It’s about time.
That was pretty much the sentiment from many music corners when it was announced that New Jersey rockers Bon Jovi would finally be inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame this year. At the induction ceremony on April 14, Jon Bon Jovi delivered a 20-minute speech, and summed it up succinctly: “I’ve been writing this speech many days, in many ways. Some days, it’s the thank you speech, some days the f— you speech,” he said.
The band, whose hits include “Livin’ on a Prayer,” “It’s My Life” “You Give Love a Bad Name,” “Bad Medicine,” “I’ll Be There for You,” “Bed of Roses” and “Blaze of Glory,” has spent the past 30-plus years (much of it on the road) brandishing its own style of working-man’s rock ‘n’ roll. Save for the departure of bassist Alec John Such in the mid-1990s and the exit of longtime guitarist Richie Sambora nearly a decade later, the band’s membership has remained intact. (Both Such and Sambora joined the group for the Rock Hall ceremony.)
BON JOVI When: 7:30 p.m. April 26 Where: United Center, 1901 W. Madison Tickets: ticketmaster.com
But that was then. These days, Bon Jovi — the aforementioned Jon, Phil X, Tico Torres, David Bryan and Hugh McDonald — are out on the road (their first trek since their top-grossing 2013 world tour) in support of the 2016 release “This House Is Not for Sale.” The album was recently re-released in an expanded version with two new songs. The disc finds the band in a very new place musically, by design and decree.
“Any artist really wants to continue evolving,” Jon Bon Jovi said in a 2016 BBC radio interview. “The artists I love want to write the new stuff and have it be embraced.”
“In [this album] it was really we got in a room together, looking at each other and really bashing out in the studio,” Bryan said, via a teleconference interview along with Tico Torres prior to the tour’s kickoff in March. “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 [we’re] very proud of [this] record.”
In the interview, also prior to their Rock Hall honors, Bryan said,”Yeah, it’s nine years a little late, but we’re in the club and it’s a wonderful club to be in. From Elvis to the Beatles and the Stones, and you feel like it’s definitely a club to be in. It’s a great honor.”
Added Torres, “I think the beauty of it is it also brings to light a lot of music from the past to a lot of generations today that have never really experienced that, which I think it’s good. To keep it alive and show that this music is relevant from years past.”
Bon Jovi’s relevance — more importantly, its staying power — is potent. Take a look at their concert audiences nowadays, and you’ll see fans of all ages rocking to the oldies but goodies and the newest additions to the band’s set lists.
“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,” Torres said.
Bryan added, “We’re proud to bring the world of American rock around the world. We remain curious and keep 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 learning lesson. You just learn and stay curious and stay passionate.”
That passion was not lost on the decisionmakers at the iHeart Radio Music Awards, which presented its first-ever Icon Award to the group in March, recognizing the band for “their global impact on pop culture, longevity, and continued relevance as a touring and radio force with a loyal fan base worldwide.”
“I think it’s amazing. We’re the first recipient of that,” Torres said. “… It’s amazing that we’re in fashion to this day. We pinch ourselves all the time.”
The new songs on “House” reflect the band’s current mindset, one in which adding two new songs to a previously released album is just fine, rather than waiting for another studio effort, perhaps years down the road.
“ ‘When We Were Us’ [one of the two added songs] is a song that’s brought on by the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame and where we’re at in our career. And it’s talking about where we were, where we are and where we’re going,” Bryan said. “The other song, ‘Walls’ is about unification not separation and [that] we’re going to do the tour. … Who knows what the future is, but we usually make records, and this one is just adding to it because it’s a continuation of the tour really. … In today’s day and age you can do that, and so we can add two songs off-the-cuff. It’s kind of cool to be able to do that.”
With myriad of their contemporaries announcing retirement and farewell tours, is one of these in Bon Jovi’s crosshairs?
“Hopefully later than sooner,” Bryan said. “You know what, it’s amazing when you look at the farewell tours and then you look at so many bands that [are in] 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 is the future, and that 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, they’re in their 70s.”
Added 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.”
Drop the mike.
The induction of Bon Jovi and other acts into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame will air at 7 p.m. May 5 on HBO.