STEVEN ADLER Explains His Absence From GUNS N' ROSES Reunion Tour: 'They Just Didn't Give Me The Opportunity'
February 17, 2017
Former GUNS N' ROSES drummer Steven Adler was interviewed by rock journalist Mitch Lafon for a recent edition of the "One On One With Mitch Lafon" podcast (Facebook page). You can listen to the chat below. A couple of excerpts follow (transcribed by BLABBERMOUTH.NET).
On what it was like performing with fellow classic-GUNS N' ROSES-lineup members Slash, Duff McKagan and Axl Rose for the first time in twenty-six years in July 2016:
Adler: "It was, 'Thank you, God, for this beautiful present.' I'd been playing 'Appetite [For Destruction]' [songs] live, 'Use Your Illusion' and the songs that, obviously, I didn't get to play on 'Use Your Illusion', I was practicing them… I was playing twenty-five songs twice a day for two years. 'Cause once I found out [the reunion] was probably gonna happen, I was, like, 'Yes! I'm gonna be ready and on top of it.' And then second rehearsal, I hurt my back and I had to have a minor surgery. I had a pinched nerve in the L4 [nerve root], and within an hour, I was out of the hospital and I was all better. And I talked to them [and said], 'Let me come back,' but it didn't happen, and I was resentful. And then I talked to my sponsor and I was, 'Okay, you're right. I'm not gonna give in to resentment.' And then they called me, and I [went], 'Holy shit! Here it comes. This is gonna be so awesome.' I'm still smiling about it. I have dreams about it. My wife goes, 'What are you smiling about? You're sleeping and you're smiling.' And I go, 'I was on stage in front of seventy thousand people with Slash and Duff and Axl.' I just wish Izzy [Stradlin, former GUNS N' ROSES guitarist] as there, but, shit, I got to do it. Thank you, God. 'Cause I wanted it for twenty-six years. All I did every day was, 'Please, God, let this happen. Let this happen. I wanna play with them again. I wanna do this.' For twenty-six years, every time I'd go out, people — not just one or two, but five, six, ten people, especially when I'd do a show, it was hundreds — [they'd ask me] 'When are you going to get back together?' And I wish I could say it would have been… Well, we would have never broke up, if I had a say."
On his 1990 exit from GUNS N' ROSES:
Adler: "If people think that I got kicked out of GUNS N' ROSES for doing drugs, they are so mistaken. Everybody in that band was doing drugs. I was doing less than anybody. I got kicked out of the band, and Izzy got kicked out of the band, and then Slash and Duff did, because Axl wanted to take control of everything — he wanted to own the name, he wanted to be the only person who gets paid for the songs. He wanted to be the manager, the accountant and everything, when all he needs to do is get up there and sing like a motherfucker that he does. But he wanted to own and control everything. Like Elton John — he wanted to be like Elton John or Billy Joel. That's where the whole piano thing came in. He wanted to be a piano man, which is cool, but that's not GUNS N' ROSES. Leave GUNS N' ROSES the way it is, and then you do solo albums, like all musicians in other bands do. But that's what he wanted to do, and that's what happened. So I was the first to go, 'cause I was the easiest one; I was the nicest guy. They tricked me. They had me sign some contract with my lawyer there at the office. And I was completely sick at the time. And I had no idea I was signing my rights away, rights to the name, my royalties. They wanted to basically give me two thousand dollars and throw me in the street. And thank God my mom realized what happened and she got a lawyer for me. And thank God everything got taken care of."
On whether it was his understanding, while he was rehearsing for the reunion shows early last year, that he would only play one or two songs with GUNS N' ROSES at all the concerts:
Adler: "My understanding was I was gonna do all the 'Appetite' [material], the 'Lies' and three or four of the 'Use Your Illusion' songs. And then Frank [Ferrer, current GUNS N' ROSES drummer], who's a wonderful, awesome guy, he was gonna do the 'Chinese Democracy' [material] and a couple of the other [songs]… I was gonna start it, he was gonna come in the middle, and I was gonna end it. And I was cool with that."
On when he realized that plans had changed:
Adler: "I was ready to do The Troubadour show [on April 1, 2016]. Like I said, I had been playing twenty-five songs twice a day for almost two years — every day. So I was ready to go. And then the second rehearsal… I came into rehearsal in January, February, March. And the fucking second day, I just stretched… All I did was stretch — I put my arms in the air to stretch — and I go, 'I just did something.' And we played another seven songs, and then my back was really sore. And I came home about eight at night, and then by midnight, I couldn't even stand up. It was just terrible. I was out for two weeks, and then I got the epidural after about a week, and then I had the surgery about two weeks… I was ready when they did The Troubadour show. And Duff called me and said, 'Dude, you're not gonna play with us anymore. You're not gonna do these shows.' And I was, like, 'You're the worst fucking person in the world.' And I hung up on him. And I tried to call him back and left a message, saying, 'I'm so sorry I said that.' When I said that he was the worst person in the world, I didn't mean he was, 'cause I was thinking I was the worst person in the world — that I couldn't even fucking get back with my fucking guys after they gave me this opportunity. But I said it to him. And when you have resentments, you say things that you're feeling. And I was feeling that about me, and I said it about him, and I couldn't apologize to him enough, because he knows I love him more than anything. And I got to apologize, 'cause, obviously, I'd seen him last year and we did shows together. And he understood."
On whether GUNS N' ROSES chose to use Frank Ferrer as the only drummer for most of the shows because of tour-insurance reasons:
Adler: "They already had Frank, so God forbid I couldn't do it, then there was Frank. So it's not an insurance thing. They just didn't give me the opportunity. It's cheaper to just have Frank. I mean, they were only paying me… not that much. I was doing it — 'cause, thank God, I don't need the money that bad — I was doing it because I wanted to play with them, and I wanted to play for the fans. 'Cause Frank is a great drummer, but he does not play the way Steven Adler plays, and Steven Adler doesn't play the way Matt [Sorum] plays, and Matt doesn't play the way Frank plays. We all have our own style, but my style is the one that is on those records that everybody grew up listening to and [made] memories to. So when Frank is playing those songs, he's not playing them right. He's just really a great time keeper. I mean, put it this way: they were playing '[Mr.] Brownstone'… I didn't know they were playing 'Brownstone' until all of a sudden they started singing the chorus. I went, 'That was 'Brownstone'?' 'Brownstone' you know instantly. I came up with a kickass groove. You know that. And I'm standing, going, 'What song is this?' But, like I said, we all have our own styles."
On why he only played one song with GUNS N' ROSES at each of the two shows in Buenos Aires, Argentina last November:
Adler: "I got there. And I got my wife [who is Argentinian], all her family, her parents, her sisters, her sisters' babies, their mothers, their aunts… I got, like, nine of 'em, and I was up there and I was ready to go up. And Axl says, 'What the fuck is he doing here? He's not supposed to be here 'till tomorrow?' So I was, all, 'Excuse me? I just flew fifteen thousand miles.' So they played a few more songs, and I came up, he introduced me, I played one song and they turned the lights out on me. I went back behind the drum riser. And I was all, 'What the fuck?' And everybody in the crew came around and started hugging me and going, 'Dude, we love you, Steve. It's okay.' I mean, the whole crew — there was, like, twenty people who came up to me and talked to me. And then the next night, I did one more song again. Other parts I don't even wanna talk about. All I know is the best of it is was me and my wife got to be together with her family for the first time in fifteen years. I have seen her family, and she's seen her family, but we'd never seen them together. So that was great… I obviously misunderstood to go to Australia and Japan and, I think, Thailand. And then, I was all, 'Yeah, I would love to do that.' But then I found out that it was either one. It was either, 'You can either come to Australia or you can go to Japan or you can go to Thailand.' And I said, 'I can't do that.' But, like I said, I got some closure, and I'm thankful I got to do what I did."
On whether he still harbors any resentment toward the GUNS N' ROSES guys:
Adler: "No, no, no. Not at all. I love those guys. It is what it is. What I want it to be is the five of us, and what Axl wants it to be is what he wants it to be, and I respect him for it. I'm just glad I got to be a part of it for the good part — when it was fun and exciting. It was magical when we were together [back in the late '80s]. Back then, even our worst show was great. It was just magic. It was very special. And I couldn't feel more blessed or thankful that I got to be a part of it. Or more proud. I'm proud. I'm gonna die proud. And I'm cool with that. [Laughs]"
On whether there is zero chance he will play with GUNS N' ROSES again:
Adler: "I have closure to where if they wanna do it the right way, the five of us… And, like I said, I'll share the stage with Frank — I don't care. As long as I'm there doing my songs, I don't care. But if they'd wanna do it the five of us, I am there! I love those guys. I'm proud of what the five of us… and since the five of us are still alive, I think the five of us should play for our fucking fans, give 'em what they want. I mean, I live a beautiful, comfortable life because people still love our music, and that's every musician's dream — to make music that people love. Not just for a week or a month or a year — this is thirty fucking years, and people still… Every time I get in the car and one of our songs [comes on], I go, 'Okay, there's my twenty-five cents. Yeah!' [Laughs]"
On whether there will be another ADLER album:
Adler: "No, no, no. Dude, rock and roll doesn't sell. Unless I get into a band that's already established, there's no point in doing it, dude. It's such a pain in the ass to fly all over the world, and you play little clubs or bars… Dude, I am so tired of driving up to the gig and going… I have pair of dice in my hand and I go, 'C'mon, seven. Let there be people here. C'mon!' I walk in and I go, 'Fuck! There's twenty people.' It's not the same. So unless I get in an established band, there's no point in doing it. There's no money. And my whole goal is to play for as many people as possible. Don't get me wrong — I love and appreciate playing for that one or ten or hundred people. I was thankful. But I wanna do it right."
On whether he thinks there will ever be a proper reunion of the classic GUNS N' ROSES lineup:
Adler: "Dude, if the five of us got back together, it would be the biggest reunion tour ever in rock — unless John Bonham came back to life or Jimi Hendrix or Jim Morrison and now [THE DOORS] keyboard player. If the five of us are alive, it would be the biggest thing ever; I mean, people would be so happy. It would be like an event… That's what it should be, that's what it could be, but that's not what it is. I asked Slash if he would talk to Axl about that, like, in July it'll be thirty years that 'Appetite' came out. So I was thinking why don't we just do four or five shows and play all of 'Appetite' from beginning to end, throw [in], like, 'Civil War', and maybe something off of… like 'Patience'… and record it, videotape it. And that's it, if that's all you wanna do. And if Axl's happy after that, then we could do more. But I thought that would be really cool. But that's my idea. If it was up to me, it would be a different story. But it is what it is."