Multi-Platinum recording artist, DJ Ashba, has been kicking ass and taking names. Ashba is well-known for his stint as lead guitarist in Guns N’ Roses, co-founding the atomic, hard rock band, Beautiful Creatures and releasing chart topping hits with Sixx A.M. From humble, Mid-western beginnings to selling out stadiums, sharing the stage with some of rock n’ roll’s greatest; DJ Ashba has built his empire from nothing. Not only is Ashba an established musician, he also has his hand in several business ventures and is the CEO of his own company, Ashba Media.
1. Your beginning as a guitarist was in the Hollywood rock scene. You played with BulletBoys and then started Beautiful Creatures with Joe Leste’. But even before that you released an Instrumental album on your own. Can you tell us about those early days?
I moved to LA when I was 21. I joined a cover band called Barracuda and played every shit ass bar that would book us. I played anywhere and everywhere and gradually built a name for myself. I was working a construction job and was playing my boss some demos that I was working on. The guy that we were doing some work for overheard the tunes and signed me to his indie label. I released my first instrumental album entitled “Addiction to the Friction” I believe there were only 2000 copies printed.
James Kottak played drums on it and Jerry Dixon and Bruce Robinson played bass. I think it sold about 3 copies. Ha! I was approached by Lonnie (Vincent) from the BulletBoys to fill in for their guitarist for a tour so I did and that’s where I met Joe Leste’ from Bang Tango. Joe and I clicked and started a new band called
Beautiful Creatures which eventually was signed to Warner Brothers.
2. I met you during the Beautiful Creatures era. BC seemed to have a heavier sound then its sunset strip counterparts was this due to you being younger and newer to the scene then the other members?
We were out for blood. Being from a small town I felt like I had something to prove. The music Joe and I created was raw, rude rock n roll, served on a silver platter.
3. With many of your projects you have been surrounded by some of rock’s most heavy hitters.
Like Nikki Sixx, Joe Leste’, Axl Rose to name a few. How do you seem to always hold your own around rock royalty and not just get thrown in the “hired gun” category?
I have always put my heart and soul into everything I do. I have truly had an incredible career and am beyond grateful for all of the great artists that I’ve had the pleasure of working with over the years. You have to constantly grow as an artist. Evolving is the key.
4. How did playing with Guns-N-Roses come about?
A song I co-wrote with my band Sixx:A.M. called 'Life is Beautiful' was at the top of the charts when I got a call from my longtime friend and manager (at the time) Katie McNeil-Diamond. She asked me if I would like to audition for G'N’R. Of course I said yes, and the rest is history.
5. How was working with Axl and Guns-N-Roses?
In-fuckin-credible. I will always be grateful for the insane opportunity that Axl gave to me. I seriously can’t thank him enough for not only his friendship but for believing in me so much. He put together some of the most insane players that I’ve ever had the pleasure of working with. Nothing but mad respect for him, the band, the crew and team Brazil. It’s awesome to see Slash & Duff back up there with him.
6. You seem to have your hands in so many different things other than music; Ashbaland, Ashba
Media, Ashba Clothing and Ashba water. Tell us a little about each of these companies and what else you have going?
Ashbaland Studios is my recording studio where I have written and recorded a ton of music over the years. I started ASHBA MEDIA - The Creative Agency in 2003. Virgin hired ASHBA Media as their 'Agency of Record’ for all of their Mega-Stores world-wide. Over the years the company evolved into a powerhouse company that now focuses on creating 3D environments for global corporations. The Creative Agency is an elite group of award winning artist. Visit us: www.ashbamedia.com. ASHBAClothing was created in 2008, with one t-shirt design and a vision. 10 years later we have 400 plus products, 62 vendors and a flagship store in Las Vegas at the Stratosphere Hotel and Casino. We now ship to every country in the world, and have built a brand that is known through-out the world. Visit us:
www.ashbaclothing.com. ASHBA Water is my latest passion. It’s no secret that there is a shortage of good, healthy, quality water in this world. So my mission is to bottle high quality natural spring water and for every bottle sold, donate a portion of the proceeds to implement projects through-out Latin America communities living in poverty that lack basic services such as housing, electricity and water. Visit us: www.ashbawater.com.
7. Let’s talk about your playing style. You seem to come from a rock background but with a new flavor and attitude. Tell us a little about your musical beginnings, why you chose guitar and how you describe your sound?
I started out on piano when I was about 3. My mom was a classical piano player and taught me at a young age. I did my first recital at the age of 5 in-front of a church audience. I played Beethoven’s ‘Ode to Joy’. I started playing drums at the age of 6, my mother would always play Elvis in the house. I fell in love with the guitar when I heard Scotty Moore (guitarist for Elvis) play. My life changed when I heard Eddie Van Halen. I de-tasseled corn for an entire summer to buy my first guitar for $180.00 out of the Sears catalog. I developed my style / sound over many years of experimenting. I have always been intrigued by melody. I have always been obsessed with finding new ways to make the guitar sound different than what I’ve heard in the past. I really started developing my own style and sound during the recording of the Beautiful Creatures album. It was very natural to use the wah pedal as more of a kick drum, creating rhythmic pattern to riff to. I have always used my foot on the wah as a way to create even more emotion. Don’t even get me started on the whammy! ha!
8. You came to Schecter a few years ago, what was the deciding factor for coming to us?
I have designed my own signature guitars for Ovation and Gibson. I learned a lot over the years of touring. What works and what doesn’t. As an entertainer I wanted precision, perfection, playability, tone and durability. Ultimately, I wanted to have a company build the perfect guitar to fit my playing style. Schecter blew my mind! I have never worked with a company that is all about the artist and their needs. As you know the headstock of any guitar defines the company. It’s their trademark. I am a very creative person and wanted something that no one else had. I wanted to design my own headstock, my own body, my own guitar from head to toe. Schecter welcomed my artistic vision, without question. They gave me the freedom to design the perfect guitar. From the custom crow inlays to my very own headstock. The best part is when they sent me the prototype it was flawless. I was beyond blown away by their attention to detail; they are hands down the best guitar builders in the business.
9. You have a new project Pyromantic. Explain it to us.
Pyromantic is my dream project. Hard-core dance beats with slammin’ guitars and killer vocals with a dash of EDM! I’m always pushing myself musically and I look forward to using ‘Pyro' as my musical vehicle to collaborating with artists that I respect.
10. How has the music industry changed since you first started?
The internet changed the business IMO in a good way. Now more than ever artists can finally use the internet to their advantage and put out their own music. Everything is digitally released now a days! it’s awesome.
11. What would you say to an up and coming guitarists starting out in this new music climate?
I would tell them to learn the business and how it all works. Don’t F’ people over on your way up, because you will see them on your way down. This business is small, be grateful and never take it for-granted. Be true to yourself and the music you create.
12. What does the future hold for you?
I have so many goals in the near future that I still want to conquer. Stay tuned, I’m just getting started!