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Bon Jovi's New Album: 'A Big Rock Record' With Social Commentary

Band unveils details of March release at new London festival kickoff

Bon Jovi, Richie Sambora, Tico Torres and David Bryan of Bon Jovi at Hyde Park in London
Dave J Hogan/Getty Images
January 23, 2013 12:05 PM ET

Bon Jovi says their next album will be a "big rock record" that will feature "a lot of social commentary." Speaking at a press conference in London on Wednesday, Jon Bon Jovi said What About Now, due March 26th, documents a "moment in time – a post-first-term Obama, where America was and is" that will address the economy and unemployment, among other issues.

"That moment in time almost forced the record to come out," he said, "because otherwise the time would pass and the subject matter becomes dated."

While noting that the album's anthemic first single, "Because We Can," represents "Bon Jovi at its best," the frontman said there was plenty of variety on the record.

"There's a little more telling tales with some of the songs," he said. "'What's Left Of Me' talks about people coming out of the economic downturn. Just because companies are going out of business doesn't mean those people aren't able-bodied parts of the workforce."

Video: Jon Bon Jovi on Daughter's Heroin Overdose

Central to the album campaign will be a new Bon Jovi app, which uses augmented reality to bring alive the album artwork and reveal hidden content. Despite some baffling talk of "zSpace" and "2.5D" at the press conference, Bon Jovi said the band was fully involved in its development, describing the technology as a way "to stay relevant, because it's harder and harder to sell records."

But he also said he hoped fans would still buy the physical CD of the album.

"If anything, to me, this would help you want to have the package," he said. "Because when you take the CD package home from a retail outlet and put it up on your wall, not only will the app work, but we'll update that living, breathing piece of paper every night during the course of the tour. It makes it that much more engaging for the younger fan who isn't as old as I am!"

The singer also insisted he wasn't fazed by the changing economics of the music business. "I've resolved myself to the fact that it's back to how you did it when you began," he said. "You write a song for you and if people love it, they'll find it. It's really not about how many units. We get to get out and play to the amount of people that we're accustomed to, and write songs that you want to share with people. Then what happens is out of our control, but it's not frustrating."

The press conference was held to announce a new six-night music festival, British Summer Time, to be held in London's Hyde Park over two weekends, June 28th-30th and July 5th-7th. Bon Jovi is the first headliner to be announced, appearing July 5th. The site will also be open between the two festival weekends for smaller events.

The event replaces previous Hyde Park festivals Wireless and Hard Rock Calling, both organized by Live Nation, which will move to the Olympic Park this summer. Several Hyde Park gigs were hit by controversy last summer over low volume levels while the venue's curfew cut short Bruce Springsteen and Paul McCartney's duet on "Twist and Shout." But Bon Jovi pledged there would be no such problems with his gig.

"We know 'Twist and Shout' in the key of D, E and F, and we'll make sure we play as loud as 11," he said with a laugh. "We'll turn it right up and let them deal with that. Hopefully all the authorities know all the words so they can sing along instead of carting me off to Hyde Park jail."

Event director Jim King of organizers AEG Live, which won the new, five-year contract to stage concerts in the park, said it would solve the low volume problems by changing the stage layout.

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