Cisco Adler Takes On the Challenge of Reinventing The Rocky Horror Picture Show

Cisco Adler wearing his signature Sicky Eyewear shades.EXPAND
Cisco Adler wearing his signature Sicky Eyewear shades.
Courtesy of the artist

As Cisco Adler bites into his ahi sandwich at Little Beach House Malibu, it seems as if nothing has changed. Miles of ocean and sunshine lie ahead of Malibu’s favorite son, the entire staff at his favorite hangout knows his name, and one of the dozens of talented musicians he collaborates with — today it’s Cody Dickinson of the North Mississippi Allstars — is asleep in the sun somewhere nearby.

But in a way, everything has changed for the 38-year-old producer, singer and songwriter. He's become a father. He just released his first new solo material in more than two years. And he's about to find out what fans think of his update on the soundtrack to a cult-classic musical.

Adler’s new single, “Don’t Kill My Buzz,” cruised up the iTunes charts after arriving in late August, and now it has made its way into rotation on KROQ and a nationally syndicated radio show or two. It’s Adler’s first solo track since 2014 — which doesn't seem like that long, until you consider that this is a guy who released seven albums, five EPs and two mixtapes from 2006 to 2014.

“I never stop making songs. Maybe I don’t finish songs, but I never stop making songs,” Adler says.

The explanation for why he broke his uncharacteristic silence with "Don't Kill My Buzz" is simple: “I thought it was a good song, so I played it for some other people, and they thought it was a good song, too. I put out this one because I knew there were a lot of people who wanted new music, and I thought this was a cool one.”

Aside from creating his own music, Adler’s always keeping his hand in anything cultural going on around him. Whether it’s opening a new restaurant in Malibu or running his own record label, there’s always something occupying the lifelong artist’s time. As someone who’s seen the good and bad sides of the music industry his entire life, growing up as the son of legendary producer Lou Adler, Cisco realizes that sometimes you just need to lay off the jets and recharge before you go back to sharing new music with the world again.

“There was too much shit out there and so much output by artists that it gets lost,” he says. “I saw that coming, so I decided to shut down and work on a bunch of records rather than dropping my own shit. Now with [“Don’t Kill My Buzz”], it’s just a good song with four or five simple textures. It’s not a big production, so maybe that’s the template for a new project. There’s a lot more in there, so maybe I’m entering a [new] phase of musical output.”

While Adler’s music maintains the beach-y vibe that brought his sound to the masses through his work with the rapper Shwayze, the crazy partying ways of the former Whitestarr frontman are a thing of the past. Although he’ll never admit to “growing up,” the 2016 version of Cisco Adler isn’t interested in making headlines for the wrong reasons, as he sometimes did in his younger days. Instead, Adler has become responsible for a child of his own.

“I just like to flip the script on people,” he says. “I go against the grain. I’m still the same dude, I just don’t get butt-naked on Sunset Boulevard as often. Now it’s a butt-naked child running around my house, and I’m chasing him with diapers. It’s really the same.”

Later this month, Adler will be keeping his family's legacy alive with what is his biggest project yet: producing the soundtrack for Fox's remake of The Rocky Horror Picture Show, airing on Oct. 20. Lou Adler co-produced both the original 1975 cult classic and the star-studded remake, for which Adler brought in his crew of preferred studio musicians to take on classic songs like "Time Warp," no matter how different they are from anything he’s done before.

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“It was huge, it was heavy,” Adler says of working on Rocky Horror. “For me, it was a duty, and I always like a challenge. I was like, ‘Fuck yeah, I’ll do a musical with 21 songs and 10 singers and a million fans who hold this property so precious that they can’t wait to tear it to pieces.’ That sounds like a puzzle I want to figure out. As a musician and a producer, it was an epic mountain that felt amazing to climb. 

"As people start seeing this film and hearing this record, those fans of the original are going to realize we made this for them," he insists. "It’s not about making another version of the movie, it’s an homage to 40 years of the cult classic and all of the iterations it’s had.”


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