Don’t Put All Your Eggs in One Basket: Creativity, Business And Guitar Players. Part 1: D. J. Ashba

Given the fact that I love rock and roll as much as I love cinema, and possibly even more, I have decided to write a series of posts on creativity in the music business by looking in particular at guitar players. I’ll start with a guy from a small town in Indiana, US, who made it in one of the most competitive industries and is still faithful to his motto: ‘conquer the world’.

A few days ago Guns N’ Roses and Sixx: A.M. guitarist D.J. Ashba visited GearFeast in Sweetwater, Indiana, for a guitar clinic and Q&A with the audience. He was then interviewed by Mitch Gallagher and shared advice on how to reduce risks if you work in the music business – or in any other creative industry, for that matter.

D.J. Ashba on stage.

Ashba is currently recording the next Sixx: A.M. album, a follow-up to Modern Vintage. Aside from his career as a guitar player, composer and producer, he manages a range of companies in media and advertising. During the interview he focused particularly on advice he received from his friend and band mate Nikki Sixx.

According to him, the key words are diversify and have a back plan, Ashba told Gallagher, because ‘If you put all your eggs in one basket, all you’ve gotta do is drop ’em, and they’re gonna break; and every one of ’em will break.’ If instead you set up a number of buckets in different areas, they will generate revenue streams that will balance out the businesses that are not going well.

D.J. Ashba wearing Ashba Clothes.

Ashba currently runs his own lines of clothing and accessories, Ashba Clothing and Build a Beanie; works with brands the like of Virgin Entertainment through his creative agency, Ashba Media; and has partnerships in place with Monster Energy Drinks, Ovation and Gibson Guitars, with whom he developed his own signature models.

D.J. Ashba, his signature Gibson Les Paul and limited edition Dodge Challenger.

When he’s not touring the world, you can spot him driving in Las Vegas on ‘The Death Ride’, the Dodge Challenger limited edition that West Coast Customs made exclusively for him. Not bad at all for a small town boy from Monticello who was raised in a strictly religious family with no access to television and dreamt of becoming a rock star…

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Five Reasons for Catching Up With the ‘Vikings’ TV Series

I’ve kept the promise in my post from last October and have given Vikings a chance. After watching three seasons I’m definitely happy with History’s TV series, and particularly with the passion actor Travis Fimmel puts into the role of Ragnar Lothbrok. Indeed his dedication to the character could sell the historical drama on its own.

So here is my personal (and spoiler-free) list of the reasons why I enjoyed Michael Hirst’s show and why you should ‘join the raid’ too.

Story-world: 5/5. No doubt Norse mythology has a lot to offer, and it’s not all limited to Valhalla. The series treads the fine line between supernatural elements and human relationships without really becoming a fantasy.

Ragnar, Floki and the Viking warriors (Photo credit: Bernard Walsh).

Characters: 4/5. Vikings is not all about the bromance between Ragnar and Athelstan nor the relationship between the king and his former spouse and ‘shieldmaiden’ Lagertha. The core here is the conflict between Christians and pagans, embodied by Floki above all. As the narrative explores a range of main and side roles, it gives plenty of space to strong female characters as well.

Lagertha (Katheryn Winnick).

Plot: 2/5. The series is pretty straightforward, although a couple of times it can genuinely surprise you, especially when it gets rid of some of the key characters (but bear in mind that this is not Game of Thrones).

Blood: 3.5/5. The intrinsic level of violence reaches a few peaks, most notably during rituals and pagan sacrifices (see the blood eagle), but again we are far away from HBO’s adaptation of George R. R. Martin’s fantasy novels, as well as from Spartacus.

Athelstan and Ragnar (Photo credit: Jonathan Hession).

Design: 5/5. If you think that this is all about a bunch of guys fighting in the middles of nowhere with basic props, or sailing on a couple of messy ships in a faraway sea, wait for the siege of Paris.

What about the historical accuracy? I personally never mind it. No matter how many consultants are attached to a film or a historical drama: as these remain creative projects, and the creators are free to play with historical events as much as needed to entertain their audiences. I’m not the kind of person who watches Oliver Stone’s Alexander to really learn about the life of the king of Macedon. Just saying.

Forensics: The Anatomy of Crime

It’s cool, free, and the closest experience to a proper crime scene investigation that you can (legally) get. A few years ago, when I was researching the impact of death in the media for my Ph.D. project, Forensics: The Anatomy of Crime would have been a gold mine, given the fact that it provides really invaluable insights and avoids the morbidity that usually surrounds such topics.

Maggots from the bodies of Ruxton’s victims, Moffat murders: The Trustees of the Natural History Museum.

On display at the Wellcome Collection until 21 June, the exhibition is focused on a set of areas that span forensic medicine by considering the science behind violent crimes. The investigative process tries to shed light on death by leveraging the meticulous procedures on the crime scene, the scientific methods behind the closed doors of laboratories and autopsy rooms, and the evidences showcased in the courtroom.

The Nutshell Studies of Unexplained Death: © Image courtesy of Corinne Botz and Benrubi Gallery.

I have attended Forensics a few weeks ago and I can guarantee that this is a must-see for everyone interested in procedural, people addicted to the legend of the infamous Jack the Ripper or passionate about Weegee’s street photography, and all the die-hard fans of the TV series Bones and the C.S.I. franchise.

Top tip: although it might seem a bit creepy, don’t miss the chance to listen to the sounds of a real autopsy.