As a young kid growing up, I think most of us at one time or another had moments where people treated us poorly, or laughed at our dreams, and we couldn’t wait to show them just how wrong they were. Especially those of us who had ambitions of doing jobs that would make us famous. That desire to make those naysayers eat their words helped drive our ambitions. DJ Ashba has been down that familiar road, as a teen growing up in the small town of Fairbury, Illinois. Like so many creative teens, Ashba was something of an outcast in the small community, so it’s somewhat rewarding and surreal when he returns home to find that he’s now a hometown celebrity with his guitar picks sold in the local store.
At 38-years-old, the Sixx:A.M. and Guns ‘N Roses guitarist has certainly had the last laugh over the doubters and bullies we ‘d all like to knock down to size. The small town boy who was initially inspired to make music his life’s work after seeing a Mötley Crüe concert, has now not only co-written one of their albums (Saints of Los Angeles), but is in another dynamic band with Mötley bassist, Nikki Sixx. Then there is the blasphemous but obvious fact that were Crüe elder statesman Mick Mars ever to hang up touring with the band, Ashba would be his obvious successor.
If all that isn’t reason enough to hire a full time assistant just to pinch the man on an hourly basis, Ashba is also the guitarist for legendary rockers, Guns N’ Roses, who are currently gearing up for more tour dates and another album.
Ashba has also handled production duties for artists as varied as Drowning Pool, Marion Raven and Neil Diamond.
This is all a far leap from his debut band, the highly underappreciated Beautiful Creatures, whom he left in 2002, and his stint with BulletBoys prior to that.
This month he, Sixx and vocalist/producer James Michael released the second album from their “creative outlet” project, Sixx:A.M. The follow up to their 2007 debut, The Heroin Diaries Soundtrack, This Is Gonna Hurt finds the band opening up deeper visionary veins than ever. On the new album, Ashba and Co. have stretched well beyond the confines of their first album.
Outside of his musical “day job”, Ashba is also extremely busy with his Ashba Media empire and various other entreprenureal ventures, including AshbaSwag.com which is a full clothing line of rockstar wear for adults and now kids. He also has an extreme passion for art and all things artistic, and is about to shop an animated movie script that he wrote, with full character graphics by his team at Ashba Media. DJ calls it a “twisted love story,” and he will also score all the music for it.
This week I had an opportunity to speak with the creative madman about the new Sixx:A.M. album and how it differs from the band’s debut release. We talked about his creative efforts within Guns N’ Roses, and the misunderstood musical vision of Axl Rose, as well as what’s currently striking a nerve with him personally. And we touched on the Ted Nugent tribute record he once recorded with late friend, Randy Castillo (Ozzy Osbourne, Mötley Crüe), and the end of the world.