Adler, as in Steven Adler, is a sweet, funny guy, a Rock and Roll Hall-of -Famer and an iconic figure of our pop culture consciousness. Adler, the new band in front of him in 2013, is a breath of fresh air and an altogether different beast. Steven might just be the luckiest son of a bitch on earth because he has seemingly hit the chemistry jackpot once again with this current band. Make no mistake, despite the name, Adler is a BAND and Jacob Bunton, Johnny Martin and Lonny Paul have as much to do with what makes this band tick as Steven does. Their performances, songwriting and vision mesh with Steven’s to create what is probably the most interesting release yet from a former member of GNR. I interviewed Steven last year about the old Guns N’ Roses days and he’s since closed that chapter of his life to focus on his new band, new album and new lease on life. He and guitarist Lonny Paul phoned in to talk a bit about what’s going on, including their touring schedule which is set to heat up beginning with a few shows in Vegas and L.A. ( Feb 14 at Vamped and the 15th at the Whisky) Read on….
Legendary Rock Interviews: Hey Steven, Lonny…how are you guys?
Lonny Paul: Doing great man. Steven?
Steven: Never better, thanks for talking to us.
LRI: Hey Steven, you know one of our photographers Jack Lue real well don’t you?
Steven: I LOVE Jack!! Love that guy. He and Marc Canter have been with me through thick and thin for thirty years!! He is my Asian photographer friend and I love Jack and his photos. He’s always had a great eye for photography goin way back to when when he and Marc took all those classic GNR shots during our club days. I am so glad Jack is getting back into his photos and getting them out there. That is so cool to hear. I used that pic of Me and Jack and Slash together in my book “My Appetite For Destruction”. I recently ran into Marc at the Slash show, it was so great. It’s so wonderful to be back out and about and among the living. Those guys, along with Duff, are about the only people from my past that I still see around. That’s it dude. I had to let everybody else from my past go. You’re from Illinois John, you know Chip Z’Nuff. I mean Chippy was like my big brother but I had to let everybody from my past go and start focusing and concentrating on myself.
LRI: I don’t want to talk about Guns and Roses but I have one question since the Hall Of Fame thing is done and over with. All of these bands like Skid Row and Ratt and others have been rumored to do reunions but I’d venture to guess the one slam dunk, sure thing, big stadium reunion would be a GNR reunion. Does that bother anyone other than the fans?
Steven: I don’t know. I know it’s so ridiculous and it used to bother me but after the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame I just had to let that go. I just ended that chapter of my life after that night. To be honest, I couldn’t think of a better way to end that chapter of my life than there that night. With this new record, I have a whole brand new team and this is truly a fresh start. Like the title of the album says, I am Back From the Dead.
LRI: I liked the new material you did with Chip and Jizzy as Adler’s Appetite and all of those guys from your previous lineups too. For those who aren’t aware, how is this band different?
Steven: It’s the right recipe of people. Yes, everybody that I’ve worked with before were all great musicians but this is the perfect set of ingredients. It’s kind of like what I experienced with Guns and Roses. The guys who are in Guns and Roses now couldn’t make an album like Appetite, that’s not a slam on them but for some reason the five of us, that was just some weird mix of ingredients that was able to do that at that time, at that moment. For some reasons that I don’t understand I see, I hear, and I feel that I have the right recipe of people around me again and I feel so blessed and so lucky. I owe so much of it to this guy sitting next to me right now, Mr. Lonnie Paul. He is my guitar player and my friend and he is such a jerk because he does not like being told that he is a great person but I love him and I am so thankful for having him in my life. Dude, he helped me lose 25 pounds! Until we started working out I didn’t realize how heavy twenty five pounds is until I lifted up 25 lb weight and said “Holy crap, this is what I’ve been carrying around with me??”. It’s all thanks to Lonny.
LRI: Tell me…. what have you done to shape up Mr. Adler Lonny?
Lonny: Mostly just a ton of exercise, that’s what was missing out of his life. We still eat the same old shit (laughs). We work out with weights and don’t take a lot of breaks so that’s kind of a combination of weight training and cardio when you can do that.
LRI: You came up with the art for the single and also the album cover for “Back From The Dead”. Is that just as fun as playing to you?
Lonny: Oh I love putting art together. I went to school, art school actually because I wanted to be an animator and draw cartoons for a living but I got stuck playing guitar instead (laughs). I love doing art for the band but I love the band in general. I joined Steven on the last Adler’s Appetite tour, two weeks before the tour I joined and then we spent two months together on tour and became fast friends. When we got back home that was when we started the new band together.
LRI: How much of the songwriting in ADLER is you and Jacob bouncing ideas off of each other and how much is you guys working individually?
Lonny: Everybody brings songs to the table individually with the exception of our first single, “The One That You Hated” which Jacob and I sat down and wrote together. Even when we bring our songs that we wrote individually to the table they always end up changing, everyone puts their own stamp on it, puts their two cents in and that changes the song. That goes for every single song on the album because even if someone brought in what they thought was a finished song we were still always open to changes and things changed and shaped those songs. Everybody had a hand in every single song on the record.
LRI: How did you guys manage to hook up Jacob into the frontman spot?
Lonny: I was out at the Key Club for the Jani Lane Memorial coincidentally enough, watching Chip play. Chip was playing with Donnie and Enuff Z’Nuff to honor Jani’s memory. As soon as I walk in the door I ran into our friend Jay Ruston who ended up mixing our album. Jay was like, “So how’s Steven, what are you guys up to?” and I said “Well, we’re putting a new band together and we’re looking for a singer”. Jay goes “Well, I’ve got the perfect guy, in fact he’s here tonight so let me introduce you”. He introduced me to Jacob Bunton that night and as soon as I saw him I knew he was a star so I texted Steven that night and said “Hey, I think I’ve got our singer”. The next day, Steven and i went down to meet Jacob at his hotel, he’s from Alabama but was staying at The London and sure enough Steven agreed and said “This is our superstar singer” and right after that we started working with Jeff Pilson about doing our record and Jeff not only ended up producing it but also played bass on all the tracks. After the record was done, we brought Johnny Martin in on bass.
LRI: How was it working with Jeff Pilson (ex Dokken, current Foreigner bassist) as a producer?
Lonny: Steven, Jacob and I have worked with a lot of producers but Jeff to me is a dream producer because he doesn’t make you feel like you’re working. He makes you feel real comfortable and the more comfortable you are the more you can focus on being creative and actually be doing what you’re supposed to be doing which is making a great record. A lot of times with these bigger producers and these bigger studios everybody is so damn nervous that you’re lucky if you get through the song mechanically and sometimes it comes out real stale. Jeff took that problem out of the equation and I think that’s what helped us make a great record.
LRI: The album is well sequenced and flows really great, as was Appetite all those years ago.
Steven: I loved every thing that Lonny or Jacob brought to me. I know this might sound corny but I instantly thought that God brought these guys to me because I felt like they were writing about me, for me. Besides that, they just made everything easy and a lot of fun, the only pressure came after we recorded the record because we wanted the record to come out SO bad, we were SO excited. We were literally going crazy waiting for the record to come out and now that it’s out it feels so much better. The funny thing is, the day the record came out, Lonny and I were in his garage working out and we were in there for like ten minutes before we realized the record came out that day. I looked over at Lonny and I was like “Hey, Lonny, you know the record came out today”. Lonny just stops for a minute and goes “Oh yeah!!”. (laughs). Before that, we were going crazy and thinking about it every day (laughs).
Lonny: Appetite is definitely one of those records where you put it on and each song makes as much sense and fits together with the next one in a way that makes you just not want to take it off the turntable. That is something that we kept in mind. Steven specifically said “I wanna make a record not just a bunch of singles, each song needs to sound different but they all need to go together”.
LRI: The record is getting good reviews, what has the feedback been like from fans who have it?
Steven: It has been great, everything that a musician would want to hear. I think every musician really makes music for the people and hearing all the great responses and all the love, I can’t emphasize enough the LOVE, it’s just mind blowing.
LRI: The song “Habit” is my favorite right now but I like the record from beginning to end. I think it’s the best post-GNR release from a former member yet, no disrespect to Duff, Slash or Izzy.
Steven: Of course not, of course not, but that just makes me feel so great to hear you say that. That is my revenge, the only revenge I wanted to have on that whole situation and part of my life was success. I didn’t want vengeance, I didn’t want to hurt anybody but I wanted to make a great record because I think success is the greatest revenge. You just made me feel so great man because I achieved my revenge.
LRI: What songs or lyrics in particular speak to you?
Steven: They all speak to me. I feel like when we are all together we are a part of something much greater, kind of like little robots that fit together to make one giant robot. If you put us all together we are a giant robot of ROCK (laughs). We set out to make a record that makes a good story when listened to from beginning to end and all of these songs put together achieve that. That’s the kind of music that moves me, that’s the rock music I grew up on. The music and the lyrics came together to form a good story around a good melody. We went in there with the intent of making one of those kind of albums and we stole from every one of our influences, that’s the truth. You show me a rock band that doesn’t have any influences and I’ll show you a rock band that doesn’t have a record.
LRI: Lonny, did Jeff Pilson also help you with vocal arrangements or any of the singing that you guys or Jacob do?
LRI: How strong was Steven’s vision inside the walls of the studio?
Lonny: Steven was deeply involved from the beginning to the end. For example, the song “Habit” that you mentioned earlier was a song that we brought to the table and every single one of us BUT Steven felt that it just wasn’t that strong of a song, we didn’t want to use it. Steven insisted that the song go on the record, in fact it came to the point where he just point blank said “Nope, you guys are all wrong, this song is a great song and we have to have it on the record”. I can freely say that while I brought that song in I agreed with all the other guys and just thought it wasn’t quite good enough but after we recorded it at Steven’s insistence it has since become one of my favorite songs on the record. That’s the biggest madness to me! Steven has this ability and ear to know what will work and won’t work, it is hard to figure out but somehow there is a method to his crazy madness.
LRI: Well you’ve made an album you are real proud of so the next logical question is when can we look forward to seeing you play this material live?
Lonny: Well, we did play the KISS Kruise so you can youtube that right now but we are rehearsing almost every day and we can’t wait to get out to as many places as we can play. The KISS Kruise went amazingly well, we couldn’t have asked for a better start to all of this.
LRI: Steven, you are a well documented KISS fanatic like myself, was that extra special to you?
Steven: Damn right it was, not only did I get to debut our new band with one of my favorite bands of all time, on an amazing cruise on the high seas but I am actually in the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame and they’re not! (laughs). I’m sorry!! I voted for them to be in the Hall of Fame, believe me. It was great, it was such an amazing opportunity and so much fun!
LRI: Did you have fun with Johnny and Snake and the Skid Row guys?
Steven: Those guys were wonderful, just great guys. In fact, the whole reason we are able to do these shows with Duff came about because of Snake being Duff’s manager. Snake hung out with us and we had a couple dinners and he hooked it up. The whole KISS Kruise was great. We did a warm up show at a little place in Cape Coral, Florida and it was really cool. It was exactly what you would expect from your first time performing live together as a band. Within the first 30 seconds of starting the first song, the power went out! It’s funny but I think that moment defined us as a band because of how we handled it and the rest of the gig. It went great but we like to refer to the KISS Kruise as our very first show, that was our first professional show, opening for KISS.
LRI: The shows you did with Adler’s Appetite generally included Appetite For Destruction in its entirety. I am assuming the shows you do as ADLER are going to be a bit different.
Steven: One of the nice things we were hearing from the fans on the KISS Kruise was that at first they were thinking they wanted to hear us play all the old GNR tunes and then by the time we had finished our set they were all asking us about OUR songs. To me, that was a great, great compliment.
Lonny: We played the whole ADLER record, that was what we pushed and it went over great. We played only a few Guns N’ Roses songs.
Steven: And that’s only out of respect for my fans from way back. I am proud of those old songs and the fans love em. We will always play a couple of em because Guns N’ Roses was a chapter of my life but the focus is on the new band now because this is the current chapter of my life.
LRI: Thanks for talking with LRI again guys. I have one last question….When you guys released the “One That You Hated” single this past summer it was just totally and completely embraced. I heard it on the radio and people were gushing, Eddie Trunk would not stop talking about it and everyone I played it for was just “Wow”. How did that make you feel going forward?
Lonny: It just made us feel validated. Here we are “relevant” as Steven likes to say (laughs).
Steven: It’s good to be relevant!
Lonny: You just never know, you’re behind closed doors, writing songs, rehearse them, record them and the whole time it’s just you and your little circle. You don’t know how all this hard work you’re putting in is going to be received. When we finally heard the reaction, it couldn’t have felt better.
Steven: Thank you John, for taking the time out to talk to US. When you see Enuff Z’Nuff and Chippy around, be sure to tell him we love him and give him a big hug. We can’t wait to see all you guys in the Midwest.
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