GUNS N’ ROSES Guitarist DJ ASHBA: I Can’t Say Enough Nice Things About AXL ROSE

Steven Rosen of recently conducted an interview with GUNS N’ ROSES/SIXX: A.M. guitarist DJ Ashba. A couple of excerpts from the chat follow below. Is it a totally different experience working with GUNS N’ ROSES as opposed to working with SIXX: A.M.?

Ashba: They’re very much completely two totally different beasts. I know Axl [Rose, GUNS N’ ROSES frontman] tends to get a bad rap because people believe what the media force-feeds them and they believe what they wanna believe. ‘Cause I think when anybody gets that big, it’s the media’s job, they feel, if we don’t tear ’em down then we’re not doing our jobs. The media loves to build people up just to tear ’em down. I’ll never get that because if you actually sit down and get to know Axl, he is very intelligent, very talented, and probably one of the funniest guys I’ve ever met in my life. He’s constantly cracking jokes left and right; he’s really just a good-hearted person. Nobody could have survived all of these years without a lot of talent.

Ashba: He’s like anybody else; the thing I like about Axl is he’s the real deal. He gives you the option — you can either be his friend or fuck him over. So I think he’s like anybody only he doesn’t pussyfoot around the subject. If you do him wrong, he’s gonna call you out on it. But he gives everybody the opportunity to be cool; he treats you like you treat him. He’s just a cool fuckin’ guy and I can’t really say enough nice things about him. He’s got more talent in his pinkie than most people out there. It’s sickening to sit there and watch this guy play piano in his hotel room and he’s singing shit equally as great as “November Rain” that has never been recorded. I just sit there with my mouth open and I’m like, “Holy fuck.” He’s like, “This is just stuff I’m tinkering around on” and I’m like, “Dude, you gotta get this out to the public. This is sick.” So he has a lot of great songs up his sleeve that I pray to god the world could hear one day ’cause it’s gonna blow people’s minds. Do you bring a different guitar personality to the GUNS songs than you do to the SIXX: A.M. songs?

Ashba: Yeah; I approach ’em both completely different. Obviously I grew up a fan of GUNS N’ ROSES and I respect what they’ve done for the world of music. I always look at it like, “Listen, I’m joining something that has been around for many, many years that is already huge” and is one of the biggest bands in the world. I’m stepping in the shoes of legendary guitar player so it’s like separating yourself from the song as a producer. I could come into this and go, “You know what? I wanna play my own solos and do my own thing in “Sweet Child ‘O Mine”. But me as a fan, if I were to show up and see some new guy on stage, what would I really want to hear? Well you’d want to hear somebody staying as true to what you grew up listening to. So for me with all the songs that have already been recorded, of course I’m bringing my own flair and style to ’em but I’m trying to do ’em justice by staying as true to these songs as I possibly can. Because I just feel like they deserve that; they’re so classic that you can’t really vary off of them too much because at that point it becomes over-playing and showing off. You were a fan of GUNS back in the day?

Ashba: GUNS have been a big influence on my life. It’s easy for me to fall into that because it’s part of my style, too, so it’s very natural for me to play similar to the stuff Slash plays. He has a very blues-based thing and I grew up heavily on that. It isn’t like I’m playing some foreign style that I’m not used to. You’re also involved in a number of business ventures including Ashba Media and Ashbaland Studios.

Ashba: I don’t look at myself as a rock star; I look at myself as a businessman and an entrepreneur. I love to create and I’m very artistic. I have a great clothing line called Ashba Swag; I’m bringing my stage clothing to the fans. Ashba Media is a graphic design agency and we’re creating a lot of cool products. We have the Demented Collection of guitars and we’re working on a signature Les Paul. We have the Ashba Tuner on iTunes, which is a professional guitar tuner. And, of course, Ashbaland Studios is where I create all the music: produce, write and I’m starting to get into scoring. I’m signing on to do a really cool horror movie and it’s just a lot of fun. I love creating. Do you think that Nikki [Sixx] is more fulfilled in SIXX: A.M. than he is in MÖTLEY CRÜE?

Ashba: I think he has a love for both; I think it’s two completely different animals. Obviously he grew up with MÖTLEY and they grew up as kids and they’re best friends. I think SIXX: A.M. is fresh and it’s new and it’s fun and exciting and it allows him — just like me — to be artistically free. It’s hard to find a project that actually does well in this world that people accept when you’re being this artsy with it. So I think, yeah, we’re all getting huge pleasure out of being able to really be just free and true to our art. I think Nikki is able to do things in MÖTLEY that obviously SIXX: A.M. would never do. So I think it’s just two totally different things and thank god they’re both very successful. And the same with GUNS; I get to do stuff in GUNS N’ ROSES that I would never be able to get away with in SIXX: A.M. and vice versa. It’s a great headspace to go from the SIXX: A.M. world to jumping out on tour and writing GUNS N’ ROSES songs. It’s awesome as an artist to be able to change it up and switch gears and go, “OK, now we’re in GUNS N’ ROSES land and let’s focus in on really kick-ass, sleazy, dirty rock and roll.” I just love it.

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