., at night by running a wire from the antenna of his radio to the top of an apple tree outside of his house.
“And that's a true story,” he said. “And so I was born and bred with country music.”
Affinity with Oklahoma
Maybe that's why Tyler feels so at home in the Sooner State, to which he recently returned for a sad occasion.
“My ex-wife's father just passed away four months ago,” he said. “Frank Barrick. But the family's there, and it's all my family. I love every one of them, and we went and cried for two days and just had a real down-home family funeral, and it was beautiful.
“I love Oklahoma. I love Tenkiller. I got baptized there. My wife tried to drown me, but there's something.”
Along with the country touches, Tyler assures that there are plenty of full-on rockers on the new album, such as “Oh Yeah,” “Luv XXX” and “Freedom Fighter,” the latter featuring Johnny Depp on backing vocals. The album also reunites the band with Jack Douglas, producer of some of Aerosmith's most enduring long-players, including “Toys in the Attic” (1975) and “Rocks” (1976), which rank as two of Rolling Stone's “500 Greatest Albums of All Time.”
And while the band has a well-known history of infighting, sudden departures of members, substance abuse, Tyler's accident-prone tendencies to fall off stages and break bones and mess up his feet, and all the general dysfunctionality, the singer considers this 15-song, nearly 70-minute-long album to be a united group effort, with songwriting contributions from guitarist Brad Whitford, bassist Tom Hamilton and drummer Joey Kramer, as well as prolific lead guitarist Joe Perry and Tyler.
But Tyler seems especially proud of the duet with Underwood, which he expects to become a crossover hit on country radio.
“I learned harmony and singing and my passion from the Everly Brothers, so she was the first one we thought of,” he said. “The song was beautiful. I thought maybe the guys would like the song. I brought it to them and one night while we were here in L.A. four months ago, Carrie was here.
“I called her up. I go, ‘Where are you? I'd love you to sing this song.' She goes, ‘I'm in L.A. but I'm leaving in the morning.' I said, ‘You gotta come over.' So she came over to the studio and sang it in about two hours. I sang it with her and voila, man, it's just so good.
“You know, it's funny. You write a song, and if you pay homage to the way it's coming out and not deny it — it's not like we wrote a country song for it to be a crossover, which is an easy thing for people to think. The song kind of wrote itself and turned into this.”
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