For those who missed Guns N' Roses' stop at the AmericanAirlines Arena in Miami last October, as part of the legendary L.A. hard-rock band's first U.S. tour in more than five years, welcome to the jungle again - only this time it's more up close and personal. The group, featuring iconic singer Axl Rose and three guitarists (none of them named Slash), hits the intimate Fillmore Miami Beach on Monday night, performing lasting hits such as “Sweet Child O’ Mine,” “Paradise City,” “Patience,” “November Rain” and, of course, "Welcome to the Jungle." Guitarist DJ Ashba - who's known for his other band, Sixx: A.M. - talked to Miami.com about the new mini-tour.
Q: This gig kind of came out of nowhere, right? How did it come together?
A: Yeah, we kept adding a couple new ones. I don't really know a whole lot about it yet - we're still trying to get all the logistics of everything ourselves.
Q: So what can we expect from the show?
A: You know, what's cool about this little run we're doing is everything's so intimate. It's little, small venues and smaller stages, so it's a stripped-down show, and we're just playing a lot of random songs, just pulling them out of a hat just for fun. And the crowd's closer and it's just more intimate.
Q: By random songs, do you mean covers, or maybe something by Sixx: A.M.?
A: Oh, we would never do that - nice try [laughs]. But stuff off of "[G N' R] Lies" and different things, plus covers. It's been a lot of fun for me to play on smaller stages. I love it and it frustrates me at the same time - I love being really close to the fans, and that's the best part of it. And the hard part is getting used to being on a small stage again and not running into each other. I mean, we love to run and jump off of stuff. It's still a big, huge arena show in a small club, so it's really cool.
Q: Axl's vocal parts are not easy at all. How's his voice right now?
A: Oh, he sounds killer, you know? I think he's singing better than ever. He was sick the last show and you would have never known it, which, uhh, I don't know how he does it for three hours a night - that baffles me still.
Q: You guys have three guitarists - does that ever pose any problems?
A: No, not at all - it's actually kind of fun. Obviously with Sixx: A.M., I'm the only guitar player, but in this band it's cool to share the stage with two other brilliant guitar players. So you can learn a lot off each other, and it's been a lot of fun trading off solos, and everybody just plays whatever's the best part for the song. We've been having a blast, actually.
Q: You joined the band only about three years ago - how did that happen?
A: I got a call after just getting off of Crue Fest with Sixx: A.M. "Life is Beautiful" was No. 1 and I walked in the door and got a call from management, and she wanted to know if I'd like to come down and try out - they were auditioning on the down-low for about a year and a half. I said yeah, sure, and didn't think much of it because I had Sixx: A.M. and stuff, but I thought it'd be cool. And Axl caught wind that I was gonna come down, and he called management and said if he even shows up, he has the gig. So it was that easy in a weird way. But it took a lifetime to get that phone call, I guess.
Q: Is it true that you collaborated with Neil Diamond?
A: I did, yeah. I co-produced and co-wrote some songs on "A Cherry Cherry Christmas" - he has a Christmas album out, and we had a blast together. I've always been a huge fan of Neil. I've worked with a lot of artists, and he's just a delight to work with, just amazing. So it was a time I'll never forget, for sure.
Q: So does that mean Guns N' Roses might break out a cover of "Cracklin' Rosie?"
A: [Laughs] Maybe. You know, I had a little pot-bellied pig called Crackle - the sound bacon makes.