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APPETITE FOR DISCUSSION
Welcome to Appetite for Discussion -- a Guns N' Roses fan forum!

Please feel free to look around the forum as a guest, I hope you will find something of interest. If you want to join the discussions or contribute in other ways then you need to become a member. We especially welcome anyone who wants to share documents for our archive or would be interested in translating or transcribing articles and interviews.

Registering is free and easy.

Cheers!
SoulMonster

2011.10.24 - Iron City Rocks - Interview with DJ

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2011.10.24 - Iron City Rocks - Interview with DJ Empty 2011.10.24 - Iron City Rocks - Interview with DJ

Post by Soulmonster Tue Oct 25, 2011 6:26 pm

Transcript:

Interviewer (I): Welcome to the show from the band Guns N' Roses and from Sixx:AM, DJ Ashba. How are you doing today, DJ?

DJ: I'm doing great, man, how are you guys?

I: I am doing wonderful. It is an honor to get a chance to talk to you. You're in Paraguay right now on tour with Guns-

DJ: Yes.

I: How is the tour going thus far?

DJ: It's going amazing. Rio was amazing, that was a lot of fun. I was blindly, uh happy, it's been kind of a big dream to do that and I'm looking forward to tomorrow here. But yeah, Argentina, every place has been just outstanding. You know, we had a huge warm welcome from probably a hundred fans at the airport, late, late last night.

I: Wow.

DJ: Just really cool, really cool to be here.

I: Yeah, now you were born in Indiana, correct?

DJ: Yeah.

I: And if I read correctly, you had kind of gotten your first exposure to live music seeing Motley Crue.

DJ: Yeah, that's true. My dad took me to 'Girls, girls girls' tour, when I was 16 and I just remember that night I was like, "Wow!" you know. And it wasn't so I was blown away because, you know, just the whole live experience blew my mind, you know. And it was kind of that night that kind of turned that into a reality in my head because up till then it was, you know, you watch all these bands on, you know, MTV, and you're like, "Wow!" you know, and you kind of almost, you know, viewed it more as, "Oh, that's just kind of a dream," but, you know, seeing Motley do it right in front of your face and you're like, "Wow!" you know, "if they're up there doing this," you know, "there's no reason I can't be one day," and it kind of just clicked, I guess, that day for me.

I: Yeah, I think a lot of probably younger on it's.... you and I are roughly the same age. a lot of people missed out on that whole arena experience. I mean, there are bands certainly that can still do arenas in the United States but not like, you know, what was that 1986-1987 somewhere? You know.

DJ: And now it's cool because, you know, that's what's so fun about being in Guns it is, yeah, you know, it is the full-on massive rock show, you know, the fire bombs and the massive stages and the [?] production and it's just, it's really, really a cool show.

I: Cool visually. You kind of took a leap of faith and moved to Hollywood and at the age of 19. Did your family go or did you just say, "I'm packing my things and moving to Beverly?"

DJ: [laughs] Pretty much. You know, my mom is very, well, my dad left when I was really, really young, but my mom was super religious and I grew up without a TV and so I'd have to go to my friend's house to watch MTV and stuff. So, you know, I just kind of knew, you know... my brother, my older brother, left me a box of, like, you know, records and stuff, like, rock records and KISS records and a bunch of KISS posters so I'd have to hide everything, like, behind the furnace and then my mom found them and they all went in the trash. But, you know, I always knew, you know, that I was gonna, you know... it was weird, I was lucky I guess because I meet people right now and, you know, they have no idea what they're gonna do for a living and, you know, I'll listen to them talking, "Yeah, I don't know," you know, and I just... I was different, I kind of always knew... it was just, you know, I started playing piano when I was three and drums when I was six and then I started playing guitar when I was nine, so I just kind of... I was born into a musical family even though, you know, my mom's religious. She loved Elvis and she, you know, you'd always hear Elvis in the house and, you know, stuff like that.

I: Yeah, I mean Elvis' certainly an incredible performer and his gospel work probably appealed quite a bit to that. Now you spent-

DJ: Thank God because-

I: Yeah.

DJ: [laughs] at least I had something cool to listen to [laughs]

I: Yeah. You don't tell them... tell the kids at school which album you're listening to but... You put out a solo album, Addicted to Friction, back pretty early on in your career, obviously you spent a tremendous amount of time and it to me kind of spoke to a lot of the Mike Barney sort of shredders of the day. Was that album... do you see that album ever being re-released, maybe? I mean, obviously your career-

DJ: Uhm, possibly. I mean, what's weird about that album is, I moved to LA and I was just working construction because that's what I did back home and, you know, we're doing construction for some guy who owned this small little tiny label, he was just starting up and I had no idea, you know, I was just doing little four track demos. And, you know I'd go to work all happy and excited and play my new song I wrote for my boss and I guess this guy overheard it out in the car playing and that's kind of how that all started and he kind of put me on a little... gave me a little money to make a record and, you know, I think we only released like 2,000 copies. I mean, it's really hard to find. I don't even actually have a copy of it. But I have the four two inch tapes. I have... I own the masters which is kind of neat so... and I always thought about it'd be kind of fun to go in and, you know, replace some guitars on it and, you know, and kind of just.... or just remix it and put it out again and... But I don't know, you know, the options are there, which is nice.

I: Yeah, I know. In researching this I had listened to a little bit of on YouTube. Somebody had put out some of it on YouTube and everywhere I saw on any message board was "This thing is impossible to find," so-

Dj: It is, it really is. [laughs] I don't even have one.

I: Might be a good thing to put out on iTunes or something. You kind of got your your big break, I guess you would call it, teaming up with Marq Torien, the BulletBoys, and that was a relatively short stint and then you [?]

DJ: The BulletBoys thing, the BulletBoys thing was kind of weird. It was like... I was really good friends with Lonnie [Vencent], the bass player, and they had lost their guitar player and they had a tour coming up and me being new to LA and I was just, like, you know, I just, you know, I never really joined the band, I just kind of... you know, they said, "Hey man. is there any way you could help us out to get through this tour," and that's kind of all that was [?], you know. I jumped at the opportunity to be able to, you know, get on a tour bus with a cool band from the 80s and play some cool rock songs.

I: Sure.

DJ: And it was a lot of fun and just to be able to hang out with Lonnie and... yeah, that was a lot of fun. And that led to, you know, me and Joe [Lesté, of Bang Tango] starting Beautiful Creatures because Bang Tango was playing with BulletBoys and that's where I met Joe.

I: Yeah. He's got some longevity. I have to give Joe a lot of credit. I mean, he.... you know, as a fan of that era of music and growing up like I said around the same time... the Bang Tango was moderately successful in the era but they've had some real longevity. I know even to this day they still tour in, you know, in our region and do quite well touring-wise. It's a testament-

DJ: Yeah, Joe's a great guy, you know, I've always loved his voice and his attitude, you know, towards music and, you know. And I was really proud of what we created with Beautiful Creatures and Warner Brothers treated us really good and we had a lot of fun doing that.

I: Yeah, now, you went on to kind of do a the Ashba sort of solo project. Rumors-

DJ: [?] awesome.

[laughs]

I: A lot of rumors slid around that you were invited to belong to the Brides of Destruction. Is there truth to that rumor and how did you-

DJ: Yeah, there is-

I: [?] Nikki [Sixx]-

DJ: Nikki gives me shit to this day. Yeah, he called me up and, you know, me being me, you know, when I'm into something, when I put my heart into something, I really give it, you know, everything, everything I have. And I won't get into something, or a project, unless I believe wholeheartedly that I can... that I can do it justice, and, you know, do something magical with it. So my  head and my heart was wrapped around doing my own music and doing my own thing at that time and, you know, I've always been a songwriter and a producer and, you know, and... So I was heavily into doing that, so when he called, you know, I actually turned the gig down. So now it's funny, you know, fast forward where I'm, you know, doing Motley records and doing, you know, Sixx:AM. that he still gives me shit. He's like, "I can't believe he turned [?]"-

I: Was that-

DJ: We laugh about it, it's a lot of fun, but, you know, we both look back and go, "You know what, it was the right decision for both of us at that time," you know, so-

I: Was that to work with Tracii in the band or was that prior to Tracii being in the band?

DJ: That was prior to Tracii being in the band.

I: Okay. I know, I had recently spoken with Scot Coogan, the drummer of Brides of Destruction for those not familiar, he said it's amazing how many people still come up to him with that record to get it signed. You know, it's a great-

DJ: I love the record. I thought, you know, I thought Brides was really cool band, man. They had some cool songs and... but at the time, you know, it just, you know, I was so focused on trying to get my own thing off the ground and, you know, so I just wanted to give that, you know, every part of me at that point.

I: Sure. Now, 2007, you took on what I have to admit was a very interesting project from the moment I heard it, you're writing a soundtrack to a book and you guys really struck [?] with that, with the Sixx:AM. Do you want to talk, how did you you enter Nikki's universe? I mean, that's probably my first question.

DJ: It was kind of weird because I was called by Danny Wimmer to join this band on Atlantic called Operator and at the time I really didn't have a whole lot, you know, going on and I heard the music and I was, like, "Oh, this is really good," and one of my super good friends, Paul Phillips, from Puddle of Mudd, was in the band and he called me. And so I joined, kind of joined, that band briefly and I did the album with them and, you know... but I don't know if my tracks are even on the record... I have no idea what went on because I was only in it for a brief time. And then I got a phone call, I remember I was at a car wash, and it was Nikki and I was like, you know, "I had no idea how you got my number," you know, I was just like, "Whoa!" you know, and he's like, "Hey, man, blah blah blah," you know. I kind of tell him what I had going on and he's like, "Well, I want to come down and see you guys play," so I just thought it was kind of weird. I was like, "That's cool," you know. So he came down and we start hanging out quite a bit and he invited me up to his house and I went up there and literally we sat with an acoustic just bullshitting around, you know. He has a grand piano in his living room and we wrote four songs that day, just sitting there as like... and really good songs. And we kind of looked at each other and we're like, you know, we just kind of knew, you know, because a lot of people, you know, look for that magic, you know, it's kind of like a relationship. You look for that chemistry, that magic, when two people, three people, sit down and, you know, you just kind of finish each other's sentences and maybe it's because I grew up on, you
know, Motley Crew and Guns N' Roses and those bands, I just really kind of, you know-

I: Yeah, you've kind of got assimilated-

DJ: And always in the same brain wave as that but... Yeah, and we just kind of looked at each other and he goes, "Hey," you know, "would you want to partner up with me out at Funny Farm, which is a studio he had built, "and, you know, produce and write songs for other bands?" And I was like, "Oh, yeah, that'd be awesome." So I actually didn't sign the deal with Atlantic and left Operator to team up with him just as a writing and producing partner. And so I would... I went out to Funny Farm literally seven days a week, probably 12 to 14 hour days, and then when he'd leave on tour with Motley, I would still be out there. And I had a full studio out there to to work out of and it was awesome. And, you know, while he'd be on the road I'd start writing all these weird songs and, you know, that's where I kind of started creating X-Mas In Hell and I started playing around with all this orchestra sounds out there and I was just kind of a kid in a candy store at that point. I had no idea I could even do the scoring type of music that it kind of opened a whole new door, certainly, and I just really fell in love with it and before you know it, you know, we kind of... I remember I demoed up, you know, demoed up a bunch of songs and kind of sent them out and that's kind of how that actually started, you know, in a weird way, and then, you know, I've been working with James Michael for many years, you know, he'd bring me in to do some recording on different records he would be producing and I had no idea all this time that the guy could even sing. I just thought he was this great producer. And so it just kind of happened organically, like, and even, you know, as it was happening none of us knew it was happening, it's really weird, it's like, you know, we kind of sent James some of these songs and James was like, "Wow!" I mean, James would write some songs and send them back and it was kind of this cool thing. And then we were talking at the time to get... I remember Nikki called Steven Pyle, they're in Chester from Lincoln Park and we're going to get all these cool singers and have a different singer for every song and James, one day. he calls up and goes, "Hey", you know, "I'd like to," you know-

I: Give it a shot.

DJ: You know, "sing on a song" and he sent it out to me and Nikky, you know, our jaws just hit the floor and we're like, "Oh, that's it!" you know, and it's kind of just happened.

I: Yeah. Now, you guys have really churned out, I mean, two fantastic albums. You know, you have to... what's, you know, what's almost, as a fan, sounded like an odd thing, you know, soundtrack to a book, you know, and I have to admit I didn't read the book until well after I listened to the CD but even the new record, This Is Gonna Hurt, you know, is a phenomenal piece of, I wouldn't call it metal, but, you know, modern-sounding rock music, you know. A great, great record. Do you guys have touring plans or any, or is there a next phase to SIXX:AM or just everybody-

DJ: You know, there is talk about us, you know, finally doing some shows and getting out there. which is is really exciting for everybody. And, you know, of course SIXX:AM has always been a labor of love, you know, and as much as people try to turn it into this, you know, like, we are a band, I guess you could say that, we're more... we look at it more like we're... this is fun for us, this is what music was always supposed to be about. You know, like, you know, we're not writing for anybody other than, you know, let's write whatever's right for the message we're trying to get out there. And we're not trying to write for radio. It's just amazing to all of us that, you know, that Walmart and Target are carrying an album called Heroin Diaries and, you know... And I remember Target called us in the beginning and said they wouldn't carry it because it, you know said, "heroin diaries", they didn't understand. It wasn't, you know, we weren't like advertising, like, "Hey, do heroin!" This is actually a really powerful message to get out there and, you know, they wanted us to change the name and we refused and we didn't care if they carried it or not and they finally, you know, understood kind of where we're going with it.

I: Yeah, I mean, it's kind of the perfect, you know, message to get out to somebody in that situation, that's got that problem, you know, phenomenal piece of work.

DJ: Thank you.

I: Now, how did you end up in Axl Rose's camp? I mean there's, you know, as a kid growing up in the area you did, this has to be kind of phenomenal? You're collaborating with Nikki Sixx and now you're on the road with Axl Rose. This has to be very-

DJ: Yeah, it's surreal, you know. Sometimes I pinch myself and I'm like, "Wow!" you know. And it's like, when I was back doing the record I met Axl when I was doing the Beautiful Creatures album at the Village and they were in there, I believe working on Chinese at that time and Sharon Osborne would always come in, because her best friend Gloria Butler at the time who was married to Geezer Butler, managed Beautiful Creatures, so Sharon would always stop in and and I was actually in the studio playing a piece by Randy Rhodes, just waiting to record the Beautiful Creatures thing, I was playing this piece called Dee on an acoustic guitar. And I was just out there alone and Sharon walked in crying and I had no idea like she was even there, and she goes, "I want you to play this for Ozzy," and I was like, "All right." So she walked me over and I played Dee for Ozzy and he's just got a tear in his eye and it was just this weird surreal thing. And then me and, you know, Sharon became really good friends and she walked me over to introduce me to Axl next door, and that's kind of where I first met him. And he's just a really cool, cool guy. And then many years went by and then I got a phone call out of the blue by... let's see who called me, Katie McNeil [=from Irving Azoff's management firm] gave me a phone call and she had been managing me personally for many, many years and now she does Neil Diamond and a bunch of different people, but for a moment they were managing Guns and she called me up and she goes, "Hey, you know on the down low, you know, Guns have been auditioning guitar players for about a year and a half now, they're trying to find the right guy and they've gone through hundreds of people and, you know, is this something you'd be interested in going down and checking out?" I was like, you know... and I just got off the road with Sixx:AM and we had a, you know, smash... well, you know, Life Is Beautiful was on the top of the charts and, you know, I said, "Yeah," you know, I knew, you know, I'd have a lot of down time because Nikki goes out and does the Motley Crue thing, which is amazing, and James produces records, so I'm like, "Yeah," you know, "I'll check it out," you know, it's something to keep me busy. And so I guess management called Axl and said, "Hey, you know, DJ Ashba wants to come down and blah blah blah," and, you know, I got a call back and, you know, he said, "If he even shows up to the studio, he has the gig," so-

I: There you go.

DJ: It's kind of that easy, I guess. But surprisingly, you know, when I did finally sit down with Axl, like, you know, he really knows, you know, what's going on in the music industry, like, he knew my whole entire, you know, career. He knew more about me than I ever thought, you know, so it kind of blew my mind the knowledge he does have on the music scene and what's really going on and it's pretty cool.

I: Yeah and the... obviously you guys are as, you know, we're doing this interview, guys are going to be hitting the United States pretty soon, which is, you know, long and overdue. Are there... this is kind of, I'm sure, the million dollar Guns N' Roses question, is there more material in the future or-

DJ: Absolutely, yeah, absolutely, you know. And that's our main focus right now with it and obviously me being a songwriter and a producer it's like, you know, that, like I said, I don't jump into anything just to jump into something and, you know, when I got the phone call it's something I knew, you know, like I grew up same way when I, you know, co-wrote and co-produced Motley Crue stuff, you know, I knew that I could bring something to the table because I understood the music, because I grew up on it. And, you know, I feel the same with Guns, you know, and, you know, Slash's, you know, I grew up, you know, cutting my teeth on people like Slash and I have the most, you know, utmost respect for his guitar playing and his style and stuff and I really feel I get where he's, you know, where he's coming from on that end. And so, you know, no one will ever replace him and that's not why I'm here, but it's just to do, you know, I felt I could do the gig justice as far as staying true to the vision of where everything left off. And so, you know, that's kind of kind of why I got involved, because I really wanted to work with Axl and I thought, you know, I could really bring some to the table and I think, you know, that the.... you know, he has a lot of material, I mean, everybody thinks... you know, Chinese took, you know, all these years, which it did, but what they don't realize is, you know, he has just a shit ton of music, and really good music, you know, just sitting there. And, you know, I've written a bunch of stuff, a bunch of stuff for him, too. So yeah, I mean that's the goal, is to to put out, you know, hopefully the next best Guns N' Roses record, you know, that we possibly could-

I: I can certainly see where having you in the band would be quite an asset. I mean you seem to produce material at a feverish pace. You're kind of like having the producer, the guitars, the art director, and the technologist all in the band at one time.

DJ: Yeah, I don't sleep much.

I: Obviously I have-

DJ: Alright, thank you.

I: Thank you so much for the time. You take care.


Last edited by Soulmonster on Fri Jan 07, 2022 11:24 am; edited 31 times in total
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2011.10.24 - Iron City Rocks - Interview with DJ Empty Re: 2011.10.24 - Iron City Rocks - Interview with DJ

Post by Blackstar Sat Jan 01, 2022 6:44 pm

The date of this is Oct. 24, 2011.

The audio (talks about GnR a little bit in the beginning of the first video and from ~2:35 min. mark in the second video - the rest is about Sixx A.M):


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2011.10.24 - Iron City Rocks - Interview with DJ Empty Re: 2011.10.24 - Iron City Rocks - Interview with DJ

Post by Soulmonster Thu Jan 06, 2022 7:33 am

Blackstar wrote:The date of this is Oct. 24, 2011.

DJ is in Paraguay when the interview is done, so it should be even earlier, around October 15?
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Post by Blackstar Thu Jan 06, 2022 8:51 am

Soulmonster wrote:
Blackstar wrote:The date of this is Oct. 24, 2011.
DJ is in Paraguay when the interview is done, so it should be even earlier, around October 15?
October 24 is the date it was released, so yeah, it probably was recorded a few days earlier.
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2011.10.24 - Iron City Rocks - Interview with DJ Empty Re: 2011.10.24 - Iron City Rocks - Interview with DJ

Post by Soulmonster Fri Jan 07, 2022 11:24 am

Done!
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