Steven Tyler, American Idol Steven Tyler, American Idol

On the eve of his debut as American Idol judge, Steven Tyler says he's not the next Simon Cowell.

"I'm not going in there to be a harsh judge or an overbearing judge," Tyler told reporters in a conference call Tuesday. "[What I am bringing is] 40 years as the front guy in Aerosmith, who's judged the hell out of himself and made a good career out of it."

What does that mean for his judging style? Tyler said he was looking for three things from contestants: Can the person sing? What is their character like? Do they have star quality?  

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And while he might not be mean-spirited in his critiques, the 62-year-old rocker said to expect total honesty — even when it comes to himself. "It would be like if there were reality cameras in the house when my kids were growing up — that's the side of me they're seeing," he said. "Here, I get to be more vulnerable, more honest, more open, more in the moment."

He added that the judges' camaraderie is nothing like what Idol fans have seen before — they really like each other! "J. Lo is a fox. She's all street. She's also got a good, big heart," Tyler said. "[Randy Jackson] and I got on within the first five minutes, and it was like we were separated at birth. We had so many similarities."

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With auditions wrapped, he's said he's learned a lot about the "heartbreak" involved in the competition, having passed many rock singers through to Hollywood only to see them go home in the next weeks.

But he's got his eye on one who made it through. "There's one kid there that's got a rock element about him that's totally off-the-wall," Tyler said. "I hope that he makes it through. His voice is ridiculous. It's so crazy and great."

As for the future, Tyler confirmed he's signed up for more than a year on Idol and remained mum about what happens after. In the meantime, he's proposing a new reality show for the network.

"Someday I'll have my own show," Tyler said. "They'll put me in a barrel and throw me into the ocean. It will be called Message in a Bottle. They'll put me in a giant bottle and see which shore I land on. Then I'll marry the person and see what the kids look like. I don't know. I'm ready for anything."

The new season of American Idol premieres Wednesday at 8/7c on Fox.