BY MELISSA RUGGIERI/AJC Music Scene
Bon Jovi stole the show, as usual.
At least that was the consensus following last weekend’s Rock and Roll Hall of Fame induction ceremony, at which the enduring New Jersey rockers were finally granted entry into the Cleveland shrine.
Between an expectedly uproarious introductory speech by longtime band friend Howard Stern and the fan-satiating reunion with guitarist Richie Sambora and original bassist Alec John Such, Bon Jovi topped every headline.
It’s a familiar spot for frontman Jon Bon Jovi, keyboardist David Bryan and drummer Tico Torres, who, along with longtime bassist Hugh McDonald and Sambora replacement Phil X, have filled arenas for more than three decades.
The band will play an encore performance at Philips Arena on Friday, slightly more than a year after their last visit to promote their 13th studio album, “This House Is Not for Sale.” The album was reissued earlier this year with a couple of new tracks.
Recently, Bryan and Torres chatted with reporters on a conference call to discuss Bon Jovi’s history and future.
On the number of artists announcing farewell tours and if Bon Jovi has thought about the end:
David Bryan: “Yeah, hopefully later than sooner. You know what, it’s amazing when you look at the reunion tour and then the farewell tours and you look at so many bands that have their 14th farewell tour. I don’t really know how true those are and how much they need to sell tickets. I think for us it’s more about, we’re just going to keep doing it and having fun. The future has yet to happen, and until then we’re just going to keep having fun and making records and go play in front of the people and have a great time. … Look at the Rolling Stones, and they’re in their 70s.”
Tico Torres: “We made a promise to ourselves as far as that. As long as it’s fun and as long as we can have something to contribute musically together, why not do it? That’s where we’re at. … Some people have to retire. A lot of it could be physical. Some people like (Rush drummer) Neil Peart, I was watching (something where he says), I can’t play like Neil Peart anymore. Then you have the other spectrum of B.B. King. He passed away with a guitar in his hand.”
On what they’ve learned about each other and the band during their decades together:
Bryan: “We always set out to be the biggest band in the world. It takes a lot of hard work to get lucky. We put in all the hard work and we got lucky and we went around the world to 50 countries and we played it over 30 times, each country. We’re proud to bring American rock around the world. We remain curious and kept just wanting to remain current, always getting better at our craft and always getting better at making records and playing live. It’s always a constant lesson. You just learn and stay curious and stay passionate.”
Torres: “The key is, like David said, stay true to yourself. I’m amazed that we have three generations in the audience that come see us play. That amazes me that it transcends not only to the kids that grew up with us, but their grandkids. To me, that’s wonderful that music can do that.”
On memorable live experiences:
Bryan: “At 3,000 (live shows), it’s hard. They all stand out. You can’t really say that one is better than any other. They’re all great and some are even greater. We’re very fortunate to have that many great experiences, really.”
Torres: “I can think of one. When we played for the queen of England. Presidents come and go, but the queen’s been around for (decades). It was kind of special to meet her and play for her. It’s those little things, but there’s a lot of those that are like Dave said, that really charm our life. We’ve been blessed.”
On the musical direction of the “This House Is Not for Sale” album:
Bryan: “We got in a room together, looking at each other and really bashing out in the studio. We hadn’t been doing that for a while on the other records, and this one was like, let’s just get live, get in the room all together and bash it out and really create something, and we really did and are very proud of that record. For this second leg of the tour, we added two new songs. ‘When We Were Us’ is for the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame and where we’re at in our careers and talking about where we were and where we’re at and where we’re going. We added a couple more songs (to the new edition of the album) to just bring some new material for these shows coming up.”
On pre-show rituals:
Bryan: “We all get together when we do sound checks. We all come together and we have a nice chicken soup together. We sit around and have soup.”
Torres: “That’s a prerequisite. We’ve got to have chicken soup in the dressing room at every show. Not M&M’s, chicken soup. It keeps the colds away.”