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SoulMonster

2012.05.17- Interview with Dj

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2012.05.17- Interview with Dj

Post by Soulmonster on Thu May 17, 2012 8:09 am

Ahead of their UK tour which kicks off this Saturday, I had the opportunity to quickly speak with Guns N’ Roses lead guitarist DJ Ashba regarding their tour, his experience as a member of the band and also the current situation on a highly anticipated seventh studio album. Read on as we also talk about his business projects outside of music and how telling the story of his trouble past to BullyVille helped stop him smoking.

EspyRock: Your tour kicks off in Ireland tomorrow before moving into the UK on Saturday, looking forward to performing in the UK again?

DJ Ashba: I love it over here. It’s very exciting for me to be back again.

Although you have played other parts of the UK with Guns N’ Roses before, you’ve yet to perform with them in Glasgow.

I’ve heard nothing but great things about Glasgow and I’m looking forward to meeting up with Scottish fans. It will be different from the shows we have performed before because I know those venues.

This year marks your third year with the band so how has the journey been so far?

It’s been surreal; it’s a dream come true. I would have never believed anyone when I was a kid that one day I would grow up to be the lead guitarist of Guns N’ Roses. It’s just surreal and I’m honoured to part of it. I’m super appreciative of the fans out there who have supported it.

Did you have trouble adjusting to begin with because you were walking into the lion’s den with everything that had happened over the years and you also had other aspects such as you’re on stage time being doubled from what you were used to?

Yeah, well I’ve played a lot of arenas in other big bands before but nothing ever like Guns N’ Roses. The fans and the production, everything about it is just first class and top notch. Axl [Rose] doesn’t do anything in a small way, it’s always go big or go home and I love that about being in Guns.

You have been very vocal about the future of Guns N’ Roses and wanting to work on new material for a new Guns N’ Roses album but we haven’t heard a lot from the other members. Have the band actually had the opportunity to sit down together and discuss it?

Yeah we have and it has become one of our main focuses. We’re working on a lot of new stuff, not only for the music but we have surprises on this tour and everyone is looking forward to getting out there and putting on a kick ass rock ‘n’ roll show. The most important thing is that I’m really looking forward to the future with this band. Getting in and writing with everybody and that’s what I’m excited about the most but when it happens has still to be decided.

What sort of surprises have you got in store for this tour?

We’ve got a new stage and a new show. Some new songs and some other fun stuff. I don’t want to give it all away when you may see it in Glasgow.

The demos that you have been working on, I know Axl has heard a lot of them.

Yes he has.

DJ Ashba PictureHas there been anything that he has heard and felt could be on a future album or are you not moving as fast as that yet?

I don’t want to put words in his mouth and I don’t know yet if he feels it is ready for the album, all I know is that he really liked what he heard and I think together, as a band, we’re all looking forward to putting together what we feel will be the next best Guns N’ Roses record.

Would the material, if it didn’t work out for Guns N’ Roses, could it be used in Sixx: A.M. for example?

Oh no, this sounds like Guns N’ Roses. When I write for a particular artist, it really cannot be used for anything other than that band in my eyes.

Was there a key focus you had when writing or anything you had to do differently as you’re working within the Guns N’ Roses sound?

Well the main thing I’ve been focussing on is what’s on the album is on album. Coming in and doing a lot of the Slash parts means my big focus – I grew up a fan and there are a lot of fans out there – is to come in and do this gig as true as I can and make what I put on the album as good as I can. When kids pay their hard earned money and come out and see you, they still want to hear those old solos so I’m trying not to vary off of those too much but when I can put my taste and my blood into these songs then you will really hear what I can do with it.

Are you more eager than the others to get into the studio so you can put your personal stamp on Guns N’ Roses?

I think everyone is so talented in this band and as a band, we’re so incredibly tight, like a family, and we play insanely well together. I think if this band does put out a new record, it’s obviously going to be a lot different than ‘Chinese [Democracy]’ or anything you’ve ever heard because it is a completely new band in that aspect.

Do you feel like you have a lot to prove to the fans?

I have a lot to prove but only because I’m always trying to outdo the last thing I’ve done. I’m from the world where you are only as good as your last song and my last song just went gold with Sixx: A.M. I’m very thankful for that and how successful it has been but that’s the past and I have moved on and now I want to focus on writing an insanely great Guns N’ Roses song now. That’s kind of how I work.

You’ve just built a new large home studio after you moved?

Yeah.

Is that where a lot of the work is planned to happen or will everyone go their separate ways and then combine somewhere else?

That’s where I plan to do all of my work for it. Everything that I play and that I’m part of, I do a lot of what I do in my studio because it’s home to me and I’m comfortable there and I always get the best takes there. You have to be comfortable in your environment and that’s when you get everything that comes from your heart.

Are you hoping that your experience as a producer and a songwriter may let you be more involved than what may have been in the forecast?

I’m down for doing whatever needs to be done and that’s how I go into any project. If I feel that I can’t do something then I’ll be the first to step aside and let someone who can do it step in. I don’t ever claim to be Mr. Know It All or anything but I do know what I’m good at and I do know that I didn’t join this band just to play guitar. I came in as an accomplished songwriter and producer and I believe I can bring a lot to the table in that aspect as well.

Moving outside of music, you have got your clothing and also your design company. Did you move that over to Las Vegas also when you moved?

I moved the entire corporation there. Everything we create is made in the USA but I’m still looking for a location to open up one official store. Right now you can only buy the stuff online at AshbaSwag.com but it is definitely a dream of mine and it’s kind of like my baby. It’s the art side of my brain and it is incredible to be able to make hand stitched one of a kind clothes, like my stage clothes, and make them available for fans. When you watch me on stage, anything I have on, you can go directly to the website and purchase it by the exact same maker. She’s also now working exclusively for Ashba Swag which is amazing because she has thirty years of clients ranging from Motley Crue, Marilyn Manson to Rihanna; you name it and she has made their wardrobe. We have a really strong team behind Ashba Swag.

Is that just the perfect outlet outside of music for you then to have the design company and Ashba Swag?

It is and it has been one of those things that I’ve been able to crash and collide the art of music and the art of graphics and stuff together. Those two worlds live within each other so it has been really cool.

How does it all work out for you though when you’re on the road as much as you are with Guns N’ Roses?

My sister is actually my assistant, one of my main assistants, and she runs like the entire thing but I oversee everything. Nothing gets approved and nothing gets done unless I okay it. That’s not because I’m a control freak, at the end of the day it’s my name going on it and if it’s not something I’d put in my closet, then it’s not going in the store. I don’t care how much money I’d make off it because I never built this company around money. This was just an artistic outlet for me and while some people like to paint pictures, I love to design graphics and clothes.

DJ Ashba PictureThat just goes back to your comment earlier about making sure everything is better than the last thing.

Exactly. Each new piece of clothing has to be better than everything in my closet. Quality is everything to me. We’re about to launch a brand new store and brand new website, actually probably today or tomorrow I will be launching it, but you will have to check it out as it is really something. We’ve dumped a lot of money and time into rebuilding this to make it very user friendly for fans across the world.

So you are available to fans outside the US?

Yeah, we ship worldwide. I love it because it is a place that you can go to shop where there’s no season so you can buy a winter jacket in the middle of summer if you want or a swimsuit in the middle of winter. If it is summer here then it’s going to be winter somewhere else. I try my best to cater to everybody by not having seasons.

Going back to music projects again, you have Sixx: A.M. which we know of but years ago you did release a solo album, have you thought about more solo work in the future?

I’m so busy that I really don’t think I will, well it’s not in my near future anyway. I don’t see it happening but you never know.

The last question I have time for and I want to ask about is BullyVille (http://www.bullyville.com) who you just become a spokesperson for last month. This is a very big topic and one that I do feel it would be beneficial for readers to know of. How did it come around that you would be working with them and how important is what they are doing to you?

It’s incredible. I can’t begin to tell you what I’ve lived with and it has been a lot, through my entire life. I’ve buried a lot of heavy heavy heavy family issues and when I heard about BullyVille and I became aware of it, it was something that really touched and inspired me. It gave me courage to sit there and upload my whole life and what it took to get where I am. I could have sat back and shut my mouth and let other kids go through what I did on their own with no help, which wasn’t fun at all, or knowing all of the pain and loneliness that I’ve dealt with and all the issues I had to figure out on my own, no matter how much it hurts to talk about it, I could go out there in the public with my story. It was something that was really hard for me to do but I look at it like if it helps one person then it was all worth it. It’s kind of weird because I’ve smoked cigarettes since I was fourteen years old and the day I came out with my story, I haven’t smoked since. I don’t know if it is related but I think I would subconsciously sit in my hotel room and chain smoke and I think it was my way of not caring about myself because of what I went through. I was probably trying to subconsciously kill myself just because I was hiding so much. Now that I’ve come out with that story I’ve been going out every day and not barricading myself in my room. I finally feel like someone woke me up and I hope that my story can hopefully wake some other kids out there up and give a chance at life again.
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