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December 10, 2005

Having a Very Nice Day

After more than 20 years of cranking out hits, Bon Jovi is not ready to slow down. Hot on the heels of its latest CD success, the band has embarked on a world tour that makes a stop at the Pepsi Arena in Albany on Monday, Dec. 12. As the tour kicked off last month, Bon Jovi guitarist Richie Sambora and keyboardist David Bryan spoke to media from around North America, including The Saratogian, during a teleconference about their 'Have a Nice Day' CD and tour and life in general.

You probably have seen it. It's a red square with a smirking smiley face. It was hard to miss a few months ago, as were the members of the band Bon Jovi who visited just about every media outlet on television to promote their newest release, 'Have a Nice Day.'

Today, the band has stepped away from the TV cameras and is hitting stages around the world in support of the new CD and celebrating more than 20 years of brotherhood.

The band has been able to maintain their success for so long thanks to a faithful fan base and sound that survived the musical changes throughout the years. They made it through the 'hair band' days of the 1980s and the grunge-filled '90s and emerged in the 2000s as strong as ever.

Although some may not remember a strong radio presence for the band in the '90s, keyboardist David Bryan said, the band didn't change their sound to conform with the popularity of grunge and never lost their following.

Guitarist Richie Sambora agreed. 'You know what happened? We grew up and then America caught up with us. ... In the '90s, we started talking about more social issues. ... I mean we still wrote a great love song, and we still wrote a good rock song, as we always did. But, you know, we started growing up and people started having kids, and we were just trying to become part of what real life is ... going through our own stuff and writing about the feelings that we were having.'

The 2005 album is a continuation of that growth. Since its release, some have tried to put a political spin on the title track for the new CD, especially since singer Jon Bon Jovi headed out on the campaign trail with then-presidential candidate John Kerry. But Sambora said the song is different for everyone.

'For me, it was more of a social standpoint,' Sambora said. 'Like 'Have a nice day.' Very Clint Eastwood.'

And the new album has a 'big sound,' something Sambora says is popular again, thanks to bands like Green Day and The Killers.

'The music is a bit more powerful; it's a bit more aggressive,' he said of today's artists.

That, in turn, has led to a more 'aggressive lyric' on 'Have a Nice Day' and hardly any love songs, Sambora said.

But the band members still remain just a group of regular guys, as Sambora proved during the call when said he was at his home in California to spend time with his family. (He is married to actress Heather Locklear.) 'I had a chance to come home and take my kid (daughter Ava) to school this morning,' Sambora said. 'The great part about this band is that 'people still come to see us because of the camaraderie. We're a band of brothers; we're out there; we're still doing it.'

Despite being 'regular guys' -- with wives and kids -- the band members have a huge female following. But they don't forget their beginnings.

Bryan said during the early days, like when the band opened for Judas Priest in 1984, they had more people throwing stuff at them than cheering, especially from guys in the crowd.

Today, female concertgoers are the ones doing the throwing -- and that generally consists of flowers and underwear.

'If the girls show up, hey, that's just more eye candy for the other guys to look at,' Sambora joked.

The fans -- both male and female -- that have remained loyal to the band share a connection with the members and the guys know that.

'We've been a part (of) the fabric of people's lives,' Sambora said. 'And it's a big privilege for us. When we walk out there and sing those songs, and you see what's in the eyes of those people, that's what you're getting at. Not only are we singing about ourselves 'but we're also singing about everyone else. So I think that that's what this band has transcended.'

It's not just the old stuff that the fans love, such as 'You Give Love a Bad Name,' 'Bad Medicine' and 'Wanted Dead or Alive,' but Bryan and Sambora said the new songs they are performing live are getting a great response as well. And there is no shortage of songs.

'There's a vast library of stuff after 22 years,' Sambora said. 'There's an arsenal of songs that you have sitting in the back of your mind.

'It's like Trivial Pursuit in a way.'

Even with so much to choose from, they still have songs that they don't like to play.

'I would say we could probably collectively as a band tell you you'll never hear 'She Don't Know Me,'Ÿ' Bryan said.

'Absolutely. Or anything off the second album for that matter,' Sambora added.

No matter what they dole out, the die-hard fans will most likely be pleased. As for those who are just discovering Bon Jovi, Sambora sums it up this way: 'Whatever misconceptions that were misconstrued about this band at any point in time are cleared up by coming to see us play live. After you come see this band play live, you're going to be converted.'

Bon Jovi, with special opening act, Albany-based Wetwerks, comes to the Pepsi Arena in Albany at 7:30 p.m. Monday, Dec. 12. Tickets are $89.50 and $49.50. Call (800) 30-EVENT or visit www.pepsiarena.com.

Posted by riesambo at December 10, 2005 10:59 AM