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June 27, 2008

LiveDaily Interview: Richie Sambora of Bon Jovi

Bon Jovi guitarist Richie Sambora is a numbers guy. Ask him how his band's European tour is faring and he'll recite figures like a booking agent. "It's unbelievable, unbelievable," Sambora said via telephone on his way to Bristol, England. "It's all stadiums out here and everything's sold out like crazy. They're big gigs: 60,000 in Manchester, 72,000 in Munich. I'm on my way to Bristol right now, which is going to be about 43,000 this evening. I couldn't have wrote the book better. We're the No. 1 tour in the world this year."For that fact alone, Sambora and the rest of Bon Jovi--frontman Jon Bon Jovi, keyboardist David Bryan and drummer Tico Torres--have reason to be confident. Also fueling the band's latest round of success is the hit "Who Says You Can't Go Home," which was dubbed the first No. 1 country record by a rock band; and "Lost Highway, the group's 10th studio album, which went to No. 1 on The Billboard 200 album chart. It was the first time Bon Jovi hit the top spot since "New Jersey" in 1988. Sambora spoke to LiveDaily about the European tour, writing new material and Bon Jovi's hands-on work ethic.

Congratulations on being named to the Songwriters Hall of Fame.

Yeah, unfortunately, we weren't able to be there. We had 55,000 people in Copenhagen, so we couldn't ignore them. [Laughs] We pushed it to next year, so they're going to give it to us next year.

How important is it to win awards like that in this stage of your career?

At this stage of our career, I think it's very, very important. It's kind of a vindication. Also, it feels great to be recognized by your peers like that. We were inducted into the European Rock 'n' Roll Hall of Fame last year, Songwriters Hall of Fame. Anytime you make those kind of breakthroughs and those milestones, they're like earmarks in your career. At this stage in our career, man, it really, really feels good to get recognized like that.

To what do you attribute your longevity? Not too many bands who have been around as long as you can pull off the kind of numbers that you do.

Just being diligent and working really, really hard on every aspect of our career. It starts, No. 1, with the songs. Jon and I have somehow struck a nerve where the songs that we write really touch people and they become their songs. I think that's No.1. No. 2, the band's diligent, hard work on building a massive touring base throughout the world, throughout our career for 25 years, especially with the decline of the record business at this point. The touring business is all the music business has left of it at this point, I think.

Have you started writing new material?

No. We're in tour mode. We have always been the kind of band where the new record is indigenous to the time frame of when it's written because we feel that culturally, and everything that happens in the news and as we're traveling around the world, and what's happening to us personally, is going to come through that period of time. We very, very rarely take songs from other periods of time and plug them into new records.

With "Lost Highway," was it important to capture that country audience?

Absolutely, on the heels of "Who Says You Can't Go Home," obviously, being the first No. 1 country record by a rock band. It was like we said, "Hey, anytime evolution opens up a door like that to a band that's been around for as long as we have, you have to go with it." We made that record in a very short period of time. It was like three months. Lo and behold, it was No. 1 in about 17 countries, so it was very, very well received.

Did you purposely record it quicker than other records?

No, it just kind of happened that way. The record has its own life. It's like the living work. It takes on a life of its own. That record just happened to go down quick.

I saw the show in Phoenix and I was really struck by the incredible production.

We've always been a great live band. There's been the naysayers and all that stuff about our reputation or whatever, but I think when people come to see us live they go, "Now I get it. Now I understand." After 25 years and 120 million records, it's not like we're a flash in the pan at this point. What we try to do with the production is give the people their money's worth and give them something special. We like to give them something they're going to be able to take home with them. We like to give the "wow" factor when it comes down to our production. That's very, very important. We make the stadiums and arenas a very, very intimate place. We've learned that throughout the years.

How much of the production do you design yourselves?

We're definitely involved hands-on in everything. We're involved in picking the bands that open up for us. We're involved in putting the production together. Obviously, we use people who know what they're doing. We're record makers, songwriters, producers, performers. We hire the right people. We work together with them and we put it together.

Posted by riesambo at June 27, 2008 09:05 PM