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2012.05.10 - Interview with Dj at

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Post by Soulmonster on Fri May 11, 2012 10:00 am

Sixx: A.M. and Guns N’ Roses’ DJ Ashba Talks Les Pauls, Tone and More
Anne Erickson

DJ Ashba is brimming with creativity. Not only does he play lead guitar with Axl Rose in Guns N’ Roses and Nikki Sixx in Sixx: A.M., but Ashba also runs Ashba Media, Inc., a graphic design and marketing agency, and Ashbaland Studios, where Ashba writes, composes and produces various musical projects.

Whether he’s in an arena with GN’R or working on a new song with Sixx, DJ Ashba knows how to make whatever he’s working on turn into rock and roll magic. The Les Paul-toting rocker checked in with to talk about what it was like stepping into the role of GN’R’s lead guitarist, new GN’R tracks on the way, his relationship with Sixx and why Gibson is “the ultimate guitar.” Check out DJ Ashba’s official website, here.

What was it like joining one of the biggest rock bands in the world, Guns N’ Roses?

It was pretty natural. I didn’t really think a whole lot of it. I just got the phone call, and they asked if I’d like to come down, and they said they’d be auditioning people for about a year and a half on the down low and were having a hard time finding the right person. I didn’t give it much thought, because I honestly didn’t think I was going to even going to get the gig, so that kind of took the pressure off! [Laughs]

So, I walked down just to jam, and I thought, “Oh, this will be fun. I’ll go down and jam and hang out and meet everybody, and that will be that, and I’ll go on my merry way.” I never really dreamed I was going to get a phone call that day. Axl caught wind that I was coming down and called management and said, “If he even shows up, he has the gig.” I didn’t really know all that when I went down there, so once I found out, then I think that’s when the pressure kind of kicked in.

Did you meet Axl Rose prior to joining Guns N’ Roses?

I met Axl in 1999, we were in doing the Beautiful Creatures album, and Sharon Osbourne came in and took me down to their studio. They were in the next studio working on Chinese Democracy, and she introduced me to Axl.

When do you think GN’R will release some new songs?

Hopefully soon! That’s our goal right now: to work on the new record and get out and tour a bunch more. We’re leaving in May for Europe for two-and-a-half months, and I know we’ll get a lot of stuff done on the road.

Shifting to Sixx: A.M., you have a new single out, “Are You with Me Now?” Tell us about the track.

It’s a really cool song! We actually just performed at the Golden Gods for Revolver Magazine, and we played that song and “This is Gonna Hurt.” Yeah, Sixx: A.M. is such a cool thing. In my mind, it’s our labor of love band, so when we get together, we love to write about stuff that we’ve had issues and problems with, and it’s more therapy, I think, than anything for us. We’ll get in a room and talk about some heavy issues, but we’ll laugh our way through it, because that how we deal with some of the pain we’ve been through. The most rewarding thing about that is that we’re helping people at the end of the day. It’s nice to get all these e-mails about people who have had similar situations as us. You know, you lay down at night, and you actually feel like you’re doing something good out there, and that’s a really good feeling. I love doing that band and donating money to charity with it, and it’s been a lot of fun.

Would you say you and Nikki Sixx are great friends now?

Oh, yeah. He’s one of my closest friends, he and James [Michael]. It’s cool with Sixx: A.M., because we actually do like each other. We hang out outside of the band. We hang out and don’t even talk about Sixx: A.M. We’re always over at each other’s houses, and we’re super, super close.

You guys are working on a new album. Any idea when it might drop?

We have tons of ideas we’re throwing around, but we have yet to officially sit down and really start piecing something together. But, the cool thing about us is that the process goes fairly quick. When we get together, we usually have too many ideas, so it’s a really fun process making a record. We don’t overthink things, and if they feel right, we go by our gut and heart on that, so it’s pretty fun. It’s pretty funny. We order pizzas and sit around laugh and literally go back to old school, picking up old acoustics and jamming and having fun, and before you know it, we have a bunch of cool songs.

Let’s talk guitars. What are your go-to Gibson guitars for touring and recording?

Well, [guitar tech] Chris Whitemyer sets up all my Gibsons, and every one of them is just insane. Every one of them sound and play like a dream. What’s cool about all my guitars is that they all sound and feel super similar. If I close my eyes, I cannot tell you which guitar I’m playing. I have probably 17 Les Pauls… When I joined Guns N’ Roses, Chris – who is one of the most brilliant techs out there – sat down with me for months and months, and we went over guitars, and I was literally going into depth about what I love about Les Paul, and he helped me reconfigure the guitar to fit me.

What, to you, constitutes great guitar tone?

I think your ear. I think a great guitar tone is obviously a great sounding guitar, too, meaning a very well-built guitar with good wood, good harbor, good pickups. Seymour Duncans, I use in mine. Everything matters when it comes down to getting a good sound, from the tailpiece to the bridge to the nut on the guitar. There’s nobody out there that makes a better guitar than Gibson.

So, I think a Gibson running through a solid amp, and I use Fractal. There’s just something about the combination of a Gibson and Fractal that out of the many, many years I’ve played, it wins. I tried every guitar-amp combination out there, and I’ve had the most extravagant rigs built, and it all came down to in the end, literally, just a two-piece rack mount and a Les Paul, and plugged direct into it.

I think, also, a lot of the tone is in the fingers. It’s the way you hit the guitar. It’s the attitude you play, because one person could pick up my guitar rig and play, and it’s probably not going to sound like when I pick it up and play, and vice versa. A lot of the tone really does come from the player.

How do you change up the guitar sounds in Guns N’ Roses and Sixx: A.M. to keep the two projects sounding different?

In my mind, GN’R and Sixx: A.M. are in two completely differently ends of the earth. To me, they don’t sound anything alike, so it’s real easy for me to separate them both. With Sixx: A.M., we use a lot of weird chords and weird tunings, and with Guns, it’s more straight up rock and roll, so it’s pretty different. Therefore, the tones have to be pretty different. The playing style is way different. In Sixx: A.M., I do a lot more shredding and melodic stuff. The melodic stuff in Guns is very blues-driven.

Thanks for your time, DJ Ashba! Any last thoughts?

Just tons of thanks to everybody at Gibson for all the love and support. I pick up these guitars, and it’s awesome. Every night, I plug in, and they sound exactly the same. It’s the ultimate guitar, whether you’re recording, writing, demoing or playing live, the tone is there, the feel of the guitar is just a brilliant design. I’m in heaven now.


Last edited by Soulmonster on Thu Jul 05, 2012 11:05 am; edited 1 time in total
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Post by Voodoochild on Mon May 14, 2012 10:53 pm

They recorded lots of stuff on UK for Chinese, so why not again?

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