In the midst of rehearsals and recording sessions, Bon Jovi took a break for a quick chat about the induction and answer all the key questions -- including whether Sambora and former bassist Alec John Such will be there -- and reveal some exciting news about new music.
The Rock and Roll Hall of Fame -- how does it feel?
I am humbled and I'm pleased. This is the stuff you dream about when you start making records. I think it's that last great item on the bucket list. I jokingly say it's gonna read great on my obituary, I just won't be here to see it. But it gives me kind of a sense of closure.
Is this something the kid who swept up in recording studios could have even imagined?
Y'know, they established this Hall when I started making records. So I was able to go to that first (induction ceremony), and you dream about it. But it seemed surreal at the time -- and, as you know, they made us wait, but it's here now, so it's rewarding.
Were you ever chafing about the band not being inducted before this?
Sure. I'd be lying if I said I didn't. I've kept it to myself, but there were moments when I was cranky because we felt that we met the prerequisites and we were still making No. 1 records and doing and being, and how is it that some of those who...So, anyhow, now it's all behind us, and I'm fine.
Winning the public vote so handily must have been gratifying, then.
Yeah, that was one of the things that was pleasing. The first time when we were nominated (2011) and ultimately didn't get in, there were a lot of conversations about were we legitimately not voted in, was there a little bit of covert action going on, and we'll never know. But afterwards they installed this public vote, so as a result the ones who have gotten a No. 1 vote each time have gotten in. That didn't exist for us the first time, and I think as a result of us not getting in there were conversations about how (the Rock Hall) is about bands of the people. So the fans have spoken.
What kind of conversations has there been among the band members about the induction?
We've been rehearsing the last couple of days. We get together in order to write, record and stay fresh, so it happened the guys were in town the last few days and we're in the studio today finishing these couple of tracks that we're gonna put out next month. So we had a couple of nights to just give each other a hug and high-five and say amen. So it was cool, and I'll see 'em all again today.
The 800-pound gorilla, of course, is whether Richie will be a part of this -- and let's go one step further and talk about Alec.
Y'know, I had always envisioned my inviting Al because he believed in me when I just had "Runaway" on the radio in 1983 and put this thing together. I asked the guys to help me out for a couple of weeks so I could continue to build my name and take advantage of the success of "Runaway." Alec said "of course" and he's the one that introduced me to Richie and ultimately to Tico (Torres), so I always envisioned inviting him to this and absolutely will fulfill that.
And Richie, the same thing. The same invite will be extended to him. I appreciate everything he did. He was my right hand for a long time, so there was never ill will, just like I told everybody. (He) just didn’t' show up anymore. We went on, but he was there for three decades and he should be there to celebrate the moment. So he'll be invited to join the rest of the band in all of the festivities.
Does that include performing together again at the induction ceremony?
Oh yeah. Yeah, yeah, yeah. (Sambora's) absolutely invited to play along with Phil (X) and Hugh (McDonald) and Alec. I think it's a celebration. This is not the tour; this is a one-off night that everybody should certainly show up with a smile and sing the songs.
So talk about the new songs you mentioned?
I started the process again and didn't have a full album -- maybe five (songs) where usually I have 35. So I picked two that were appropriate. One is called "When We Were Us," which is obviously about the band, a big ol' anthemic (song) and I think a great lyric that tells our story. And the other one is called "Walls," which is obvious what it's about, but because of the crazy world in which we live it's taken a little while to process and put some of it into lyric. So this is just a taste of that kind of thing. I felt like if I give one from column A and one from column B it would be a fair representation of some new material to accompany the forthcoming shows. They'll be out I think the very beginning of January, as soon as everybody comes back from the Christmas break. We're mixing them this weekend.
So what kind of long view perspective does the Rock Hall induction give you about your career and what you've accomplished?
Y'know, it's like the last coda. Now it's like, "Well, what else do you want to do?" And all I really want to do at this point is continue to do it to the best of my ability. I always said I wasn't going to pretend to be something I wasn't, and I'm not gonna go out there and be the fat Elvis. If I can't do it at the level to which I've become accustomed, I'm gone. But as long as I can do it and be healthy and happy doing it, I'll keep doing it. I'm not going to be doing the 150-show tours anymore; I just don't have the desire. This year was very civilized by our standards; We did 40 shows. I'll do the same next year. If I can just do that every year, we get to enjoy it. It doesn't beat you up and we still get to do what we love to do and at the level we love to do it.
You did a This House Is Not For Sale show on Broadway this year. When are you going to have a show of your own?
(laughs) Believe me, those conversations have happened. There's been a lot of people who have knocked on our doors over the years. I haven't seen Bruce; I trust his show is awesome. I wouldn't say I wouldn't ever consider a jukebox musical, but they would have to come to me and convince us. If they go Rock Of Ages, I wouldn't do it. If they came to me and said Jersey Boys -- and until I saw Jersey Boys I used to say, "Boy, do we have a story," and when I saw Jersey Boys I said, "That's our story!" So it's not a unique story. And then if it was Mamma Mia! and you created something from something else, I might be a little more open to it. So we'll see. And on the other hand the Tony Award-winning keyboard player of our outfit (David Bryan) is so busy.... So I think it's the kind of thing where you go I'd rather let David write original stuff rather than suddenly there's a Bon Jovi jukebox musical to compete with it. But Broadway's cool, man. I loved doing the This House... shows and telling the story of all the songs on Broadway and the West End and a couple of other theaters like that. I could've done that 100 times and loved it.