"I haven't been there in a lot of years, pally," the New Jersey singer, songwriter, guitarist and actor notes. "But if they'll take me back, that's where I guess I'm going today."
How can this be, you wonder. Bon Jovi and the band that bears his name were among MTV's most favored musical nations from the mid-1980s through the early '90s, when they were running off a string of hits that included "Runaway," "You Give Love a Bad Name," "Livin' on a Prayer" and "Blaze of Glory."
You would think Bon Jovi and company have a lifetime pass. But, Bon Jovi notes, they've been usurped during the past decade by teen pop idols and rappers. Even his last album, the multi-platinum "Crush," was initially passed over. Now, however, MTV is waiting with open arms.
"It's success, to be honest with you,'' Bon Jovi, 41, says. "They can't deny what happened last time."
All of this has given Bon Jovi's 10th album, "Bounce," some extra propulsion for its Oct. 8 release. Led by the anthemic single "Everyday," the record is being greeted with the kind of genuine excitement one would expect for a band that's sold some 93 million albums since emerging during 1983.
Bon Jovi is gratified by the reception, but he says he's not entirely surprised.
"I don't think I ever lost that (confidence) that we'd do well," he says.
"Even with the last record, while the rest of the world was saying 'Wow, this is great! What a surprise!' I was dumb enough to think it would be accepted like the rest of them. I truly never considered anything else.
"When you've sold almost 100 million records, you can pretty much do what you want, y'know? I'm not gonna lose my record deal if they don't sell 100 copies; that's just the honest economics of it. But I sure do hope people like `em.
"We're never gonna sell what *Nsync, Britney (Spears) and Eminem are doing. But that's OK. It's a marathon; I'm not going anywhere."
The exuberance for "Bounce" counters the album's more sober beginnings. Bon Jovi and his songwriting partner, guitarist Richie Sambora, began working on the album during the summer of 2001, while the frontman was in Los Angeles as a recurring guest on the now-canceled "Ally McBeal." Sambora had just flown east to continue at the New Jersey home Bon Jovi shares with his wife and three children when the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks occurred.
"He actually woke me up; `Man, get up! Something really crazy's going on,'" recalls Sambora, 43, who like the rest of the band members knew people who died in the World Trade Center towers -- including the husband of the group's publicist. "We couldn't write anything but I songs about it for awhile."
Over time, however, Bon Jovi and Sambora -- who took part in the "America: A Tribute to Heroes" telethon and VH1's The Concert For New York -- honed in on the kind of songs they wanted to write relating to the tragedy.
"We worked until we could find a voice that I felt was right-on and I could speak from truthfully and honestly and not with any fiction involved," Bon Jovi explains. "I couldn't put myself in the shoes of the widower; I wasn't the widower. I knew the widower, but I didn't sleep in his head at night.
"I knew how I felt, so I could write 'Everyday.' I knew what my community was going through, so I could write 'Bounce' and 'Undivided.' But I didn't want to release the ones that we were writing which were kind of `I'm waiting for you to come home, 'How could this have happened us?'"
After criss-crossing the globe doing interviews to promote "Bounce," Bon Jovi plans a concert tour that will start during December in Australia and play Japan, Europe and North America through July. Despite an acting resume that includes well-reviewed roles in "Moonlight and Valentino," "The Leading Man" and "U-571," Bon Jovi has put acting aside for the time being -- not much of a sacrifice, he says, when traded for the enjoyment he gets from playing with the band.
"Someone on the last tour said to me 'So I guess the band is beyond the point of breaking up?' and I thought that was a very true statement," Bon Jovi says.
"If we get bored with each other, we go and do other things -- solo records, movies, art, whatever the calling is.
"But we're certainly past the point of having or trying to prove it to everybody. The idea of doing it for the sheer enjoyment of it -- that's the only reason why we do it at this point. So, yeah, I think the band is in a really good place."