For the past 20 years, a large Guns N' Roses poster advertising the band's first tour of England has been hanging in Steven Adler's living room. "Every time I have to go to the bathroom I have to walk past it," says the former Guns N' Roses drummer. "I'd always see it and say to myself, 'One day we're gonna reunite! We're gonna do it! We're too good of a team not to do this again.'"
When he returned to Los Angeles this past April after Axl Rose's no-show at the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame induction ceremony, Adler's attitude started to change. "Now I walk past it and I say to myself, 'I'm so glad I was a part of that,'" he says. "'That was a great and exciting time of my life.' It's nice to appreciate it, but I'm no longer angry and pining for a reunion. I'm not angry about it anymore. It's flushed out of my system."
Right around the time it was becoming clear that Guns N' Roses weren't going to reform at the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, Adler broke up his band Adler's Appetite. They had spent the past decade touring the world playing a set devoted to Guns N' Roses classics. "I told the guys I wanted to do something that was relevant," he says. "We played every village around the world. I'm not talking cities or towns. We played every village. It was time to move on."
Adler's Appetite played their final gig on New Year's Eve, and just weeks later, Adler began jamming with singer Jacob Bunton, guitarist Lonny Paul and bassist Johnny Martin. "It was like God brought them to me," says Adler. "It's just been fucking magic." The new group dubbed themselves Adler, and they cut their debut LP, Back From the Dead, in a matter of weeks.
Slash came into the studio at one point to play guitar on "Just Don't Ask." "For me to be a part of Slash's life, I had to get my life together," says Adler. "Slash was proud of me for how I was able to take care of myself. It was so nice to be living in the present with him. The whole thing was like a dream come true."
Adler says he's been sober since 2008. "I work at it every day," he explains. "I used to wake up in the morning and say, 'Oh, God.' Now I wake up in the morning and look forward to life. I work out every morning with my guitarist."
As viewers of VH1's Celebrity Rehab and Sober House well know, Adler's road to recovery was extremely rocky. Many have criticized the Dr. Drew show for being exploitative and, in the wake of the deaths of participants Mike Starr, Jeff Conway and Joey Kovar, wondered whether it should be pulled off the air. Adler has no such feelings. "It was the best thing I ever did for myself," he says. "Having the treatment on TV made it easier because the camera doesn't lie. You try to bullshit your way out of things, but then you watch yourself on camera and you see the truth . . . When you're doing drugs you think you're 10 feet tall and beautiful. But you can't be in denial when there's a video camera in your face."
For now, Adler is focused entirely on his new band's first tour. They plan on spending much of the next year playing around the entire globe, and their set will consist almost entirely of new material. "Out of respect for the fans, we will probably do two Guns N' Roses songs," he says. "We'll probably do 'Sweet Child O'Mine' and 'Mr. Brownstone.' But beyond that it's all about this band, though in certain countries we're gonna have to play more than two. We're going to do some dates with Duff McKagan's band Loaded in South America, but I don't think I'm supposed to talk about that yet."
After the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame ceremony, Adler voiced tremendous frustration with Axl Rose, calling him an "asshole" and pledged never to talk about him in public again. Now, he says, "I'm not angry with Axl anymore. I love him and I feel blessed that I got to work with him and achieve what I achieved with him. I guess time does heal all wounds."
Adler also regrets labeling the current lineup of Guns N' Roses "scabs." "I shouldn't have said that," he says. "I've grown up and matured. Holy crap! I've matured in the six months since we last spoke!"