Jacob Bunton is a lot like you and me. He grew up with posters of some of rock’s biggest names plastered to his bedroom wall and had hopes of one day making his rock ‘n’ roll dreams a reality. However, what sets Jacob apart from the crowd is an incredible drive and an amazing voice that oozes rock ‘n’ roll! Little In 2012, this small town kid from Alabama would find himself in the studio with some of the rock legends he had looked up to as a kid and fronting an outstanding new rock outfit called ADLER. Comprised of frontman Jacob Bunton (Lynam, Mars Electric), guitarist Lonny Paul (Adler’s Appetite), and Johnny Martin (Chelsea Smiles), the band has just unleashed their impressive debut album, ‘Back From The Dead,’ which is best classified as a “no holds barred, balls to the walls, rock ‘n’ roll thrill ride!” At it’s core, the album is a perfect storm of musical collaborations between its members. Serving as icing on the cake, the album also features guest performances from Steven Adler’s childhood friend and former Guns N’ Roses bandmate Slash, as well as Rob Zombie/Ex-Marilyn Manson guitarist John 5. Jason Price of the mighty Icon Vs. Icon recently caught up with Jacob Bunton to discuss his roots in rock music, his intriguing new band, the making of their debut album and much more!
It is great to finally catch up with you, Jacob. Thank you so much for taking time out to talk with us!
Hey man! Thank you so much for doing this! Thank you for your support, it means more than you know!
Takes us back a few years if you would. How did music first come into your life and what are some of your earliest memories?
Music first came into my life when I was a little bitty kid. For as long as I can remember, music has been a part of my life. I have always been obsessed with it. A lot of parents put their babies in a playpen or whatever but when I was a kid, there was an old piano at my grandfather’s house that my mother would sit me at. I would sit there and although I couldn’t pay anything, I would bang away on it and I loved it! I would sit there as long as she would let me! Eventually, she noticed that I would start picking out little melody lines from commercials playing in the background. Like I said, I have always been obsessed with it. I grew up in Birmingham, Alabama and there wasn’t a whole lot to do than listen to music and play guitar. When I was a kid, all of the rockstars you would see on MTV looked like superheroes. Motley Crue, Poison, KISS or any of those people looked like they sprung straight from the pages of a comic book! It was very appealing and I really gravitated towards that. I bought my first guitar by mowing grass and doing lawn care when I was eleven years old. I saved up 60 bucks and I went to the local music store, a place called Highland Music in Birmingham, Alabama. The owner, a guy named Don Murdoch, sold me a guitar. It was called a Memphis guitar and it had a broken head stock that was broken during shipping. He had super glued it back together. He sold that guitar to me for 60 bucks and that was my first guitar! I learned how to play on that guitar. That is all I did was sit in my room and play music from there on out!
Who would you cite as your biggest influences as a musician? Are there some that might be surprising?
My biggest influences growing up were definitely the 80s rock bands that you would see on MTV’s Headbanger’s Ball. My favorite record of all-time is “Appetite For Destruction” by Guns N’ Roses. That is the thing that is so surreal about the project I am involved with now, ADLER. Slash came in and played on the record and Steven [Adler] is playing drums! These were guys whose photos were hanging on my wall when I was a kid! I would put on “Appetite For Destruction” back then and try to play along. I learned a lot about playing guitar and singing from spending time with that record. My favorite bands were KISS, Poison, Motley Crue and Cinderella. My favorite guitar player of all-time is definitely Steve Vai. I also love John Petrucci from Dream Theater. I guess as far as the bands I love that might surprise people is Duran Duran. I think they are amazing! I also love bluegrass music and stuff from Ricky Skaggs. I love country music, like Brad Paisley. I am all over the place musically!
What was the catalyst that made you pursue music as a career instead of taking a different route?
A lot of people when they are young sit there and they don’t really know what they want to do for a living. I have never had that moment where I was like “Hummm. What should I do?” I just kinda always knew this was my path because I always played music. I never came to a conscious decision where I thought “Ya know what? I’m going to try and make it in music!” It was never even a question. I always just had the drive and I knew that I would do it. I just had to play music!
As you mentioned, your latest project is ADLER. What is your first recollection of meeting Steven Adler?
The first time I ever met Steven was, I believe, in 2008 at Rocklahoma. It was very briefly. It was Dario Loreno, who is the guitar player for Lizzy Borden, and myself. We both spotted him and wanted to get a picture taken with him. We walked right up to him and he was just the sweetest guy in the world. He gave both of us big hugs and posed for a picture. That was that! That was the first time I ever met Steven. Fast forward to a few years later. I was very close friends with Janie Lane from Warrant. We would write songs together. He would fly out to my house or I would visit him out in California. When he passed away, not only did I lose a friend but the music world lost an incredible talent. I went out to Los Angeles last August for his memorial. Lonny Paul, the guitarist for Adler’s Appetite was there. We were introduced by a mutual friend, producer Jay Ruston. Jay told me that they we looking to start a new band and were in need of a singer. Lonny started talking to me and explained that Steven had been doing Adler’s Appetite for ten years, doing the Guns N’ Roses songs for the fans. SO many fans wanted to see him play those songs and he did it well. I was tried of that and really wanted to do an original project of his own stuff. Lonny and I hit it off and then the next day, he and Steven came to my hotel room. That was the first time I really had a chance to talk to Steven at length. Once again, he was the sweetest guy in the world and we hit it off immediately. We sat and talked music forever! He has such a vas knowledge of music. Where my influences we people like Guns N’ Roses and Motley Crue, his influences were more like Queen, Aerosmith and bands like that. We sat and talked forever that day and immediately knew we had a great chemistry. From there, Lonny and I started writing and working on songs.
When you found yourselves at the start of this project, what were your expectations for the album?
It is really weird. I really didn’t have any expectations because it was s surreal being part of a project with guys I always respected growing up. My desire was to create a kick ass rock ‘n’ roll record and I feel like we did that! Steven definitely had expectations and goals for this band, more than the rest of us, because this was the first full length record that he has played on and done since “Appetite for Destruction”. He had a lot to prove. Now that the record is out, he said the other day, he accomplished. He wanted the fans, the media and the critics to accept it. Everybody is giving it great reviews. All the fans have been very receptive to it and really seem to like the record. That is all he wanted, so he is super happy. I am just glad to be a part of it and I feel really honored.
What can you tell us about the songwriting process for this record and how it all came together?
I live in Birmingham and those guys live in Los Angeles, so Lonny and I started sending ideas back and forth on email. Lonny would burn CDs and take them to Steven. Steven would say yes to stuff he liked and no to stuff he didn’t. Steven definitely chose all the songs for the record. There were songs that both Lonny and I wrote that we really liked and were really proud that weren’t chosen. One of the thing we said the day we first met when we first met that day in the hotel was that we would leave ego aside and be honest with each other about songs and wouldn’t have to worry about hurting the other persons feelings. It a song could be better, we would say it. If a song wasn’t good, we’d say it. Everybody agreed to make changes and not to get to attached to an idea. If something could be better, we were all for making it better. Once we had a few songs, in January of 2012, we started recording the record. Lonny and I sat down in his office and the first song we wrote together in the same room was “The One That You Hated”. We wrote that song in about ten minutes and like I said, we had really great chemistry. That was pretty much the way the songwriting went. I brought a bunch of songs to the table, as did Lonny. We collaborated on stuff and it was a very easy and natural process.
You can definitely hear song of the band’s collective influences in there but the music has a sound of it’s own. Was it a difficult process to find the sound you were looking for with this band?
It wasn’t had to develop the sound at all because once we all got together, all of our different influences and styles came out. What you hear, literally, is all of our own styles coming out in the music. Like I said, all we wanted to do is write kick ass rock songs. With Steven on the drums, Lonny on guitar, Jeff [Pilson] on bass and my singing, it just blended together perfectly into what you hear on the album.
What was the biggest challenge you encounter in putting this album together?
It seems so crazy to say this but we didn’t encounter a big challenge. We were all really, really happy going into it and had that common goal. I guess the biggest challenge was trying to pick which songs would end up on the record because we had lots of songs. Narrowing down those songs was challenging. Everything else was very easy and almost painless.
At points during the recording process, you find yourself in the studio with Steven, Slash and Jeff, who have all made a big impact on you in your youth. What did you take away from that experience?
The biggest thing as far as the recording aspect goes is today when bands record, they use computers, ProTools and very few of them play live as a band anymore. It all gets recorded in different parts. That is why a lot of things you hear on the radio all start to sound exactly the same and almost like robots. A lot of today’s music is missing that live feel. When you are dealing with guys who were making records a long time ago like they were, they like that organic feel, the vibe of the live stuff and they like the mistakes. When we where recording, if there was a mistake, instead of fixing it, they were like “Ahh, just leave it!” It adds character to the record. Steven can point out a million different mistakes on “Appetite For Destruction” that I never realized were mistakes! The main thing I learned was to never lose that human element because it is those little nuances and little mistakes that can make those masterpieces. People feel an attachment to something that is human and feel detached from something that is perfect, computerized and sounds like a robot! The other thing I have learned is that if you want to do something and put your mind to it, you really can do it! like I said, I am just some redneck from Alabama! [laughs] Despite that fact, I am getting to play with people that I respect and am able to take part in this really cool project! It is kinda like the thing from “The Rocky Horror Picture Show,” where they said “If you can dream it, you can be it!” It’s true!
You are still a young guy and things have really taken off for you in 2012. How do you feel you have evolved as an artist since your early years?
As with anything, the more you do it, the more comfortable you become. You definitely get better with years of experience under your belt. I feel that I am constantly growing as an artist and as a person. Ya know, since the time I first started recording, you can definitely hear that the songwriting has grown, from the very first record I made to the newest stuff. The more that you do something, the better you get and I think the same holds true with me.
We are catching you late in 2012. You just released the album and 2013 will be here before we know it. What is on the horizon for Adler in the year to come?
Lots of plans! Lots of touring! We are going to Japan with Duff [McKagan] in March. There is also talk of us going to South America and Europe and of course, we are going to play all over The States! We will probably be extremely busy in 2013!
That is really great to hear. What about videos? Any movement on that front?
We have plans to do a video for “Good To Be Bad”. Right now we are trying to coordinate with John 5’s schedule because that is the song he is on. He wants to be in the video and we definitely want him in the video! Right now are trying to coordinate everyone’s schedule!
Is there anything you would like to say to the fans out there?
Yeah! Thank you for your support! Everybody can check out our website at www.adlerrocks.com. Our Twitter is www.twitter.com/adlerrocks and our Facebook page is www.facebook.com/adlermusic. We would love to have everyone check out the record for sure!
I can safely say they won’t be disappointed, Jacob! I really think it is a terrific record and your voice is kickass! I am really looking forward to catching you guys live in 2013!
I really appreciate that, man! Thank you so much for taking time to do this interview!
The pleasure is all mine! Take care and know we will be spreading the word!
Thank you, man! It means a lot! See you later!
Jason Price founded the mighty Icon Vs. Icon more than a decade ago. Along the way, he’s assembled an amazing group of like-minded individuals to spread the word on some of the most unique people and projects on the pop culture landscape.