Kristyn Clarke of UnskinnyPop.com recently did an interview with GUNS N' ROSES' and SIXX: A.M. guitarist Daren Jay "DJ" Ashba. A couple of excerpts from the chat follow below.
On being "one of the very nicest and most down-to-earth artists" UnskinnyPop.com has had the pleasure of speaking to:
Ashba: "I love the work, you know, I love working. It's one of those things, you know it's funny, I was just having the conversation last night about and somebody asked me that same thing. 'We grew up watching you here, on TV, Internet, etc., and when we talk to you, you are so open.' I take it as a huge compliment. I think people throughout my life have left huge impressions. People who were exactly like who you wished they were and then I've met people who have really bummed me out, so I figured I never want to make a fan feel the way that this guy just made me feel. I think that stuck with me and I know that this could all be taken away tomorrow. I think the minute that you aren't grateful in life, you know… I am very thankful and I know without the fans I wouldn't be able to do what I love doing for a living."
On being part of a legendary band like GUNS N' ROSES:
Ashba: "Everything about it is still surreal to me. Every once in awhile, I have to pinch myself. It is usually not until someone asks me that question do I stop to think about it, as I am so caught up in work. Yeah, it is surreal, especially looking over when I go up to sing 'Paradise City' and Duff [McKagan] is there singing with me, it's, like, 'Woah!' Then I look over at Axl [Rose], and yeah, it's very surreal and very cool and an amazing time."
On whether fans can expect to hear any new music from GUNS N' ROSES in the not-too-distant future:
Ashba: "When I joined the band five years ago, they had three albums' worth of material recorded. There is a ton of stuff that nobody has heard that is really, really good. Of course, I am a songwriter, producer, and so are a lot of the other guys, so everyone has their pile of songs. It is to the point where we don't have a lack of material, we have an abundance, and we have to really sit down and sift through it and make the best sense of it all."
On the status of the long-awaited third SIXX: A.M. album:
Ashba: "We are shooting for our first single to be released by the end of this year and then the brand new album will hit at the beginning of 2015. At least that is what we are shooting for."
On whether SIXX: A.M. will tour in support of the upcoming CD:
Ashba: "We are working on getting it out there live. We know the fans have been dying to see the band and we've been dying to get out there and play too, but, you know, Nikki [Sixx, SIXX: A.M. mainman and MÖTLEY CRÜE bassist] has MÖTLEY and I have GUNS and I'm producing a lot of other bands… When SIXX: A.M. started out, everyone forgets that we were never really a band per se, we weren't, like, 'Hey, let's start a band!' It just became this monster and we kind of just got together as three best friends who were writers and producers and wrote an album together for fun and had no idea that it was going to have the impact it did, so we weren't really all prepared to say, 'Hey, let's go tour.' I mean, we do not even have a drummer to this day… We are excited to get out there though."
On his guitar-playing style and mastering the GUNS N' ROSES catalog, giving the songs his own flair while still remaining true to the originals:
Ashba: "I think that somebody's style comes from how they are playing, not what they are playing, so I think my style pops through. But the thing is I realize how important this job is and how important it is to the fans to hear those songs, just like it is for me. Don't forget, I was a fan of GUNS N' ROSES and I love the band and I love the songs. I grew up listening to GUNS N' ROSES just like everybody else, so I kind of approach it, like, 'How would I want someone else to approach it?' is the question I ask myself. If I saw this new guy on stage, would I want him to stay as true to those songs as possible? It's kind of easy once you take those shoes off and look at it that way. I try to stay as true to the songs as I possibly can and I look at the future as to where I can really put my stamp on the band."
On "the most misunderstood thing" about him:
Ashba: "I don't really read a whole lot about myself other than what is on my social media stuff. People seem to know more about me than I know about me. I think people confuse me joining GUNS N' ROSES… I mean, I saw a few comments that said, 'Hey, he's trying to be Slash.' Well, that's not true in any way. I think he is his own person and I have a lot of respect for what he's done for the band as far as his guitar work and stuff. I grew up loving the band and that whole thing is kind of weird to me. I am obviously my own person and would do what anyone would do in my position and just keep the music alive, do whatever you can do to stay as true to that music as you possibly can, and I think that is the respectful thing to do. In my mind, that is where I'm coming from."