Steven Adler: ‘Axl, Slash, Izzy, Duff and I Are All Brothers’
Despite all the curveballs that life has hurled at former Guns N’ Roses drummer Steven Adler, the skinsman remains upbeat and positive. While he does pepper his statements with sayings that sound like a man who has fought a long, hard road to recovery, Adler has taken responsibility for his actions and his addictions, and admits his fault in his ouster from the band that made him famous.
With his new book, ‘My Appetite For Destruction,’ on shelves on Oct. 27 — which chronicles his wild child days — and his band, Adler’s Appetite, currently on tour, Adler has a lot going on. While temptations may land at his doorstep every day, the drummer remains focused on the singular goal of staying sober. One way he keeps on the up and up: looking at pictures of himself while wasted. He also refers to his ex-GNR bandmates as brothers and discussed his take on a reunion of Guns N’ Roses’ classic lineup, saying that if he and his GNR brothers were to get in a room together, they’d all be crying.
I find it amazing that you are so upbeat and in such a good mood, since you’ve had such a hard life. How are you still loving life?
I love meeting all the fans and all the new fans, ones I’ve made from doing ‘Celebrity Rehab’ and ‘Sober House.’ There are so many Al Anon fans and friends who have shown me wonderful love, prayers, thoughts! I thank everyone for this. It feels great to have wonderful people behind you, pushing and praying for you. Mostly, I don’t want to let myself down, but they encourage me not to let them down.
When you were on Howard Stern, it really touched me when you said that you thought GNR let you down when they kicked you out, but you admitted that you learned that it was you who let them down. That must be so tough to admit it!
There was four of them and one of me. The golden rule of drums is hands clapping and feet tapping, and when you are in and out of consciousness, you can’t do that to best of your ability. For 20 years, I beat myself up and beat my body up. But I’ve been working with Dr. Drew. At first, I went to Drew’s ‘Celebrity Rehab’ and he asked me if I wanted to do the season before the season that I actually did. I wasn’t finished beating myself up. A year went by, he asked me again and I felt differently about it. I was sick and tired of being sick and tired. I want to give this a shot. I don’t think I can do this to the best of my ability if I don’t talk with Slash.
He hooked up a meeting with Slash and myself, with no cameras. We got in the room, and I had the opportunity to apologize for all my downfalls, my job in the band, all the drugs. I got to apologize to him for blaming him. I got to say, “It wasn’t you, it was me.” It was such a weight off my shoulders. I was able to start moving on with my life. After 35 years of beating myself up, it takes time for body and mind to heal itself. I did the show and I did ‘Sober House,’ and I was high on heroin when I showed up. I got arrested and when they got me out of jail and made me watch it, I saw how terrible I looked and it was devastating to me. When you do drugs, they make you feel like you are the best looking person and like you are on top of the world. Then, I saw the tape and I never want to look like that. If there is someone you love and care about having a problem with drugs, show them a video tape them high.
Where are you at now with your sobriety?
I have relapsed four or five times in two years. I got almost six months sober now. Part of recovery is relapse. I dust myself off and move forward again. Six months ago, I relapsed on a drug I never did. It was Oxycontin and I never did it before. It was a bad decision and two weeks later, my wife took a picture of me and showed me. I was passed out in a hallway of my house. I took one look at it, called Slash and Dr. Drew and said, ‘Can you help me?’ I wish I realized I had the best people behind me 20 years ago. I had a mild stroke, which affected my speech. It was like I had to go back to kindergarten, to learn how to talk again I have problem with my S’s. I got arrested on the show, which was the best thing for me. You might think it’s the worst thing, but after 35 years of beating myself up, it takes time to heal. It was either go to jail for one year — and I’ve been there before and I don’t want to go back-or spend 90 days in rehab, so I went to detox. Every minute is like an hour in rehab … until you realize you have a nice bed. It’s warm and comfortable. They give you three meals a day, and you listen to encouraging words throughout the day. When I was doing drugs, I wouldn’t be eating, sleeping.
How hard was it to lay it all out there in your book?
In my book, I talk about the sexual abuse at the hands of an older man, and I kept that stuff down inside me. Working with Dr. Drew, it was one of many things that I kept stuffed down. If I said it out loud for others to hear it, I though they would think bad of me or I would feel worse about myself. But it was the opposite. I talked to people who could relate and got it out of my system. I realized that I thought the guys in the band kicked me out, but they didn’t. I kicked myself out. I blamed them for 20 years for all my downfalls, especially Slash, because we have history. They didn’t let me down. I let them down. When they kicked me out, I had two directions. One, I take care of myself and get back in the band or two, I do the drugs. I went off the deep end and beat myself up since I blamed them.
When I am done with this tour, I get home, build a big bonfire, and throw my book in the fire, and leave my past behind. I can’t change it. I can’t go back, nor do I want to go back. I want to move on with my future. In 15 years, I can write another book.
You said you got to hash things out with Slash. What about the elusive Axl?
I love Axl! Slash, Axl, Duff, Izzy and I are all brothers. Axl and his lawyers cannot take away what we had. As long as we are alive, we have it. We are brothers and what do brothers do? We fight. I may not like them all the time, but I will always love them. I hope they all read it, especially Axl. What a special thing we do have. We would all be hugging and crying if we were in a room together. We keep pushing each other away. We had something special, so let’s take advantage of it. We could be bigger! We haven’t played together in 20 years, it would be the biggest thing ever! Not too many people can say that. If Sting and the Police could do it, let me tell you, I met Sting and he is a way bigger prick than Axl could ever be! If he can do it with his band, we can do it, no problem. We still love each other. We are goofy brothers, and we have to stop this bickering.
Lastly, how else do you maintain your upbeat personality? It’s infectious.
I didn’t kill myself. And believe me, I tried. It is easier to cripple yourself than to kill yourself. I haven’t died. Doctors said I was bipolar. I was not bipolar. I was doing cocaine! I love playing, and it means everything to me. The only reason I am alive is because God has something wonderful in store for me. I believe that. I am finally seeing it.