Former Guns N’ Roses guitarist DJ Ashba discussed his paycheck in a new Action Figures interview. Ultimate-Guitar transcribed his comments.
“Oh, ridiculous, yeah. And I was smart – I saved, saved, and tucked it away. And I saved because, in my mind, nothing lasts forever.
“That rollercoaster is eventually going to come down and get you prepared for the next turn, and I wanted to make sure that I didn’t make the same mistakes as before.
“The quarter-million dollars before I blew through because I thought I was rich – it comes and goes, so I learned through that whole process. And I’ve always had bad credit growing up, and I remember trying to get credit cards back home and always get denied.
“And then again, I was like, ‘If I’m gonna make it in this world, I’m gonna have to do it off of debit cards, not credit cards.’ And to this day I still haven’t used a credit card in my life.
“It forced me to go, ‘If I don’t have the money for it, then I’m not buying it.’ And I had to turn away from a lot of things I would have loved to put on credit cards, but that’s another thing I’m thankful for. It really helped me manage money and figure out that side of things growing up.”
I find that extremely admirable. I’ve seen your house, the Lamborghini, that says something about you as a person where you’re like, ‘I’m willing to dig deep and invest in myself.’
“I wanted a McLaren five years ago, but I was smart enough to go, ‘I love sports cars, but I can buy this Lamborghini.’ I could’ve easily went out and just blew money and bought a McLaren five years ago – no problem.
“But I wanted to make sure that financially you never want to spend more than you’re making. You just want to budget, so now it’s kind of – grow it, grow it, grow it. And it grows, and when you can buy a McLaren without losing a wink of sleep, then you go buy your McLaren.
“I think the worst stress in the world is money stress, so, you know, that’s one thing where I was like, ‘I never want to have that stress, ever.’
“In my head, I’m like, I still need money to run this company, and this company, and this company, and to me, the people that take care of me are, my kickass team around me, my employees, I’m just a visionary, and these guys are working their asses off and creating.
“Creating just mind-blowing 3D environments and all the cool stuff we do because we went from a graphic company [Ashba Media] into – again, I had a vision when I moved here, Cirque knocked on my door, Cirque du Soleil, Lou, the head of marketing there.
“And he’s like, ‘I love what you did for Virgin, we’d like to see if we can get you into Cirque.’ And at that time, I had this crazy idea as I’ve always been into props, and it’s always intrigued me, molding and sculpting.
“Ever since I was in school, I would be in those classes and art doing all that, and I was trying to figure out, ‘How can I take the vision in my head and make it tangible?’
“And I kind of took the same path with the Media – we were once just digital, so how do I take that off the paper and to where we can physically take a picture next to it and touch it?
“It kind of took off from there, and kind of crossing those two things, Ashba Media just skyrocketed, so it was the right move. I figured it out by many, many, many mistakes, a lot of failures, and I learned a lot along the way.
“I’ve never been to business school ever, I never wanted to be a CEO – I just hated having a job so bad, somebody telling me what to do, that I go, ‘I want to be my own boss because I hate coming to work and I hate being fired.’
“So I figured it out; I’m still figuring it out, there’s still stuff we learn every single day here, going, ‘Oh, we have to have that insurance? What?’ And you learn, so it’s a never-ending learning curve, I think.
“It’s been fun, man, it’s been awesome to see this company just blow up, and now every client we have is a billion-dollar client.
“I mean, they’re just massive companies we’re working for, they’re putting their trust in our company because to me, there’s something about it when your name’s on that door.
“Nothing leaves this place unless it is flawless, so even though we’re growing, we still have that small, little company mentality to where we’re a family here, and our work to us means more than any paycheck could, ever.
“So stamping that A logo on something means everything to me, whether I’m designing a water bottle, a guitar, or the next big display. It’s like one of those things where we really put our heart and soul and everything on the table for this thing.
“I owe it all to my team. They’re just… I’ve brought on some of the most – they’re all hand-picked – some of the most talented people, in my opinion, and I wanted to create an environment at Ashba Media where it felt like art class back in school.
“I loved going to art class and it was just one of those times where you kind of forget about your problems, and you just create and you get in that tunnel vision, and you create something.
“At the end of that class, whatever it is you’ve created, it’s like you’re proud of it. ‘Wow, that was cool, it didn’t feel like work.’ So I treat everybody here, everybody is their own boss, I don’t ever walk in like I own the place.
“I treat everybody – they’re all my friends, as long as we do, and I never have to worry about it as long as we make the deadlines come under budget, and our work is flawless, that’s all I care about. It’s an art class, and it doesn’t feel like a job to anybody, and it’s awesome.”