Toronto Sun interview
|"Bon Jovi - Bounce In His Step"
When Jon Bon Jovi was a teenager growing up in the working-class town of Sayreville, N.J., he never could have predicted his current rock star status.
Sure, he had musical ambitions from the age of 13, but the mindblowing success part of the equation -- his namesake band has sold a total of 93 million albums worldwide in the past 19 years -- was beyond him.
"(Back then I thought), 'Gee, I wonder in the year 2000, I'll be 38, who will I be?' " Bon Jovi said in an exclusive Canadian newspaper interview with The Sun leading up to Tuesday's release of his band's new album, Bounce.
"Sitting there thinking to yourself, 'I'll be a grownup with kids and maybe a wife and maybe a career or maybe not a career. But when I got there, I still felt like that 18-year-old that was waiting for the answer to that question. I would have never dreamt this. And if it is a dream, don't wake me up."
Bon Jovi had time to reflect on his place in the world earlier this year when he turned the big 4-0 in March. But given that the things that keep him grounded as an adult have remained virtually unchanged, the transition wasn't that hard.
"I thought it was a wonderful milestone," he says. "I have the same band, the same wife, the same friends, and all the wonderful things I've been lucky enough to have accomplished."
However, the pretty-boy rocker -- looking as youthful and handsome as ever on this particular day, in a beige suede top and brown leather pants with his long hair streaked blond -- did think about the physical ramifications.
"I thought that it was the last pretty birthday," he says with a laugh. "It's all downhill from here."
He does agree, however, that age is a state of mind.
"Oh, absolutely. Look at ... Jagger and Richards. Who would've thought they would have been 60 doing what they do, the way they do it? It's fantastic."
Which doesn't mean he knows how long he wants to continue to perform rock 'n' roll.
Bon Jovi, the band, plan to start an arena tour in December and will celebrate their 20th anniversary next year with a box set of B-sides.
"In his day, Sinatra was a rock star," Bon Jovi says. "He toured 'til he was 80 and he made 60 movies; that's a pretty good gauge.
"Once the Stones decide to throw the towel in, then we'll see how far rock bands go. And then we'll be able to add the two up, divide by two, and figure out the average median age for the performer. But until that happens, I just don't know. I don't really anticipate being out there doing You Give Love A Bad Name at 65, (but) I'm not going to say that I won't be."
For now, Bon Jovi, who currently resides in a riverside, 30-room, 18th-century, French-style mansion complete with recording studio in nearby Runsom, N.J. -- "10 minutes by chopper, 15 minutes by ferry, and a little over an hour by car," he explains -- is looking forward to the release of Bounce.
Its title does, by the way, refer to New York's recovery since 9/11, among other things.
"I think when I came up with the title, which was pre-9/11, it wasn't to literal that it defined the record to you," says Bon Jovi, relaxing in a spacious Ritz-Carlton suite at the tip of Manhattan and mere blocks from Ground Zero.
"Post-9/11, the song was rewritten to be a little more pointed. What I liked about it, still, as an album title was, in its most simple terms, a baby can say it was bouncing a ball, a mother can say they're bouncing a child on their knee. Or, in light of what happened here, it's the resiliency of the country."
In other words, Bon Jovi -- who was collaborating with guitarist Richie Sambora at the time -- didn't want fans to think the title was only about 9/11. Just three of the 12 new songs -- the title track, the first single Everyday and Undivided -- directly deal with the tragedy, which Bon Jovi got to witness first hand.
"I was home. I was in Jersey. I was in the gym that morning, at my house, and the first plane hit. By the time the second one hit, I woke Richie up, and told him something catastrophic was happening and we tried to call his wife and child in California and the phone lines were dead. The other planes were in the air so there was a sense of urgency of what was going on. Like the rest of the world, we were all glued to our TVs wondering if this was, in fact, Armageddon."
He takes a deep breath before continuing.
"The proximity of my house to here, the smoke was wafting over my house," he says. "We went over to the beach and watched the towers burn because they were off in the skyline, they're close enough that we could see them. It was surreal to say the least but then we had to hurry back to my house to watch more TV, wondering, 'What's next?' The kids were in school. It was a gorgeous day. I'll never forget what a beautiful day it was, and a traumatic time."
For his part, Bon Jovi hasn't even gone to visit Ground Zero.
"I don't feel the need to go to the site. Even when I was refused to be on the bucket brigade because I didn't know CPR, I didn't want to get in the way, so I didn't go down there. I've flown over it 20 times and gone by it on boat but I didn't feel the need to go and pose on that platform, or get in the way of the rescue workers, or the construction workers."
Instead, Bon Jovi and Sambora performed acoustically, a mere 11 days later, on the all-star TV telethon America: A Tribute To Heroes and later with the entire band in October at The Concert For New York City at Madison Square Garden.
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Related URL: http://www.canoe.ca/JamMusic/oct6_bonjovi-sun.html