This is from the new updated final chapter for the 2014 Kindle-only edition of W.A.R.
Just before noon on September 27, 2011, Steven Adler stepped into the Rainbow Bar and Grill, on Hollywood’s sun-splashed Sunset Strip, where he was scheduled for an interview for the UK’s Metal Hammer magazine, and shouted, “We just got nominated for the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame!” Discussion quickly turned to the induction – who would walk up on stage? Had he spoken with any of the other members? Could this be the first step in the rabidly anticipated reunion of the original line-up?
Only hours into the news, Adler had as much information as anybody, although he pointed out that in recent months, with a brand new stretch of sobriety, he had mended fences with most of his old band mates, saying that he was even on speaking terms with Matt Sorum, his eventual replacement. One thing was clear – Steven Adler was not remotely entertaining an induction ceremony that did not include him standing at the podium, along with Slash, Duff, Izzy – and Axl.
For the better part of a month, as speculation raged, Axl remained largely silent on the subject. Finally, on October 29, 2011, he offered his thoughts in his first television interview in five years with Eddie Trunk, host of VH1’s popular rock and roll television show, That Metal Show. How the interview unfolded would be as much of a story as the substance of Axl’s comments, and of the television show’s 13 seasons, this interview stands as its most enthralling moment.
Trunk had heard that Axl was interested in appearing on his show and that if Trunk could get a film crew down to Miami, where GN’R had a show scheduled, he had a good chance of scoring an interview with the reclusive frontman. There was however, no guarantee. Nonetheless, with a film crew and co-hosts Don Jamieson and Jim Florentine in tow, the group arrived in Miami on the 29th and drove straight to the American Airlines Arena — home of the Miami Heat basketball team — where they set up in the Heat’s dressing room for the interview and began waiting for the man of the hour. They filled the ensuing hours with interviews with the rest of the band and even with Buckcherry, who were opening that night.
Axl arrived at the venue at 8 p.m., when Eddie had originally thought they might do the interview, but it didn’t happen at that time. In fact, the show didn’t start until midnight, with the set concluding at 3.00 a.m. At 5:30 a.m., with no sign of Axl and no indication that there would be an interview, the crew began breaking down the set and getting ready for their flight home, when suddenly Axl showed up, in dark sunglasses and a black fedora, along with DJ Ashba, and sat down for the interview.
Speaking with American journalist Joe Daly, Trunk recounted the bizarre story behind the interview, stating, “People who don’t know the backstory behind that interview don’t realize all that went into getting it. It was a lot. It was waiting around, literally, for 15 hours for that interview. And we never knew if we were ever going to get it. There was no promise made to us that we were going to get an interview, so we were prepared to some degree, but we weren’t prepared to wait until five in the morning [but] that’s exactly what it ended up being. We got to the arena at three o’clock the day before, and we walked out of the arena at around eight a.m. the next day…We were the first to have gotten an interview with Axl on TV in God knows how long.”
The interview came with one condition: that Trunk not ask any questions about a reunion with the original line-up. Normally That Metal Show features two or three guests, plus trivia and other recurring features, but the producers ended up devoting an entire show to the interview, which ran for 90 minutes, during which Axl appeared alternately charismatic and deluded.
He insisted that Chinese Democracy, then three years into release, was still finding new fans particularly when they played the material live. He saved his most bizarre answer for the question as to why he is perennially late to take the stage, by attempting to blame Slash, of all people, saying, “A lot of this goes way, way back to ’91 when we were super late going onstage. That really has more to do with that I shouldn’t be on tour. I went on tour for three reasons, our manager had booked a tour without authorization and then I’m going to be sued for it. He also told me that if Slash does heroin, it’s my fault. And Slash is pressuring me. I should not have agreed to that tour.”