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November 17, 2005

liveDaily Interview

Bon Jovi guitarist Richie Sambora notes that fans won't find a treasure trove of love songs on his band's latest album, "Have a Nice Day," a rarity for the New Jersey-bred outfit. Instead, as the snarky title track implies, Bon Jovi went with a more aggressive approach.

"I think the main part of this record is culled from personal freedom," Sambora said during a recent teleconference with reporters. "I think that's a real big, big part of this record. Having your own voice.
"It's a mature lyric throughout the record, I think, because it's about standing up for yourself and having your own voice in the world."

Added keyboardist David Bryan, who also participated in the teleconference: "And believing in yourself."

Sambora explained that the change in mood had a lot to do with lead singer Jon Bon Jovi's political beliefs. During the 2004 presidential campaign, Jon Bon Jovi pushed for candidate John Kerry.

"Jon's particular take on 'Have a Nice Day' was because the whole country was partisan at that point, and he saw this great divide in the country," Sambora said. "And, for me, it was more social. Now, maybe from Jon's point of view it's more political. So, that's what makes a band happen, you know? It's all about different kinds of morals, and different kinds of feelings, and how you feel about things."

The album "Have a Nice Day" entered The Billboard 200 albums chart at No. 2 with first-week sales of 201, 881 units, besting the band's previous first-week peak of 159,000 units for 2002's "Bounce."

An edited transcript of the teleconference interview with Sambora and Bryan follows.

Question: Richie, [in your latest band bio], you talked about wanting "Have a Nice Day" to have this big-sounding, rock 'n' roll feel again. And, in saying that, implied that this sort of sound might not have been open to the band at other points. Were there points where you didn't feel you could make this kind of an album, and what kept you from doing that?

Richie Sambora: No. You know, I think there's two points to that particular question. Number one, from a songwriting standpoint, you have to write that kind of song to actually house those kind of big sounds. You know what I mean? So, that was the first thing. And the [songs] just kind of came out of us in that particular way. And number two, I think it's contemporary again. The songwriting value itself of songs like "Have a Nice Day" and "I Want to Be Loved" and "I Am" gave it that opportunity where you were able to house that kind of big sound.

Q: [To Sambora]: I read in the bio about when [you were introduced] to Jon and the guys, and you were pretty bold about wanting to be the guitarist. What exactly did you tell them, and why did you want in the band so bad so early on?

R.S.: You know what? That moment was a defining moment, obviously, in the band's history. I've never done anything like that before in my life. The bass player in the band was my bass player, and I was loaning him to Jon and the guys at that point in time, to do a showcase. And he said, "You should come down here, because this is pretty good, and this kid's a star," and blah blah blah. And I went to see the band at a club one evening when I got back from doing some business out here in California, [where I had] my own independent label at that point in time, and I also owned the bar that the band was playing in at one point. And I just went, "Wow. This is something real special." I mean, I thought that Jon was a big star, and the band was great. And I thought I could fill the void that was going to make something happen. It was like divine intervention or something. But it all worked out for the best. And we started right from that point.

Q: My question is to both of you. Does it ever occur to you, like, say, when you're pumping gas or grocery shopping, that you're Bon Jovi, and you've got millions of fans worldwide that are just crazy about you?

David Bryan: Yeah. I wonder why they can't pump my gas. Why aren't they grocery shopping for me?

R.S.: You know, the great part about this band--and I think one of the reasons that people still come to see us--is because of the camaraderie of what we have together, you know? And I think that we're a band of brothers; we're out there, we're still doing it. I think that we were damned if we did and damned if we didn't at one point, you know? Certainly, we survived all this--you know, s---, this hair-band criticism stuff--by just going out there and working hard and making good music and staying together. And I think that, hey, look, people want to see people stay together. They want to be entertained by people that are staying together, and people that actually have camaraderie, and that really--I mean, we still like each other. It's pretty unbelievable after 22 years, but ...

Q: You guys have been doing this for so long, obviously everyone has their own favorite songs. Is there one song that you guys still get excited about performing live?

R.S.: Yeah. Anything that's not our song. Only kidding. Obviously, we're just thrilled about this new record, number one. And, so, any time that you get to play the new songs off the new record, you get really excited about it. And then everybody asks that question a lot, and you sit there and you go, "Well, how does it feel to play 'Living on a Prayer' for the 20,000th time?" And you know what? Songs like that don't get tired.

D.B.: It's hard to answer that question, because, you know what? It's really great to play some of the classics, and it's really great to play the new songs. It's just--it's an honor to walk up on that stage and people still dig you, to tell you the truth.

Q: I noticed on the album that you worked with Dann Huff, who primarily has a background in country. What was it like to work with him, and what did he bring to the band?

R.S.: We never actually had a chance to work with [Huff] in person. He just took our tracks and what we did, and he went to Nashville and he Nashville-ized it. And he is obviously one of the top producers in Nashville, if not the top producer in Nashville, and we're very, very proud of the way this thing came out. And now it looks like we can honestly have a great crossover--especially because country is really moving more into pop than it ever, ever has before. They've been trying to get us down there for a long, long time, and now it just seems like, "OK, we're not carpetbagging." Honestly, there's been a little country with "Wanted Dead or Alive," and things like that. If you listen to the Rolling Stones, they are playing country music. If you listen to Led Zeppelin, they are playing country music, in their own way.

Q: What songs will you be doing on tour that weren't hits, and aren't from the new album? What are some of the other songs that people can expect?

D.B.: Gosh, I mean, there's so many to choose from. It's kind of hard. Sometimes, if we have an idea of new songs to look at, we'll go over it at sound check if we're going to touch upon it. If Jon is like, "Well, I may be doing these four or five songs," we'll go over it in sound check. And then there's times where he just turns around and starts playing it, and we haven't played it in 20 years, or six years, or whatever, and we just follow him, because somewhere in the cobwebs of the brain, it's there.

R.S.: Sometimes, like Dave said, Jon will call a song out that we haven't played in a long, long, long time, and we'll walk out there in front of 70,000 people and pull it off. And people will enjoy it, because people enjoy that energy. It's almost like a reality show, for God sakes. When you pull stuff out of your hat like that, if there's a train wreck in there every once in a while, and somebody hits a wrong chord, so what?

Q: Are there any songs or albums where you just go, uh-uh, that's off limits?

D.B.: I would say we could probably collectively as a band tell you you'll never hear "She Don't Know Me."

R.S.: Absolutely. Or anything off the second album, for that matter. We were forming as a band at that particular point, you know? I think that we really found our stylistic voice during "Slippery When Wet." I think that one of the most important things that a band can do is finally find your niche, and although we had been out there on the road, and we had platinum records and gold records, and blah blah blah blah, you know, we didn't really know who we were yet, until "Slippery" happened, until those songs were written, and until that album was made.

Posted by riesambo at November 17, 2005 10:37 AM