Earlier this week, former GUNS N' ROSES drummer Steven Adler was interviewed on "Trunk Nation", Eddie Trunk's show on SiriusXM channel Volume (106). A few excerpts from the chat follow below (transcribed by BLABBERMOUTH.NET).
On reuniting with classic GUNS N' ROSES members Axl Rose, Slash and Duff McKagan for guest appearances at several shows during the 2016 "Not In This Lifetime" tour:
Adler: "Last year was just so fabulous, because I wanted this… Everybody knows that I've been praying for this for twenty-five years for us to have a reunion. It was something that was so magical, and I'm so proud of what we did, and I'm so proud of the guys. It was just too hard last year, 'cause they'd have me come down and do just one or two songs, and it's, like, I'm standing on the side of the stage and I'm watching Frank [Ferrer, current GUNS N' ROSES drummer], who's a wonderful guy and a great drummer, play my songs when I'm standing right there. I'm going, 'Dude, why don't you fucking let me play? I'm right here! Let me play the songs.' And it was just too hard to do that. And then the South American thing, flying fifteen thousand miles for just one song each night. It was just too much. But the great part about that trip was after the second show, I put on a private show at a club called Roxy in Argentina, and we played from two to five in the morning. We had all these guitar players and different great musicians come up. We played all of 'Appetite [For Destruction]', we did 'You Could Be Mine', 'Don't Cry'… a couple of the songs that I [was] a part of writing but didn't get to play on it."
On when he was first approached about being involved with the GUNS N' ROSES reunion tour:
Adler: "Well, it was January 2, 2016, and Slash and Duff both texted me and said that they wanted to get together and talk to me. So I went down to Duff's house and we had a nice little talk. They had me sign some contract thing and whatnot just so they could talk to me, which is cool; I don't care. Then in March I came down to rehearsal, and the second rehearsal, I got a pinched nerve in my L4 in my lower back. But I was only out for ten days. By the time they did The Troubadour show, I was ready to go. I called Duff up and I said, 'Dude, I'm ready to rock. Can I do these shows?' They had The Troubadour and they had, like, seven other shows. And he said, 'No, you're not gonna be part of this.' I was, like, 'Fuck you!' and I hung up on him. And I called him back and I said, 'I'm sorry. I was just angry at myself. I feel like I ruined it for myself, and I was just saying mean things to you because that's how I felt about me.' You know, I [was] trying to move forward. And so one day, I think, like, July 3rd or July 4th, they called me and said, 'You wanna come down to Cincinnati and Nashville?' And I said, 'Yeah. When?' And they said, 'Tomorrow.' So, of course, I got on a plane, I went, I got to jam with them, and it was great. It's just not the same. I was thinking it was gonna be the same as it was twenty-five years ago, but not having Izzy [Stradlin, former GUNS N' ROSES guitarist] there, and just playing one or two songs, it was very hurtful and heartbreaking for me. And Richard [Fortus, current GUNS N' ROSES guitarist] is a phenomenal guitar player — he's a great guitar player — and the crazy thing is, from ten feet away, he fucking looks like Izzy. And they asked me to go to… they said either Japan or Australia or Thailand, and I said I'm not gonna fly twenty thousand miles to play one or two songs. It's just too much."
On whether he was being paid for his guest appearance with GUNS N' ROSES:
Adler: "Oh, yeah. They gave me a couple of bucks. They're good guys with that. But still, to be on the side of the stage and to watch somebody else play the songs, it's heartbreaking."
On why he thinks he wasn't allowed to play more songs and at more shows:
Adler: "Dude, I was in Argentina. Why would they let me play [only] one song? I have no idea. And out of respect for Fernando [Lebeis, who is part of GUNS N' ROSES' management team], I have nothing negative to say, 'cause I was just so glad to be able to do it. And even though it wasn't what it could be and should be, I got closure. And I feel so much better — like there's a billion-ton weight lifted off of me, where I can move forward again. I can play with other people, I can do other things, and it's the greatest thing. I've been practicing the four agreements [essential steps on the path to personal freedom] for the last three years, and it's changed my life. I'm a totally happier person. I'm the person when I was young, a teenager, and excited, and had dreams and goals and wanted to do things. And I like it. Before, all I wanted to do was do a fucking reunion. And I got to do what I got to do, and I'm thankful for that."
On whether he ever asked the GUNS N' ROSES management team why he couldn't play more songs:
Adler: "Of course! I'd start playing another fucking song, and they'd tell me to get off. They'd say, 'Okay, you're done.' And I'd start playing another song, and they'd just turned the sound of. 'Beat it. You're done.' I was, like, 'Okay. Cool.' I got to do that. It's better to have loved and lost than never to have loved at all, and I got to rock with those guys. And I love Slash and Duff and Axl, and I got to meet some great people that are working with them. And Fernando, who is GN'R's main guy, he's got some good ideas for hopefully this summer, for the thirtieth anniversary [of 'Appetite For Destruction'] in July, something for the fans. I don't know what it is, but he's a good guy, and I think he's gonna do the right thing… And there never will be an explanation [for why I can't play more songs with them]. It is what it is, and that's that."
On what it was like seeing Axl Rose for the first time after he came down to play with GUNS N' ROSES in Cincinnati last July:
Adler: "I only talked to Axl for literally ten seconds. The first night I played with them in Cincinnati, I got a fistbump and a little smile, and that was good enough for me. And then at Dodger Stadium [in Los Angeles], I got to give him a little hug and shake his hand and say I love him and he fucking rules and 'thank you so much for giving me this opportunity. I had the greatest time.' And he walked on his way. And I went on with my life. And I've been enjoying it ever since. He's Axl. He does his show and he gets so passionate and such emotion that he really just needs to relax and come down for at least an hour, 'cause he is a monster on stage. And he puts out so much feeling that he becomes those songs. And he's been fabulous at it. And Slash and Duff are so much fun. When we're together at soundheck, the crew was all, 'Jesus Christ! You've gotta come down more, 'cause the only time these guys ever smile or have fun is when you're here.' And I was saying, 'I would love to.' But it is what it is."
On why he thinks Izzy Stradlin hasn't gotten involved in the GUNS N' ROSES reunion at all:
Adler: "Because he wants to do it like me — the right way or not at all. And the reason I did it and needed to do it was because I got kicked out of the band for reasons I still don't know. To say that I'm a drug addict in that band and getting kicked out for drugs is ridiculous. They were doing drugs way more than me, so it's like calling the kettle black. But it was different stuff. Axl wanted more control of the thing. Then he wanted control of Izzy, and then he wanted control of Slash and Duff, and so one at a time everybody left until it was the Axl Rose band. But he still called it GUNS N' ROSES. And I don't blame him — I would too, 'cause that name is worth billions. So I'd use it if I could myself. [Laughs] I'd get Steven Tyler to sing though. [Laughs] Like I said, [Izzy] wants to do it the right way, with the five of us, and I needed to do it, because I neeed closure. I got kicked out, and all of a sudden… I had a road crew, I had management, I had accountants, I had stage people, I had a band, and then one day, literally in one afternoon, I had nobody — I was all alone. And I was scared shitless. I didn't know what to do. What do I do? All I knew was what I was doing. And then I was left all alone. So being able to at least play the one or two songs at the five shows I did was severe closure for me."
On whether he is open to playing with GUNS N' ROSES again:
Adler: "If we did it the right way, yes. I can't watch somebody… I will share the stage with Frank any day. I'll do the 'Appetite' stuff, which is the great stuff anyways and the fun stuff anyways, and I'll do the 'Lies' stuff, I'll do a couple of 'Illusions' [songs], and let Frank, in the middle of the set, play the 'Chinese Democracy' stuff, some of the 'Illusions' stuff. If we split it, I wouldn't mind sharing the stage with him at all. I mean, if that's what it came down to, I'm cool with that. He's a great guy. [But] I can't [just play one or two songs per show anymore]. It's just too hard. It's too hard. I wanna play more, and I want Izzy to be there. It was the five of us that made magic, and I know we can make that magic again, 'cause it's just who we are. Even though we're twenty-five years older, I know if we got in a room together and started playing, it would be fucking magic."
On whether he would be able to step up and play a full two-hour show with GUNS N' ROSES, if asked, at this point:
Adler: "Oh, God, yes. I wanted to push Frank down the stairs one night, but he's too much of a great guy. I can't do it. I can't push him down the stairs. I'll get my shot this way. One way or another, I'm getting up there and playing more songs. Somebody's going down, and it ain't gonna be me."
On whether he ever rehearsed with the full band at any point:
Adler: "No. Just those two rehearsals before I hurt my back, and that was just with Slash and Duff. Richard wasn't even there."
On whether he had any interaction with the other guys and gals in the band — Dizzy Reed (keyboards), Melissa Reese (keyboards) and Richard — before he walked out on stage with GUNS N' ROSES in Cincinnati:
Adler: "Oh, dude. The reason they fit perfect in that band is 'cause they're like fucking ghosts. 'Cause Axl doesn't wanna see nobody. I would walk into the studio, I'd say hi to them, and then I'd turn around, and they'd be gone. And then when I was done playing, all of a sudden, [they'd be there] again. And I'm, like, 'Where did you go?' Very nice people — very quiet, just the way Axl likes it: nice and quiet."