With one of the most hardcore fan bases in the history of American rock and roll, Guns N’ Roses is undoubtedly a legendary group. A group so beloved and revered, in fact, that when lead guitarist Dj ASHBA joined in 2009, he was terrified of disappointing the fans that have been waiting in lines, buying millions of albums, and worshipping band posters since the group’s conception in 1985. But ASHBA’s been a musician since age three, and it turns out the born-to-play guitarist had absolutely nothing to worry about.
Despite the fears of letting down loyal fans, ASHBA’s transition into the band was a smooth one. “It’s a dream come true and very surreal at the same time,” ASHBA explains. “It all happened very organically [and] it just seemed to be a perfect fit,” he adds. Even though he hasn’t been a member for that long, ASHBA says the chemistry of Guns N’ Roses is something money can’t buy. “Axl wasn’t f*cking around when he put this band together,” he says.
One of the lead guitarists of the group, ASHBA feels at home with this instrument in hand. When he was just a kid, he experimented with the drums, the piano, and many other instruments–but when he picked up a guitar for the first time, he knew he’d never want to put it down. “It felt like my third arm,” he explains, “because I became obsessed with it I couldn’t put it down. It was the one instrument that I could pick up and express the emotion that I felt inside.”
Not only a talented musician, but also a gifted entrepreneur with a definite knack for business, ASHBA founded his own media company, ASHBA Media in 2003. The company was created as an agency of record for Virgin megastores worldwide and involved primarily branding and marketing, but has since evolved. Today, ASHBA media includes Dj ASHBA’s own clothing line, ASHBA Swag, and a car company, ASHBA Automotive Group.
His entrepreneurial spirit, ASHBA explains, stems from one simple belief: “I’ve always believed it’s better to create your own work then to work for someone else. It is very expensive and stressful being the CEO, yet gratifying at the same time.”
With success at every corner, ASHBA seems to be living the dream–a dream that, when he was younger, felt very distant. Abused by his father almost his entire life, ASHBA struggled with violence and bullying while he was growing up. A cause close to his heart, it’s something ASHBA works very hard to prevent and has recently partnered with Bullyville.com to promote its anti-bullying campaign. “I felt like this was the perfect opportunity to finally come out and tell my story as hard as it was in hopes to help many other people out there in [a] similar situation,” he explains.
ASHBA’s message to bullies? “I got one word karma,” he says. “You attract in life what you put out. You have to understand we’re all created equal and we’re all put on this planet for a very short period of time. Together we all can make this a better safer place,” he adds.
With a lot on his plate these days, ASHBA has no plans to take it easy. Guns N’ Roses just returned from their three month Summer European Tour and plan to tour again very soon. But for now, he’s in the studio, “writing songs around the clock” and focusing on the new album.