To say DJ Ashba is busy would be a major understatement. SIXX AM just released a new album called Live is Beautiful and are now busying working on the follow-up to The Heroin Diaries soundtrack. DJ Ashba recently spoke with Bring Back Glam! about writing with SIXX AM and Motley Crue, his art and Crue Fest 2.
Bring Back Glam!: Alan Kovac of 10th Street Entertainment recently said in Billboard there will be a Crue Fest this summer. Will SIXX AM be a part of that tour?
DJ Ashba: I don’t know. What is comes down to is that we are working on the next SIXX AM record right now. If we get the album done in time – if everything works out time wise – you know, we would love to. We had the best time. It all depends...[we’re] not going to rush and we’re in no hurry to make a bad album. We want to take as much time as we can to make it another really good SIXX AM record.
BBG! How long have you been working on the new record?
DJ: We wrote a little during Crue Fest. You know, getting ideas. Now we’ve taken some of those ideas and we’ve been writing around the clock ever since. Things are moving pretty quickly, really good. We’re really proud of what we have. You know, we just came out with a live album [Live is Beautiful].
BBG!: What made the band want to release a live disc?
DJ: The fans are so amazing we're in a very fortunate position of being on it [Crue Fest] and all the Crue fans really accepted SIXX AM which we are very lucky they welcomed us in and the crowd responses were really amazing that we just thought we'd take a night and record [the [performance]. The cool thing about it is that people will record a live album – then fix them. We did not do that. It is what it is live and I think that's what makes it a good album. It’s wild and the mistakes are there. It’s just – we’re all running around the stage the whole time. I just got my copy and it’s really neat to hear the crowd response – singing Life is Beautiful back to us – it’s just a very cool thing. [The techs] came and just mic'ed everything down. We had a good time and after the show we mixed it down. You need to listen because some of the songs are a little different live.
BBG!: Will the new SIXX AM record feature a live drummer or programming?
DJ: SIXX AM’s never been about a band – it’s been about three songwriters, producers, that got together to write music. We recorded SIXX AM the way we do Motley – and of course Tommy came in and he just slammed. There’s something – no matter how good you are at programming – there is something about a live drummer that brings a special feel of the album which is really hard to recreate, no matter how good you are. So, I don’t know. We really haven’t gotten that far – we haven’t talked about it. We’re just programming everything like we usually do and if – at the last minute – we feel it would be cool to a have a live drummer, then we’ll bring one in.
BBG!: Sure. You used the same drummer each night during Crue Fest, yes?
DJ: Yes, we used Papa Roach’s drummer (Tony Palermo). When we play, we get different drummers. Each video features a different drummer. This gives us a chance to play with a lot of great drummers and - for us – it keeps the songs fresh and fun. You know, it’s [ SIXX AM] never been about a band. Just three friends getting together, writing, doing what we love to do. No rules, like “we have to make a hit song.” Nothing like that. In the beginning it was about getting together, having fun and bringing the Heroin Diaries to life.
BBG!: Is the writing equal between you and James and Nikki, or is it more you and James?
DJ: The thing about Nikki is that he has Motley. All three of us have many different things going. James is producing and writing around the clock for other bands and well as I am and I have a graphic design agency. We all have a lot of things. Now I am just getting into film scoring – we’re all three super busy, but SIXX AM is a labor of love. When we came together, we clicked musically. People search their whole lives for that chemistry. The first time we [SIXX AM] we’re in a room together, we wrote “Life is Beautiful.”
BBG!: Do you have that same sort of chemistry with Motley Crue?
DJ: Working with Motley is amazing. They are very much on top of their game – more than ever right now. You know, it’s very cool to work with them since Motley was the first concert I ever attended as a kid. Now I write and produce with them – and it’s just really cool for me. They are amazing friends and amazing musicians. It’s weird, but SIXX AM is like an extended family when we talk and play music.
BBG!: How did you get so involved in art?
DJ: When I was in school, the principal put me on the payroll. There were certain classes I was not good and I had no interest – like algebra – so he took me out. I was like the only one, but I got to do advanced art, which made me sort of like a teacher. I had to help the other students. I also painted the mascots on the gym floors, did all the prom backdrops. I designed the yearbooks. I would get out class and paint the weight rooms. I started at a really early age. Later I got into Photoshop and I got to work with a lot of really talented people doing websites for a lot of years. Doing logos and ads. One day I was like “you know, I should just incorporate my name and start a company.” All the people I’ve worked with – I knew I could hire them to help me. We put a big thing together – we went in and pitched [Virgin Entertainment] and we beat 110 agencies for the job. We were very lucky. I also hand picked every single person on the team. I really believe they are some of the best artists in the field. So, we do work for Virgin, Ovation [Guitars] is another account and we do a lot of work for Royal Underground. We have quite a few clients. What’s cool is that we are in a position where we can pick and chose. My thing is at the end of the day it’s my name on the line, so I really have to believe that we can do something. I need to believe in the company and believe we can help them with branding or marketing. I have to be confident that what we’d do is excellent – I’m not in the business of doing a half-assed job for any client. Each client gets 100% of our effort.
BBG!: So, which do you like better: art or music?
DJ: You know, art is like the left side of my brain, music the right. I need art in my life to get a break from music . If I didn’t have art, I’d literally drive myself up the wall and vice versa. It’s a great break for me to sit down with a pencil and start drawing. I’ve always seen music working side by side.
BBG!: Do you think the next SIXX AM album will be a cohesive story like the Heroin Diaries or will be a more traditional album?
DJ: Well, we're talking about that now. Whatever we do, it will be out of the ordinary. It won't be another Heroin Diaries, but there’s a good chance it will be wrapped around some demented concept!
BBG!: Any chance of SIXX AM playing some one-off shows this winter?
DJ: There’s a possibility of that. To be honest, our only focus is writing the new album - the best album we can write. We set the bar fairly high without even realizing it, so we have our work cut out for us. I feel really confident that what we're doing right now will really blow what the Heroin Diaries off the map. It's going to be good. As for Crue Fest 2, Motley will pick great bands and everyone that comes out will have a really good time. It’s an amazing concert. Hopefully we’ll see everybody out there. The only thing I can say for sure at this point is that we’re working on the next record.
Photo credit: Nikki Sixx. No copyright assumed.