Bon Jovi – This Tour is Now for Sale
Updated: Mar 21, 2020
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.
Jon Bon Jovi
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?