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Bon Jovi: Wetter Than Ever.

2 December 2002 | 1:00 am | Mike Gee
Originally Appeared In

Undivided We Stand.

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Bon Jovi play Rumba at the Brisbane Entertainment Centre on December 11. Bounce is in stores now.

Jon Bon Jovi is such a nice guy. Okay, okay, so it's hard to handle. Sorry to let you down. I mean I know you really want to hate him. Or at least his band. And you need reasons right. Like big-ass stadium rock, who needs it? This is where it all gets oily and ugly because the answer is, apparently, millions of punters worldwide, that's who. His mate, guitarist Richie Sambora, husband of Heather Locklear (Does that matter? Probably not), is equally as bloody affable. Nice guys. And every time they wheel out this nearly 20-year-old outfit, they seem to have even more fans than the time before. There are generations of Bon Jovi obsessives out there - from little tykes to mums and dads.

Bounce is the eighth Bon Jovi album. So far the band has sold more than 80 million records worldwide since the world went JBJ ballistic in 1986 when an album entitled Slippery When Wet caused heart failures in woman-kind and air-punching addiction in man-kind, and Bounce is adding to that figure at an alarming rate.

Jon has two comments - and you'll find if you talk to him at all that's he's a very considered bloke - and both are lengthy but perhaps place this all-American band in a proper perspective. Firstly, Bon Jovi are at lengths to underscore that they are a global band and theirs is a global message. One world united through music. Brothers and sisters in rock. Those of you gagging may turn away but understand there are more Bon Jovis out there than not. You are a minority. Scary isn't it. And, besides, a global vibe isn't a bad thing, right now. Go on Jon, tell them.

"In our story-telling what we try to do is blur the lines between first, second and third person so that it's me, you and we," he says. "In doing so, you find a lyric that makes sense. I think the chorus for Undivided can be considered universal and not just US, not just patriotic, but thematically having to do with we as one planet.”

"Wise up already, step back and take a look because people in the Gaza Strip are having more consistent suffering than we did in New York and yet to a great degree people watch TV and consider it something that's not their problem because it's far away. Similarly, our problems are not just ours as Americans but the World's. We were able to look at that head on and write about it."

Funny thing is you'd expect a more patriotic banner waving from this mob than say Bruce Springsteen who, at times, on his latest album, The Rising, gets horribly close to turning into a star and stripes throat lozenge - all that homegrown emotion is making a mess of the boss's emotions - but just manages to save himself from get swallowed up in the moment. Bon Jovi tackle it in a different way. Jon says that no matter the situation they try and look for the optimism. Hope is a strong building block.

"The first songs we sat down to write with regard to 9/11 were very, very sad. Songs that weren't ever demoed, that'll probably never even get out of the notebook. But were depressing. Then as we wrote a bunch more, we started to think about how the record would be out a year from that time, a year before we were gonna publicly speak about the subject. Was that the emotion that we were going to be feeling then? We realised, no. In a year's time people would be dusting themselves off. We figured we would be moving on. People would grab themselves by the bootstraps and have to get on with life, with living. And so did we. As the record progressed and the songs started weeding themselves out, it made more and more sense.”

"Our county in New Jersey was the hardest hit and therefore the hardest county in the metropolitan area. So many of those folks worked on Wall Street lived in my town. There were kids in my kids' classrooms whose folks didn't come home. There were a number of them. But slowly but surely life did go on and it did get better again."

Love, family life, responsibility. Good guy stuff. Nice guy stuff. It all makes sense to JBJ.

Jon laughs, "You know, we all run so hard in our jobs and our careers, and - regardless of what your career is - you're always chasing after something in order to make the rent. Whatever high-rise you live in and pay scale you have, everyone's struggling to make the rent at some point. You know, the intense pressures that you put upon yourself. It's easy to lose sight of the simple things. Why you got involved with a family to begin with. Why you're fighting hard to pay the rent to begin with. And, you know, I know that I'm guilty of living out of a suitcase for 20 years, so something as simple as going home exhausted and saying 'Love me back to life' because, right now, there's no life in these bones, well, that's very real and you're saying to your partner 'help me back to who I really am'. And, thank God, they do."