Tuesday, January 18, 2011

Steven Tyler: “I think I’m gonna take it up a notch”

“American Idol” media conference calls are a pretty structured thing. It’s the same hold music, the same introductory comments from the publicist, and the same instructions from the operator.

But Steven Tyler blew all of that apart today, proving that he is absolutely going to bring the crazy to “Idol.” And I couldn’t be happier about it…

Tyler came on the call exclaiming, “Hellooo Darlings!” and then expressed disappointment that no one answered him back (He didn’t know that our lines are listen only.).

Then he proceeded to interrupt the operator’s instructions and fill the silence with the beginning line of a raunchy limerick. But he stopped before he got to the punchline.

After the operator regained slight control of the call, reporters started asking questions. Some of the answers were kind of brilliant and some were a little goofy, but none of them were boring…

On what he brings to the table: “I’m not going in there to be harsh. I know how to work a room. I have hopes to find some kid to take the stage—no more, no less. Certainly there’s a camaraderie [on the judging panel] you haven’t seen in 10 years.”

On his fellow judges: “Randy’s great. JLo is a fox. She’s also street. She’s got a big heart…I met Randy first. Randy was the s—t. I loved him. We got along in the first five minutes…At first, I was told [JLo] was out and I was bummed.” Tyler said he fell in love with Jennifer Lopez when he saw “The Back-Up Plan” on a plane. “She was so open, even as an actress. When I met her, she was exactly all that.”

On whether he gets mean: “I made some harsh comments the first week and [the contestants] snapped back. I did only two of those because I didn’t want it to happen again. I don’t want to do that if I can’t substantiate it. It was hard for me. But after those two, I jumped back in with both feet.”

On bringing more rock to the show: “That would be my judgment call on what it is. For every week I brought along someone, the next time they would sing it would be the wrong song or the wrong key and we had to dump them. That’s the beauty of this show I didn’t know before…I’m not just one type of judging. I’m good for all music. Not all great singers make great rock stars. Sometimes the best rock stars are those who don’t sing as well.” Tyler spoke very highly of a male singer with a “sick” voice he hopes makes it through.

On whether he improves the show’s credibility: “I’d like to think so. I’m not bringing something in my life to the table and letting it cloak my judging. I’m taking what they give me and breaking it into three pieces: Can they sing? Do they have character? And do they have star quality? I think I’m gonna take it up a notch.”

On whether he judged newbies differently than those who had been pounding the music pavement for a while: “It did color my opinion in the past if they didn’t walk the gauntlet. But I listen to these kids regardless. If they’re good to begin with, I’m hoping to see that.”

On whether he’s going to do the show long-term: “I have more than a one-year contract.”

On his favorite Idols: “Carrie Underwood. I’ve been following her.” After some help from people in the room with him, he also said Kelly Clarkson, with whom he has done photo shoots. He then laughed and said, “Yeah. Them two.”

On the contestants singing Aerosmith songs: “Well they have to sing it well. In seven weeks. We had 15 people do “I Don’t Wanna Miss a Thing.” It’s hard for me. I knew that someone at home would think I’d be enamored with the person…We’re down to the top 20. If they did it now, it would be great.”

On how he’s doing: “If anyone has anything bad to say about me this season, it will be better next season. I take that back. It will be easier for me to judge live on TV.”

On what Aerosmith fans will think: “I’ve studied this so far. It’s been 15 weeks already. It’s the other side of me—the reality. If Aerosmith fans don’t like it, then all they’re seeing is what’s on stage. I’m less colored by the songs I wrote and listening to the songs they sing.”

On Aerosmith: “Nothing has been more convincing that I’m ready for anything than this last year with Aerosmith. All the stuff in the media, there’s no validity to it…We’ve certainly been writing. Next Saturday, the guys are coming out to L.A.” Tyler said they’ll be doing a writing program and a tour is scheduled for November and December. “What you hear in the press just isn’t so.”

On his life: “I’ve got no regrets. Everything that’s come my way has cut me into who I am. Things have been good. I’m always ready to take it up a notch. I’m still addicted to adrenaline.”

Tyler then started telling us about the reality show that could be made about him. He first said they could put him in a barrel and drop him somewhere. Then he said it could be called “Message in a Bottle” and he could be put in a bottle where he could float up on an island with a woman and they could see what the kids look like.

And if that didn’t make any sense to you, don’t worry. You’re not alone…

Are you excited now?

“Idol” premieres Wednesday at 8 p.m. on FOX…

Photo Credit: Tony Duran/FOX