Interviewed by Absalao Da Silva (Criss)
Date: October 2011
My affair with GUNS Ní ROSES dates back to 1987, when their first album "Appetite For Destruction" was released. Even before it was a major hit all over the world, I bought this album which at the time was to be one of the best-selling records of all time. I love it when I am a fan of a band before its commercial explosion and that was what happened to me and GUNS Ní ROSES. They were not only just another long-haired band but also one that would differ musically from all others of their time. In 1988, "GNíR Lies" was released, and they were already a huge band. "Patience" and the hit singles off their first record were everywhere. Some years later "Use Your Illusion I and II" were released and then they were the biggest band in the world circa 1991 / 1992. After that they released "The Spaghetti Incident?" with minor success and the band that once was on top of the world simply dissolved. Year later Axl Rose reformed the band to play at Rock In Rio III and it was a major success. All of his fans could hardly wait for their next release which would only come to life almost a decade later, the controversial "Chinese Democracy" album. With a new band comprised of guitar players DJ Ashba, Ron "Bumblefoot" Thal and Richard Fortus bass player Tommy Stinson drummer Frank Ferrer and longtime partner Dizzy Reed on keyboards and Chris Pitman on keyboards and samples. Axl was once again on top selling millions of records and on every newspaper or magazine around the globe.
* DJ Ashba interview (Friday, September 30th, 2011) Ė two days before the Rock In Rio gig.
Last year (2010), GUNS Ní ROSES announced a tour in South America with a five-date leg in Brazil. That was then that I met the guys in the band for the first time. Some friends and I got to meet "the man" Axl himself after a long tiring and suffered four-week try.
This year when they were announced to be the closing band for Rock In Rio people in Brazil were excited to once again catch one of the most important bands in history live. My friends and I also would try to meet the band again and of course, Axl. So we did meet the band, and we were glad that most of the guys remembered us from last year! They were just amazing, cool, down to earth guys who really care about their fans. Itís a pity that the Rock In Rio production was lame (security guys for GUNS Ní ROSES were nice and great people and the bandís staff was also really nice and respectful to everyone around). After a series of problems caused by and because of the Rock In Rio (one wouldnít believe what the band crew and staff - but Axl - went through), we were about to attend the most expected attraction of the festival. Other big names that played Rock In Rio this year were Elton John, Shakira, RED HOT CHILI PEPPERS, METALLICA, SYSTEM OF A DOWN, SLIPKNOT.
The only bad thing that happened after all was not being able to meet Axl Rose again. Yes, this time it was just not possible.
GUNS Ní ROSES, DJ Ashba was kind enough to give me this interview, as he said Ė "itís gonna be the one and only interview Iíll do around here, for you, brother". Boy, was I flattered!
Criss: DJ, please tell us about the early days of your career.
DJ: I moved to L.A. about twenty years ago and I did an instrumental album called "Addiction To The Friction", with James Kottak, Jerry Dixon and a couple of other buddies. Then I went from that to starting a band called BEAUTIFUL CREATURES. We got signed with Warner Brothers, toured Ozzfest and did a bunch of stuff, toured with KISS, and then we eventually started SIXX A.M. with Nikki Sixx and James Michael. Iím skipping a lot of things but (laughs) and our last album was number one with "Life Is Beautiful", and this album debuted at number one in Hard Rock record in the U.S. "Lies Of The Beautiful People" went number one and now "This Is Gonna Hurt" is way off the chart, so we have like two songs in the Top 20 right now over there.
Criss: Can you talk about joining GUNS Ní ROSES?
DJ: Yeah they were auditioning guitar players they had well, I think well over 100,150 people, then I got a phone call out of the blue from the management asking would I want to come down and play guitar with GUNS, and I said absolutely Iím there. Axl called management, and said that if DJ even shows up in the room he has the gig, (itís) that simple.
Criss: Do you have a favorite song to play live?
DJ: No, I donít, because I have so manyÖ I wrote a brand new solo piece called "Ballad Of Death" for the last tour we were on and I wrote a brand new one for this tour called "Me And More", itís my love. I wrote it about my guitar thatís been the one "chick" in my life that has never fucked me over. (laughs)
Criss: What can you say about the guys in GUNS Ní ROSES?
DJ: Axl put together not only some of the nicest, coolest guys and the most talented guys out there. I mean, he can play with everyone but he really did put together a top-notch band. Every guy in this band knows their shit for sure, so itís really good, itís nice to play with with people that just can play anything, anytime, any day. Itís crazy the talent this band has.
Criss: And how is it playing at the same time with GUNS Ní ROSES and Nikki Sixx from M÷TLEY CR‹E?
DJ: Itís good! I have a side band called SIXX A.M. with Nikki Sixx. Nikki goes and does M÷TLEY CR‹E and I do GUNS, thatís our main focus. When we get together we do SIXX A.M. for fun, itís just a labor of love project. We donít really consider it a band like everybody (does). We donít have a drummer; James and I program all the drums for the albums. I write a lot of the orchestra stuff and weíre just three best friends, three producers, three songwriters, we get together and we actually have a lot of fun making a SIXX A.M. record.
Criss: CoolÖ What about the new material from GUNS Ní ROSES?
DJ: Iím working around the clock on stuff so, yeah, weíve got some really good shit in the works; in the bucket already. Axl has a lot of material left over from "Chinese", thatís really good that weíre re-working and Iím writing stuff every day, so thatís good.
Criss: What about the future?
DJ: Thatís my big focus; my big goal is to come out with the biggest GUNS Ní ROSES record of all time. Thatís my main goal in this band I know we can do it. Iím excited, excited to be in the band with Axl and all the guys and working with Axl who works with a lot of people (while) out producing all the time. I sit down and as soon as he starts playing something on the piano, itís like I know exactly whatís kind of there.
Criss: How can you define DJ Ashba?
DJ: I donít know, you know! Music is one of the many, many things that I love to do. I have a clothing line called Ashba Swag; you go to www.ashbaswag.com - itís a labor of love. Itís kind of where I think the artist side of my brain is, inclined with the music side of my brain. I love producing, I love scoring, I love being in GUNS Ní ROSES, I love SIXX A.M. , I love doing my clothing line, and I have our graphic design agency, and Iím working on a big project that no one really knows aboutÖ I wrote and created an animated musical, so Iím working with some big, big companies back home in L.A., with big movie studios too, bringing my animation to life and Iíll be scoring the movie too.
Criss: How is it playing Rock In Rio for the first time?
DJ: Iíll know after I play it! (laughs). No, Iím excited, I mean, this is a dream come true for anybody and to be here with GUNS Ní ROSES you gotta pinch yourself Iím lucky, Iím a lucky guy. A blast, I should say. Not lucky, because I work hard, but definitely a blast.
Criss: Would you like to say anything in ending?
DJ: Yeah! I just wanna thank everybody, I mean; my fan base is just amazing. I absolutely couldnít do this and wouldnít be here without all of you so thank you so, so much. Thank you for visiting my Facebook page every day and posting and writing me e-mails and all the gifts you guys bring and just all of the love and support, itís something. Iím addicted to my fans because theyíre the best drug Iíve ever been addicted to, thatís cool.
Criss: Thank you, DJ!