When any musician has done as much as Bon Jovi bandmates have for as long as they have, statistics and critical accolades often aren’t as important as they once were. Instead, what gains more meaning is proving one’s own self-worth and not bending to appease outsiders.
The New Jersey legend of arena rock — famously led by rhythm guitarist and band namesake Jon Bon Jovi — has released 13 studio albums and sold more than 130 million total records. Its current lineup also includes keyboardist David Bryan, drummer Tico Torres, guitarist Phil X and bassist Hugh McDonald.
Bon Jovi’s best-selling, 12-time platinum 1986 album Slippery When Wet includes chart-toppers “You Give Love a Bad Name,” “Livin’ on a Prayer” and “Wanted Dead or Alive.”
Bon Jovi isn’t content with living on its past success and has worked hard to remain relevant throughout its more than three decades together. In November, the band released its first studio project since 2013’s What About Now. Bon Jovi has said This House Is Not For Sale is based on preserving the group’s integrity. It’s also the group’s first studio release since parting ways with longtime guitarist Richie Sambora.
Bon Jovi’s latest tour, in support of its new album, stops Feb. 21 at Chesapeake Arena, 100 W. Reno Ave. Oklahoma Gazette participated in an October round-robin media interview with Bryan and Torres, who spoke about the band’s longevity, recording with guitarist Phil X, making the new album and more.
Question: A lot of bands from your era are no longer together, let alone playing arenas. To what do you attribute the fact that you guys are still so popular?
Bryan: We say we’re a current classic. We strive to have new records; we strive to have new songs on the radio. We’ve got our 14th record coming out, and … it’s another No. 1 record. … Our fans have been there with us for some of the ride, all of the ride.
Q: What was it like making an album without Richie Sambora for the first time?
Bryan: It’s a different thing, but there’s new life, and I think when you have new people, you have new energy. And, of course, the creative process, the way we’ve worked together, is working with each other in the room. And the song dictates. If everybody’s on the same page, it makes beautiful music. Of course we had some wonderful years with Richie, but if he wants to move on in his direction, it’s one of those things that you can’t avoid, and we carry on because the premise of this record, This House Is Not For Sale, is the roots and the fact that we’re still together and strong and love playing music together.
Torres: The three-year period since the last record, the band itself also went through a lot of angst. Richie has been a brother with us for many years — not something you brush off. Of course, time heals wounds, and music definitely heals everything. So at the end of the day, it’s not like we’re brushing them off, but it’s just something you have to carry on in your life.
Q: Could you elaborate on the overall theme of This House Is Not For Sale? You talked about the old way making music and getting together and doing it organically. Does that kind of play into the theme as well?
Bryan: Yes, I think. I mean, it started with Jon — [he] really saw a picture, which is the album cover of the album, and said, “You know what?” And he looked and said, “This house is not for sale.” And it really represented integrity. … It’s not for sale. We don’t want this to end. It’s not going to give it away. … And then it started, like he said, it started with my heart, my soul; this heart, this soul. And then at the end, he says again, “so come on up to this house,” which is inviting everybody in.
Q: Your last album, Burning Bridges, was viewed by some as more of a “contractual and obligational album.” How was making This House different?
Torres: That’s an interesting question. Both have messages. And, more importantly, is the message now. It shows where we’re at right now, the way we feel, not only in music and mentally, but also has that optimistic [feel] which has always been pretty inherent in our music. It’s a message that we live by personally, so it’s nice to be able to convey that musically. They’re both two different animals, I would say.
Q: You’ve both done many interviews over the years since the band started. If the roles were reversed and you sat in the interviewer’s chair, whom would you pick to interview?
Torres: There’s a few people, but the cool thing is I can’t think of one because I actually met him — one of them was Miles Davis. The question I did ask him is, “How much do you love music?” and the answer was interesting. The answer was it’s part of him and of me. That was a question I asked directly. … It’s hard being in an interview because you have to ask questions that are not written down on sheets that people give you or line up to finding out what the person’s about. I think the best question is, “Why [do] you do what you do?” And the answer that we come up with is, “We love it.”
Q: Why isn’t Bon Jovi in the 2017 class for induction into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame?
Torres: Well, it’s not our decision. When the train goes around and around, you eventually get in there. There are a lot of great artists that deserve to be in there that are not in there either. You can only fit so much each year.
Bryan: We’re actually one of America’s great exports because we’ve gone to 50 countries around the world for the last 33 years, bringing the message of American rock ’n’ roll. And we’re still doing it. A current classic — not just playing old songs, but playing new songs and having No. 1 records and No. 1 singles. So for us, we just do what we do.
7:30 p.m. Feb. 21
100 W. Reno Ave.
Print Headline: ‘Current classic’, Bon Jovi is still going strong as it heads into its Feb. 21 tour stop at Chesapeake Arena.