Jon Bon Jovi has spoken to Sky News about touring after more than 30 years of fame, saying life on the road is “much more civil” than in the band’s ’80s and ’90s heyday.
In an interview with Kay Burley, the rock frontman spoke about everything from the band’s longevity to politics – and whether he would consider running for office.
When asked what it is like touring now compared with the earlier years of Bon Jovi, he said they cut their teeth performing more than 200 shows year after year, and while he still enjoys the gigs now he has no desire to “live out of a suitcase as much” anymore.
“In truth I think that we pace it a lot better than we did in the beginning,” he said.
“When you’re a kid and you have nothing else to do and nowhere else to go, living out of a suitcase is not only romantic but it’s smart because you need to go out there and learn to work in front of audiences around the globe.
“That’s how we cut our teeth. We weren’t afraid of doing 240 shows in a tour in a year and then doing it again the next year… I have no desire to do that any longer.
“So these are much more civil… I don’t feel the need or the desire to live out of a suitcase as much.”
With a career spanning four decades, Bon Jovi have shifted more than 100 million records and performed in front of 34 million fans worldwide.
They were inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame only this year, after being eligible for almost a decade.
Their biggest hits include Livin’ On A Prayer, Always, Shot Through The Heart and It’s My Life, but the singer says it was not always obvious which songs would do well.
“I’ve missed the mark many times… I walked out of the room and thought Livin’ On A Prayer was okay. You know, maybe we give it to this soundtrack… and I was laughed at. Richie [Sambora, guitarist] looked at me and he said, ‘you’re crazy’.
“Because it was so new, it was so different, it was such a unique song. It didn’t sound like anything on the radio.
“Same thing with It’s My Life or Always. There have been songs that were so different than what was on the radio, that who knew?
“Other times I thought this one is perfect, it’s gonna be a monster… and it missed the mark.”
When it comes to being a successful artist, having the right song – and being able to convey your message with meaning – is what makes a truly successful recording artist, he says.
Speaking about reality TV music shows such as X Factor, he said that while they provide singers with a shortcut to fame, “a great singer is not what necessarily makes a great artist”.
“Case in point, with all due respect, would Mick Jagger have won X Factor? Bob Dylan have won X Factor, Bruce Springsteen have won X Factor? Probably not, but they’re the greatest artists of rock n roll, right?
“You can be a great singer and end up working on a cruise ship. What really matters is, do you have the song and are you able to convey that message? So the era has changed but it really is about the song.”
Speaking of The Rolling Stones – they are the band that sets the bar for everyone else, he says.
“I hope someday they’ll gracefully retire, for one reason – at least I’ll know where the end zone is.
“As long as they’re performing at such a high level in every way – selling tickets and performing as great as they do – they show me where the end game is.
“But he’s 20 years older than I am and still the best frontman in the business. So they are also by far the biggest band in the world and then… I think there’s others too. We’re up there but we’re not there.”
Bon Jovi also spoke about his charity work with the Jon Bon Jovi Soul Foundation, which helps provide affordable housing across several states and also operates two “soul” kitchens in New Jersey.
He was also asked about politics, saying he believes “healthy debate is fantastic” when told about Sky’s leaders’ debates campaign.
“The voice of the people has spoken here… because our electoral college is what it is and so we have to live with that,” he said. “But I find healthy debate to be great and it should be something that people really engage in.”