Bon Jovi Discuss Prepping for Upcoming Tour
Bon Jovi is hunkered down in Connecticut rehearsing for its upcoming This House Is Not for Sale Tour, and while the group is planning its usual arena-sized production, it’s actually dialing things down a bit this time.
“This one is really concentrating on the music, not so much video screens,” keyboardist David Bryan told Billboard during a tour conference call with reporters. “We have such a body of work now it’s really getting all the songs and it’s about the band.” Drummer Tico Torres added that the group will be going for more of a 360-degree presentation. “It looks like we’re doing a lot more stuff in the round to have some people around us as well, which I think we always loved … to have actual fans behind you as you’re playing, and it’s quite simple and it’s movable,” he said. “There’s a lot of motion that goes with the songs. … We’re rehearsing it now and trying to get used to it. When you’re onstage, you see it a little differently than when you’re in the audience.”
Fans can, of course, count on hearing entrenched favorites such as “Living on a Prayer” and “Wanted Dead or Alive,” but Bon Jovi, as usual, plans to mix up the setlist each night and also take full advantage of having 13 studio albums — plus frontman Jon Bon Jovi’s Young Guns soundtrack. “We’re rehearsing now, figuring it out,” Bryan said. “There’s definitely going to be a section from the new record and we’ll have all the classics. Now we have, like, 90-some-odd songs to choose from. We’re definitely a work in progress, but there will be your favorites and we get to change it up every night.” And even though 2015’s Burning Bridges was considered a contract-filling toss-off, Torres said the group will likely play something from that album as well.
The Bon Jovi Tour kicks off Feb. 8 in Greenville, S.C., with shows scheduled into April. More dates and other territories will be added. The group is also playing the Rock in Rio festival on Sept. 22 in Brazil. The trek marks the first time longtime adjunct members Hugh McDonald (bass) and Phil X (guitar) are considered official members of Bon Jovi — they also played on the album — and that’s brought an increased cohesiveness as the group gets ready to hit the road.
“It’s important that we are a band,” Torres says. “A lot of this record was done in the studio by the old way. We used to banter back and forth and try parts and just record it. I think the success of this album is because it does have that band element; it’s not just music put together and filled in. Everybody has a good part in this, and I think that’s why it shows musically and it’s going to show live too.”
It also helps that there’s no specter of guitarist Richie Sambora returning to the group after leaving 15 shows into Bon Jovi’s 2013 tour. “We haven’t been in communication with him since the last tour,” Bryan says. “It’s not a life-sentence band, and he decided to not be in it anymore and we decided to keep going, and we’re gonna keep going. Phil [X] really helped us out in a time of need; Richie was battling his demons and Phil was there for us and came out, we didn’t know if it was going to be one show or 10 shows, and now it’s three years. He’s a great player and he’s got so much energy. It feels fresh and good.”
Bon Jovi will be filled out as well with percussionist Everett Bradley and, interestingly, with album co-producer John Shanks on guitar. Shanks toured with Melissa Etheridge during the mid- and late 90s but has focused on producing and co-writing since. He played with Bon Jovi during its special album release shows in October, which worked out so well the group invited him along for the tour. “We had him in the studio with us, playing,” Torres said. “It was a different chair for him to have besides being in the booth … and it seemed logical that since he played on all the songs that he would play [live] and then took it a step further: ‘You wanna go on the road with us?’
“And talking to John, he says that what’s cool for him is when he was playing with Melissa Etheridge and bands like that, his kids were babies. They’ve never seen him play and perform in this kind of thing. So this is an opportunity for him to revisit, play and have his kids, which are older now, partake and enjoy. So it’s almost like a dream for him.”
This House Is Not for Sale, released Nov. 4, bowed atop the Billboard 200 and was Bon Jovi’s fourth consecutive No. 1 debut and sixth chart-topper overall.