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Vegas rocker Ashba embraces EDM with ‘Hypnotic’

Updated August 15, 2020 - 11:05 am

DJ Ashba is a rocker who didn’t listen to rock growing up. He wasn’t allowed. But he absorbed the music his mom liked, including jazz, Latin, classical, and many different genres.

Ashba, of course, grew up to be the searing lead guitarist of hard-rock outfits Sixx: A.M. and the reconstituted Guns N’ Roses lineup that held residency at the Joint at the Hard Rock Hotel in 2012 and 2014. But he has always looked to merge music, and has been captivated by the potential of mixing his rock guitar with electronic music.

The result is his new single and video, “Hypnotic” featuring Cali Tucker. Ashba carries the brazen effort with his distinctive lead guitar, and has infused the piece with wild electronic melodies, strings, horns, congas and Tucker’s spirited vocal.

Ashba’s effort has been mixed by Luca Prestolesi of Studio DMI, a three-time Grammy nominee who has worked with Steve Aoki, Diplo and Lil Jon. He’s newly signed with Edgeout Records/Universal Music Group/UMe, with Las Vegas entrepreneur Gavin Maloof among the investors. This is why you see Maloof in the “Hypnotic” video, hanging at the hot tub.

Tucker is a “Voice” alum and well-known Las Vegas singer and entertainer, who is also the niece of country great Tanya Tucker, who attended Basic High School in her freshman year. “Hypnotic” is thus a very Vegas effort, and sounds so much like what you would hear from the city’s club scene or at Electric Daisy Carnival.

“I would go to a lot of EDM concerts, and their shows are so over the top and, you know, all these young kids just losing their minds, right?” Ashba said in an interview this week. “And the one thing that I’ve noticed is … it lacks guitar, you know, and I saw an opportunity, like five years ago going, ‘If I could take what I do and somehow inject it into this world.’ A lot of kids are not being exposed to a lot of guitar in that world.”

Ashba is seeking to push himself musically, as always, and also as a stage performer. He plans a production of himself playing with a DJ, fitting into a mega-club or EDC-style event.

“The one thing I’ve noticed is the lack of performance. Now, that excludes a lot of the good ones, like Aoki — there’s nobody like him, and Diplo, and Calvin Harris’s brilliance is amazing,” Ashba said. “But I’m but I’m talking about performances as far people bringing an instrument onstage.”

Ashba plans to drop singles, advancing to a full album, in an unspecified time line. The singles are so epic it’s a good idea to let them stand for a while. But the guitarist has not taken his concept to his hard-rock brethren.

“I didn’t want anybody else’s opinion to influence my direction,” Ashba said. “Not even Nikki Sixx (of Sixx: A.M. and Motley Crue) has heard it. I’ve been really quiet and secret about this thing. I think it’s going to take a lot of people by surprise.”

Yes, Blair time

On Wednesday, we reported that Dennis Blair was not involved in Judd Apatow’s upcoming, two-part HBO documentary on George Carlin, even though Blair spent 18 years as Carlin’s opening act.

Now, we can report that Blair is in talks with Apatow’s team, who emailed Friday and said they wanted to chat — then called Blair to do just that.

“I’m shocked,” Blair, who lives in Las Vegas, said Friday. “I thought they’d already shot the doc and it was in the can.” This project is sure to be enlivened by Blair’s relationship with Carlin, his tales from the road his perspective on the comic legend’s impact.

“They’re at the very beginning of the process, so they will let me know ASAP,” Blair said. “Judd will call. So, that happened.”

Tubb’s Sly move

Vegas trumpet master Isaac Tubb has been tapped to play Saturday night with The Family Stone band at a gig at Pala Casino in San Diego. This is the latest incarnation of the lineup that backed Sly Stone during the band’s heyday, including founding member and sax man Jerry Martin.

Tubb, a member of the Mondays Dark band and formerly with Human Nature and Matt Goss’s band, is just the second trumpet player invited to the act. Original member Cynthia Robinson died in 2015; the seat has been left open ever since.

Tubb was drawn to the band, and the pandemic-safe outdoor show, by Family Stone bassist Blaise Sison. The two musicians have been friends for years. Sison has been with The Family Stone since 2005 and the music director since 2008.

“I’d see Blaise around and say, ‘Hey, when am I going to get that gig?’” Tubb said. “Then I get a call, and sure enough they have decided after five years they need a trumpet on a gig.”

You might remember — and I do — when Sly Stone himself turned up to jam with the band during George Wallace’s show at Flamingo Las Vegas on March 31, 2006. There were a few side bets on whether Stone would show up, but he did, wearing (as I wrote at the time) “a black sequined suit with black platform shows and red heels, a red sequined shirt, a black belt with a giant rectangular plate reading ‘Sly,’ a black stocking cap, a neck brace, and big white Dolce & Gabbana shades.” It was a real ’70s flashback, and credit for all time to Wallace in getting Stone to the stage. He killed, too. Thirty minutes of mayhem.

John Katsilometes’ column runs daily in the A section. His PodKats! podcast can be found at reviewjournal.com/podcasts. Contact him at jkatsilometes@reviewjournal.com. Follow @johnnykats on Twitter, @JohnnyKats1 on Instagram.

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