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2011.12.08 - Interview with Dj - The Ticket

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2011.12.08 - Interview with Dj - The Ticket Empty 2011.12.08 - Interview with Dj - The Ticket

Post by Soulmonster on Thu Dec 08, 2011 10:31 am

If you want to rock and roll all night -- really rock and roll, all night long -- then break out the acid-washed jeans and get ready to storm the Maverik Center on Tuesday. Guns N' Roses is coming to Utah, and local headbangers could start the show Tuesday night and finish it Wednesday morning.

The show begins at 9 p.m., for starters, and there's an opening set by former Ozzy Ozbourne guitarist Zakk Wylde and his band, Black Label Society. When Guns N' Roses does take the stage, they'll be intending to stay put for a while: the band's set could top the three-hour mark.

GNR lead guitarist Dj Ashba, speaking by phone from Nashville, confirmed that shows on the tour have been clocking in at more than three hours, and said that fans can expect to hear a deep selection of songs from the band's six studio albums. "They're gonna get blasted with everything from 'Appetite' to 'Chinese,' " Ashba said, referencing the first and sixth GNR albums, "Appetite for Destruction" and "Chinese Democracy." "Last night we pulled out 'Civil War' for the first time."

According to the unofficial GNR site Here Today ... Gone to Hell!, the Nashville performance of "Civil War" (from the album "Use Your Illusion II") marked the first time that the band has played the song live since 1993. That's the year that Ashba, one of two lead guitarists in the band's current eight-man lineup -- the other is Ron "Bumblefoot" Thal -- turned 21.

"Sometimes you've got to kind of stop and pinch yourself," Ashba said. At age 39, Ashba is a successful rock producer and songwriter, who has a graphic design studio and a line of clothing in addition to playing for GNR. In 1988, however, when "Appetite for Destruction" was a new sensation, Ashba was 16 years old and going to his first rock concert, a show on Motley Crue's Girls, Girls, Girls World Tour.

(Speaking of pinching himself: Ashba also plays in Crue bassist Nikki Sixx's side band Sixx:A.M.)

"I'm very blessed," Ashba said. "I've been working on my career since I was a kid. It's nice that it's finally paying off."

Hard work -- in addition to a hard partying lifestyle and hard-driving rock rhythms -- has paid off for Guns N' Roses as well. The Rock and Roll Hall of Fame announced earlier this week that the band will be inducted into the Hall of Fame in its first year of eligibility. Ashba said he's been excited for GNR founder Axl Rose since it was announced earlier this year that the group had become a first-time Hall nominee.

"It's 30 years of something he created," Ashba said. "It's a massive honor for him." And for, well, quite a few other people.

As fans well know, the Guns N' Roses of 2011 is Rose, and exactly no one else who was in the original lineup. Keyboardist Dizzy Reed has been with Axl since 1990, and bassist Tommy Stinson and keyboardist Chris Pitman joined up in 1998, but everyone else in the current lineup -- Ashba, Thal, drummer Frank Ferrer and rhythm guitarist Richard Fortus -- has joined GNR since 2002. Ashba, who replaced Robin Finck in 2009, just before the launch of the current world tour, is the newest band member.

The media-shy Rose talked to an interviewer for the first time since 2006 in November, when he filmed an episode of VH1's "That Metal Show," and said that he thinks that the current GNR lineup has solid chemistry. "We had a fun show and I feel like the band's starting to fire on all cylinders," Rose said to "That Metal Show" hosts Eddie Trunk, Jim Florentine and Don Jamieson, the morning after performing at American Airlines Arena in Miami.

Ashba said that fans have been doing their part as well. "The crowds have just been insane," he said, which makes them a good fit for the smoke-and-mirrors razzle-dazzle that comes onstage with the band: "The production is massive. There's tons of rockets and bombs."

Fans are important to Ashba, who said that he still sees a little of himself whenever he looks out over the arena. "I remember being in the crowd," he said. "When someone on the stage would look my way, even if they were just looking at the girl behind me ... I thought they were looking at me."

With all of his different endeavors, Ashba said that he's a bit of a workaholic. "I sleep about four hours a night," he said. "Sometimes I wish I could clone myself. I'd get more done." One thing that he doesn't consider to be part of "getting things done" is playing live shows. "Everyone is like, 'Wow, man, you get paid to rock,' but when the lights go down and I'm onstage, that's when I play for free," Ashba said. "It's the other 20 hours out of the day, when I'm sitting in airports and away from my family, that I get paid for."

Family includes his mother, who began teaching Ashba to play the piano before when he was a toddler. (Like a lot of other little boys, Ashba was bugged by piano lessons: "I hated playing piano. She made me practice, and I hated being told when to play an instrument.") Mom doesn't go to GNR concerts -- "She's seen me play one time in my entire career" -- but she does keep in touch.

"Big rock concerts aren't really her thing, but she's very proud and happy. I talked to her last night, and she told me, 'You finally made it to Nashville with a hat on,' " said Ashba, who typically performs with a beaver-style hat pulled all the way down to his eyebrows. "She always thought I should have gone the country route."

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