When Richie Sambora told Rolling Stone, "I've been a busy boy," he was not exaggerating. The Bon Jovi guitarist has been hard at work on his first solo album in 14 years, set for release this summer, and has returned to the studio with the New Jersey rockers who made him famous. In addition, he's continuing his award-winning philanthropic efforts; he was honored in Los Angeles on Tuesday night for his work with the nonprofit Midnight Mission, where he caught up with Rolling Stone backstage to chat about his many new projects.
"We're in the studio and it sounds great," Sambora said of Bon Jovi. "Jon [Bon Jovi] and I were writing. I'd fly to New York and we came up with a lot of great tracks and we started laying down basics a couple of weeks back. That will be out sometime in early 2013."
Before its release, Sambora will concentrate on his own, self-titled album, and he believes it will surprise fans quite a bit. "I think people look at Richie Sambora and they put me in the Bon Jovi box, but that's not what this record is," he said. "I think they don't see me as a singer, and I was the lead singer in every band I was in before Bon Jovi. I hope I get to change people's minds on this record. That's what I'm gonna try to do."
If Sambora's label choice is any indication, he is serious about establishing his independent credibility. Richie Sambora will be released on the indie darling Dangerbird Records, home to Silversun Pickups, Fitz and the Tantrums and Minus the Bear. The guitarist for Bon Jovi and Dangerbird might seem like an odd fit on the imprint, but Sambora is looking forward to teaming with them. "I'm really excited to work with Dangerbird," he explained. "Jeff [Castelaz, the label co-founder] is an unbelievable guy and I've been having great meetings with him."
Sambora described the material as "organic" and featuring a lot of "jamming." "We really had a good time making the music," he said. "I think that‘s what attracted me to the whole indie thing: I could make the music the way I wanted."
Aside from touring in the fall to support the solo album, Sambora plans to continue his philanthropic efforts with Midnight Mission, a L.A.-based organization dedicated to helping the homeless. "The Midnight Mission is in my community; I live here in California," he said at the banquet thown in his honor. "The greatest thing about celebrity is you can bring awareness to things. For me, having the most successful tour in the world and selling 30 million records creates a great opportunity to give."