Wednesday, February 27, 2013

JonBon Interview on USA Today

On a new song called What's Left of Me, one of the world's biggest rock stars channels the voices of a farmer, a factory worker, a military veteran, even an unsuccessful musician — ordinary folks, all struggling to adapt to changing circumstances in our country.

The star, in case you're wondering, is Jon Bon Jovi; the track is from his band's 12th studio album, What About Now, out March 12. Like many of Bon Jovi's previous hits, it has a do-or-die spirit that evokes both frustration and invincibility, urging us to strive hard and dream big. But for the singer/songwriter, there's also a topicality that's typical of the album — "a strong social overview," as he puts it.

It's late afternoon, and Bon Jovi and his bandmates are taking a rehearsal break days before launching the group's Because We Can world tour (named for Now's driving first single) at the Mohegan Sun resort and casino. Lounging on a sofa in his dressing room, Bon Jovi seems relaxed and fit. He turns 51 on Saturday, but he still has the movie-star smile and luxuriant hair that made him one of rock's reigning sex symbols in the '80s.

Granted, the locks are shorter and more tastefully layered than they were back in the day, befitting a star whose image has evolved in ways that few who once dismissed his group as a "hair band" would ever have predicted — and not just in the musical arena. In recent years, Bon Jovi has drawn attention for his political and social activism, campaigning for Democratic presidential contenders dating back to Al Gore and, in 2006, starting the Jon Bon Jovi Soul Foundation, aimed at helping families and people who face economic hardship.

In 2010, President Obama appointed the singer to the White House Council for Community Solutions, where his focus is on helping underprivileged young people find jobs. More recently, as one of New Jersey's most famous sons, Bon Jovi played a very public role in the recovery following Hurricane Sandy, touring the damage and performing at a pair of high-profile, all-star benefit concerts that raised a combined $74.5 million for relief efforts.

There are signs that the old stigmas still chafe, though. When references are made to the social consciousness of fellow New Jerseyan Bruce Springsteen and U2's Bono — two icons to whom Bon Jovi also has been compared musically, and not always in ways that flatter him — he asks, "What have they done?"

The question seems like a joke, but Bon Jovi isn't laughing, or smiling. "I'm not being facetious. Really, what have they done?"

You can read the whole article here. There's also a brief video interview where Jon answers questions about the new album, What About Now, the fan base, and Superstorm Sandy. Partway down the article is another brief video giving a tour of backstage and The Underworld.

~ Hath


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