and the Boys Prove Theyíre Wanted Dead or Alive on World Tour
As Jon Bon Jovi watches his bandís third album, Slippery When Wet, surpass the septuple platinum mark in America alone, he shares something both his peers and rock critics have expressed- amazement! While some see Bon Joviís massive success as a victory, others shout ďsell- out!Ē and turn away in disgust from such popularity. After all, isnít rock and roll supposed to be something not designed for the masses, something rebellious and flagrantly unpopular with, well, mom and dad? Isnít there something wrong when parents are buying Bon Jovi albums for their kids? Hereís what the current King of Metal has to say about this phenomenal time in his indestructible career.
Hit Parader: Surely you must know how ďcuteĒ everyone thinks you are?
Jon Bon Jovi: Cute!? Cute!?
Hit Parader: Yeah. They say you are star material, ďrefreshing and affableĒ. Your image ďseems to shun the sleazy side of heavy metalĒ.
JBJ: Sounds a little wimpy to me.
Hit Parader: No, not wimpy. Everyone seems to think youíre worked long and hard to get where you are. But look, there is something more digestible about your band than say, Judas Priest.
JBJ: Well, we donít go in for makeup and hairdos. If Bon Jovi is truly a ďgood lookingĒ band, thatís an accident. We didnít plan to be a band of pretty boys. We donít try to play that aspect of our character up. When this group was put together about four years ago, all I cared about was musical talent, not how the musicians looked.
Hit Parader: Thatís the same thing Robbin Crosby says about Ratt.
JBJ: Yeah and I bet itís true. You canít possibly just look good. Thatís crazy. Weíre a real kick- ass band, and you have to be a good player to bring that off. Attitude and looks count, but you still have to be able to play your instrument.
Hit Parader: But you admit you are different from more traditional metal bands?
JBJ: Sure. You canít shove old stuff down peopleís throats, stuff they donít want. Thereís this one style of heavy metal thatís having problems. If you keep pushing that style, itís like beating a dead horse. Bon Jovi reaches for another style. I loved the Stones and Aerosmith, but hopefully Iím creating a new style- something called Bon Jovi- which is different from Steve Tyler or Mick Jagger. I enjoy the idea of entertaining, although, I swear, sometimes I wish I was a rhythm guitarist in somebody elseís band. Iíd wear dark glasses and smoke a cigarette onstage. But Iíve always been the dude that has to sing because no one else in the band wanted to do it.
Hit Parader: Are you still concerned about whatís going on in the heads of the kids in your audience? You used to talk about the time youíd spend, when you were the opening act, cruising the audience during the headlinerís time onstage. You said you learned so much from just chatting with the kids in the audience.
JBJ: Oh yeah! Itís true I canít do that now the way I could when the band was less known, but I still talk to the kids. Iím finding that your average eighteen- year- old, no matter what country heís from, basically doesnít know what heís going to do with the rest of his life. Thatís why I try to write songs that in some way address this problem. I tell them, ďHey, look, I did it. I know that you can do it too. You just have to keep trying. Donít give up. Donít feel hopeless about your future. There is a place for you in this world.Ē
Hit Parader: Is there a downside to being a star? Was it more fun to be able to hang out with the kids and talk?
JBJ: Well, Iím very happy about the bandís success. Itís dumb to deny that. But I do hope I donít come across with a bullshit ďstarĒ attitude. It bothers me when ďstarsĒ act like that, so I sure hope someone tells me when I do it. Back in Jersey, most of my friends would laugh at me if I tried to pull anything like that anyway. I do wish I had more time to hang out. I guess thatís a definite ďdownsideĒ. But it comes with the territory. This band has been on tour for years. When weíre not hustling from town to town, weíre holed up writing songs for the next album. You can imagine that thereís already quite a lot of pressure on us for the next one!
Hit Parader: Is the songwriting process easy for you?
JBJ: Oh God no! Most of the time itís exhausting.
Hit Parader: How do you write? What is your technique?
JBJ: With a pencil and paperÖ
Hit Parader: Jon! Give us a break!
JBJ: OK, OK. What happens usually is I come up with a hook, a chorus. That happens anywhere- the car, the bedroom, the street. Iíll get a chord structure and take it to either Richie or Dave. Thatís how a lot of our songs are written. I sing the parts to them and then they elaborate on them.
Hit Parader: What is the main thing you want to express in your music?
JBJ: Iím not here to make a statement about life and how you should live it. Iím not here to tell you the ways of the world- as opposed to just having a good time with rock and roll. When you come to see Bon Jovi, youíre supposed to just leave your problems outside and get ready to sweat Ďcause thatís what weíre going to make you do!
Hit Parader: Songs like ďyou Give Love a Bad NameĒ seem to fit with a theory you once said, ďOur songs are about lust not loveĒ.
JBJ: Itís true. (laughing) Come and hang out with me one night and youíll see what I mean. Love is very short- lived. I might think Iíve fallen in love, but itís really lust. Thatís the standpoint I take in the lyrics, but then thatís the standpoint I take in life. I live to play on the stage. I really do. My entertainment offstage only lasts about twenty minutes.
Hit Parader: Youíre not married, but do you have a girlfriend?
JBJ: I refuse to answer on the grounds thatÖ
Hit Parader: It might turn a fan off?
JBJ: Yeah. (laughing)
Hit Parader: You have a rep for being something of a woman chaser. Is there any truth to this?
JBJ: A woman chaser? Correction- I donít have to chase them. These days theyíre there. Itís one of the rewards of this job.
Hit Parader: What is your relationship with Cinderella?
JBJ: The band was something I found in a bar last year. I got them a record deal and now theyíre getting so big itís scary! They just sent me one of their platinum albums as a thank you. I think Iíll be getting a double- platinum one before the year is up.
Hit Parader: You and Richie are doing some writing for other bands, arenít you?
JBJ: Yes. Weíre writing for Jennifer Rush and Cher, and we just finished two songs for a new movie. We had two in Michael J. Fox film Light Of Day and weíre written something for a new Whoopi Goldberg film. This is the biggest high for me. Making it as a band is great, but making it as a songwriter is really rewarding. When other people want to record your stuff, youíre really arrived.