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"Stay Close To Us And You Won't Get Lost"

(Interview With Tico Torres Taken From Black Velvet 25- Aug 2000)

By Shari Black Velvet

On May 29th Bon Jovi's seventh band album (discounting their 'Crossroad' compilation) was released in the UK following a brief hiatus which included solo albums and tours, record company mutation and the expansion of a certain movie career. Black Velvet got in touch with Bon Jovi drummer Tico Torres to discuss the album, getting lost in Japan and more.






The band had just flown into the UK from Japan, where amongst other promotional gubbins, they had been the focal point of interest of a midnight personal appearance that was originally supposed to take place at Tower Records but later moved to the Four Seasons Hotel. What was that all about then?
"Well, I was shaking a lot of hands. 400 or so" Tico begins.
Only 400?
"I think so. There were a lot of people there. It was pretty much mayhem. They said they really liked the record".
That's good to know.
Whilst over in Japan, the band; that is Jon Bon Jovi, Richie Sambora, David Bryan, Huey McDonald and The Hitman himself Tico Torres, appeared on a Japanese TV show, NHK TV, along with a variety of Japanese bands (namely Penicillin, Surface, R.P.R. and Arisa Mizuki), who joined Bon Jovi for a well-known Jovi tune.
"They played a song. Jon and Richie did 'Bad Name'. Jon and Richie had to sing with them. It was pretty funny. Phonetically it was pretty hard for the guy to sing the words - and rightly so. I think it would be hard for us to do Japanese. But they made a go of it. It was fun. It was a show that goes out to about 11 million people. It was Bon Jovi based. It was fun to do."
Japan was the first country that the long-awaited 'Crush' album was released in, due to being the territory where the band would later commence their world tour.
"It's probably about the most subdued place there is as far as audiences go because they're very, very proper there. We're doing Domes which are 60 thousand seaters. They are very, very reserved audiences compared to anywhere else in the world but that's their culture. We'll get them on their feet though."
Since Black Velvet is about to embark on a trip to Japan to see the band play, we're eager to find out certain necessities such as how the food is and if we're going to have any trouble communicating with the local inhabitants… You know, "Want to buy a copy of Black Velvet? It's a bargain at only 400 yen."… that sort of thing.
Regarding cuisine (I tell Tico I'm a vegetarian) he says "If you like Sushi it's a great place. There are lots of soups and noodles and stuff like that. You should be alright if you're vegetarian."
However, much to my dismay I am informed that the Japanese don't all speak English. "You'll get lost there, trust me! Stay close to us and you won't get lost."
Hmm… what a tempting offer. I guess I won't be selling too many zines though.

The first shows that Bon Jovi did as a band since the 'These Days' tour took place in April and May in the US. The band played a very impromptu set at Tradewinds in Sea Bright, NJ during the Easter week, and again just over a week later at the House Of Blues in Chicago.
"I enjoyed them. It was fun to go out and play. I enjoyed the Chicago gig more as it was the second gig and we were a little more in the groove. The first one was a little tough after not playing for so many years. New text. Anything that's going to go wrong will go wrong."
Tico invited just a few of his friends down to the New Jersey show, which saw the band play on a tiny stage in an almost-as-tiny club.
"I'd rather invite people to the full show" he says regarding the club he's never ever played at before - despite being right in his backyard.
Tickets for the New Jersey show went on sale a day before the show. The show itself was only announced two days before.
"We decided within a week to do it" Tico relates.

At the Chicago gig fellow Mercury Records recording artist Shelby Lynne supported. She joined the band on stage for a cover of 'Me & Bobby McGee'.
"We'd never done it before so it was kind of fun to do. I hadn't done that song since the early seventies. It's almost thirty years since I've done that song."
Tico says Shelby is "a good country singer" although wasn't so sure if Bon Jovi fans would be into her. "They need something a little more energetic".

During the gigs, one of the new songs to be showcased was 'It's My Life', first single released from 'Crush'.
'It's My Life' according to Tico is "a fun song to play". When I point out that the drumming during that particular song stood out more in Chicago then any other, Tico replies that he always hits hard. "I always believe that the drums compliment the music, not lead it," he says.
'It's My Life' entered the UK charts at number three, showing a fantastic return for the boys, who aren't keen on the thought that they've actually been away. 'Crush' was released a week after 'It's My Life' and shot straight into the number one position, not just in the UK but in a whole host of countries around the world. Tico talks about the album:
"Originally this record was written and recorded with the purpose of doing it live, so all the songs on here we said "we wanna do these live" so that's why it's that type of album. So we can do them live.
"The energy and the vibe of the whole record is very much like 'Slippery', but not necessarily the sound. The feeling behind 'Slippery' was the same feeling, although it's not the same realm."
It has been noted that Tico had a special drum kit made for the album.
"It's a masters series by Pearl. They've always made my kits special. It's a really great sounding kit. I recorded with it and I look forward to playing with it live." This is one of ten drum kits that Tico now owns.
Not to be outdone, Dave was also due for an equipment update. "Dave's getting some special keyboards and programs made. For every tour Richie's got to have new amps and new guitars… or old guitars should I say. Everybody revamps their equipment. Certain songs need certain sounds that are new and we don't have so we have to emulate that live."
Tico reckons that 'Crush' was one of the easiest albums to made. "It was a very fluent record. A lot of that had to do with doing it in Jon's studio, and the fact that we had five years to conjure up fresh energy. It was beneficial for the record."
"The thing that makes a Bon Jovi record special is that the five of us go in there and make it what it is. That's why Jon's solo records are different - because it's not Bon Jovi. And Richie's are different because it's not Bon Jovi. It's a certain chemistry that happens within the band".

In the five year gap that occurred between 'These Days' and 'Crush', each member went off and did his own thing. A lot of Tico's time was devoted to art. He opened an art gallery in Florida after spending a lot of time painting (sadly it has since been closed down due to taking up too much time) and also held exhibitions around the world, including in London. "It's easier for my art to show in someone else's gallery," he says. His pieces range from 'A Touch Of Class' and 'Torseau' to those inspired by his love of music; one is entitled 'All That Jazz' while another is 'The Sound Of Music'. Some of Tico's work is reminiscent of German expression painters in the 1930's while others are abstract.
I tell Tico that since the idea was already fluttering around for him to do the artwork for an album or single sleeve, and as 'It's My Life' includes 'Tommy and Gina', what would be really cool would be for him to draw a picture of the couple… to let us all see what they look like, or at least Tico's own impression of them.
"That's a good idea. I'll work on it," he says.
Due to the recording of the album, Tico has not spent much time on art recently but admits that he does water colours while on tour.
"I'm not much of a partier, so instead of sitting in my room bored, I'll sit and paint. It's a good time to create.
Regarding favourite artists, he says "Everybody's my favourite artist. I don't have one artist. You could ask me that about musicians and it'd be the same. I learned from people that never played an instrument in their life and just picked up something. You make a mistake and you can learn. The best artists are children because they're undaunted by life and are just very pure. What comes out comes out. If you can emulate that, you're hitting something good."

By the time you read this, the tour will be well underway. The band will hit the UK on August 19th for their first Wembley show since 1995. After Wembley they move on to Gateshead and Stoke-On-Trent, home of Slash and Robbie Williams. "I didn't know that" says Tico when informed of the two celebrities who were born in the Staffordshire town.
The tour is a two-Summer tour, which will see the band returning next year for more of the same… and yes, we really do mean more.
"Next year we'll do a lot of countries that we've never hit, and the production will be totally different as well."
Certain countries such as France and Spain saw fans feeling a little left out due to no shows taking place this year. Hopefully they'll be added to 2001's itinerary.
"The time constraints because of the album release, and starting the tour in the middle of the Summer… it's all because the album release was late - well, for the Summer, I'd say. So we couldn't do these countries. We had to really capitalise the tour, make it as small as possible."

The tour will be the first the band has done with the aid of a webcam. So what, pray tell, will that entail? Full concerts on the net?
"I don't think so. I think you'll get segments. Right now it's so primal. It's too early to tell. I think it will take its own energy. There should be a lot of good stuff you don't normally see."

Well, whether you get to see the band on tour this year or next, or just catch them live on the internet, we can guarantee that as Tico says there will be lots of good stuff to see. Keep reading Black Velvet because we'll be reporting back on as much of it as possible.

Visit www.bonjovi.com and www.backstagejbj.com for more info.




Copyright: Black Velvet Magazine. All Rights Reserved.

Please note that all articles, photos and other items on this Black Velvet website are owned and copyrighted by Shari Black Velvet/Black Velvet Magazine unless otherwise stated and must not be used elsewhere under any circumstance. Articles in Black Velvet Magazine should not be put online without the express permission of the editor.


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