GUNS N' ROSES and SIXX: A.M. guitarist DJ Ashba took part in a workshop at this year's GearFest, which was held June 12-13 at Sweetwater's campus in Fort Wayne, Indiana. You can watch video footage of his appearance below.
Speaking about how he landed the GUNS N' ROSES guitarist gig six years ago, Ashba said: "GUNS N' ROSES management called me, which, actually, was my personal manager too, so that kind of helped. But they said, you know, 'GUNS had been auditioning guitar players on the down low. They've been through over a hundred guitar players. Would you wanna come down and check it out?' And I honestly never saw myself doing it. I was, like, man, me and Axl [Rose, GUNS N' ROSES singer] are both from Indiana. I'd met him. Sharon Osbourne introduced me. When I was doing a BEAUTIFUL CREATURES record, they were next door doing the 'Chinese Democracy' record. And I was, like, 'Yeah, I'll go down. I'd love to see Axl again and say hi.' And he wasn't there, but he caught wind that I was gonna come down. And he called management and said, 'If he even shows up, he has the gig.' And that's kind of how it happened. It wasn't a real audition process, and I didn't even know that I was getting the gig. I just wanted to go down and, kind of, say hi to everybody."
He continued: "I didn't have a clue… Even after I accepted and everything, I had no idea that the shoes I was stepping into were pretty hardcore; it was a hardcore thing. I'd never read a bad thing about me on the Internet ever [before], and [now it was], like, 'You're not Slash. Fuck you!' And I'm, like, 'Oh, shit! This is a whole different thing.' I mean, that kind of blindsided me, 'cause my head wasn't even there. I was, like, 'I'm a fan of the band. I'm just trying to help keep that music alive.' But, you know, I finally slowly won those… some of them over, so it's good."
Ashba joined GUNS N' ROSES in March 2009 following the departure of Robin Finck.
Speaking to UnskinnyPop.com in May 2014, Ashba talked about what he feels is "the most misunderstood thing" about him. He said: "I don't really read a whole lot about myself other than what is on my social media stuff. People seem to know more about me than I know about me. I think people confuse me joining GUNS N' ROSES… I mean, I saw a few comments that said, 'Hey, he's trying to be Slash.' Well, that's not true in any way. I think he is his own person and I have a lot of respect for what he's done for the band as far as his guitar work and stuff. I grew up loving the band and that whole thing is kind of weird to me. I am obviously my own person and would do what anyone would do in my position and just keep the music alive, do whatever you can do to stay as true to that music as you possibly can, and I think that is the respectful thing to do. In my mind, that is where I'm coming from."
Launched in 2002, Sweetwater's free, annual GearFest is the nation's largest end-user-oriented music and pro audio festival, featuring exhibits from more than 400 manufacturers, workshops, clinics, seminars, live demos, special performances, a musician’s flea market, and much more.
This year's attendance was record-breaking, with more than 10,100 participants, up 27% over 2014.