THIS TOUR IS NOW FOR SALE
by Jay S. Jacobs
Rock and roll is not just so last century, and Bon Jovi is back to remind us about the power of rock. The superstar group has been recording since 1983, but over 20 years later their latest album This House Is Not For Sale – their first album on Island Records after spending their entire career on sister label Mercury – still entered at the top of the charts.
Coming out of the Jersey bars and pretty much giving birth to the hair metal genre, Jon Bon Jovi, Richie Sambora, Tico Torres and David Bryan had the first two of several number one singles in 1985 with “You Give Love a Bad Name” and “Livin’ On A Prayer.” The road has stretched long and hard as Bon Jovi hits continued into the new millennium, including the country-tinged “Who Says You Can’t Go Home” a few years ago.
The band has stayed pretty consistent over the years. The four main member stuck together until just a few years ago when the band had an ugly musical divorce with guitarist Richie Sambora in the middle of a tour. Sambora, who has had a history of drug problems, left before a show and never came back. He was replaced by guitarist Phil X, who played on his first album for the band with the current album. Longtime sideman Hugh McDonald also officially joined the band.
Bon Jovi is currently warming up for their first worldwide tour in three years (they played selected shows in the time between tours). For the tour, Bon Jovi is running a contest in which local bands can send in videos of their performances, and the best band in every town gets to open for Bon Jovi. The band is also making the audio of each show on the tour available for download to their fans.
We were one of several outlets which recently caught up with Bon Jovi members Bryan and Torres as they were rehearsing for the tour.
Bon Jovi tours always have a certain look and technology to them. What’s this tour going to be like?
Tico Torres: What we’re doing it base it off of the This House Is Not for Sale format and giving it those kind of lines. It looks like we’re doing a lot more stuff in the round and have some people behind us as well, which we always loved, instead of the proscenium. To be able to have actual fans behind you while you’re playing. It’s quite simple and it’s movable. There’s a lot of motion that goes with the songs. Believe it or not, we’re rehearsing it now and still trying to get used to it. When you’re on stage you see it a little differently than when you’re in the audience.
David Bryan: Exactly what Tico said. We’re selling all the way around. This one is really concentrating on the music, not so much video screens. We have such a body of work now, it’s really about getting all the songs and it’s about the band.
In terms of repertoire, will there be a lot from the new album? Is Burning Bridges [a 2015 contractual-obligation rarities album] at all a thought for this, or is that put away?
David Bryan: We’re rehearsing now, so we’re figuring it out. There’s definitely going to be a section from the new record. We’ll have all the classics. Now we have 90-some odd songs to choose from, so, we’re definitely a work in progress right now. But there will be your favorites and we get to change it up every night, too.
Tico Torres: We’ll do some from Bridges as well. Yeah.
This is your first tour in more than three years. As you get older, what is your preparation like?
David Bryan: Let Tico go first. He’s older. So go ahead, Tico.
Tico Torres: (laughs) As a joke, we do a lot of Advil. We’ve been doing a lot of the old stuff forever, so it’s a little bit of polishing getting that in there. We did that little listening party kind of thing – three or four shows on the new record – and that was fun to do. It was a different way to present the record, as opposed to a listening party. People can actually get a story behind it. See where it comes from and see it live. So, we pretty much have that under our belt. The first time we had a really big break like that, you’re not rushed to do material. Then now when you’re ready, you come out. That’s the fun part. We’re ready to come out. It’s cool.
What about as far as physically for preparing for a tour?
David Bryan: You just get in shape because you know it’s a long show. We play anywhere from – I think our average is around two and a half hours, two forty. So we’re always in shape, but you’ve got to get yourself in super shape so you can sing that long, play that long, and feel strong.
Tico Torres: I just came from the gym. (They both laugh.)
How are the tour rehearsals been going so far? Do you guys just fall right into the rehearsal process? Or is it something that you have to build towards?
Tico Torres: Most of the time we fall into it. Again, it’s just like learning how to ride a bicycle. You don’t really forget; you’ve just got to get back on there. It’s also a new set and new lighting, new shell, so our crew’s diligently working every minute of the day. It’s a complex cog/wheel. We’re just the music part. Then there’s all these other cogs working hard to put on a show and make it all time-wise, from the bottom to the top. The fact that we can do that, but getting out there and just having fun and playing and feeling it, it’s nothing new to us.
About the opening act contest, what kind of video submissions are you guys getting thus far? Where are the best videos coming from?
David Bryan: We had done it before and we’re doing it again. I think it does two things. The big thing is that it really just helps out young acts to get out there and play. We’re doing ones in every market. We have 30 shows, so there are almost 28 cities in America, so there’s a lot coming in. It’s all good. It really helps out that young person and that young band that’s trying to make it. We remember that. It was a different world when we started out, but I think it’s good.
How do you weed through them?
Tico Torres: Live Nation actually weeds through it. We get the tail end of it and then we look at it. We’re not sitting there going through a million bands. Not enough time to do that.
David Bryan: Right.
Tico Torres: When we’re presented stuff, it’s already been scrutinized by the people.
Erik Stein (publicist): There are quite literally thousands of entries at this point.
Do the bands and performers from Jersey get any extra attention as far as the opening band contest? Specifically, I see that Matt O’Ree has entered the contest on his Facebook page. Do former touring members of the band get any extra attention?
Tico Torres: I don’t know about attention. I guess we’ll just see how many comes in there and see what it is. But, yeah, I will definitely give a closer look at Matt. (laughs)
We all know that some songs are inspired by fantasy and others come from true experiences and feelings. The songs on this newest album seem especially personal. Could you talk about one of your new favorites to play and a little bit about what inspired it or what it means to you and the band?
Tico Torres: Go ahead, Dave.
David Bryan: I would say, for me really, I think it’s what encompasses the whole record is This House Is Not for Sale. When you look at that picture and the deep roots in it, it’s just about what we stand for. We’ve been here since 1983 as a band. I’ve been with John since 1978. Our roots are deep. We keep digging in and we keep growing at the same time. For us, it’s a statement that we’re not going anywhere and it’s not for sale. It’s our house and we’re proud of it. We’re going to keep bringing it around the world until they nail the coffin shut.
Thank you. And it’s a gorgeous picture, too. I love that photo.
Tico Torres: Thank you.
You talked about some of the things that people can expect on this tour. Do you feel pressure to top yourself with tour after tour, both with the music and the actual set?
Tico Torres: We always try to be better than we were in any situation; try to do the best music you can, try to do the best tour that you can. Sometimes you can’t really chase that, but you have to be happy with what you’re feeling. If you’re true and you’re feeling good about it, it’ll translate as a good show. It doesn’t matter if you have one spotlight. If the band’s not on, it’s not going to convey anything. The bottom line is we try to play our asses off and have some fun on stage. Really it’s a big party. We want our audience as part of our band. We want them to sing and revel as much as we do. We count a lot on that as well to turn each other on, but that’s the bottom line. It’s really just having fun. I hope that answers it for you.
Could you talk a little bit about the overall generational appeal of the band with this upcoming tour? You’re seeing fans of all ages coming out.
David Bryan: We started out a long time ago. We’ve managed to just keep writing current songs and have number one current records. We keep bringing along those fans. Then those fans are growing up and having kids. And then those kids… So for us, it is multi-generational. That’s a great compliment – that you can still have a little kid singing a new song and still singing “Livin’ On A Prayer.” It’s a nice compliment to the power of a band and the power of a good song.
Tico Torres: Music is always ageless and timeless, I think. Going back, I remember when the Beatles came out. I think their music still is as strong, if not stronger than it was then. I guess you grow up with what you grow up with. It’s nice to be part of that with young people.
Does it ever surprise you which songs fans tend to gravitate towards, even with the new album?
Tico Torres: It’s different territories in the world. I mean, the Europeans will pick certain albums and songs. Then Americans will pick the complete opposite. It’s also, I guess, the way people grow up. The nice thing is, through the whole spectrum of the world, there’s always something for somebody.
The world has changed so much since you last went on tour. Are you guys going to incorporate any of your thoughts on current events into the new show? Or is it shaping up to be strictly a night of entertainment?
David Bryan: I mean; it’s been three years. I don’t know if the world changed that much in three years, but it definitely changes every day. For us, those changes are reflected in the records and the songs. When we get out there, our job is to be performers and give everybody a great night; forget about your problems. Forget about the world’s problems, because they were there since the beginning and they’re going to be there until the end. The idea is to have a good night, have fun, and forget about [problems]. Everybody in the world has problems. The nice thing about entertainment is you get to forget about those problems and have a good time for a couple of hours.
I wanted to ask you about the New Jersey roots. Just what is it about that state and growing up there? There seems to be a lot of pride. How does that connect with who you guys are now versus then? Give me some love for the Garden State.
Tico Torres: (laughs) The Garden State always gets a bad rap, from movies all the way down. So, I guess everybody tries a little harder there. It’s close to New York. The tri-state area is part of that whole thing. Definitely East Coasters are different than West Coast people in that sense. We’re exposed to a lot more music because it’s New York City, and you’ve got grassroots and playing. Even from the band from the beginning, it was about going out there and kicking ass on stage. There was always that innate feeling with all musicians from Jersey and New York, and to this day, it hasn’t changed.
David Bryan: Yeah. I agree with that. When you’re looking at the big city and you’re the little town that’s across the water from the big city, you always fight a little harder. You work a little harder. Your feet are on the ground and it’s real. That’s what I can really say, especially in Jersey City, it’s real.
Can you talk about maintaining that blue collar aesthetic despite all the fame and adoration?
David Bryan: Well, you still are who you are. You can never get away from where you grew up and where your roots are. So, that’s who we are. We’re a bunch of guys from Jersey that made it. We’ve worked our asses off. It took a lot of hard work to get lucky. We got lucky through a shitload of hard work. We’re proud of it. Those are still reflected in our songs and our attitude.
You guys will be playing at the Dick’s Sports Goods Open at the end of the summer. Have you guys have ever played on the 18th hole of a golf course like you will when you come to En-Joie [Golf Club] this August?
David Bryan: I’ve played shitty golf on the 18th hole, I would say. (laughs) But, no, I’ve never played music on the 18th hole. It’ll be pretty interesting.
Have you guys ever played any gigs in the southern sphere of New York? If so, what do you remember from being there?
Tico Torres: We’re going to be in Saratoga. Is that correct?
In that area.
Tico Torres: The good thing is it’s summertime and it’s beautiful. I know in the wintertime there’s no golf and it’s cold and a lot of snow. I’m looking forward to that. It’s a great tournament. When you see the classic players that play still so well and endeared by so many people. It’s going to be fun not only to watch the golf but play there.
You guys have been playing together for well over 30 years now. When you started out, could you ever imagine that you’d still be touring in 2017?
David Bryan: I knew it. I told everybody in ’83, “We’ll be here until 2019.” No, that’s a joke. (laughs) You start out with your eyes wide open. You’ve got dreams and we worked really, really hard and ours came true. We’re fortunate enough to keep putting out number one records. We’re fortunate enough to get out there and keep playing and we truly have a blast. It’s so much fun to be on stage and play. It really is.
Tico Torres: If you think about it, in those days – well, in any days, but I know for sure in those days – bands didn’t last more than a year, or two years at a time. You always expected at least you’d work with a band and then you’d go to the next band and you build your career that way. It’s odd and special that we were able to stick together this long.
After touring all these years, do you have any crazy Spinal Tap type of stories about life on the road?
Tico Torres: (laughs) Yeah. I’ve got a million; I can’t remember them.
David Bryan: Which is a Spinal Tap moment… (both laugh)
Tico Torres: Can’t remember.
David Bryan: Exactly. Yeah. I think there’s been a lot.
Tico Torres: Yeah, yeah.
Are there any songs in the catalog that you especially look forward to playing every time you go out on tour?
Tico Torres: Two of my mine remain “Wanted Dead or Alive” and “Livin’ On A Prayer,” obviously. They have transcended time and it’s hit people in a certain way. It’s not only thematic, but if you had to sum up Bon Jovi’s legacy, [“Livin’ On A Prayer”] would be probably at the top of the list. I think because of the optimism. David?
David Bryan: Yeah. It’s amazing those songs… and then “It’s My Life.” There’s a lot of great songs there. It’s hard to say which is your favorite, but those are classic ones that keep going forward. We’re blessed by that. We touch a nerve within our audience and it definitely transcends time.
Conversely, are there any songs that you have to do that you think, “Aww, I’ve done this so many times.” Maybe you don’t want to do again, but you have to do for the audience?
David Bryan: Every song is fun and great to play. There’s no burden of a song. For me, when we always talk about the set list, it’s always been… I don’t like it when bands don’t want to play that one song everybody wants to hear. I think that’s cheating everybody. It’s selfish of an artist to do that. That’s my own opinion. We’ll never be that band that will not play our catalog song that people love.
You mentioned that this album is really about the band; what you’ve created together after all this time. Could you talk a little bit about your personal connection to the music of Bon Jovi? And if there’s a memory in your life, that sticks out to you where you had to turn to that music as a therapeutic outlet? Something difficult that you had to get through that the music helped you to get through?
Tico Torres: It seems to me that a writer of a song, obviously, it means something when they write it. When you put it out in public, it becomes your song, the listener. Your interpretation and what it makes you feel like, I think is a very personal thing. As far as the Bon Jovi music, our own music, I’ve never felt that way about listening to a song in that manner; I think because I’m too inside of it in a different way. But there’s songs from other bands and other music in my life that affect me and would carry you through a good time or a bad time. So, that’s my answer. Yeah, Dave, go ahead.
David Bryan: Yeah. I guess for me the therapy is walking on stage, playing all of our songs, and walking out. That’s probably my therapy. That’s a good time. I think bad times I sit down and I play – there’s definitely certain songs that touch in certain ways. I go back to “Moonlight Sonata” by Beethoven; that usually takes care of everything.
Can you guys speak to the changes that have happened in the band, specifically in this album, where you don’t have a very key songwriter and player playing on this new album. Can you speak about that?
David Bryan: I could speak to that. We have been speaking about it. It’s the first record without Richie [Sambora]. We haven’t been in communication with him since the last tour – well, since 15 shows into the last tour. It’s not a sentence. He’s decided to not be in it anymore and we decided to keep going. We’re going to keep going. I think this record was just everybody stepping up and saying, “This house is not for sale. This is what we want to do.” For me and Tico, he’ll tell you in a minute, or not, but we’re here. We’re here and we want to be here. This record, I’m proud of. Like I said, we just had to step forward and do everything we had to do to make a great record. We got a number one record in over 30 countries. So, we’re working; we’re still having fun. Is it the way we wanted it? No. But it’s not our decision.
With the opening act contest, why is it important for veterans like yourself to give back to the younger community? And what other advice do you have to new artists and bands coming up today?
Tico Torres: Well, a couple of things. When we grew up, there were a million clubs to play at. That’s before disco came in and DJ’s and club owners decided it was cheaper to have one guy instead of a band. That hurt music, I think a lot, local music in not only New Jersey and New York, but around the country. It’s harder to find venues for guys to play at. I’m glad we grew up in our era, because we had plenty of places to play at. I see now, you’re going to see a resurgence, like there is in life. It always comes back in not only music styles but ideals of how to play music. Maybe this is one way to let the kid or man or woman that’s playing music and say, “I’d like to put my stuff out there.” Then you never know. You might find a shining star and just by supporting it, they’ll be able to go out there and play for thousands of people. That’s my view.
David Bryan: In Jersey, there is a resurgence. Once they changed the drinking age from 18 to 21, that really changed the scene a lot. Now, there’s a bunch of places in Jersey, Dayton and Asbury Park, and at Red Bank and at different towns where there are live bands that are playing. Some of those bands aren’t just covers; they’re playing originals. It is good to see that people are starting that again and for us to give somebody a chance like that. It feels good for us. It’s the right thing to do. The advice is write songs; it takes a lot of hard work to get lucky, so you’ve got to be in it to win it. You’ve got to be out there working and playing and working and playing. It’s a great thing.
In talking about the opening act contest, can you guys just reminisce for a minute on your own experience in 1983? It had to be a huge break for a band from New Jersey to play Madison Square Gardens with ZZ Top.
Tico Torres: Yeah. (laughs) I took the train in. I remember that. I took the train in. Got there; we played a million miles an hour, nerves were on end. It went so fast that I didn’t even really get to enjoy it. Is that the way you felt, David? It went pretty fast for me.
David Bryan: Oh, yeah. I mean, first we were an unsigned band. That was a manager at the time trying to manage us, so he gave us that slot. We went out there and did it. Yeah. You went from a club to playing the Garden, which is where we were growing up. That’s where all the biggest bands in the world were; that’s where I saw everything, we all saw everything there.
Tico Torres: Richie’s amp didn’t work. It was like an eternity. It was probably like 30 seconds; felt like 10 hours, but we got it working. We were sitting up there. You know how everybody is like – they don’t want to see you. (laughs) That was pretty much fun.
David Bryan: Yeah.
What does Phil X bring to the band in a live setting that might be a little bit different than playing with Richie?
David Bryan: Phil really helped us out in a time of need. Richie was battling his demons and Phil was there for us. [He] came out and we didn’t know whether it was going to be one show, or 10 shows, or now three years. He definitely helped us when we needed it the most. He’s a great player and he’s got great energy. We welcome him and thank him.
Did he change the sound of the band live at all?
Tico Torres: Well, of course, it changes the sound. It’s a different avenue. You can’t ever replace anybody [without changing things]. Richie is incredibly talented, his voice, and there was a character of the part of the band that we grew up with, and everybody else grew up with. The nice thing about Phil is he adds his own dimension. That’s important. You have to show that on the new record. We tried to do that as well, as well as have our producer John Shanks play guitar on this record and play with us live. They add a different element to it. I think it’s a positive and very good element. It sounds very good. We’re moving on. I think it’s something people will enjoy.
There’s been a lot of discussion in the last few years about rock music not doing as well on the charts as it used to do. But obviously you guys put out a record. It is a number one record. Do you feel like you’re holding the torch for rock after so many years? And do you think that there will be a resurgence for rock in the future?
David Bryan: Our conscious effort has always been, the hardest thing in the world is to get a number one record. Then when you get one, the hardest thing in the world is to get another one. And then it’s harder and harder and harder as it keeps going on. Here we are so many years later and we still have a number one record. It’s because it’s not luck; it’s effort. We work our asses off to find those songs. [We] get in the studio and experiment and move forward. Not rest upon “[You Give Love a] Bad Name” for the 50,000 time. Just keep moving on and moving on and progressing. When it comes in at number one, that’s not a given. It’s a statement that makes us very happy that we’re a current classic. We can be on classic radio and we can be on current radio. If we’re the ones who can fly the flag of rock and roll and run up the hill, we planted it on the top. That’s a good thing for rock and roll.
I wanted to go back to a question about this line-up; not so much about who’s not there, but the lineup is now official, with this album Hugh McDonald becoming an official band member and Phil X in everything. That’s got to be good for the psyche of the band to make it feel like Bon Jovi is whole again.
Tico Torres: Yeah. I mean, that’s an important chapter, because Richie not being here, of course, it was not easy for us. At the end of the day, it’s a process. To be able to have all of the guys in the studio – yeah, it’s important that we are a band working together. A lot of this record was done in the studio and by the old way. We used to banter back and forth, try parts and then just record it. I think the success of the album is because it does have that band element. It’s not just music put together and then filled in. Everybody had a good part in this. It shows musically, and it’s also shows live to see that.
David Bryan: We want to keep stepping forward. This was the time where it was stepping forward. Like Tico was saying, we got in the studio and said, “Let’s bash that out all together in one room.” It really shows. You can feel the energy. You can feel all that. Then, we went out and did a promo. We did a live listening party for the new record. We just played 15 brand new songs; which stories and the line up was John Shanks, who was our producer, who played guitar and, of course, Hughie and Phil. Then we also added Everett Bradley, who’s a great percussionist and singer. So, we just made it – it’s a very musical band, I would say – in a new, good direction. It feels fresh; it’s good and everybody’s out there kicking ass, like we always do. But now it has that new element of “We’re going to keep going forward.” If you can grow as you’re going forward, then we’re doing what we want to do.
Can you tell me how you ended up filming the video for “This House Is Not For Sale” in Bethlehem, Pennsylvania?
Tico Torres: Good question. (laughs)
David Bryan: I don’t think we did that in Bethlehem, Pennsylvania.
Tico Torres: I think we did that in Long Island. No, Jon’s scenes were in Bethlehem. Yeah.
David Bryan: Oh, okay.
Tico Torres: Jon did some car scenes in there. Yeah, we did some in Long Island, New York, and we did some in Pennsylvania, it’s a couple of different locations. They go out, they scout stuff and they said, “This will work.” They show you pictures, and you go, “Okay, let’s go.” It’s pretty much that way.
Yeah, we were glad to have you. But it was a shock when I saw the video for the first time and it was in Bethlehem.
Tico Torres: Well, that’s how that happened.
Are you guys going to be wearing any of Jon’s Hart N Dagger clothes up on stage for this tour?
David Bryan: I’m sure Jon will. No, I have no idea. I don’t know. It’s a lot like street wear, to tell you the truth. Maybe. (chuckles) That is if we can get a good deal.
Yeah. You can probably get a discount on it, right?
Tico Torres: We got the Bon Jovi discount.
Going back to the set list, are there any songs that you intend to play that you haven’t ever played live?
Tico Torres: That’s a good one. David?
David Bryan: Yeah, you never know, but that’s a hard one. We played a lot of songs live, especially I think we really got tested in our live set list when we did the O2. We opened that up in England. I think we played, like, 15 shows, and every night was different songs. So, except for the couple we always have to play, which we want to always play, but…
Tico Torres: (overlapping) Yeah. You always realize once you do it and you see the reaction if it works or not, whether you’ll do it again. (laughs) There are just some ones that don’t speak well live; that’s all.
I was reading that you guys are recording each show of the tour and making them available for audio download. How is that going to work? How are the fans going to get hold of the downloads? And are you guys going to be mixing up the playlist to make each show unique?
David Bryan: Well, I can answer that first part. We are going to be recording it on the tour and they are going to be available for download. We have these custom USB bracelets that can be worn; it’s like a piece of jewelry. That’s going to be available at the merchandise booth, and then you can download – it’s on the store, BonJoviOfficialMerch.com. Those audio files will be on the download on our official online store, and then you can download it to that bracelet. And we’ve always changed up the set list. It’s not like one of my Broadway shows, which is a very set thing. Every one of the songs are the same. We always change it up, just for ourselves and our fans. But mainly, we’re not going to do the same show every night. I think we would go batty.
Right. Are you guys gong to be doing any covers, too? I really loved Jon’s cover of “Here Comes the Sun” that he did at the Philadelphia Clinton Rally. Will you guys be doing that or any other covers as while on tour? Or just your own stuff?
Tico Torres: Covers get thrown in left and right. It’s on the spot. We don’t talk about it, just yell at each other on stage. (laughs) You never know. Whatever we’re in the mood for.
David Bryan: Yeah, we’re a bar band, so we know all the bar songs. We just have fun. The thing about it, as I said, the set list is a loose guide. It’s really just about how it feels and how the audience is and how everything is. It’s really a live show and things change. It’s fun.
After three decades, what keeps you excited about making music?
Tico Torres: Music itself keeps you excited. I mean, look at all the other musicians in the world. Any artist, whether it’s a painter, writer, a musician, you don’t really retire. You play until you expire. It’s creative. Anything in life that’s creative, you never get old and you never stop doing. I think that works for everybody in the world, in this little world that we live in. It’s a great denominator between languages and countries and – for the most part – it’s a positive message for everybody. I mean, think about driving your car… you listen to music. You’re home, you listen to music. It’s an important part of our life. It’s not hard – it’s a given. It’s fun that we’re blessed that we can do this.
David Bryan: Yeah. You think about the working world, you know? The working world, everybody is retiring at 55, 65, 62 1/2, whatever it is. I think, like Tico was saying, in the arts we don’t fall into that same world, because for us, you don’t work an instrument, you play it. It’s fun and you grow. You get better at it all the way until the end.
You have John Shanks on tour. That’s not something that happens a lot. How did you manage to get him to go out on the road? Do you have to keep him from trying to produce everything every night?
Tico Torres: We had him in the studio with us playing, you know? You’re right in the same room creating with him, so it was a different chair for him to have besides being in the booth. He was there, creating music together. It seemed kind of logical. It started out, “Let’s do this promo tour together of the album.” It seemed logical since he played on all the songs that he would play. Then, took a step further, like, “Do you want to go on the road with us?” It’s kind of cool. Talking to John, he says, what’s cool for him is when he was playing with Melissa Etheridge and bands like that his kids were babies. They’ve never seen him play and perform in this venue thing. This is an opportunity for him to revisit, play, and have his kids, who are older now, to partake and enjoy it. It’s almost like a dream for him, so it’s cool.
David Bryan: That’s exactly what Tico said. When we started it, when we were doing these four live listening parties for the new record, [we] asked John to join. John joined, and also Everett Bradley joined, who sings and is a great percussionist. The band was really musical. Then, after playing those four shows, we were like, “Hey, it would be great to do the whole tour.” [We] asked them and they wanted to do it. We’re fortunate. It definitely, like Tico was saying, like sports guys have to give it up early and, for us, our kids get to see us play even when we’re old and they’re older. It’s fun.
Could you talk a little bit about how your creative process has changed over the years as far as making music together? You guys have been making music together for a long time. What’s changed? Is it easier? Harder? What works? What doesn’t?
David Bryan: It changes every record, really. Every record is different in how we approach it. We don’t sit down and go, “We’re going to approach it this way.” It just evolves. The last couple of them have been a lot where the writing happens and it’s on the computer and then we add to it. This record was just like, “Let’s get back to the roots of sitting in a room, all of us together, looking each other in the face, coming up with parts and coming up with ideas.” Some of the songs that were on the new record, like “New Year’s Day,” that thing was ballad, a slow thing, and it really wasn’t working. Then, we changed that into a rocker. “Hey, let’s try this. Let’s do this, and do that, and try this.” That whole different energy is apparent on that record. It’s always morphing; it’s always evolving.
I have a work/life balance question, based on something I read that (Jon) Bon Jovi said earlier this week. He said, “Back in my earlier days, I would have termed myself a workaholic, but not the last decade. When you get to a certain age, you realize that there’s more to life than wanting to be the lead singer of a rock band.” I think most people would agree. It’s tough to reach a good work/life balance, but at the same time, everyone would agree that being in a rock band would be a dream come true. Is there anything Bon Jovi does as a band that helps you achieve some balance on tour so you don’t get burned out? Or is it just all-out craziness?
Tico Torres: Well, we’ve changed our work ethic a little bit. There were times we wouldn’t be home for months, and what we’ve concluded is: why don’t we just take a nice long break? [So] we’re not touring ourselves to death. We’re doing a certain amount of shows and taking breaks. There are other things in life. When you put family into the equation, to me, and I can speak for everybody else, they’re the number one option in life. (laughs) It’s nice to be able to do that. I think that’s also what keeps us happy, to be able to balance that.
David Bryan: It’s a tough balance. As we move on, there’s more balance. When you first start off, you don’t really have a choice; you just have to get out there. You have to do it. You have to go around the world. You have to make your mark. The world’s not going to come to you. You’ve got to go to it. Then, if you’re fortunate enough and get successful enough, you can start to balance, which we’ve done.
We’ve seen so many changes within the music industry over the years with the uprise of social media and all of that. How have those changes affected your approach to recording and touring? At one point an album would support the tour, and I feel now that it flip flops where a tour kind of like supports the album.
David Bryan: For Bon Jovi, it’s always been coming up with new material, not just going on tour with no new material. We’ve always wanted to get out there, make a record we’re proud of, put it out there, and then follow-up with a tour. And, yes, social media – there was no such thing as the Internet when we started, or computers. Or computers were at the very beginning stages. So, you roll with it. It’s a whole new world out there. I mean, I think we have over 40 million Facebook fans, you know? If we want to send a message out, before we’d have to buy 40 million stamps. Now, you can make one message. If we say, “Hey, we’re going on tonight and it’s going to go on early,” or “We’re going to do this, we’re going to have this, or this new opening act,” we can put that out there and bang all your 40 plus million people know the message immediately, which is pretty awesome.
Tico Torres: Yeah. We still like making albums. I mean, I know the whole media thing has changed, where people just take one song they like and don’t even listen to the rest of the record. We’re still under the premise that an album tells a story. There’s a lot to be said for that. We still like doing it where you start from the beginning and you end an album. Those days, growing up for us, an album meant something. That’s something we still like to keep doing. Hopefully, that will come back in a fast-paced world, because there’s a lot of great musicians out there that have a lot more to say than one song. Hopefully, fingers crossed, it’ll keep going.
David Bryan: Yeah. It’s funny – never underestimate what new is. I have kids and the younger generation is sometimes new is old again. Now, everything normal on their iPhones. Music is downloaded; nobody touches anything and it’s just these numbers and these headphones. Now, all of a sudden, everybody’s like, “Hey, look at this thing. They’re selling albums again.” Real albums in Urban Outfitter; starting selling records and record players. So, that becomes a new technology because once you get the point of an iPhone or computer, it gets to the point where it’s so easy and convenient, everybody says, “Well, that’s the norm.” The new thing is this big black disc that’s called an album. Never underestimate. Sometimes new is old.
To the casual observer, Jon is the lead vocalist. Like the face of the band. Can you guys talk a little bit about him as a creative spirit? Also just I would assume a cool guy to hang out with. Talk about him on both those levels.
David Bryan: It is; the lead singer is always the voice of the band. That’s the face, the voice; he’s the guy out there and Jon is the creative force of doom. We met each other – we were like almost 17 years old and I joined his cover band. The journey started from there. He’s a force of nature that wants to keep going forward. Get out of terrible New Jersey. Learn how to write songs, write original songs and keep working it, working it, working it. Then, find a band of guys that are just as committed to the music, to the band, to him. Keep going forward and never fail. There’s no such thing as less than 100 percent. That spearhead has the team behind him. That’s why we’re still here.
Copyright ©2017 PopEntertainment.com. All rights reserved. Posted: February 3, 2017.
Photos © 2017. Courtesy of Scoop Marketing. All rights reserved.