DJ Ashba, who joined GUNS N' ROSES in March 2009 following the departure of Robin Finck, spoke about his time with the Axl Rose-fronted outfit in a new interview with Mark Dean of Antihero Magazine. The guitarist said: "I didn't know what to expect. I was hoping that one day Slash would come back, and the reason I took the gig is that, honestly, I was — no disrespect to Buckethead [former GUNS N' ROSES guitarist Brian Carroll, who was in the band between 2000 and 2004] or anybody — but seeing a guy run around with a chicken bucket on his head, it's, like, to me, that took the coolness out of the band that I grew up loving, and that's one of the main reasons I wanted to get in there and try to do whatever I could do to get justice, bring back that reckless rock and roll vibe of what Slash was all about and GUNS N' ROSES was all about. To me, it was in a sense losing that thing that I loved about the band. And I love Buckethead as a guitarist. No disrespect at all — it's just, in my opinion, he didn't really fit the band."
Asked if he was disappointed when he found out that Slash was returning to GUNS N' ROSES and his time with the band was over, Ashba said: "Absolutely not. Actually, Axl wanted me to stay on board, and it's one of those things where I was playing most of the Slash parts, and if he was coming back, that was great news for me as a fan and even better news for me as a musician, because it was never my band. I was just basically filling in till the big guy came back. But it allowed me to really experience a band on a level like no other, and I learned a lot of stuff about performing live on that magnitude. To me, it was great news, because I was going to go off and do what I'm doing now and that was to create and carve my own path.
"I've always been a big, big believer in not following in people's footsteps, and I get more pride and joy [out of doing my own thing]," he continued. "Even if this thing never gets to that level, at least I'm cutting my own path and doing something really unique and, to me, as an artist, that's awesome."
Read the entire interview at Antihero Magazine.
A year ago, GUNS N' ROSES guitarist Richard Fortus talked about what it was like to work with Buckethead for a couple of years in the early 2000s. The eccentric musician, who wears a fried-chicken bucket on his noggin and talks only through a hand puppet, quit GUNS N' ROSES in 2004 after becoming fed up with GUNS' inability to complete an album or tour, his manager told MTV at the time.
"Bucket is very musical, but I think a lot of guys like that — phenomenal, prodigious talent — they're not necessarily… I think Bucket's music is great," Fortus said. "What he does on his own, he's out there, but he did understand how to make three guitars work, and that's a very difficult thing. And he would lay out and just stand there and be weird and Bucket-y, and then he would come in on the choruses, and it would be huge. He got that; he understood that. [He's] a phenomenal talent. But the thing is, socially, guys like Bucket spend so much time in their bedroom practicing that they don't really — it's just different for them socially.
"Being in a band, you've gotta relate to people," Fortus continued. "And I think Bucket struggled with that. I always got along with him, but I think he really had a tough time with that."
Ashba issued a statement in July 2015 saying that he was leaving GUNS N' ROSES "to dedicate myself to my band SIXX:A.M., my adoring wife and family, and to the many new adventures that the future holds for me." He later 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 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.
Ashba recently launched a dance/rock hybrid called GDM (Guitar Dance Music) with his ASHBA project. His latest release is a single called "Bella Ciao", a modern-day EDM-driven makeover of the Italian folk classic. The song marked Ashba's first release of 2021 and followed a series of tracks that were released in late 2020 through Edgeout Records/UMG/UMe, including "Hypnotic", "Let's Dance" and "A Christmas Storm".