Steven Tyler: New Aerosmith Documentary Spotlights Band-Saving 2011 Tour

Ross Halfin

A bit of band discord indirectly led to a new document of one of Aerosmith's shining moments.

Frontman Steven Tyler tells Billboard that he initially brought Casey Patrick Tebo -- who directed the forthcoming documentary "Rock For the Rising Sun" -- into the Aerosmith camp about four years ago, during a particularly turbulent period in the group's history. "There was a lot of shit going on at one point with the band," Tyler explains, "and I got really pissed off and I thought, 'I need to start filming a day in the life of myself on tour.' So I brought (Tebo) out about four years ago, and he did such a great job he started doing the (video) screens and he started being our videographer on tour."

That included Aerosmith's fall of 2011 trek through earthquake- and tsunami-ravaged Japan, where the group went "just because of our love for the people there and because of what was going on cheer them up a little bit," Tyler says. While the group started working on its latest album, "Music From Another Dimension," Casey went through footage from the tour and came to the band with an idea.

"He shows up in L.A. and goes, 'Would you be interested in doing a full-length feature motion picture about what you did in Japan?' " Tyler recalls. "And we said, 'Well, show us what you got,' and he put together such great footage of us playing there, six shows and all the songs that we'd never done before ('A Lick and a Promise,' 'One Way Street'), and it was amazing and we said, 'Yeah, of course.' So hats off to Casey, man."

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"Rock For the Rising Sun," which comes out July 23 on DVD, Blu-ray and digital download, features live performances of 17 songs as well as behind-the-scenes footage from the tour and bonus material. And Tyler says that if viewers pay attention they'll notice that the film also chronicles the end to the nearly game-ending feuding that dogged Aerosmith during the couple of years prior.

"The band was getting along better than ever," he says. "We'd just broken up for crazy fucking reasons, and I went away to get my head straight again. We booked a tour, South America first and we took it to Japan, and...It's funny that it took that for the band to realize how important we are to each other and how fuckin' good of a band we are and what a fuckin' good time we have on stage that is infectious and gets people happy. We were just all in such a bad place that we didn't realize our self-worth. I took going to Japan and playing those shows for the band to realize its own magic again. Somewhere along the line there it got the band happy again, and we thought, 'Holy shit, we gotta do a fucking record right now!' So, yeah, that tour helped us to a new album."

Tyler -- who was inducted into the Songwriters Hall of Fame with Aerosmith guitarist Joe Perry earlier this month -- says that positive spirit is still strong within Aerosmith at the moment. The group has summer and early fall dates booked in the U.S., Japan, South America and Mexico, while "everyone is collecting their marbles" to start working on new material and predicts "we're gonna be working on the new Aerosmith record" in the near future. Tyler, meanwhile, also vows to complete his long-in-the-making solo album, hopefully for release in 2014 and including possible collaborations with Johnny Depp and Elton John, among others.

"I'm just doing a solo record 'cause I think it's fuckin' kinky to go write a song with Johnny Depp," says Tyler, who recently co-wrote Julian Lennon's new single "Someday" and appears on new songs by Buddy Guy (with Perry and Rad Whiford) and Bayonets, an all-star group led by Paul McCartney guitarist Brian Ray. "I think it's fuckin' ridiculous to go write a bunch of songs I started five years ago and never finished. It feeds my passion. I like traveling all over the place and writing songs and seeing what we catch. It's kind of like driftnetting for songs, right. But, no, the band's not breaking up. Me doing a solo record doesn't mean the band isn't working on a record -- but I get that in the press one has to hear that from one lead singer of one Aerosmith."