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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

2011.05.16 - Herald Sun - Sixx:A.M. Gets A Wake-Up Call (DJ)

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Post by Soulmonster Mon May 16, 2011 7:03 am

Sixx:A.M. gets a wake-up call
Nui Te Koha From:Sunday Herald Sun May 15, 2011 12:00AM

GUITAR hero D.J. Ashba went from outsider to rock's inner circle.

Pain is relative. As US rockers Sixx:A.M. looked to the ache of others as inspiration for their new album, the focus of those studies soon turned inwards.

Initially the album, This is Gonna Hurt, was a companion piece to a photography book shot by bassist Nikki Sixx.

Sixx says the portraits are mainly outsiders, a subculture society might deem as freaks.

But the music asks for deeper understanding of those portrayed and, in a wider sense, those on society's fringes.

"We are scraping the raw ending of a nerve," says guitarist D.J. Ashba.

"Beauty is only skin deep. People are so used to turning a blind eye or judging by appearance. We are doing a wake-up call."

For Ashba, that awakening involved his own memories of a dark and abusive childhood and being an outcast.

"A lot of (the pictures) hit home for me. I had a really bad childhood," Ashba, 38, says.

"My dad was an angry guy. I remember being really little and scared to death."

Born Daren James Ashba, he was raised in smalltown Indiana and Illinois.

"I was judged my whole life, looking like I do, before I became what I became," he says.

"People always looking at me like I never fit in."

Beyond his difficult upbringing, Ashba had to contend with other barriers.

"I played music and believed in my dream and never lost focus. I caught a lot of flack for it," he says.

In one incident, police threatened to confiscate Ashba's gear for practising guitar too loudly.

"I was 16. I moved out and got a little tiny trailer in the middle of a corn field so I could play music.

He laughs: "It was like (the movie) Footloose, in a weird way.

"But I broke out of the mould. 'This is our bubble. Nothing is outside this bubble. Dreams don't exist. There are millions of guitar players: why would you ever want to go to LA?' "

But Ashba left the cornfields and conquered. Today, he is a solo artist, lead guitarist in supergroup Guns N' Roses and Sixx:A.M., a labour of love with Motley Crue star Sixx and singer James Michael.

"Now I go home and it's like the hometown hero. The fact is, I ignored everybody and followed my heart -- that's the key to any success."

But success didn't happen overnight. Ashba chased his dream to LA 20 years ago.

He played in various rock bands and declined offers, mostly with Sixx, to fast-track his career.

"I built my career organically and I think I did it the right way," Ashba says. "I turned down a lot of good gigs because I didn't feel they were right for me.

"It was never about the money or the fame. It was about following my heart and being true to who I am.

"It takes many years of eating ramen noodles, struggling, and never giving up."

Ashba, Sixx and Michael formed Sixx:A.M. in 2007. They had a hit with their debut single Life is Beautiful and album The Heroin Diaries.

Two years later, Guns N' Roses frontman Axl Rose called. Ashba says: "(Guns N' Roses) auditioned for a year and a half on the down-low.

"They saw hundreds of guitarists. It was like going up for a movie role. You have to have the right look, right attitude, right this, right that.

"I had no idea I was on Axl's radar. He told me, 'I've been following your career for 10 years'.

"He knew everything about me. If you stay true, others will see that."

The new Sixx:A.M. album follows an honest path, too, exploring themes such as the beauty myth, poverty gap and rocker redemption, in settings from Hollywood to New Orleans.

"Sixx:A.M. is a side project, a real treat," Ashba says. "We don't write for radio. We don't have to please anyone. We write to make people think."

Outside music, Ashba, who is also a songwriter, producer and graphic designer, owns a creative agency.

He is also blissfully in love with Nicky Whelan, the Mornington beauty turned Hollywood actor.

They live together in LA's San Fernando Valley.

"I had really given up on love when I met Nicky," Ashba says.

"I had a vision of finding that one person, falling in love and living happily ever after but after years in LA, in my mind I started to really doubt it. I've been screwed over like the next guy many, many times. It was hard for me to trust it.

"But she came in and took a broken soldier and gave me a lot of love. She taught me there is a lot of unconditional love out there, still."

This is Gonna Hurt is out now.
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