Pacing back and forth in a dressing room at the House of Blues on Sunset, Steven Adler can't control his emotions. His new band, Adler, is performing their first show in Los Angeles in the same neighborhood where he first made his name as the drummer for Guns N' Roses.
For a person who has played across the globe, Alder seems oddly nervous. He looks ragged — and older than 47 — due to his many years of drug addiction. He speaks with a speech impediment as the result of a 1996 stroke, which was caused by an overdose. He was once a sex symbol, but his smile isn't what it was once was.
We chat outside the venue on Sunset. In between cigarette puffs, Adler — clad in a leather vest and faded jeans — doesn't avoid speaking on his checkered past. Addiction caused him to be booted from Guns N' Roses, and nearly killed him. But he's turned a corner, he says, and his latest project keeps him going.
“I was kicked out of G N' R so early in the game, but I got to taste the success. [Still], in a way, I'm hungry still,” he says. “A lot of musicians that have been successful after 20 years are rich and have nothing to write about, but the past 20 years have been a hell ride for me and I still have a lot to say and do.”
Sobriety has offered Adler a different type of fix; these days he claims perfect contentment sitting on his couch at his Studio City home with his wife and dogs, watching Family Guy and American Dad. (It's a long way from his own starring role on Celebrity Rehab.)
The drummer, along with the musicians in his new band, recently released their first album, Back From The Dead. Adler says he initially wanted to name the group No Quarter — as in “taking no prisoners” — but at his bandmates's urging he went along with his famous last name.
“The guys wanted to use it and it kind of made sense. People know who I am, so it's much easier to get our music out there than if we used No Quarter and no one knew who we are.”
In Japan this March they'll be opening for Duff McKagan's new outfit, Loaded. Adler says he invited his childhood best friend Slash to last night's show, but — saying he needed some time off from a year on the road, the top-hatted one politely declined.
When 10:15 finally hits the band takes the stage. Adler shakes the hands of fans in the front row before moving to his place behind the drum kit.
They're opening tonight for next generation hair-metal band Steel Panther, of all groups, with the modest goal of introducing themselves to a new audience. When singer Jacob Bunton shouts out Adler to the crowd after the third song, they cheer loudly, with at least one person muttering sarcastically that he's surprised Adler's still alive.
Though Adler says the band will play some Guns N' Roses songs in the future, last night's set consisted of eight songs from their album, and ran only 30 minutes. For a band that's played only a handful of shows, their set was unsurprisingly inconsistent. There were moments where they showed promise and polish, like on “Good To Be Bad,” but there were too many moments where it felt like they hadn't yet gelled. It may take some time for the band members to find the right chemistry.
But Adler seems to be enjoying himself, likely even more than he like enjoyed playing with his Adler's Appetite cover band over the last decade.
“I want to start being relevant again,” he tells us. “I've survived, learned a lot and become a stronger person, but most of all, I'm just happy to play music in a real rock band again.”
Steven Adler? Yeah, he's alive, and he's sober too and as productive as he's been in over 20 years. That's an accomplishment in itself.