Interview: Guns N’ Roses – DJ Ashba
Ahead of their UK tour which kicks off this Saturday, I had the opportunity to quickly speak withlead guitarist regarding their tour, his experience as a member of the band and also the current situation on a highly anticipated seventh studio album. Read on as we also talk about his business projects outside of music and how telling the story of his trouble past to helped stop him smoking.
EspyRock: Your tour kicks off in Ireland tomorrow before moving into the UK on Saturday, looking forward to performing in the UK again?
DJ Ashba: I love it over here. It’s very exciting for me to be back again.
Although you have played other parts of the UK with Guns N’ Roses before, you’ve yet to perform with them in Glasgow.
I’ve heard nothing but great things about Glasgow and I’m looking forward to meeting up with Scottish fans. It will be different from the shows we have performed before because I know those venues.
This year marks your third year with the band so how has the journey been so far?
It’s been surreal; it’s a dream come true. I would have never believed anyone when I was a kid that one day I would grow up to be the lead guitarist of Guns N’ Roses. It’s just surreal and I’m honoured to part of it. I’m super appreciative of the fans out there who have supported it.
Did you have trouble adjusting to begin with because you were walking into the lion’s den with everything that had happened over the years and you also had other aspects such as you’re on stage time being doubled from what you were used to?
Yeah, well I’ve played a lot of arenas in other big bands before but nothing ever like Guns N’ Roses. The fans and the production, everything about it is just first class and top notch. Axl [Rose] doesn’t do anything in a small way, it’s always go big or go home and I love that about being in Guns.
You have been very vocal about the future of Guns N’ Roses and wanting to work on new material for a new Guns N’ Roses album but we haven’t heard a lot from the other members. Have the band actually had the opportunity to sit down together and discuss it?
Yeah we have and it has become one of our main focuses. We’re working on a lot of new stuff, not only for the music but we have surprises on this tour and everyone is looking forward to getting out there and putting on a kick ass rock ‘n’ roll show. The most important thing is that I’m really looking forward to the future with this band. Getting in and writing with everybody and that’s what I’m excited about the most but when it happens has still to be decided.
What sort of surprises have you got in store for this tour?
We’ve got a new stage and a new show. Some new songs and some other fun stuff. I don’t want to give it all away when you may see it in Glasgow.
The demos that you have been working on, I know Axl has heard a lot of them.
Yes he has.
I don’t want to put words in his mouth and I don’t know yet if he feels it is ready for the album, all I know is that he really liked what he heard and I think together, as a band, we’re all looking forward to putting together what we feel will be the next best Guns N’ Roses record.
Would the material, if it didn’t work out for Guns N’ Roses, could it be used in
Oh no, this sounds like Guns N’ Roses. When I write for a particular artist, it really cannot be used for anything other than that band in my eyes.
Was there a key focus you had when writing or anything you had to do differently as you’re working within the Guns N’ Roses sound?
Well the main thing I’ve been focussing on is what’s on the album is on album. Coming in and doing a lot of the Slash parts means my big focus – I grew up a fan and there are a lot of fans out there – is to come in and do this gig as true as I can and make what I put on the album as good as I can. When kids pay their hard earned money and come out and see you, they still want to hear those old solos so I’m trying not to vary off of those too much but when I can put my taste and my blood into these songs then you will really hear what I can do with it.
Are you more eager than the others to get into the studio so you can put your personal stamp on Guns N’ Roses?
I think everyone is so talented in this band and as a band, we’re so incredibly tight, like a family, and we play insanely well together. I think if this band does put out a new record, it’s obviously going to be a lot different than ‘Chinese [Democracy]’ or anything you’ve ever heard because it is a completely new band in that aspect.
Do you feel like you have a lot to prove to the fans?
I have a lot to prove but only because I’m always trying to outdo the last thing I’ve done. I’m from the world where you are only as good as your last song and my last song just went gold with Sixx: A.M. I’m very thankful for that and how successful it has been but that’s the past and I have moved on and now I want to focus on writing an insanely great Guns N’ Roses song now. That’s kind of how I work.
You’ve just built a new large home studio after you moved?
Is that where a lot of the work is planned to happen or will everyone go their separate ways and then combine somewhere else?
That’s where I plan to do all of my work for it. Everything that I play and that I’m part of, I do a lot of what I do in my studio because it’s home to me and I’m comfortable there and I always get the best takes there. You have to be comfortable in your environment and that’s when you get everything that comes from your heart.
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