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SoulMonster

2012.03.13 - Interview with Dj - Glide Magazine

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2012.03.13 - Interview with Dj - Glide Magazine

Post by Soulmonster on Mon Mar 12, 2012 8:25 pm

“They had me looking at things differently than I usually would. Ideas started to untangle and we got into areas of writing that seemed fresh and exciting,” Nikki Sixx wrote in his photography book This Is Gonna Hurt, referring to his collaboration with Sixx:AM bandmates Dj Ashba and James Michael. “Their talent inspired me like nothing else had in years”. Those are strong words coming from someone who helped bring Motley Crue out of the Sunset Strip gutter and into the hierarchy of Arena rock super-stardom. But his belief in his songwriting partners propelled this little band that was only supposed to create a soundtrack to Sixx’s drug addiction into a formidable entity all their own and Dj Ashba was a major ingredient to its individual sound.

Raised by a religious mother who played piano helped spark Ashba’s creativity despite the obstacles that type of upbringing caused. He started playing piano, then drums, then guitar and eventually moved out to the devil’s playground of LA where he joined the Bulletboys and impressed Nikki Sixx, who was starting up a sideband of his own. Now one of hard rock’s premier talents, Ashba is a busy man. On top of all the music he creates, he has his own line of clothing, Ashba Swag, and a media company he is building into an empire. Dj Ashba is more than a name. It’s a freaky, exciting way of life.

Last month, Ashba took the time to talk with Glide about his early days growing up in small-town America, egging his principal’s house, decorating for prom and gearing up for more touring and recording with not only Guns N Roses but Sixx:AM as well.

What have you been doing today?

(laughs) Well, I just bought a house in Vegas and we just finished wiring up the studio here. So now the house is finally done and it’s kind of back to work for me.

So what are you going to do in that shiny new house with all that new wiring and everything?

Make a lot of music (laughs)

Does this include new music with Sixx:AM?

We’re writing around the clock right now for that so I’m all set up and working on new songs for Guns and yeah, everything’s good.

You came from kind of a religious family. How did you discover rock & roll?

You know what’s weird? My mom is a classical piano teacher so before I could even reach the pedals on it from the piano bench I was playing piano. I started when I was about three. So even though it was a very religious family, I grew up without TVs and stuff, my mom was a big music influence on me. She was huge into Elvis so I grew up kind of cutting my teeth on all the old Elvis songs.So I guess that’s where it kind of started.

You’ve mentioned that you started playing piano when you were really young and you played drums when you were really young also. But what else did you like to do? You’re pretty mischievous now so I can only imagine what you were like then.

(laughs) Yeah, I was always in trouble. I was the kid that was always kind of the neighborhood terror, just always in trouble.Cops were always over at the house. I was just ornery, I guess. I was probably more bored of being in a little tiny town than anything so to keep my mind busy I was always just a menace, I guess (laughs)

So what would you say was the most mischievous thing you did?

One thing I can remember is I was out in the garage, my dad was an amazing builder, he was a cabinet maker, and I saw him working on the car one day.And he had this little tool that popped out like the inner stem of the tire and it flattened it right away. So I watched where he put it away and I thought that would be great to go flatten a bunch of neighbors’ tires that night (laughs). Evidently, one of the neighbors saw me doing it and I spent the whole summer delivering papers to buy everybody tires. I kind of learned a hard lesson.

When did piano and drums turn into guitars?

Well, my mom made me practice piano so I never liked playing piano when I was young cause it was something I had to do. Then I started playing drums when I was probably six and I was just banging on everything. I’d set up like garbage cans and buckets and anything I could beat on. Then I was in the little high school pep band, I think it was called, and I would always break my sticks at home on garbage cans and come back and I’d have no sticks for the class. So they ended up basically letting me go from that class cause I never had drumsticks to play (laughs).

Then that got frustrating so I detasseled corn all summer and I was turned on to people like Eddie Van Halen and people like that and it just kind of changed my life when I heard guitar. It was just something that my mom was kind of against. Nobody really was for me playing guitar so it was one of those things where it was kind of cool. This is something my mom will never make me practice so it made me want to play it more, you know. So I first started playing guitar when I was about nine.

What was your first guitar?

It was a white Flying V. It was a Harmony and I bought it out of the Sears catalog for like $189. I detasseled corn all summer long to be able to afford it. I remember for the first probably three years I didn’t know what a chord was. But I would look forward to going to detassel corn every morning. I’d get on the bus and there was a little tiny local band in Indiana that I always looked up to cause they could play guitars and it was just so cool. I remember my buddy, who was a guitar player in that little band, he used to take a pocket knife and carve a fretboard on the back of the seat and he’d poke three holes in it and he’d go, “That’s an A chord. Go home and practice that”. And I couldn’t wait to get home. I hit the A chord and I remember going “Holy shit”. And I couldn’t wait to get back to work the next day to learn another chord. That was kind of the way I learned the basic chords and then just kind of took it from there.

What was the first rock song you learned to play?

I think it was “Peter Gunn”,dadumdadumdadum, whatever that was. I think that was pretty much the first riff that I ever played. And then I think “Smoke On The Water” was a close second. Cause those were really easy for beginner guitarists to play.


Whatever happened to that first guitar?

I traded it in for a guitar with a whammy bar (laughs) cause I thought, I couldn’t do dive bombs on it so I traded it in for, I believe it was called a Series 10 and it was more of a cool rock guitar. But I liked the white Flying V because of Randy Rhoads but the guitar was just horrible. I couldn’t play on it very well so I ended up getting this purple Series 10. I remember just waking up every morning going, “Wow, it is here in my room. It’s not a dream”. I just loved the thing and I was watching MTV cause I was actually staying with my dad at the time and he had a TV. And he took me to my first concert, which was Motley Crue. At the time on MTV, all the guys were spinning guitars around their back and I thought that was the coolest thing. So the second day I had this guitar, I spun it around, or tried to spin it around my neck (laughs), and it came around and the headstock broke off cause it hit the bed. I was so bummed but my dad glued it back together but it was never quite the same.

Who was the first real rock star you ever met?

I remember just getting to LA and I remember walking into Tower Records on Sunset and I was in there just shopping and a big black limo pulls up and Elton John jumps out with like ten people with him. He grabs a little cart and he’s just flying through the CD store and he’s just filling up this thing and he said “Hi” to me.He was really cool and nice. I think he was probably the first rock star I ever met, thinking back. Yeah, he was really cool. He was in the store for probably five minutes flat and it was all timed and the car pulled back up and he jetted right out and I was like, “Wow, how cool” (laughs)

Did you really do your school’s Prom background?

I did. I designed the yearbooks, I designed the Prom. I was the kid they took out of regular classes and my principal was actually my neighbor, who I would always egg his house and stuff but he never found out it was me (laughs) – now he knows I guess, sorry about that (laughs) – but he would take me out of classes and they actually put me on payroll.They would pay me to paint the school cause they had just done a big remodel. So I would paint the logos on the gym floors and the weight room and paint the logos in the hallways and anything they needed painted. When I was in Advanced Art in ninth and tenth grade, I had a cartoon in the newspaper, the local newspaper, so they had me kind of co-teach the class.So it was kind of a neat thing cause they let me out of a lot of bullshit classes like Biology and shit I never really was into.

What did the Prom background look like?

I don’t even remember now, to be honest. I believe it had some kind of rock & roll theme to it and I just painted these big backdrops for the kids to stand in front of to take the photos. Thinking back, I think it was a big massive sunset. It’s been awhile but I believe it was this big orange and red cool like sunset type thing.

So what do you have going on this year? What is 2012 looking like for you?

Really good, you know. There’s some stuff coming up definitely for Sixx:AM and Guns N Roses. We’re heading out, actually tomorrow, back out on tour, which I’m excited about. We’re going to be playing fashion week in New York and am really excited to get back out there and get on stage with all the guys again. And, obviously, one of our main focuses is putting together what we feel is going to be the next best Guns N Roses record and that’ll come when the time is right for it. Right now we got a bunch of touring coming up, which we’re excited about.

I think my main focus, obviously, with Guns N Roses, we’ve got a bunch more touring.And we have some special stuff planned for Sixx:AM. I just moved to Vegas and not only did I move but I moved my whole corporation out here: my graphic design agency, Ashba Media, and my clothing line called Ashba Swag. We're doing a lot of big things coming up with all of that stuff. We’ve got a ton of new designs and clothes and a bunch of new stuff coming out. It’s a really exciting time right now.

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Last edited by Soulmonster on Wed Jul 04, 2012 10:08 pm; edited 1 time in total
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Re: 2012.03.13 - Interview with Dj - Glide Magazine

Post by puddledumpling on Thu Mar 15, 2012 7:36 pm

This interview came out before fashion week?

It's not bad, kind of like a homespun style and different from all of the previous published interviews I've read with DJ.
DJ gets a lot of criticism from fans of GNR for Ashba Swag but I've noticed quite a few popular artists hawking things and why not capitalize on your own fame instead of some nameless, faceless corp making money off of your image and popularity. I remember searching Amazon.com for Izzy Stradlin recordings before I learned that a number of his albums were iTunes only releases. I saw an "Izzy Stradlin mousepad" in there on sale for about $12USD plus shipping. I felt bad about it because I didn't believe Izzy would approve of his image and name on a mouse pad. I had no intention of buying it, I just felt this wasn't Izzy's choice. I may be wrong about that but in this context, DJ selling the same kind of stuff himself for the profit of his own company seems logical. If people really want to buy that sort of thing, DJ should get the benefit of it. Same goes for Ron Thal and any other artist who cares to package and market anything that can be classified as memorabilia someday. The artist should be the one to benefit so Good on him.
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