Bon Jovi talk “joyous” new album and battling health problems: “We’re not dead yet”

Jon Bovi Jovi has spoken to NME about the “joyous” new Bon Jovi album ‘Forever’, his ongoing recovery from vocal surgery, the chances of an ABBA Voyage-style hologram show as well as being inspired by The Rolling Stones and Taylor Swift.

‘Forever’ is Bon Jovi’s 16th studio album and is due for release June 7 in time to celebrate the band’s 40th anniversary. Speaking about the decision to release new music instead of leaning into the nostalgia of the milestone, Jon Bon Jovi explained: “I’ve never had a shortage of thoughts and ideas for new music. We’ve always wanted to continue striving to make great albums.”

‘Forever’ also follows on from the four-part Disney+ documentary Thank You, Goodnight: The Bon Jovi Story that premiered earlier this year.

“You’re supposed to die after you see your life flash before your eyes,” he joked, “but we’re not dead yet.”

Bon Jovi originally reached out to director Gotham Chopra after seeing his Tom Brady documentary series Man In The Arena. “If he understands a sports team, he’ll understand a band,” he reasoned. “From the start, we all agreed that we didn’t want a puff piece. We wanted four decades, four episodes, and that’s as much direction as we gave Chopra before I shook his hand and left him to it.”

Thank You, Goodnight was released in April and Bon Jovi has found the positive response “mind-blowing”.

Equally mind-blowing, he explained, was the response to ‘Forever’ lead single ‘Legendary’ – giving the band their highest Billboard charting position in over a decade.

“Obviously every artist is ecstatic about their new album, otherwise why would you put it out, but to have ‘Legendary’ become a hit? You have to laugh,” said Bon Jovi. “You think you’ve got it every time, but I’ve been disappointed more than I’ve been surprised or pleased.”

As well as becoming a radio hit, ‘Legendary’ has also been chosen as the theme tune for Japanese-language drama Blue Moment: a live-action adaptation of the webcomic of the same name. Bon Jovi’s initial reaction to the news? “Get the fuck out of here. Generations, cultures and languages may divide us but our music remains relatable,” he added. “I have to be amazed we’re still able to have that connection. I guess that’s the proof that we’re not dead yet.”

At one point, the new Bon Jovi album was also going to be called ‘Legendary’ – but that apparently felt a bit too presumptuous. “You can call yourself ‘legendary’ in the mirror all you want, but you can’t say it in public,” he said. “It would just be too much.”

As well as exploring the band’s 40 year journey, Thank You, Goodnight also showed Jon Bon Jovi dealing with vocal issues that resulted in him having surgery in 2022. He’s on record as  saying that he might never perform live again.

However, he never went into ‘Forever’ thinking it could be the final Bon Jovi album. “The process of singing in the studio wasn’t difficult, it was just different,” he said. “What you see in the documentary was two years ago now and I’m much further down the road to recovery.”

Bon Jovi has yet to pencil in a comeback gig, though. “I’m still not confident I could do two-and-a-half hours a night, four days a week and I won’t book a gig until I’ve done that on a rehearsal level,” said Bon Jovi, who’s currently capable of practicing for three hours a day, two days in a row. “At this moment in time, we’re rehearsing once a month just to see the progress. I’m not there yet and it blows.”

Jon Bon Jovi 2024. CREDIT: Jacquet Droz

Jon Bon Jovi has said numerous times that he won’t return to the stage until he’s back at 100 per cent health.

“When we first started out, The Rolling Stones had just turned 40 and we thought they were old then, but they’re still setting the bar to this day. That band are role models, not only to us, but the generation that has come after us,” he revealed. “Look at Paul McCartney, he’s 81 and still making records. Bruce Springsteen is doing three-and-a-half hour concerts at 74 and is still on fucking fire. People don’t want you to be average.”

He continued: “I don’t ever want to be Fat Elvis. He was only 42 when he died because he didn’t have anyone offering him help. He was bloated, on drugs and booze, and was just a fucking train wreck. I’m not going out like that, simple as. You learn from those who came before you.”

Admitting that the “uncertainty is scary” when it comes to “striving every day to get better,” Bon Jovi said that he’d only ever either throw himself entirely into something or call it a day.

“One thing I do know is that when I lay my head on the pillow after the decision has been made, one way or the other, there will be 100 per cent confidence in the decision,” he said. “Being in a rock band is never going to feel safe. It’s not a life sentence, it’s a moment in time.”

In recent years, things like the ABBA Voyage avatar show have given bands a life after touring – with KISS and Elvis productions using similar hologram-like technology on the way. It doesn’t seem entirely unlikely that you’ll see something similar from Bon Jovi in years to come.

“I’m not opposed to it because to me, it’s a jukebox,” Bon Jovi explained.“It’s no different than people listening to your music on the radio.”

 

Both ‘Forever’ and Thank You, Goodnight are celebrations of Bon Jovi’s resilience. “We certainly have persevered and no one knows the ending yet, which I dig,” he said. “The film is inconclusive, the record is hopeful but inconclusive. God forbid the outcome is me not being able to sing live anymore but if that happens, I’ll thank God for the opportunity to get this far,” he added.

Bon Jovi continued: “If there’s a lesson for the next generation, it’s that even my job isn’t all wine and roses. Life is a series of ups and downs, struggles, little victories, and big defeats, all rolled into one. I couldn’t have told that story before now, because I hadn’t lived enough life yet.”

The big difference between ‘Forever’ and previous Bon Jovi albums, is the vocalist now knows exactly what he was trying to say with each song. “Back on our first record [1984’s self-titled ‘Bon Jovi’) when I was writing ‘Get Ready’ and ‘Burning For Love’, I didn’t know what the fuck I was saying,” he admitted. “I was just writing rhyme schemes. Those songs have no deeper meaning. 16 albums later, I can tell you what every song and every line is about. After that many records, you better learn how to do your craft.”

“Fans will know ‘Kiss The Bride’ was written by the guy who wrote ‘I Got The Girl’ 25 years ago and is now a dad,” Bon Jovi explained. The “Brown-Eyed Girl” in ‘Legendary’ is my wife, ‘We Made It Look Easy’ is about the band, ‘Seeds’ is about self-help while ‘Waves’ is me saying you can either hold onto these painful memories of the last ten years, or you can learn to let them go.“

‘Forever’ follows on from 2016’s “statement” album ‘This House Is Not For Sale’, the first Bon Jovi album following the departure of longterm guitarist and songwriter Richie Sambora, and the the furious, politically-charged ‘2020’. “In light of the insurrection, it had to [be angry],” said Bon Jovi. “If America was going to crumble, I wanted everybody to at least know what caused it.”

By contrast, there’s a lot more hope and unity with ‘Forever’. “It’s joyous, because we’re on the brink,” said Bon Jovi. “The next six months in America are going to be very telling and whatever happens will reverberate around the world in some way. It’s very real and I don’t know what’s going to happen with the great American experiment.”

Bon Jovi 2024 press shot. CREDIT: Press

Alongside an album that sees Jon Bon Jovi reunited for his first ever guitar and deliver a raft of triumphant rock anthems, the documentary told the store of a group of friends from New Jersey who became one of the biggest rock bands of all time through grit and determination. While the health of rock music is always in question, does Bon Jovi feel like using his platform to inspire a new generation?

“That would be cool, but I’m confident that there’s enough new talent out there,” said Bon Jovi. “Zach Bryan and Noah Kahan are both great storytellers, Taylor Swift is a whole industry onto herself and Inhaler are an incredible rock-pop band.

“I’m waiting on the next The Killers to come along, though. I really do want to see another rock band in the world, but because other genres of music are so alive and rich in their storytelling. I think it’s just a matter of time before it happens.”

With so much to look back on for a 40th anniversary, the vocalist can’t help but get reflective – but ultimate wants his legacy to be “a good catalogue of good music” above all else. That, he concluded, was enough to keep on reaching people regardless of if he could perform or not.

The rock icon ended: “Some people got on this ride in 1984 with ‘Runaway’, others joined in ‘88 with ‘It’s My Life’ and now there’s a new generation of kids finding out about Bon Jovi because of Disney+. How cool is that?

“With streaming, teenagers can now listen to a song with the press of a button and they don’t know if it’s from 1984 or 2024. There’s no artwork or music video to influence them, a song is just a song. If it’s good enough, it’ll resonate with a new generation. That’s good fortune for us, because the journey continues.”

‘Forever’ is out June 7 via EMI.

The post Bon Jovi talk “joyous” new album and battling health problems: “We’re not dead yet” appeared first on NME.

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