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Guns N’ Roses Guitarist DJ Ashba on Working With Axl Rose + His Friendship With Nikki Sixx

Axl Rose & DJ Ashba
Theo Wargo, Getty Images

Guitarist, songwriter, and producer DJ Ashba has seen his career skyrocket over the last few years, first as an integral part of Sixx:A.M. with Nikki Sixx and James Michael and then as the guitar player of Guns N’ Roses, joining Axl Rose on his tour across the world. Ashba recently opened up to Bravewords in an interview about his future with Guns N’ Roses, how he prepares to write for individual projects, and how Nikki Sixx and Axl Rose have become his best friends.

As far as creating new music with Axl Rose and Guns N’ Roses, Ashba says that it’s part of the plan. “I didn’t join Guns N’ Roses just to come in as a guitar player,” Ashba explains.” I’ve turned down a lot of great opportunities in life and this is the first real gig I took on outside of doing my own thing because I felt I really could bring something to the table not as a guitar player, but as a songwriter and producer.” He also talked about what a thrill it is to be in the band, saying, “That’s what gets me excited about being in the band – knowing that we have a really great shot at putting out something that’s just going to blow people’s mind. So, that’s the number one priority for everybody at this point.”

When it comes to writing new music, there is no crossover for Ashba, the material he writes for Guns N’ Roses is strictly just that, just like the material he writes for Sixx:A.M. is only for that project. He broke down his writing process, explaining, “When I write a Sixx:A.M. song – I’m writing for Sixx:A.M. When I write a Neil Diamond song – I’m writing for Neil Diamond. When I’m writing for Guns – it’s strictly for Guns. When I’m writing a country song – it’ll be a country song. It’s very easy to separate in my mind.”

The material Ashba has written for GN’R doesn’t fall into a specific era. When asked if it sounds more like music from ‘Appetite for Destruction’ or more of a different direction, Ashba said, “The stuff that I wrote is somewhere in between. I grew up as a fan and there are things that I love about Appetite that you don’t want to lose in my opinion. There are things that I absolutely love about Chinese and from A to Z makes Guns N’ Roses. So, anywhere between A and Z, I believe we’re in the ball park with it.”

Ashba also talked about his relationships with both Nikki Sixx and Axl Rose, explaining, “It’s very surreal, but they’re two of the closest friends I have. When I’m hanging out with Axl, I don’t see the guy from Appetite. I see him as my friend. I’ve never been star struck with anybody.” As for Sixx, Ashba has a lot of love, saying, “Nikki is a super dear friend who took my under his wing and really believed in me. He was one of the first people to really go out of his way to believe in me and pull me in.”

Ashba is currently finishing up a run of club dates with Guns N’ Roses before their tour heads overseas. Read the entire interview with DJ Ashba here.

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