Why Bon Jovi Decided to Get Political on ‘Bon Jovi 2020’
This House Is Not for Sale arrived in 2016 with the first songs since Bon Jovi split with longtime guitarist Richie Sambora, and often delved into those emotions. He says he’s ready to move on with 2020.
“The meaning behind it – there’s the obvious: It’s an election year and I couldn’t do any worse,” Bon Jovi said with a laugh, at an intimate Q&A session during the Runaway to Paradise concert cruise in the Mediterranean. “And I also have clear vision. This House Is Not for Sale dealt with a lot of personal matters, and now it’s behind us. So, 2020 – of course, it’s an election year, but more importantly it’s that I have clear vision going forward.”
Bon Jovi said he found himself looking outward in the years that followed, rather than inward, and the new album reflects that.
“I think I’m very happy with it,” he said. “I’ve written a bunch of songs that are very different. Don't expect '[You Give Love a] Bad Name.’ This is a socially conscious record. There’s a song about veterans with PTSD; there’s a song about the shootings in Ohio and Texas. They’re songs about heavy matters – heavy subject matter.”
This House Is Not for Sale was preceded in 2015 by the partially archival Burning Bridges, which appears to include the group's last work together with Sambora. Theofilos “Phil X” Xenidis, who's worked with Bon Jovi since 2013, made his first official appearance on This House Is Not for Sale – as did Hugh McDonald, who had been working as a touring and sessions bassist since the ‘90s.
Phil X originally joined the band during the second of Sambora’s '00s-era stints in rehab, which forced the guitarist to miss a series of shows on the Bon Jovi Live tour in 2011. Sambora began solo work the next year, collaborating with producer Luke Ebbin from Bon Jovi’s Crush and Bounce albums to create Aftermath of the Lowdown.
He split with the group during the Because We Can tour in 2013, saying at the time that he “really needed to take some time to be with my daughter. She needed me and I needed her, actually.”
Bon Jovi later said there’d been so specific reason for their split, only that Sambora hadn’t appeared for work. Sambora’s next musical project was RSO, with guitarist Orianthi.
Bon Jovi, speaking earlier in the same Q&A session on board the Norwegian Pearl, described that period as “probably the worst thing that’s ever happened to me professionally.” He said Sambora had “issues with stuff, and he just wouldn’t show up anymore. That was hard. But life had to go on. It didn’t mean that I wanted it to be that way. But his inability to get it together, it was like cry or quit. So, I just decided to cry for a while.”
Runaway to Paradise continues through the weekend, as the Pearl travels between Barcelona and Palma, Majorca. The event is sponsored by Sixthman.