In a new interview with SiriusXM's "Trunk Nation With Eddie Trunk", DJ Ashba once again spoke about his decision to leave GUNS N' ROSES more than six years ago. He said (as transcribed by BLABBERMOUTH.NET): "I'm a huge GN'R fan. The only reason I joined the band is because I grew up on the music, I have a ton of respect for the guys who wrote the music.
"[Singer] Axl [Rose] called me and said, 'Hey, I just wanna give you a heads up, Slash is coming back, but I want you to be a part of this,'" Ashba claimed. "Which was a really cool phone call to get. And at the time, I was going through a lot of different things with SIXX:A.M. too; SIXX:A.M. wanted to really pick up the pace and go nuts.
"For three and a half years, I played — 85 [or] 90 percent of my parts [with GUNS N' ROSES] were the Slash parts. So I didn't feel I had the brain capacity to relearn — 'cause at this point, it's muscle memory — to relearn a three-and-a-half-hour show differently than I'd been playing for the last six, seven years, it's gonna take some work. Plus I was, like, if Slash is coming back, man, this is his gig. I can happily step out. Because it's kind of the best of both worlds — I can go be in the band I helped create with [Nikki] Sixx and [James] Michael and go back to what I'm really good at doing, and that's SIXX:A.M.
"I've never been great at playing other people's stuff; it's never been my thing," Ashba added. "But if Slash was coming back, that was like the best of both worlds. It's, like, fuck, we get most of the band back, and I can go do what I wanna do too. So it worked out great. I backed out — bowed out, I should say — and I think Richard [Fortus] was the guy for that slot anyway. That was more the Richard role, I think. He fits that way better than I would have."
When DJ was asked if he ever attempted to work on new music with Axl during his time with GUNS N' ROSES, Ashba said: "Yeah, I attempted. By nature, I'm a songwriter/producer, so, of course, I'm gonna keep writing. And I wrote probably eight to ten songs with GUNS in mind, but a lot of 'em were too 'Appetite [For Destruction]' sounding. To me, as a fan, I'm, like, that's what I'd wanna hear. And so I was, like, 'I wanna write something that sounds like it came right off of 'Appetite'.' I think they hit a little too close to home, but there was a couple where he absolutely… He was, like, 'This song is dope.' For whatever reason — we were touring a lot — we never got a chance to get him in the studio or whatever. But they didn't go anywhere further than just me sending him some tracks and him going, 'Ah, this one's dope,' 'This one's cool.' [Former SKID ROW singer] Sebastian [Bach], though, heard one of them — I played [it for him] — and to this day, even when we were together last week, he's, like, 'I want that fucking song. That song is insane.'"
Ashba, who joined GUNS N' ROSES in March 2009 following the departure of Robin Finck, 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.
Ashba previously discussed his departure from GUNS N' ROSES in a November 2016 interview with "Trunk Nation With Eddie Trunk". He stated at the time: "Well, there [were] multiple reasons [why I left GN'R] — a couple that I won't go into — but the biggest reason was I needed to get back to my roots, back to what I really truly believed in, and that was playing songs I helped write with [SIXX:A.M. bandmates] James and Nikki. We [SIXX:A.M.] have five albums out [and] we have a ten-year career together. So we did a tour, 'Modern Vintage' tour, where it was, like, nineteen shows, and that tour really changed my life and put my career back into perspective — you know, being out on the stage and connecting with the fanbase."
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.
Five years ago, former GUNS N' ROSES bassist Tommy Stinson said that he found it "funny" that Ashba "made such a big deal about" quitting the band at a time when "there wasn't really anything going on" with the group. Stinson, who was in GUNS N' ROSES from 1998 until 2014, told HardrockHaven.net: "[DJ] called me up on the phone and told me that he was gonna quit, you know, and this that and the other thing… [It] seemed like it was kind of inevitable that there was going to be a reunion happening, so I think he… I don't know if he [laughs] tried to get in front of the curve to, you know, drum up some extra fucking press for himself. I don't really know what the deal was, but I thought it odd. I thought it an odd time to make a big stink about quitting, you know?"
Ashba recently released a new single "Bella Ciao", a modern-day EDM-driven makeover of the Italian folk classic fueled. 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".
Ashba is also the founder and CEO of Ashba Enterprises, where he draws upon his executive and entrepreneurial skills to run his many companies, utilizing his longtime experience and expertise from years of developing his own brand in entertainment, multimedia, touring, and merchandise. Through Ashba Media, a design and creative agency, he advises clients, including Cirque De Soleil, hotel, hospitality and entertainment industries, to create state-of-the-art custom props, themed environments for events and exhibits around the world.