They've sold more than 120 million albums. They recently rocked the Grammys. And chances are good someone somewhere is howling an enthusiastic karaoke rendition of "You Give Love a Bad Name" as you read this.
Take that, critics. Bon Jovi is still bigger than the ’dos they sported as they stormed MTV in the ’80s. And the veteran quartet will bring its fist-pumpin’, arena rockin’ sounds to Seattle for a two-night stand at KeyArena tonight and Saturday.
In anticipation, guitarist Richie Sambora and drummer Tico Torres got on the phone with a group of reporters to preview the tour and elaborate on the inspirations behind their latest chart-topping disc, “The Circle.” Here are some excerpts:
On the Circle Tour set list:
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Sambora: Well, the repertoire is going to be vast. Let’s put it that way. We’re going to go back and we’re gonna play some stuff that we haven’t played in 20 years, like stuff from maybe the first two albums. And we have so many, so many records to choose from and so many songs to choose from.
A lot of times fans call into the fan club and say, “Hey, play ‘Dry County’ or play some obscure stuff like ‘Hardest Part is a Night’ off the second album. And that’s what we’re gonna do.
You know, we’re playing 135 shows in over 30 countries. So, you know, to keep ourselves interested and happy obviously we’re going to pick songs from different records and kind of interject them into the set as time goes on.
On which albums they might deliver in their entirety:
Sambora: We might do an evening where we do “Slippery When Wet” in its entirety or “Lost Highway” in its entirety – you know, stuff like that.
I’m sure that we’ll do “The Circle” in its entirety a few times on this tour because we’re really, really proud of this record and proud of the evolution that happened with this record for us as far as musically and songwriting and all that stuff.
On the high-tech production:
Sambora: The arena production entails a thing where it’s almost like a half circle. It’ll be a ramp that goes off of the stage. And there’ll be a pit that’ll be the VIP section with the expensive tickets where people get, like, you know, VIP tours backstage maybe and signed programs and stuff like that. …
(The stage will) be 360 (degrees). We’re selling in the round, although we’re not going to be in the middle.
We have some crazy stuff. … We have robots that actually move the video screens around the stage – pretty intense stuff. It’s gonna be a lot of fun so come see us. It’ll be spectacular, that’s for sure.
On staying fresh:
Torres: We try to reinvent ourselves musically and listen to what’s happening soundwise. And then when it comes (time) to do a record, it’s the writing. I think you try not to emulate anything you did in the past but try to grow.
And as far as (staying current), you have to look at what sound is out there. And when you work with (producer) John Shanks and people of his caliber, you usually have the sounds that work in today’s market.
On writing “The Circle”:
Sambora: We started writing this record in September (2008). We were supposed to do a greatest-hits album and just write a few songs for that. But (singer) Jon (Bon Jovi) and I really got on a tear as far as (writing).
Then Obama became president, OK? So then we started feeling all this hope and all the other things that were happening, not only in our country but around the world, you know, because we are a leader. And then people feel the ripple effect all the way across the globe, you know? And then the recession hit. So then there were a lot of feelings to write about out there.
There was a lot of stuff (about) how people were reacting to all these things that were happening all over the world. And Jon and I kind of plugged into that. Songs like “Working Man” (reflect that) people were losing their jobs all over the place.
I mean, I related to it particularly because my dad worked in a factory, and he got laid off periodically where he had to go find a job. So it was a (cyclical) thing that came around. … So there’s stuff that you tap into in that respect.
And our new single “Superman” is probably the only kind of boy/girl song on the record, you know what I mean? But you can take that into a place where the rescuer, Superman, could be a fireman or a policeman or a doctor or a nurse – or just a normal person doing some good in the world, you know? So there’s a story on every street corner if you open your eyes.
Ernest Jasmin: 253-274-7389