Ever since Guns N' Roses announced their first Indianapolis concert in almost 20 years for this Thursday, nine out of the ten people I've spoken to about it have something negative to say. Yeah, yeah, W. Axl Rose is fully responsible for a lot of this negative sentiment. After all, he is a man who thinks nothing of starting a show two hours late.Hell, he has not shown up for entire toursin the past. This is also the man who broke up his band because he wanted to be more like Elton John or Freddy Mercury, and started wearing fishnet shirts and spandex boy shorts. This is a guy who incited riots that caused hundreds of thousands of dollars worth of damage to venues after walking off stage.
Yet, no one can deny that, despite his disastrous proclivities, Axl is one of rock's all-time greatest vocalists, if for no other reason than because he is the last lead vocalist of his kind. He is a prima donna, but he is not afraid to get his hands dirty.
He rebuilt a new Guns N' Roses with former Replacements bassist Tommy Stinson and a revolving door of guitarists. It took 14 years to release the follow up to Use Your Illusion, and when it was finally done, the response shook the music industry.
That follow up, Chinese Democracy, isn't a bad record. The tracks "I.R.S" and "Shackler's Revenge" are killer punches of heaviness, while "Sorry" and "Street of Dreams" continue Rose's quest to write the ultimate power ballad (a la "Don't Cry" and "November Rain"). If you love rock and roll music, it should be mandatory to be in Conseco Fieldhouse Thursday night, despite any negative feeling you may have about Bill Bailey (Rose's given name).
I recently had a few minutes with Dj Ashba, the newest member of the group.He spoke with me before a recent Canadian stop. Ashba was born in Monticello, Ind. and earned money for his first guitar in a truly Hoosier way -- by detasseling corn as a teenager. He eventually made it to L.A., where he joined The BulletBoys.
In the 2000s, he formed Beautiful Creatures and then hooked up with Nikki Sixx in Sixx A.M. Ashba also penned most of Motley Crue's last album, Saints of Los Angeles. Outside of his tenures in Guns N' Roses and Sixx A.M., Ashba also runs Ashba Media, which, among other things, is responsible for thedesign of Virgin Megastores and Ovation guitars.
NUVO: How's it feel to be coming home?
Ashba: It feels great. I love coming home.
NUVO: You've come a long way from the cornfields...
Ashba:Yeah, but those corn fields are where I learned a great set of values and mores that have sustained me. I learned the importance of hard work in making dreams come true.
NUVO: Your first concert was with Motley Crue and now you are bandmates with Nikki Sixx. How did that first show affect you?
Ashba: It made up my mind for me that I was going to be in the rock and roll business. There was nowhere else to go at that point. From then on, I set out to make my dreams happen.
NUVO: How did you get the call to join Guns N' Roses? Did your Indiana ties help?
Ashba: The management called me up. I'd met Axl a few times at that point, but I think I was asked to join because of my involvement in the Hollywood scene.
NUVO: Tell me about the current tour.
Ashba: This tour is amazing. The production is killer and the band just sounds incredible. We are doing stuff from all three periods of G n' R. I don't think anybody's going home disappointed.
NUVO: How long are we going to have to wait before the show starts?
Ashba: Actually, we been pretty good about starting on time during this tour. But, y'know this is Guns N' Roses so you can never be certain. [chuckles]
NUVO: What do you do when you see Slash?
Ashba: I've actually had dinner with Slash, and y'know, it's cool. I always put myself in the fans' shoes. They come to see all of those great Appetite songs, and who am I to change it up? I'm a fan too, so my motivation is to stay true to Slash's sound.