Former GUNS N’ ROSES guitarist DJ Ashba says that he had to be talked into auditioning for the band, claiming that he had no expectations he would end up a member of the Axl Rose-fronted group.
Ashba, who joined GUNS N’ ROSES in March 2009 following the departure of Robin Finck, told TJ Lavin‘s YouTube series “Hanging With Lavs” about his stint with the band: “I did about six years with them. I was the guy that came in and took Slash‘s spot.
“To have somebody like Axl believe in you and give you a really great shot in life is something I’ll never forget.”
Regarding how he landed the GN’R gig, Ashba said: “Katie McNeil, a great friend, a longtime friend, gave me a call. At the time, she was working with Irving Azoff, who managed GUNS. And she gave me a call and said, ‘Hey, would you wanna audition?’ I said, ‘Yeah, of course.’ So I went down. I never thought anything of it. I didn’t think I was gonna get the gig. I didn’t really think much. I just thought, ‘I just wanna go jam some GUNS songs. Who cares? And meet the guys. It’d be great.’ I had met Axl years before when I was doing a BEAUTIFUL CREATURES album on Warner Brothers, and Sharon Osbourne walked me in and introduced me to him. And we’re both from Indiana, so we kind of had a cool little bond that way.
“The night before, I remember calling Katie, my manager, saying, ‘I think I’m gonna back out,'” he continued. “I was just getting kind of cold feet. I was, like, ‘You know, it’s gonna be a lot of work. I don’t know. Blah blah blah.’ And she goes, ‘You can’t screw me over. You’ve gotta just show up.’ And I go, ‘Okay. For you, I will.’ I showed up. I get in my car [after the audition], and she calls me, and she basically said, ‘You got the gig.’ And it didn’t set in for a while. It was very surreal. And then I remember going into rehearsals, it was still surreal, because Axl never showed up. So it was, like, just jamming with the band; it was cool. And I think the first show was Tokyo Dome. Sold out. Like, sixty thousand people — I can’t remember; it was a massive show. And still, no Axl. And I was, like, ‘This is kind of weird.’ And you get used to rehearsing with the guys without Axl there. And sure enough, the lights go down, here comes Axl. And then that started a six-year journey of… We played a ton of shows and had a lot of fun. It’s a time of my life I’m never gonna forget and I’ll always cherish.”
According to Ashba, he was particularly impressed with the notoriously reclusive Rose, who is often portrayed as moody and difficult to be be in a band with.
“At the time, I never dreamt that Axl would know who I was or even knew I existed,” DJ said. “But he’s a very intelligent guy and he knows everything that’s going on in the music industry. He knows pretty much who all the hip people are coming up. He knew more about my career than I… I had forgotten about some of the things I did. That’s what impressed me about him. He was really very smart and really up on the game.”
Ashba recently claimed that he was approached about being part of GN’R‘s “Not In This Lifetime” tour, but that he declined, citing his desire to pursue SIXX:A.M. full time.
Only Rose, Slash and bassist Duff McKagan from GN’R‘s “Appetite For Destruction”-era lineup are taking part in the band’s current reunion. They are being joined by keyboardist Dizzy Reed, guitarist Richard Fortus and drummer Frank Ferrer. Also appearing with them is second keyboardist Melissa Reese.