Monday, October 7, 2013

Bonus Q&A with Bon Jovi's David Bryan

by David Bergman
Here are more excerpts from my interview with Bon Jovi's founding keyboardist last week.

See elsewhere on this blog for my main article and ticket info for the upcoming shows...

Q: What is your favorite part of playing in Orange County?
Every show is a great opportunity to have a great time, connect with your fans and rock out. I love playing down in Anaheim.

Q: How has it been returning to countries you haven’t played in many years or ever (Poland, South Africa, Wales, etc.) on this year’s tour?
That was a great run. We’ve been in this since ’83, so in 30 years; it’s great to do new places. It’s great to visit places we haven’t visited in a long time and keep spreading the word of American rock ‘n’ roll to the world. In South Africa, we hadn’t been there since ’95, the year after apartheid. It was pretty amazing to come back to a new stadium. It’s special. We’re very privileged to do what we do.

Q: In recent shows, the band has continued its practice of inserting bits of rock oldies into the songs. That must be fun.
It depends. Certain countries had their different hits around the world. Different tastes. So we kind of tailor it to what was the hit there. We have like 80 songs in our arsenal, so we can pretty much do a lot. We have out set list and then we have out audibles. Sometimes, [Jon] will pull stuff out that’s not even on the list. Like I said, 80 songs are in the brain. Sometimes you gotta shake the brain a bit, but they come out.

Q: What can you tell me about the current Bon Jovi stage design?
We have really great stage designers, so you keep trying to up the ante every year. I think what we’ve managed to do is never make the set bigger than the band. It’s really about the songs and the performances. The other stuff adds to it because it’s cool. But at the end of the day, it’s a rock band. 

Q: Do you and Jon just roll with the punches when obstacles like Tico's sudden health problems arise?
There’s nothing more you can do, really. That’s the last thing you plan on. I take myself all the back to January when we were ready to mount the tour. You get yourself in the greatest shape you can, get the songs all in your brain and practice. I do all my programming and get my stuff ready to go. You know you’re gonna climb that mountain and do 105 shows in 10 months in 50 countries and go, ‘ok, I’m ready to take this on.’ [Having health issues] is the last thing you plan. You know you’re going to be tired but you don’t plan on surgeries and stuff. 

Q: The band recruited John Shanks to co-produce the album. Did you decide to work with him again because you've developed a good rapport?
Definitely. He’s a great guy and fun to make records with. I’m proud of every record. You’re most proud of your latest work and I think it’s great. 

Q: I was wondering: do I hear orchestrations on the songs “Amen” and “The Fighter”? 
That’s correct. Some orchestrations on top of the keyboard string parts. 

Q: Have you been able to gauge how fans like this album, compared to say, The Circle?
They like it. It’s your latest greatest effort and when you look out there and they’re all singing the words to the new songs, you’re like, ‘ok, everybody gets it.’ 

Q: Are you still involved in organizations like VH1 Save the Music, which helps keep music in schools?
Yeah. We did a great thing with “Memphis,” when it was running. We brought a bunch of kids from the urban areas, where theater isn’t part of their world, and brought them into the show. Bought them all tickets, got buses and had everybody in to get that experience. Then they go back to school and say, ‘let’s be in theater.' It’s a cool thing.

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