They've been larger-than-life performers for decades, but now Steven Tyler and Joe Perry's songwriting skills are getting the attention. The Aerosmith veterans will be inducted into the Songwriters Hall of Fame in June and will receive the American Society of Composers, Authors and Publishers' Founders Award next week.
Rocking out in long hair and leather when their baby-boomer peers are opting for tracksuits and comfortable shoes, the band-mates attribute the twin songwriting honors to their longevity in the fickle and fractured music business. "I think people are enamored by the music, and I think they're pushed over the top by the fact that we stood the test of time, we're still together and didn't quit," said Tyler, 65, who wore a leather tuxedo coat with tails and repeatedly fluffed his curls during a recent interview at NightBird Studios. "We're still around. We're still in the game and in the fight and have the passion... and it's not a fighter that's gotten knocked out or has wet brain, it's a fight that we still do because we can."
The rockers are so busy, in fact, that they'll miss ASCAP's 30th annual Pop Music Awards ceremony on April 17, where the Founders prize will be presented. Tyler, Perry and the rest of the band will be performing in Australia to support their 15th studio album, "Music From Another Dimension!".
Released last November, the album contains Aerosmith's first new material in more than a decade and was a collaboration of the entire band. They even reunited with the producer of their early hits.
"We decided to keep it close to the vest and all sit in a room all together like the old days and write an old-fashioned Aerosmith album," Tyler said. "This made my heart feel good that ... we were all that band that actually started out in the beginning." During the writing process, they think of how they'd perform the song live, "and usually, if it feels good, we're going to finish the song," Perry said, "The bottom line is fans just want to hear a good song," he said. "Some people will look underneath to see who wrote it, but they just want to hear a good song. And if they don't hear it, they're not going to buy it just because you wrote it."
Still, Tyler and Perry never won a Grammy for songwriting. Aerosmith's four trophies are all for performing.
That's why the two men are deeply touched by these latest honors. Past recipients of the ASCAP Founders Award include Paul McCartney, Stevie Wonder, Joni Mitchell, Neil Young and Tom Waits. The Songwriters Hall of Fame includes such artists as Johnny Cash, Marvin Hamlisch, Elton John and Mick Jagger.
"Writing songs is like panning for gold. It's like sifting through life and you look for a little nugget, and if you hit on it, you're really lucky," Tyler said. "It's such an honor to be with those other songwriters. If I can use that as a template, that's where the honor lies."