Bon Jovi is going back to its hard rocking ways.
This House Is Not For Sale, the band’s highly-anticipated album slated for release in March next year, is “really going back to the beginning”, ringleader Jon Bon Jovi reveals in a press conference in Kuala Lumpur last week.
“This record is about our integrity. Integrity matters and we’re at a stage of our career where we don’t have anything left to prove.
“Some songs have a little more of the ‘chip on my shoulder’ sound which is OK for us to have right now.”
The band, Jon explains, had grown accustomed to recording their parts separately. That changed with the upcoming album.
“We were recording at different times and different rooms in the studio. That’s not happening anymore. We went back to the place where we cut Runaway in 1982 – where I used to sweep the floor and fetch coffee. And, we did This House Is Not For Sale.
“But old habits (die hard). I kept cleaning up the place and bringing them (keyboardist David Bryan and drummer Tico Torres) coffee,” the 53-year-old singer says, laughing.
Clearly excited about the new album, the band feels it’s a reflection of Bon Jovi’s evolution.
“The beauty of songwriting is taking some experience in your life and translating it into a feeling. We aren’t jaded. Musical styles come and go. I can’t pretend to do something just because it’s popular. We’re comfortable and confident in who we are – we’ve been around long enough.” says Jon, who admits to shying away from writing cute, tongue-in-cheek songs like You Give Love A Bad Name, because there are “a lot more important things to say”.
While the members of the group like touring, Jon says writing music is the best part of the business.
“There are different phases of music – the writing, the recording because you want to see the song you wrote on the notebook come to life, and playing live. I’d rather write than spend 12 hours in a hotel room (on tour) with nothing do, but I like the interaction and energy on stage,” he says.
Torres appreciates the instant gratification of an audience singing and clapping along. He says every night is different and it’s a feeling you can’t replicate in a studio.
The seasoned performers say their ability to continuously evolve is what keeps them on top of their game.
“When I wrote Runaway in 1982, my viewpoint wasn’t that big, but with every record and passing decade of our career, we evolve,” Jon says. “We keep our eyes open, let information in and write about the world around us. We really couldn’t write You Give Love A Bad Name now. It was great when I was 25 but not at 53.”
Last month, the band’s frontman released a video on YouTube of himself singing Teresa Teng’s famous Mandarin ballad – The Moon Represents My Heart. Described as a gift to his Chinese fans, the cover was a prelude to the Asian leg of the band’s world tour, Bon Jovi Live!, which included stops in Indonesia, Singapore, South Korea, Taiwan and Malaysia.
Admitting to being worried and really intimidated “because it’s a language I obviously don’t speak”, Jon credits his sister-in-law – the lady coaching him in the video – for suggesting he cover the classic.
“She said, ‘you got to sing this song’ and I said, sure if you’ll come to New York and teach me.
“She came. It was one line at a time but I gave it my best,” he recalls.
Named the world’s top touring act for the last five years, the band, he feels, has created a strong following because of its reputation.
“We’re a great live show. Wherever we went even 20 years ago here in Kuala Lumpur, the reputation follows,” Jon says matter-of-factly.
On projects outside the band, Bryan, whose musical Memphis is running on Broadway, shares that a new project, Chasing The Song, is in production.
When asked what he remembers about Asia the last time the band toured here, Jon replies: “20 years ago when we came to Asia, it was a different world. I remember seeing an ox cart carrying a refrigerator along the highway, colourful motorcycles that look like little cabs and Japanese girls in kimonos and wooden shoes.
“It’s become more international now. Just one big world.”
Read our review of the Bon Jovi concert in Kuala Lumpur