Bon Jovi // “The House Is Not For Sale”

Bon Jovi keyboardist David Bryan was asked during a recent teleconference interview what advice he’d offer to his younger self if he was starting out in the music business.

“Keep attacking, you know, keep forging forward,” Bryan replied during a recent teleconference interview with reporters, noting that it takes plenty of hard work to make a career in music work.

Bryan seems to practice what he preaches. The idea of pushing forward applies perhaps now more than ever to Bon Jovi, which

was faced with filling a major void when guitarist Richie Sambora quit the band in 2013.

Sambora was frontman Jon Bon Jovi’s primary songwriting partner within the group, and a featured figure on the live stage. To many, Sambora was considered the most important band member outside of Bon Jovi.

Drummer Tico Torres, who also participated in the teleconference interview, admitted Sambora’s departure was a big deal for the band. “The three-year period since the last record, I mean, the band itself also went through a lot of angst,” Torres said. “Richie’s a brother with us for many years – not something you brush off. “

But the three remaining original band members – Bon Jovi, Bryan and Torres – stuck together, drew on help from musicians who had

ties to the band, and have emerged sounding as solid and confident as ever on the recently released studio album, “This House Is Not For Sale.”

The album features the kind of no-frills blend of hard rock and pop that has typified most of Bon Jovi’s music, with hooky rockers like “Living With The Ghost,” “New Years Day” and the title song and hearty ballads like “Labor of Love” and “Come On Up To Our House” among the best tracks.

John Shanks, producer on every Bon Jovi album since 2005’s “Have a Nice Day” and a guitarist himself, stepped into Sambora’s guitar role. He also continued to contribute as a songwriter – he has been part of the writing equation on each of the albums he’s produced – receiving writing credits on six of the new album’s 12 songs. Billy Falcon, who has written with Bon Jovi in the past, also has credits on a half dozen of the songs.

The group also found a comfort zone by arranging and recording the songs as a band, with Bon Jovi, Bryan, Torres, Shanks and long-time touring and studio bassist and now official band member Hugh MacDonald all together in the same room for the process.

“I think musically, for this, we just came into the studio, and said, “Let’s do this one almost more old school,” where the last couple of records were different,” Bryan said. “But this one was getting in the studio, looking at each other, bashing…it out. We did it at the Avatar (studio), which used to be the Power Station, where we originally started.  We made our first record there in ’83. And it just felt good, and it felt good to get in there and take these songs and really build them together.  And that was John Shanks, myself, Hugh and Tico and Jon.  And then (new lead guitarist) Phil (X) came in and played a couple of solos.  But it really was, that was the core then, over the last year, of making this record.”

The increased role of Shanks in the band, plus the contributions of Phil X, also helped give the band a spark and sense of renewal as “This House Is Not For Sale”

came together.

“It’s a different thing, but there’s new life, and I think when you have new people, you have new energy,” Bryan said. “And, of course, the creative process, the way we’ve worked together, is working with each other in the room.  And the song dictates.  And if everybody’s on the same page, it makes beautiful music.  You know, of course, we had some wonderful years with Richie, but if he wants to move on in his direction, it’s one of those things that you can’t avoid, and we carry on, because the premise of this record, “This House Is Not For Sale” is the roots, and the fact (is) that we’re still together and strong and love playing music together.”

Saying Bon Jovi had wonderful years with Sambora could almost be an understatement.  After forming in Sayreville, New Jersey in 1983, Bon Jovi has gone on to sell more than 130 million copies of its 13 previous studio albums, compilations and live releases.

The band broke through in a big way with its third album, the 1986 release, “Slippery When Wet,” which included the hits “Livin’

on a Prayer” and “You Give Love A Bad Name.” The album held the No. 1 spot on the “Billboard” magazine album chart for eight weeks. That was followed in 1988 by an even bigger album, “New Jersey,” which included five hit singles.

The band saw its popularity dip, though, heading into the

1990s as grunge supplanted pop metal as the predominant sound on rock radio. But over the past dozen years, Bon Jovi has enjoyed a major resurgence, as the 2000 CD, “Crush,” 2003’s “Bounce” and 2005’s “Have A Nice Day,” 2007’s “Lost Highway,” 2009’s “The Circle” and 2013’s “What About Now” have all been hits – with the latter three releases each topping the “Billboard” album chart.

“This House is not For Sale” followed suit, debuting at No. 1, although it dropped to No.  43 the following week and had  generated 174,000 copies sold as of January.

Bryan and Torres said the album title is meant to represent the band’s commitment to moving forward without Sambora and retaining the group’s integrity along the way. Bryan noted that Bon Jovi saw the photo used on the album cover and it inspired the phrase

“This House Is Not For Sale” and the idea that the foundation of the group is strong enough to withstand setbacks and challenges resonated with the singer/guitarist.

“He looked and said, ‘This House Is Not For Sale,’” Bryan said. “And it really represented integrity. It represented, you know, there’s going to be – it’s not for sale. We don’t want this to end.”

Torres echoed that sentiment.

“It (“ This House Is Not For Sale”) shows where we’re at right now, the way we feel, not only in music and mentally, but also has that optimism, which has always been pretty inherent in our music,” he said. “And it’s a message that we live by personally, so it’s nice to be able to convey that musically.”

Bon Jovi is now pushing full steam ahead with a world tour, with both Shanks and Phil X in the touring lineup. Bryan said fans can expect a substantial show from the band – with a few different songs coming in and out of the set list each night.

“We try to change the list every night,” he said. “I mean, there are certain staples that people expect and probably deserve…We try to keep those in there.  We change our sets just about every night.  And we have a big roster (of songs) 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.”



About The Author

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.