I had the opportunity to catch up with the one and only Steven “Popcorn” Adler; the original drummer for Guns N Roses ahead of his first visit to Australia in 30 years. We got to talking about the past, the present and the future and what fans can expect from the tour. The tour is selling extremely well and looks like it is going to be a complete sell out. So for those who don’t have tickets, please jump on board quickly.
Strap yourself in for a fun read with the one and only legendary Steven Adler.
Hi Andrew, how are you?
Welcome to Wall Of Sound Australia. I am great! How are you my friend?
I am wonderful. We just had a great rehearsal and we can’t wait to get out there. We can’t wait to get out to beautiful Australia and ROCK!!
We can’t wait to have you out here. You are doing six dates across the country from May 16 to 26 and are bringing out your band?
I wish we were doing more, this is all they gave us for now, we will be back, but let’s take care of these ones first. We are going to try and sink Australia a couple of feet (laughs).
What can we expect from these shows?
So basically I have got my band, we are coming out there, the first song will be Reckless Life and we will be finishing with Paradise City, everything else in the middle and then some.
The cool part is that I am going to be bringing my Mum out with me. My Mum Deanna came out with her book Sweet Child Of Mine. It’s a great book, and what’s so cool about my Mum’s book is that, well I have my book Appetite For Destruction and it’s a typical rock star book; it’s about the sex, the drugs, all the partying blah blah blah; but you never hear the story from other side of the tracks. You don’t hear what I and all other rock stars were doing, and how it affected the people that loved them and that they loved. My Mums book is the story from the other side of the tracks; you get an idea of what it is like having a son or a daughter who is an addict. You see what they go through. When you read my Mum’s book, you see through what people who have an addict in the family, you realize that you are not the only one and there is hope.
I have been fortunate enough to read both yours and your Mum’s books, along with a few of the other Guns N Roses books out there. I must say it is such a bold and brave move to bring your Mum with you for these questions and answer sessions. It makes the whole format of a question and answer session really special as you get to hear both sides of the story instantly.
Any question is good Andrew. Believe me, we have nothing to hide. My mother is straight forward. It’s so great having a relationship with my Mum and my brother Jamie again. Family is so important. Friends, girls and even wives come and go, but your family is your family and they are always there. It is just such a pleasure to be a part of a family again.
Believe me, my Mum will NOT hold back on anything. You can ask her anything and she will tell you, she has nothing to hide.
Parents if you are bringing your young kids, you may have to cover their ears (laughs)
We all love a good story, and if it is as open and honest as you say we all will be in for a treat. Have you done any Question and Answer shows with your Mum prior to this?
Oh yeah, we have done a couple out here in Hollywood. A lot of people at these shows have either been affected by or been addicts themselves and they have lots of questions. My Mum, she is an expert of these things, what to do and what not to do (laughs). So people do not be afraid to ask any question. We have nothing about our journeys to hide and believe me we are not shy (laughs)
Now your band, Adler’s Appetite; who is currently in the band? Who is coming out with you?
It’s just me … I’m going to be playing everything at the same time (laughs). I wish … I really do wish I could (laughs). If I could sing and play in time I would (laughs). I have this great Broadway star as a singer, he was on American Idol, and he did Rock of Ages. I just can’t tell you his name yet, it’s a surprise but Australia get ready, I have got a singer that is going to kick ass on these songs, and band sounds great.
The songs sound better than Appetite does. Just like it, but even better and that is probably because I’m a better player myself. Being sober for four years, three months and three days; my life has done a complete 180. It now all about taking care of my body, my mind, my soul and just being happy. I really love it.
I stopped doing drugs in 2008. But as of four years, three months and three days I stopped drinking, and within eight or nine months everything changed. I have a beautiful house, I have my family back, I got my wife, my dogs, I’m playing better than ever and I get to come to Australia. Do you think if I was drinking still I would be coming to Australia? There is no way in hell.
It’s such a pleasure to wake up in the morning instead of coming to (laughs) and going god damn it I’m still alive. I love waking up and wondering what is going to happen on this beautiful day. I love the sunrise and it being a new day ahead.
What I admire about you and your recovery journey is that even through suffering a stroke that left you with partial paralysis, is your love and passion, bravery and commitment to rock n roll. It really does shine through and send such a strong positive message through the adversity of addiction. Are there any regrets that you carry with you to this day?
Thank you Andrew, thank you!!
To be perfectly honest with you, I didn’t play much during my addiction and recovery outside of Guns N Roses, I did my Adler record which I am extremely proud of and I hope that everyone can find the time to check it out on iTunes if you haven’t already heard it. I am very proud of it and not to toot my own horn, but I think it is better than all the other Guns N Roses guys solo records, even Axl’s. I consider Chinese Democracy as Axl’s solo record. He should have put it out under the name W-A-R (William Axl Rose).
It was so great to play with the reunited Axl, Slash and Duff. Of course I wish could have been a part of the band along with Izzy and get the chance to finish what we started. The five of us together have something so very special. It’s a magic, and there are only a handful of bands that had that magic.
I did get to play a handful of shows and like Freddie Mercury said: “One year of love is better than a lifetime alone”. Mick Jagger said “You can’t always get what you want, but if you try sometimes, you get what you need” (laughs)
I was lucky to see the very first Guns N Roses tour in December of 1988 and it was probably the biggest, loudest, hungriest, rawest rock show I think I have ever been to and certainly a show I will never forget. What do you remember about that tour?
That was the first time I ever did a drum solo live. Yes it was the first time ever. Now that I am more comfortable in my playing thru practice and repetition I have a little something lined up this time around. A little ditty for everybody (laughs)
Can I ask what your personal favorite track from Appetite is? There has to be one?
Every one of them is. I loved every moment of the six days we took to records that album. They were the six greatest days of my life aside for the five years I got to be with those guys.
What you hear is what we played. The producer Mike Clink went in and would say OK I’m pushing record. Most of the songs are one or two, maybe three takes at the most. One song I think we played four times. You can’t use a metronome to it, it’s all feel, and it’s real. When we would finish a song and go into the sound room and listen back to it we all knew it was going to be huge. We were all so happy with it and each other, because we were doing what we wanted to do. David Geffen didn’t say, I want the band to be like this, or be like that. David’s attitude towards us was let’s throw them in the studio and see what happens. We did it our way and it worked.
I’m so proud of it, I’m so proud of the five of us for what we did. I love those guys very much.
My first exposure to Guns N Roses was through the Live Like a Suicide EP, pre Appetite and to this day still has a certain magic to it. What initially grabbed me about the EP was the inclusion of Rose Tattoo’s Nice Boys. It was such a cool surprise to hear this young hungry band pay tribute to one of our countries greatest rock bands.
Man I love that song. You will be happy to know that we will be playing Nice Boys at these shows. But we are also working on an INXS cover for the shows too. I’m a big INXS fan and with them being Australian we are throwing one of their songs in, but you will have to wait and see which one.
It has been pretty well documented through the years that some of the songs on the Use Your Illusion albums were rehashed songs that were originally demoed between 87 and 89. How much input did you have on those songs?
You know I helped write 95% of the Use Your Illusion records. So also in the set there will be a couple of Use Your Illusion songs You Could be Mine, Back off Bitch, Don’t Cry and of course Civil War which was the last song I wrote with those guys. So the set will also feature the songs I wrote with the guys, but didn’t get to record with them, which was a shame. After Civil War you can’t deny it was a different band. But as Duff McKagan says to me “It is what it is, it is what it is buddy”. (laughs)
As much as I enjoyed the Use Your Illusions records, Guns N Roses lost me a little because all of a sudden this kick ass, angry, hungry band came out with something that just didn’t have that energy, edge and dynamic that Appetite had.
Well like I said if you listen to the record, right after Civil War it’s a totally different band. When we were doing the demo tapes we were so happy with it. It was going to be Appetite all over again, but to the next level. It would have been, it could have been. You know as they say woulda, coulda, shoulda (laughs)
I’m just fuckin’ happy that I’m alive man. I am just so happy that I am alive and still able to play, because I just love playing. I’m so glad that I get to come to Australia and play for the most beautiful people in the world in the most beautiful country in the world.
What else do you enjoy aside from family and playing? Do you have any hobbies?
Man I love soccer and hope to check out Australian soccer out and get out and kick some soccer balls while I’m out there. I have my publicist trying to source me some of the best soccer club jerseys while I am out there.
I also want to mention that I have my Adler record Back From The Dead on iTunes. I have my artwork Steven Adler Art/Rhythm on Canvas which is me playing every song off Appetite as well as Civil War with laser drumsticks in the dark, so if you go to www.stevenadlerart.com you can check that out. I have only made 50 of each of the 14 prints and there are only a few left so if anyone is interested in getting one. You know this artwork is so cool. You know when you hear a certain song it makes you feel, well my artwork is what feelings look like. These are my feelings from playing the drums and what they look like in colour.
Plus I’m also doing a new book and now that I’m sober I am getting my memory back, I am hanging out with friends of mine that never did drugs or drink and they are telling me these stories that are just incredible. If I could have remembered any of this my first book would have been way better and way more exciting. The new book is going to be called “Steven Adler: The Shit My Friends Remember” and I have a website for it www.stevenadlerstories.com. So if anyone in Australia ever hung out with me or went to parties with me and have a story to tell, write about it on the website and I might just put it in the book.
Any final words for your Australian fans?
It’s just going to be a great rock show that we are putting together. I’m going to do my best, no more, no less as are the guys in the band. As I said man, I have a singer that is someone to be reckoned with. It’s going to be very cool and very exciting. We have been practising our asses off and getting it all together for a kick ass rock n roll show.
I want everyone to come down to the sound checks, bring your records, your pictures, I’m going to sign them and I want to meet as many people as I can, get as many hugs as I can, give as many hugs as I can. If anyone is a really good cook, you could always bring some lunch down to sound check for us (laughs). I haven’t eaten good food in years (laughs). I live in America, I don’t know what real food is (laughs)
Well we are just about out of time Steven, it has been a pleasure to talk with you, thanks for your time.
Thank you, but you have got me for as long as you want brother !!! (Publicist is freaking out in the background as Stevens’s interview schedule is tight and we have already gone over). But hey when I see you I want that $20AUD you owe me (laughs). That and I want a T-Shirt, a radio station T-Shirt and a hat please. Large T-shirt please (laughs)
Thank you Andrew, and I love you Australia – see you next month.
Interview by Andrew Slaidins.
Steven Adler’s Australian Tour kicks off May 16th in Darwin.
Tickets at various outlets below
Steven Adler – Australian Tour
Wednesday 16th May – Discovery, DARWIN – https://goo.gl/4U8Su5
Thursday 17th May – The Gov, ADELAIDE – https://goo.gl/BhJA7S
Friday 18th May – Capitol, PERTH – https://goo.gl/mHrWz5
Saturday 19th May – The Backroom, BRISBANE – https://goo.gl/pT8JFw
Friday 25th May – 170 Russell, MELBOURNE – https://goo.gl/pGVfwm
Saturday 26th May – Max Watts, SYDNEY – https://goo.gl/NoGESb