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Bon Jovi’s Tico Torres and David Bryan talk This House Is Not For Sale

bonjoviThis House Is Not For Sale is Bon Jovi’s 14th studio album and the first without long-time guitarist and songwriter Richie Sambora.  Admittedly with only half of the duo that penned many of the band’s biggest hits, I was skeptical.  What I found was a bold statement about where the band is today and where they are going tomorrow.  There was a theme of not looking backward consistent through the record.  Debuting at #1,  the three enduring, founding members proved that they would not let another’s personal demons stop them from making the music they love and the fans love as well.

Can you talk a little bit about your enduring popularity. I mean, 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?

David Bryan: I think for us, really, we say we’re a current classic. We strive to have new records. We strive to have new songs on the radio. I mean, we’ve got our 14th record coming out, and hopefully it’s another number one record. And that feels really good that we can gain those new fans and still bring our fans that have been there with us for some of the ride, all of the ride, and who want to keep on the ride.

Can you guys talk the idea of making an album without Richie Sambora for the first time? What that was like for you guys, and how the new guitarist is fitting into the dynamic of the group?

David Bryan: As far as Phil X, he’s helped us out quite a few times in the past.  And John Shanks has been with us, as producer, and he is more than a proficient guitar player.  He is amazing. We’ve been working with him for quite a few albums, and the fact that we recorded everything in one room together, predominantly with John Shanks, just adds a flavor to it.  It was the old way of making records, you know, everybody in the room, and trying different fields and tempos and melodies and immediate response for what we’re doing. So John was kind enough to join us on this next tour as well, as well as Phil.

I was just wondering if you could elaborate a little bit more on the overall theme of “This House Is Not For Sale.” I know you guys talked a little bit about the old way making music and getting together and doing it really organically. Does that kind of play into the them as well?

David Bryan: Yes, I think, I mean, it started with Jon who saw a picture which is nowthe album cover and said, “You know what?” And he looked and said, “This House Is Not For Sale.” And it really represented integrity. It represented, you know, there’s going to be, t’s not for sale. We don’t want this to end.  We are not going to give it away. And that’s it. And it’s really integrity. And then it started, like he said, it started with my heart, my soul.  This heart, this soul. So come on up to this house, which is inviting everybody in. So I think it’s like a journey of the themes where we’re at is in that record.

Guys, I think it’s kind of natural when musicians get in the same room and play to kind of feed off of each other in the style of the musicians in the room. Could you guys kind of talk about how playing with John and Phil impacted your sound? What you may have done differently, if anything, consciously or subconsciously, looking back to it?

Tico Torres: I mean, Phil’s a great guitar player, and you know, John Shanks played through the whole record, and Phil plays a couple of songs. But the both of them together, because they’re both so proficient, and this beautiful melody and sub-melodies going through, to be able to have the taste of not stepping on each other is – I mean, it’s pretty hip. I mean, because there’s no competition in that sense. It’s hard to find guys that are musical enough to be able to do that, and at the same time, be creative about it. So it’s an absolute delight, of course. That’s being new, it also spurs on our creativity, working together. And that translates into new avenues of music and experimentation. So it was very healthy and very enjoyable to record this record.

You’ll soon be approaching your 3,000th concert, played all over the world, countless gold and platinum albums – one of the great live bands ever. Do you ever kick off your shoes and sit back in your Lazy Boy and truly take in all that your New Jersey band has accomplished more than 30 years later?

Tico Torres: That’s funny. It’s almost hard to do that. We’re still going forward, if that makes sense to you. You know, if you look at the past, we’re blessed. And as the band at our craft and writing and everything, then the joy ride, you know, the third record that was so big. It was just the right time. And then, you know, after that, it’s usually, you’re going to try and beat your last record, and it’s a big circle. And I think what we learned through time is in this day and age, just to do what we feel, live more in the present, and it just really helps us to create with a little more freedom.

Can I ask when you’re putting together set list for your upcoming tour, at this point in your career, with so many hits, how do you decide what to take out and add in the material?

David Bryan: It’s funny. We try to change the list every night. I mean, there’s certain staples that people expect and probably deserve. I mean, I remember when I was very young and going to the Garden and watching three of my favorite bands in one night, I’d want a hit. I want to hear the songs that brought them to that pinnacle of success. And we try to keep those in there. We change our sets just about every night. And we have a big roster to pick from, so depending on the shows, we get to play with them and bring them in and out, which also makes it fresh for us and great for the audiences. You know, we try to do as long a show as possible to fit them all in.

Is this finally going to be the album to get you guys into the Rock Hall? Why aren’t you in?

Tico Torres: Well, it’s not our decision. I guess when the train goes around and goes 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. I guess you can only fit so much each year.

If you a fan of the band’s 21st century work, This House Is Not For Sale is a no brainer.  No it’s not the hair metal, hard-driving self titled debut but it would be disingenuous for the band to make music as if they were twenty year-olds.  Perhaps knowing the history of the band’s dealing with Richie’s absence the listener cannot help but feel the band address it in the lyrics.  The title track obviously making a statement about their resolve to carry on, “Living With The Ghost” lends itself to the King of Swing’s legacy, and the closing track “Come Up To Our House” leaves the listener with a sense that the door is open for anyone to “Come home”.