Nikki Sixx and Mötley Crüe will be rolling through Boise this summer, while his partner in crime, Sixx:A.M. guitarist DJ Ashba keeps busy with Guns N’ Roses. Of course at the rate the war of words between Nikki and Poison‘s Brett Michaels keep going, we could see Ashba and Sixx:A.M. in support by the time the show gets here.
As a young kid growing up, I think most of us at one time or another had moments where people treated us poorly, or laughed at our dreams, and we couldn’t wait to show them just how wrong they were. Especially those of us who had ambitions of doing jobs that would make us famous. That desire to make those naysayers eat their words helped drive our ambitions. DJ Ashba has been down that familiar road, as a teen growing up in the small town of Fairbury, Illinois. Like so many creative teens, Ashba was something of an outcast in the small community, so it’s somewhat rewarding and surreal when he returns home to find that he’s now a hometown celebrity with his guitar picks sold in the local store.
At 38-years-old, the Sixx:A.M. and Guns ‘N Roses guitarist has certainly had the last laugh over the doubters and bullies we ‘d all like to knock down to size. The small town boy who was initially inspired to make music his life’s work after seeing a Mötley Crüe concert, has now not only co-written one of their albums (Saints of Los Angeles), but is in another dynamic band with Mötley bassist, Nikki Sixx. Then there is the blasphemous but obvious fact that were Crüe elder statesman Mick Mars ever to hang up touring with the band, Ashba would be his obvious successor.
If all that isn’t reason enough to hire a full time assistant just to pinch the man on an hourly basis, Ashba is also the guitarist for legendary rockers, Guns N’ Roses, who are currently gearing up for more tour dates and another album.
Ashba has also handled production duties for artists as varied as Drowning Pool, Marion Raven and Neil Diamond.
This is all a far leap from his debut band, the highly underappreciated Beautiful Creatures, whom he left in 2002, and his stint with BulletBoys prior to that.
This month he, Sixx and vocalist/producer James Michael released the second album from their “creative outlet” project, Sixx:A.M. The follow up to their 2007 debut, The Heroin Diaries Soundtrack, This Is Gonna Hurt finds the band opening up deeper visionary veins than ever. On the new album, Ashba and Co. have stretched well beyond the confines of their first album.
Outside of his musical “day job”, Ashba is also extremely busy with his Ashba Media empire and various other entreprenureal ventures, including AshbaSwag.com which is a full clothing line of rockstar wear for adults and now kids. He also has an extreme passion for art and all things artistic, and is about to shop an animated movie script that he wrote, with full character graphics by his team at Ashba Media. DJ calls it a “twisted love story,” and he will also score all the music for it.
This week I had an opportunity to speak with the creative madman about the new Sixx:A.M. album and how it differs from the band’s debut release. We talked about his creative efforts within Guns N’ Roses, and the misunderstood musical vision of Axl Rose, as well as what’s currently striking a nerve with him personally. And we touched on the Ted Nugent tribute record he once recorded with late friend, Randy Castillo (Ozzy Osbourne, Mötley Crüe), and the end of the world.
You can listen to both parts of our 30 minute conversation here
Here are a couple of choice outtakes from the conversation, excerpted by our friends at Blabbermouth.net:
On whether Axl Rose is receptive to songwriting ideas from the rest of the current lineup of GUNS N’ ROSES:
“Axl definitely is open to writing with the band. I know [formerGUNS N’ ROSES guitarist] Robin Finck helped him write ‘Better’ [from‘Chinese Democracy’], the single that was out. I know a lot of the guys had a lot of input on the album. He’s always been really open. I’ve worked with a lot of talented people, but this guy, I’m telling you, he has songs up his sleeve that I’ve sat down at the piano with him, and literally, my jaw hits the piano bench. He has a lot of songs up his sleeve. Obviously, I’m in the band, and I have no reason to kiss his a**, I’m just kind of putting it out as it is. The guy is just f**king incredible. The songs that he has that no one’s heard… I pray to God one day people get to hear what he has up his sleeve, because me being a fan for one, but the s**t is just awesome. And I can’t wait to get in and work on some stuff with him. And I know he’s really excited to get in a room, too, so I think us together, we’re gonna do a lot of damage. And this band he’s put together is just incredible musicians — I mean, top-notch players. He definitely put together an amazing band and he has, like, three albums’ worth of s**t up his sleeve that’s just gonna floor people. I’m really excited about it. And I’ve been writing around the clock, constantly sending him songs, too. So it’s good; it’s really good.”
On when fans can expect to hear a new GUNS N’ ROSES album:
Ashba: “Well, it won’t be 15 years, I promise you. [Laughs] The thing about Axl, and what I do respect about him, he doesn’t give a f**k about, like, if a label person is trying to hurry him for a record. The one thing is, he is the real deal, he is a true artist — he will not release a record until he knows in his heart it’s ready. And that’s exactly how we are with SIXX: A.M. — we won’t turn a record in… It doesn’t matter if it takes five years. And it doesn’t really matter to us if it doesn’t sell a record, because when you’re doing something from a very true place and you’re being true to yourself, none of that matters, really. At the end of the day, you just wanna leave a song here that you’re gonna be proud of long after you’re gone. So if you go into that mindframe and not, ‘OK, this sounds like a hit.’ Or ‘We’ve gotta change this to sound more like this band because they’re doing really good.’ It’s not real. So the one thing, whether you like ‘Chinese’ or hate it, it’s real. And it definitely is a very brilliant artistic record. I think it’s an amazing record. Will the next one take as long? No. I mean, what people don’t realize is ‘Chinese’ didn’t take 15 years. He literally has, like, four albums’ worth of… I mean, he has tons and tons of songs. So whenever he feels like, OK, this is what he wants to release next… It’s his call, it’s his vision, so I’m just here to do whatever I can to bring that vision to life for him, or with him.”