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September 1, 2014

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DJ Ashba watchin’ for the boom-booms as GNR sets up again at the Joint

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Tom Donoghue/DonoghuePhotography.com

D.J. Ashba and his guest arrive at the red carpet for Cirque du Soleil’s “Michael Jackson One” at Mandalay Bay on Saturday, June 29, 2013.

DJ Ashba talks of his time with the updated version of Guns N’ Roses and casually says, “We’ve been a band for five years now, and we’ve become a family. We’ve been going nonstop, and I have actually become very close with everybody.”

Five years? The original Guns N’ Roses’ chart-topping and arena-filling heyday was about that long, six years covering 1987-1993. The new band is becoming not just a version of Guns N’ Roses, but the Guns N’ Roses of record.

“We have been around,” said Ashba, the leather-hatted monster guitarist who swaps leads with Ron “Bumblefoot” Thal and Richard Fortus as part of GNR’s thunderous sound mix. “We know how to share the stage with one another."

Guns N’ Roses returns for its second stretch of shows at the Joint in the Hard Rock Hotel this week, opening Wednesday and rolling through nine performances through June 7. The title of the show is “No Trickery: An Evening of Destruction.” Tickets start at $49.50 and are available at the Hard Rock Hotel box office.

A hard rocker who is nonetheless a hopeless romantic, Ashba made news several months ago with the ride he took on the Metro Police helicopter tour of the Las Vegas Valley for the purpose of proposing to his girlfriend, Nathalia Henao. She said “yes!” — which now makes Nathalia his wife rather than girlfriend. The two were married in September at Little Church of the West.

Ashba lives in Las Vegas and when not touring is a fan of entertainment all across town. Some of the other nuggets pulled from our recent phone chat:

The band “absolutely” will not play the same show twice:

“We have five hours of material,” Ashba says referring to the ground covered from “Appetite for Destruction” to “Chinese Democracy.” “We don’t follow a setlist, ever. We all know the songs and Axl (Rose, the band’s frontman and founder) will call out the next song and the lighting and sound guys need to be on their games. It’s always a reckless rock ’n’ roll experience.”

The band, too, needs to be on its toes:

“We will have some pyrotechnics, new stuff that I don’t want to give away, and the lighting guys know exactly to a T where we should be,” Ashba says. “It’s good because when we go out there, the music is our focus. We’re not into synchronizing moves. We feed off and react to the crowd, and sometimes I don’t know what’s going on. I’ll be drunk off my (butt), and a roadie will drag me back so I won’t get blown away.”

Las Vegas is where dreams come true:

“I could have lived in L.A., or anywhere else in the world, but I bought a house in Las Vegas,” Ashba says. “It never closes, everything you can dream is here. There is nowhere else I feel like I fit in than Las Vegas, and the one place I’ve always gone when I want to cheer up, it’s Las Vegas. I’ve found my lot in life in Vegas. It’s my happy place."

Follow John Katsilometes on Twitter at Twitter.com/JohnnyKats. Also, follow “Kats With the Dish” at Twitter.com/KatsWiththeDish.

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