Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Bon Jovi: It's Their Life

David Bryan, Jon Bon Jovi, Richie Sambora and Tico Torres of Bon Jovi.

Often, when some of rock's biggest bands go on tour, instead of conducting individual phone interviews from the road — known in the business as "phoners" — band members instead will hold one teleconference call with music journalists from all over the country. While the teleconferences are certainly not as intimate or in-depth as the individual one-on-ones, there is usually quite a lot of interesting information disseminated that never makes it into print.

In honor of tonight's Bon Jovi show at EnergySolutions Arena in Salt Lake City, I thought I would share some quotes from a teleconference in late January with music writers and Bon Jovi members Richie Sambora (guitars) and Tico Torres (drums).

On talk that lead singer and band namesame Jon Bon Jovi might do another solo album during a lengthy band break planned at the conclusion of the current tour:

"It gives us a break," said Sambora. "Everybody gets to be an individual, if that's what's going on. He's the leader of the band, and you've got to respect that, and, you know, like I said, I had extensive conversations with him over the last couple of weeks, and who knows what the hell he's going to do. But it's OK with all of us. You know, we're all going to stick together. I mean, we're like a gang."

On whether band members have much interaction with fans when they're not on stage, including whether or not they do meet-and-greets or prefer to remain more isolated:

"We've never, never neglected that," said Torres. "And then we still stay friends with the fans that we have all over the world. And it's been, you know what, 50 countries or something."

"We have friends all over the world, individually and collectively," said Sambora. "So, it's important to pay attention to that, and we always have because we come from that generation of people that makes that important. You know what? Not only is it as important as friendship, but it's important as businessmen, too, and that's what this band, you know, besides our music and besides everything we've done and our philanthropy and everything we've done."

Regarding how band members keep their energy levels up through all the major shows they've done:

"Love of music, love of each other, you know, respect and opportunity that ... we're one of the few bands in the world that have that opportunity," said Sambora. "And we're, you know, I don't really like to brag, but we're a bunch of good guys, you know, and we love each other. We're brothers. And we go out there and we look at each other, and it's ... I don't want to play with nobody else, you know?"

On the difference between smaller and larger shows:

"You know, the smaller gigs are just as much fun," said Torres. "Obviously the revenue is different."

"And, you know, for me, I enjoy the big ones," said Sambora. "I love it. I think it's fantastic. I love the energy and the fact that Bon Jovi makes a stadium intimate, and we can do that and we have been doing it for years. And we've learned how to do that and that's, you know, just a part of what this band is at this point."

On how they make big stadium and arena shows seem intimate:

"The personal antics that we do as musicians, you know, Richie, David [and] Jon know how to make a big crowd intimate," said Torres. "And we have a half-circle that goes out into the audience where we do acoustic stuff together. Again, it makes it more intimate, you know, but it takes a lot for a frontman to make a big place seem like your living room, and we make everybody sing."

"It's extraordinary, the guy's extraordinary," said Sambora of Jon Bon Jovi. "And, you know, it's like when I walk on stage with him, I'm going, 'What's next?' And all of us do the same thing. And we don't rehearse that much, so it's very, very spontaneous, and that makes it fun for us and keeps us fresh. And, you know, after 14, 15 albums, we have a lot of material to choose from."

On what advice would he give to younger artists trying to stay in the business and stay relevant:

"Well, you know, I had the pleasure of meeting Justin [Bieber], and I introduced my daughter to him, and, hopefully, she won't be going out with him any time soon! Although I thought he was a great guy, I really did. I think he's a nice boy. And, you know, now the business has changed, and you've just got to write great songs that get to people. I mean, that's the advice. ... I mean, you know, and you've got to work with people. You've got to get in the band with people that have your same passion. I mean, if you don't have a passion for something, you know, then there's a problem there. So to continue the passion, continue to be better because every time that this band gets on stage we try to get better. Every time I sit down with Jon, we try to write a great song, you know, and try to move it, try to do something and evolve."

On the various peaks in the band's career:

"I think all through our career ... from the first show we did in a big place at Madison Square Garden with ZZ Top, supporting them, I mean, when you're a band, you think you've made it right there," said Torres. "You know, when you hear your song on the radio for the first time, you think you've made it. Everything has always been, it's a journey, I mean, and if you're in the present, and you travel that journey and you enjoy it, you work harder for the next enlightening moment. I don't think any of us would ever, in our wildest dreams be, you know, even smart enough to think that we would be this far in our careers and [have] been so successful as a group. So, to me, it's just gifts, you know, every time we go by [various towns], so I can't really answer that any better than you have to take it as it comes, and be happy when it does."

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