by Neil Paul
May 15, 2018
I recently had an opportunity to preview STEVEN TYLER: OUT ON A LIMB and interview Filmmaker/Director Casey Tebo, a longtime friend of Steven Tyler, best known for being the lead vocalist of iconic rock band Aerosmith.
The film showcases Steven Tyler on his journey entering a new era of his music career as a solo artist venturing into country music within the genre’s epicenter, Nashville. The story provides an intimate look at the rock legend from unseen angles, particularly presenting his larger-than-life persona through the lens of vulnerability in new beginnings.
On the surface, the film provides a well-balanced blend of scenes: documentation of Mr. Tyler’s story venturing into his solo country career, short bursts of commentary from industry talent, Tebo’s personal journey and relationship with Tyler, an understanding of the unique cultural aspects of the Nashville music-scene, and live concert footage featuring new songs and Aerosmith classics with a country vibe.
One of Tebo’s intentions as a long-time friend of Tyler’s was to provide some “vindication” for Tyler by showcasing a softer, more vulnerable passion behind the man who has perhaps been previously portrayed as a “diva” or “unfair.” Stemming from this accomplished intention was a significant story – we are truly fortunate and perhaps take it for granted that rock icons like Steven Tyler, Mick Jagger, Keith Richards, etc. are still getting after it, but for how long? As Tebo frankly stated, when “god forbid…these guys are gone…Rock n’ Roll is over…The Foo Fighters are probably the last of the Mohicans.”
An overarching and timeless theme of the film that speaks to anyone from Tyler fans to those who may have never heard an Aerosmith record, is about inspiration through risk, vulnerability, and putting oneself out there. Even Tyler, the man who had it all was greatly apprehensive of launching a solo career period, let alone in country music. While it’s true that rock is rooted in blues and country, this solo venture, particularly at this stage in his career, came with the dual risk of tarnishing Tyler’s reputation by being poorly received by Aerosmith fans and country fans alike. However, Tyler understood through reflection that “most people would rather be certain they’re miserable than take a risk and be happy.” Per Tebo, “Steven – reminds me of Martin Scorcese in a sense of making unbelievable movies into your 70s…there’s a number of guys who make it and don’t care anymore…Steven, at 70, still aspiring to make music and do cool things, it’s really inspiring.”
Tebo’s own story becomes an approachable duality as we see how his sticking to his passion for film through difficult times eventually led to a chance encounter with the band that propelled his career forward. When I asked him about this, taking a leap, and sticking to one’s dream, he said, “you have to have a certain level of guts within you to go… [to know that] I’m not happy or I’m going to do that thing that I’ve always wanted to do…just a theory I have – I honestly think that a lot of inspiration comes from getting stuck and making yourself happy by guts.”
Out on a Limb accomplishes everything Tebo aspired to, and perhaps more. Down the road, hopefully well down the road, when the stages and recording studios of the world will no longer be graced with legends like Steve Tyler, this film can continue to serve as an important artifact in Rock n’ Roll history.
Out on a Limb is currently available on VOD and Digital HD.