DJ ASHBA (guitarist of Sixx: A.M.)
`Sixx: A.M. will be one of the biggest headlining arena acts around.’
Ten years ago Sixx: A.M. started as a side, studio project of three close friends: bass player Nikki Sixx, guitarist DJ Ashba and singer/producer James Michael. Three talented and experienced well-known musicians from L.A. who just wanted to be creative together and who wrote a bunch of songs that unexpected became an instant hit. This was pure musical magic but despite of the success of their debut `The Heroin Diaries Soundtrack’ and follow up albums `This Is Gonna Hurt’ and `Modern Vintage’, as well as the hit singles ,,Life Is Beautiful’’, ,,Tomorrow’’, ,,Lies Of The Beautiful People’’ and ,,This Is Gonna Hurt’’, the demands of the expanding, hungry fan base weren’t easy to answer. Nikki Sixx was still stuck to his band Mötley Crüe and DJ Ashba had his obligations to Guns N’ Roses. But the wait is over because with Mötley Crüe now officially buried and DJ Ashba quitting his job with Axl Rose and Co, nothing stands in the way of Sixx: A.M. becoming priority number one! With the recent release of new, fourth album `Prayers For The Damned, Vol.1’ and a massive worldwide tour scheduled all the doors are wide open. HeadBangers Lifestyle was present at the show in Tivoli/Vredenburg, Utrecht (The Netherlands) and had the chance to talk with DJ Ashba about a dream come true with Sixx: A.M., the future plans of the band, his desire to create and being a businessman.
Is Sixx: A.M. actually a dream come true for you?
,,Yes, it is a dream come true! It really is and I can tell you that Sixx: A.M. is a trip! It all happened organically and we are here because of the fans. The fans never gave up on us. With every album we put out, they constantly, continually call the radio stations and drive our songs up to number one. Eventually the demand got so big to where we had to start weighing out the options. Nikki and me were in two of the biggest bands in the world, Guns N’ Roses and Mötley Crüe, and it was like: Oh my god this little side band is becoming big and we got a huge catalogue of hit songs, you know. At some point you kind of scratch your head and go: Well wait a second maybe this does deserve that attention. We both made the decision to refocus our attention to Sixx: A.M.’’
So what you are actually saying is that Sixx: A.M. happened spontaneously and there was never a plan on forehand?
,,We are all songwriters and producers and ten years ago we came together as best friends and start working together on different projects, but we never wanted to do a band. Nikki and me originally started Funny Farm Studios to just write and produce for other artists. I remember he brought his diaries in one day and we started to talk about how cool it would be to bring this to life musically. We started writing a bunch of songs and then James came into the mix. It became a soundtrack of Nikki’s book `The Heroin Diaries’ and the original idea was to put this CD in the back of his book. It was never going to be a band releasing this CD! But then the management got a hold of it and sent the song ,,Life Is Beautiful’’ to the radio stations and it went number one! They said: You guys are now a band and ten years later we are still popping out records [laughing].’’
Why did you decide to make the new Sixx: A.M. release `Prayers For The Damned’ a double album and releasing it as Volume 1 and Volume 2 not at the same time?
,,Well, you know we are making up for last time. We’ve made artistic albums in the past because we never wrote songs with the intention of playing them live. But just because we never toured it doesn’t mean we didn’t want to. We have always wanted to tour this thing. We have very theatrical songs and we always dreamed about bringing a very theatrical show to the stage, bringing these songs to life visually as well. We have a lot of huge goals and plans on doing so. This time we went into the studio with the intention of making a double album, because we knew we’re going to be touring from here on now as Sixx: A.M. and we wanted to be honest. So now we went in, brought our live band and said: Let’s make two just flat out, just ass kicking albums, big arena rock style! Now we have these songs to pull from when we play live shows. It is done very intentionally. We wanted to make two independent albums that complemented each other, because double albums sometimes get a bad wrap. The first album is awesome and the second one contains leftovers and we didn’t want that. That is something we really focused on, making sure that we didn’t become that one band that puts out a double album and have a shitty second record in it. In fact I think our second album, Volume 2, is better than Volume 1.’’
When can we expect Volume 2 to be released?
,,We are hoping the end of this year or the very beginning of 2017. It all depends on timing of singles. We are gonna put out the song ,,Prayers For The Damned’’ next as our second single but all of a sudden our first single ,,Rise’’ just keeps hanging in there at the top of the charts. This song is really taking a life of its own.’’
The star of Sixx: A.M. is rising. Where do you like to see Sixx: A.M. in lets say five years?
,,God, in five years I am hoping by then we’ve won a couple of Grammys and hopefully we are bringing that magical theatrical show visually to the stage and headlining arena’s. I feel in my heart by then we will be one of the biggest headlining arena acts around. I really do.’’
With Guns N’ Roses you are used to play big arena’s. How do you feel about playing in smaller venues with Sixx: A.M. as well?
,,We love it! Yeah, I do! In fact we do a thing called `Hit And Run’. On stage we text or tweet `Hit And Run’ and fans know what that means; We put hit and run out by the tour busses, so after the show all the fans got to the tour busses and we play some extra acoustic songs for them. It’s fun. We just love to play, to write, to create and we love our fans more than life. We are very grateful that we have such a dedicated fan base.’’
You are not only a musician but you are also a businessman. Isn’t that two different worlds?
,,My whole thing is as a businessman I run two very, very successful companies; a clothing line called Ashba Clothing (Ashbaclothing.com). Actually I just launched my first retail store in Las Vegas at the second floor of the Stratosphere Hotel & Casino Tower Shops. The store is looking very beautiful and it is doing really well. And I have a company called Ashba Media. We do tons of 3D displays for Cirque Du Soleil and we are doing just massive displays for Sebastian Professional, Wella, all the hair product companies. We built 12-foot hairspray cans, just crazy things. We also do a lot of stuff for the TV show ‘Tanked’ on Animal Planet.’’
Why did you decide to start your own clothing line?
,,It is a good question. Back in the day with my old band Beautiful Creatures, we used to shop in the women’s section because there were no cool clothes for guys. There was just absolutely nothing cool. So we bought women’s clothes, tear them up and made them cool looking, wearing big high heel boots and stuff with it. Tie up fishnets and just be real creative with how we dressed. That kind of led to starting my own clothing line. I am an artist, I love to draw, I love artwork and I just have my own cartoon in the newspaper. I own my media companies. To me I just love to do illustrations and graphic art on fabric now. We also have the big baggy beanies and you can even build your own beanie. Pick whatever patches you want from our catalogue and we hand sew them right on the spot in the store for you.’’
What are your personal norms and values?
,,I am such a perfectionist. Oh my god! Yeah I am the kind of guy that walks in, takes a look around and see every little flaw that not many people notice. So when I am creating things it just have to be perfect.’’
If you had to describe the person DJ Ashba in one sentence, what would it be?
Is there ever silence in your head?
,,Unfortunately not and I have a hard time going to bed because the sound of my head creating keeps me awake.’’
What do you like to do when you have free time to reload your batteries?
,,I love spending time with my wife Nathalia. Me and her just have a blast and we usually travel. She is from Colombia but she moved to Italy when she was fourteen. Half of her family still lives in Colombia so we are always going back and forth. We play with our three dogs and we like to go shoot guns and things like that, but most of the time when I am in town I am always creating. I just love it. It is not like work to me. If I don’t create I’ll freak out.’’
What is on your creative to do wish list?
,,I definitely want to get heavier into TV and film. I would like to host my own TV show, no reality show but like a tattoo show or something, and I would like to do some acting. I have scored some movies and I am getting more into scoring as well. I just did the theme song for `The Green Inferno’, an Eli Roth movie. I am really intrigued by the TV and film world. I have been in the music industry my whole life so that is gonna be a natural progression for me.’’
Did you ever face a writer’s block or are you afraid of facing one?
,,I used to be, sometimes as a young writer you would almost try force out an idea and you just learn as you mature you never force it. You know if it is not there you don’t beat yourself up. The one thing I noticed is like, okay it is not gonna happen today and you walk away from it and if you don’t beat yourself up what you notice if you come back all of a sudden the gates are open and it just flows. I have never tried to force an idea, I just let it happen. It will come when it is supposed to come. I feel like I am more of a channel for whatever it is out there. I feel like everything is already been written because I hear it. I hear the full song in my head, I hear every little detail in my head.’’
The sky is the limit for you?
,,Yes it is. But I think it should be for everybody. It frustrates me when somebody goes: Uuuh, you know I just work in a bakery, or I am just a thrash man. Hey, I am not just a guitar player. In fact guitar is probably the thing I do the least, it is kind of a hobby. I have done really well with my hobby [laughing] but at the same time I am so passionate about so many things. I love all the things I do and I love creating and I love entertaining people.’’
Follow DJ Ashba on Facebook and visit the website of Sixx: A.M. to keep updated.