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Steven Tyler promises 'American Idol' stint won't hinder Aerosmith

January 18, 2011 | 12:17 pm

Steven4 Steven Tyler is steadfast about dispelling murmurings of an Aerosmith split -- especially in advance of his debut as a judge on an overhauled “American Idol,” premiering Wednesday.

When the news broke last year that Tyler was joining the aging franchise,  which remains a ratings juggernaut for Fox, speculation intensified that the 62-year-old was prepping to walk away from the band he’s spent nearly 40 years fronting.

There was also that nasty public tiff last year between Tyler and Joe Perry after the guitarist questioned Tyler's commitment to the band, and even went on to announce he’d audition vocalists to replace him if necessary.

Though frustrated at all the inescapable rumors, Tyler remains optimistic about his stint on “Idol” and even confirms that the guys are hitting the road in November for a tour that will go to South America and Japan.

“I have such an identity with this band. We’ve done a bunch of things. We certainly have been writing. I have a bunch of songs I’ve written for solo and/or Aerosmith,” Tyler said. “The guys are flying in to see the premiere. What you hear in the press about ‘American Idol’ getting in the way of the band just isn’t true. There’s no validity to it.”

Tyler admits he has signed more than a one year contract to sit at the judges' table, “but, as you know, things are where they are,” he said without further elaboration.

The show underwent a major facelift ahead of the new season, including adding more business-like hurdles for the contestants, the ability to tackle original songs, in-house mentors and new judges Tyler and Jennifer Lopez to replace the departing Ellen DeGeneres and Kara DioGuardi.

After last season’s lackluster crop of contenders -- Lee DeWyze has had the lowest debut recording of any previous winner -- there will surely be a curiosity factor in seeing how the two rejuvenate the judges' panel.

Tyler said he’d like to think he offers the competition a new level of credibility within the music industry that it lacked before.

“I’m not going in there to be a harsh judge. I’m bringing the 40 years of being the front guy of Aerosmith who's judged the hell out of himself [to the show]. No more, no less,” he said. “I’m looking for three things: can they sing, are they in pitch and do they have star quality. That would be my expertise.”

When pressed if potential rock contestants have worked overtime to impress the elder statesman, he laughed at recalling having to hear his signature power ballad, “I Don’t Want to Miss a Thing,” nearly 15 times in the early weeks.

“It was hard for me. It always seem to me that someone at home told them if you sing an Aerosmith song he will get enamored by it,” he said. “I haven’t heard a lot of rock. For every week that I’ve brought on someone that I thought was great, they’ve been given the wrong song, and the wrong key and we’ve had to drop them. That’s the heartbreak of the show. There is one [rock] kid, his voice is ridiculous.”

As for staunch Aerosmith fans criticizing his new day job? He’s not too worried about that either.

“All the TV is getting is that other side of me. If Aerosmith fans don’t see that, then all they are choosing to see is the side of me that’s onstage,” Tyler said. “I get to be less colored by the songs I've written, and more from the songs they sing. I get to be more vulnerable.”

-- Gerrick D. Kennedy

Photo: Steven Tyler. Credit: Tony Duran / Fox