Jon Bon Jovi interview

As Bon Jovi kick off a world tour, we ask the band’s entourage to put their questions to frontman Jon

Interview, Music feature
Interview, Music feature
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Behind every great man, they say, there’s a great woman. But if that man is an enormodome rocking titan of cowboy-ish rawk-pop, there’ll also be roadies. And sound engineers. And video directors. And a jet pilot. And, erm, a stewardess. So, to get a unique insight into the mind of Jon Bon Jovi – currently rocking the world at 48 years of age – we decided to solicit questions from the people who know him best: the people he goes on the road with.

Mike Savas, management: ‘Is the jet really better than the tour bus?’
‘Yes. I would work another job before I gave up the airplane. It seats 20, but all that matters is that it seats one – me. I’ve had the same stewardess for 23 years. I wouldn’t know what a tour bus is like. That’s like dying and going to hell.’

David Bryan, keyboard player: ‘Who in the band makes you laugh most?’
‘David Bryan. The guy just thinks funny. I mean, what can I tell you? Just look at him.’

Dean Grillo, chiropractor: ‘What would make you stop touring?’
‘People not wanting to come see it, though I don’t see you and I having this conversation when I’m 60 or 70. I don’t know how Jagger does it. Jagger’s gotta do the s*** I gotta do. So I’m holding the bar up to see how high and how long he can go, but that’s tough.’

Obie O’Brien, recording engineer: ‘What’s this button for?’
‘I don’t know and don’t want to know. That for you, sir, is called job security. If you work on a recording console, it’s got a hundred-and-some odd knobs and dials on it. But if you didn’t know, you’d think that guy’s a genius for knowing how to work it. So if you asked him, “What’s that button for?” he could tell you and make it really simple, or he could continue that job security and not tell you.’

Mike, rigger: ‘Why is your mic stand white?’
‘It was painted white in 1983. That’s not the original, but it’s almost that old. I don’t remember why I painted it white, probably emulating somebody else, but I don’t recall who.’

Ike, front-of-house engineer: ‘As a songwriter, what song do you want to be remembered for?’
‘I’ll probably be most remembered for songs like ‘Wanted Dead or Alive’ and ‘Living on a Prayer’, but you also want [it to be] every song you write. With every latest one, you think: That’s it, I’ve outdone it. What are they going to write in my obituary? ‘Wanted Dead or Alive’ and ‘Living on a Prayer’. Hey, it’s better to have had one. S***, I’ve been lucky enough to have had six.’

Knute, security: ‘If you weren’t Bon Jovi’s lead singer, what would you be doing?’
‘Working for Bon Jovi. Anyone, from the road crew to management, hasn’t got a bad gig. Being the stewardess is also pretty good. A lot of people have been with us most of their adult lives. Good work if you can get it.’

Sooner, lighting director: ‘What was the first concert you went to?’
‘First concert was Rush, Heart and the Doobie Brothers in 1975 at a school in Pennsylvania. It’s a crazy line-up and, because it was meant to rain, they flip-flopped the bill, so the Doobie Brothers went on first and Rush closed the show. Not that I knew what that meant when I was a 13-year-old kid.’

Bugsy, production chief: ‘Which song do you wish you’d written?’
‘Leonard Cohen’s ‘Hallelujah’. I have such feeling for the lyric and understanding of the lyric. Too many kids sing that song like a Christmas carol and haven’t got a f****** clue about the innuendo in that lyric. It’s
a big part of who I am, the storytelling connection with that audience member who I’m singing it to.’

Glen the Finger, monitor engineer: ‘Besides you, who’s your favourite rock star?’
‘Elton John… greatest guy in the biz. Elton loves music. He buys records every week, he encourages young artists, he has taken more than one and made them into stars. Can you imagine getting a call when you’re some nobody kid named James Blunt five years ago, going “Hi, it’s Elton John, I want to help you.” You’d probably just s*** yourself.’

Tony Bongiovi, video director (and Jon’s brother): ‘What am I getting for a tour bonus?’
‘Tony, stop asking questions. Ask Mom.’

Alexi Duggins put the crew’s questions to Jon. Bon Jovi’s tour continues until December; see www.bonjovi.com. Latest album The Circle is in stores now.

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