Former GUNS N' ROSES guitarist Daren Jay "DJ" Ashba is working on his autobiography.
The 50-year-old musician, who was born in Indiana but currently resides in Las Vegas, took to his Instagram on Thursday (June 22) to write: "I am currently writing a book about the story of my life and look forward to sharing my journey with all of you! Are you ready to go down the rabbit hole with me?"
Ashba is well known as the co-founder of SIXX:A.M., and as the lead guitarist for GUNS N' ROSES (2009-2015). He has written and produced numerous hits for legendary artists, including Neil Diamond, MÖTLEY CRÜE and Debbie Gibson.
In a January 2022 interview with SiriusXM's "Trunk Nation With Eddie Trunk", Ashba spoke about his decision to leave GUNS N' ROSES eight years ago. He said: "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."
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.
In December, Ashba released the official lyric video for his latest single, "Cryptonite", featuring British singer and writer Sarah de Warren. Sarah has written for and is featured on dozens of records for A-list DJs, as well as attaining more than two million monthly Spotify listeners on her own artist project and a total 100 million streams across her songs.
Last summer, Ashba collaborated with his then-wife, an Italo-Colombian influencer Nathalia Ashba who goes by the name Natyash, on his "Malosa" single, a dance/rock hybrid he calls GDM (Guitar Dance Music).
"Malosa" was Ashba's first single since the release of "Bella Ciao", a modern-day EDM-driven makeover of the Italian folk classic. "Bella Ciao" 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".
In December 2020, Ashba told "The Mark And HooGie Show" that he isn't concerned about getting any pushback from his rock fans over the musical direction of his new venture: "Honestly, I'm at a point in my career where I could give two fucks," he said. "I could care less. If people don't like it, kiss my ass. Go listen to SIXX:A.M. If what I'm doing right now isn't rock enough, I've got a rock band. They can go listen to that then.
"My fanbase, thank God, has been, throughout my whole career, just very, very accepting," he continued. "They know me — they know I'm always trying to really push myself as an artist outside the box.
"If I had to live within this box, I'd rather honestly not play music. Playing music is a form of art, and if I can't truly be an artist and be true to what it is inside — whatever that is that keeps me going… I have to stay inspired. You can only write so many three-chord rock songs. So, to me, this is something that I'm kind of more doing for myself, and I feel like I kind of have earned that at this point in my career. And I'm just having fun.
"Surprisingly… It was weird. I was totally expecting for all my fanbase just to hate it — not get it," Ashba added. "'Cause I really, really go deep down in EDM — I stayed very, very true to the EDM sound — and I really thought they were gonna hate it, and I was okay with that. 'Cause in my mind, I'm writing this for the EDM, the young kids that go to those festivals. This is full-on festival music. And surprisingly, I got no pushback. My rock fans really, really were freaking out on it, which kind of freaked me out. I was expecting them to really not get it or maybe push it aside. But they've been nothing but supportive. I'm very thankful that they gave it a chance."
ASHBA's "Let's Dance" single featured a guest appearance by James Michael, co-founder and lead singer of SIXX:A.M., which he and DJ formed with Nikki Sixx (MÖTLEY CRÜE).
Ashba told the Las Vegas Review-Journal about the musical approach of his new effort: "I would go to a lot of EDM concerts, and their shows are so over the top and, you know, all these young kids just losing their minds, right? And the one thing that I've noticed is … it lacks guitar, you know, and I saw an opportunity, like five years ago, going, 'If I could take what I do and somehow inject it into this world.' A lot of kids are not being exposed to a lot of guitar in that world."
Although Ashba initially started work on the project as a collaboration with Michael — under the band name PYROMANTIC — it has since evolved into an Ashba solo venture, with Michael announcing in 2018 that he was stepping away from the group.
In a 2015 interview with Sweetwater editorial director Mitch Gallagher, Ashba, who also owns a company centered around media and advertising that runs various other companies, was asked what takes him in those directions. He responded: "You know, I don't know. I've always had that creative bone. My aunt and uncle invented the technology for aerosol cans, so ever since I was young… They came out with a product, when I was really young, called Pam that's like a butter spray. And I've always kind of grew up in that environment; I thought outside the box and I was really taught that it's better to create your own job than to work nine to five. So that's always been my mindset, and I just love creating."
Ashba also talked about his belief that musicians should "diversify" and have a "backup plan." He said: "I absolutely will always stand by that. If you put all your eggs in one basket, all you've gotta do is drop 'em, and they're gonna break; and every one of 'em will break. But the whole thing… and I've learned this from [SIXX:A.M. bandmate] Nikki Sixx… It's, like, you set up buckets… You set up buckets… little incomes coming in there, there, there, there, there… and, as a whole, that's how you… And if this one… these three buckets aren't doing so good this month, well, these are. So it's diversifying. But if you put all your eggs in that one bucket, and you have five months of, you know, 'God, things aren't going well,' that could really spill your eggs."