Better.TV went to talk to Bon Jovi's keyboard player David Bryan about playing at the band and at the theater.
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Bon Jovi's Keyboardist David Bryan Interview Female: He has been rocking sold out concerts for more than 25 years with on of the most popular bands in the world. David Bryan is the Keyboardist for Bon Jovi but he’s also a composer who wrote the music for the Broadway smash Memphis. Memphis just took home the Tony for best musical. So how does this mega rock star connect the two worlds? We caught up with David backstage at the Metal Lands to find out. David Bryan: Hey this is David Bryan. How are you doing? I’m here at the New Medellin Stadium here with my keyboards with my other job—other jobs these days from Memphis to Bon Jovi. I have gone on 41 years of playing. And since I’m 16 I'm playing with Jon so we’ve been playing in bands and then Bon Jovi started in ‘83. The first record was ‘84 so we got up tour after tour and learning how to become a stadium act. My other job—I write what they sing and play. So while they work eight times a week, I should be staying home but I’m working five times a week here. Female 2: You might say getting into musical theater was a snap for this Tony Award winner.
David Bryan: It’s a good story I think. My musical theater history was, I was a rare seven year old who could snap. So at summer camp, I was a jet I guess for a Westside story. I can remember that. And then my right of passage for Bar Mitzvah was I went to New York and saw the Fiddle on the Roof and then that was it. And I was writing songs and then with my publisher John Teeter actually and I was writing songs and I was trying to get them covered or sold so other artist to sing my songs. So I’m writing these songs, I write them and I said, “First let me—put me with all your great song writers. Let me hone my craft.” So I honed the craft and I got ten realty good ones I think. See, it goes—what about musicals? I went, “What are they?” And he said, “I can get you 20 songs covered eight times a week.” I went, “I’m interested.”
Female 2: But of course, it’s incredibly hard work that takes a lot of commitment. David says there are some big differences between rocking with Bon Jovi and rocking with Memphis. David Bryan: It’s kind of a little power list. This is powerful because you drive the ship. And there you sit back and it’s almost like a focus group. But once you write it and then once you get your previews, then you start to see if people laugh at a joke—funny, no laugh—not funny. If they’re off the back of their seats and they’re really in your story, they’re in your story after going, “What time is it?” You start the program and start to read. You’ll go, “You lost them.” So it’s really about observation and seeing how the whole mix works. Female 2: And being in the band give this rock star a lot of insight into what it takes on the musical stage. David Bryan: I think in theater for writing Memphis also too, I can not to be a composer but also be a performer so I could tell those actors and I could sing my heart out and then I know, “Well, you got to do that eight times a week so I’m not going to do that high note to kill you. So I know what it takes on the other end.” They always look so easy on stage live. It’s always a bad time to screw up in front of people so I try not to do that. Jon Bon Jovi: I’m going to count all four and that band is going to play like a record. There has not been a sound check, we haven’t played an instrument. Keep that camera rolling and I promise you with the first song that I woke up, they will sound like a record because they’re that focused. They want to be great too and I can count on it, and I can count on them. David Bryan: The nice thing in theater, they call me a kid. “Hey kid, how are you doing?” because everybody is 80. And in this world, we’re all guys so eventually we’ll get too old for this and I can keep on with that. But this is fun. I love to play. I love to play music. I love my band. I love my guys. You know, we’ve been playing for so long now. It’s the one sexless marriage that will last forever. Female 2: Without a doubt, so will David Bryan’s relationship with the theater. Female: Bon Jovi Circle Tour has been playing to sellout crowds around the world and audiences are packing in to see Memphis at the Shubert Theater. David is busy working on a new musical—not bad at all for this kid from Jersey.