Bon Jovi not ready for a rocker
The Arizona Republic
April 15, 2001
Jon Bon Jovi is bored in Japan.
"This is what I get paid for: sitting in a hotel room in Tokyo, with nowhere to go and nothing to do," he says in the tone of a seasoned celebrity.
"The playing is great; the rest of this is crap. I've been here 25 times, so . . . I don't need to see any more temples or buy any more kimonos."
So, as Bon Jovi and his band of the same name wrap up their latest Asian swing and prepare to launch the second leg of the One Wild Night Tour in Phoenix on Wednesday, the singer-actor-sex symbol passes his time on the phone and hanging out with Aerosmith.
"If I stamp my foot on the floor right now, the guy who would yell at me would be Steven Tyler, because he's right below me," Bon Jovi says.
Bon Jovi, Tyler and their respective ax men - Richie Sambora and Joe Perry - had dined together the night before, and the subject of rock-and-roll longevity had come up.
Despite the fact that both acts now have decades under their belts and millions in the bank, they're still performers in the rock-and-roll circus.
"I'm big on being the youngest guy in the old-guy (rock) category," quips Bon Jovi, 39. "I dig that position.
"I can sit with Steven and Joe and Richie, having dinner and going, 'Yeah, man, we're still here. This is all right.' "
With a second career in the movies blossoming, Bon Jovi no longer devotes all his energy to singing his new hit It's My Life and such classics as Livin' on a Prayer, Wanted Dead or Alive and Bad Medicine.
However, the drive to perform 14 years after his first album remains.
"Anybody who likes to create wants people to see the work. . . . I guess the answer is: Why not?"
Bon Jovi and his band have spent lots of time overseas, where they've remained a huge draw despite a five-year break from recording that ended with the recent Crush album, which has sold 6 million copies in foreign markets.
When it came time to close London's legendary Wembley Stadium last year, the two final shows were by Bon Jovi, for 71,000 people each night.
Numbers like that ease the sting of the constant criticism that Bon Jovi faces in America - the main complaint being that the band has looked pretty while putting out lightweight rock like Runaway and Born to Be My Baby.
"I've read some things that are downright mean, and they hurt your feelings - I won't lie to you," the singer says.
"But I'm still here."
Bon Jovi offers no apologies for a catalog that has yielded 17 Top-40 hits.
"I can still sing Wanted Dead or Alive every night and know that it's as good a song as anything," he says. "It's a classic rock song now."
The new album has heavy doses of vintage Bon Jovi - anthemlike rockers and dreamy love ballads - with a modern twist brought by young co-producer Luke Ebbin. Ebbin employed such techniques as drum loops and turntable scratching at Bon Jovi's studio, located at his 30-room home in Red Bank, N.J.
When he's out of his musical orbit, Bon Jovi likely is trying to add new tricks to his acting arsenal.
He's drawn wide praise for his work in several films, including the U-boat thriller U-571 and the Kevin Spacey vehicle Pay It Forward.
Asked whether acting could ever completely replace singing, he replies, "No, I need to write songs.
" I just finished a movie (a vampire flick tentatively titled Los Muertos, or The Dead), and by the end of it, that was enough."
Although he seems to want to segregate his two careers, Bon Jovi says "movies add a humility to music."
"In the music business, I'm in essence the director, producer and star," he says. "In the movie business, I'm the bass player: Show up, do your part, thank you, go home."
As the call winds down, Bon Jovi sounds as if he's ready to go home to his wife, Dorothea Hurley, and their two children, 8 and 6.
"Kids . . . don't care how successful your record is. They just want Dad to come home and play with them."