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ROCK STAR DADDY

After 25 years of rocking the world with Bon Jovi, drummer Tico Torres reveals the women, the passion and the rebellious rock 'n' roll spirit that inspired him to create a Rock Star Baby


Posted: 1 August 2008
by Suzanne Milne


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rock star baby kids
rock star baby stroller

Q. Having experienced the pros and cons of a rock star lifestyle, would you recommend being a rock star to your four-year-old son Hector?
A. "He can do whatever he wants – he plays drums, he paints, he plays soccer. He’s four-and-a-half, going on thirty. He’s an old soul. I don’t lie to him; I speak frankly with him and I tell him that it’s hard. He doesn’t understand – he knows I play drums, but kids his age don’t really care; they just wanna know – why aren’t you with me? I try and explain to him that I really miss him [when I am on tour] and that I’m sorry…and I want to hear his opinion. But he could be whatever he wants to be. I’m gonna teach him everything I possibly could in my life, and then he’s gonna teach me, because I’m sure there’s a lot to learn – especially in this high-tech world. So I’ll listen to him and ask his opinion, because we will have that bond together…"

Q. Rock 'n' roll rebellion and toddler tantrums have a lot in common. So what's the solution?
A. "I’ve got pacifiers [in the Rock Star Baby range]. Hector just gave his up like that…one day he was going to the bathroom and he said 'Dad, here [and handed me the pacifier]. I’m gonna go to the bathroom.' He decided that was the day and gave up his pacifier and started going to the toilet."

Q. You are quite the Renaissance man being a sculptor, a painter, a musician and a designer. Do you think that education today encourages such a lateral approach?
A. "In America, I think the schools are not open enough to encourage creativity. The private schools are supposed to be the finest. But I think that for parents, a lot of home schooling – not necessarily at home – but home schooling in addition to school really is a good supplement, it’s a really good way to find out where your son or daughter is at. There is this great story about a boy whose father was a janitor, and he came home from school one day and he was having a lot of trouble with algebra. And he said to his father: 'You won’t know about this – they didn’t have this in your day.' And his father sat up that night and he read the algebra book from cover to cover; the next day he said, 'I can help you now'. It makes you think. And that’s part of being a parent."

Q. Rebellion is part-and-parcel of a rock star attitude, so what do you make of controlled crying?
A. "What is that? Oh yeah, there are lots of books on that. Well there is a point where your child will manipulate you – and crying doesn’t hurt. It really doesn’t hurt. Crying depends on the age or the circumstance. Sure it can be hard, After all, it can be hard to take a child to swimming lessons; I took Hector when he was 8 months old, and he was going in the water and parents were going nuts, he’s crying… but it saves their life. There are certain things a parent has to deal with and you can’t give in to it. Or your child will be misinformed."

Q. Your nickname as a drummer is 'the hitman'; is this reflected in your disciplinary style?
A. "The hitman – yeah. There’s no comparison. I would never hit my child." [Tico laughs]

Q. What influence did your own mother and grandmother have on you?
A. "I was brought up by women – so women are close to my heart. My mother and my grandmother bought me up. My grandmother made all my stage clothing in the Eighties, she made them all. It was nice to be able to do album covers with me wearing these. And she did that til she passed away at 103. So her heart is in this [Rock Star Baby collection]."

Q. Both in your drumming and your artwork, you have a very eclectic style, which also carries through into your Rock Star Baby range. What does thi come from?
A. "I have many styles – many styles musically: I mean rock ‘n’ roll has been my life for 25 years, but I’ve played so many different styles – R&B, jazz – I thought art was the same thing."

Q. Why did you start to play the drums?
A. "I was a guitar player first, I was an artist since I was five, then I was a guitar player – subsequently I had rhythm. And there was a bunch of guys – a 16-piece band – I was with, and the drummer had to go get drumsticks. He says, 'Jump up there, and play, the show house has started.' I got up there up with a pair of pliers and a half a drumstick… it was pretty good. I borrowed his drumkit. I’m self trained. I took some lessons from Joe Morello, Albert Jones as well. I played with Miles Davis, the guys from King Curtis’s band, I was this white long-haired guy in Harlem. They’d say: 'You ain’t the most technical guy around, but you got good feeling.' Those were my teachers."

Q. How is drumming unique in the world of art?
A. "Drumming is painting colours with sticks and music."

Q. What product from the Rock Star Baby collection are you most proud of creating?
A. "The surround-sound buggy. Music is great for education and learning and creativity."

Q. Do many children come to your gigs?
A. "Hector has been to a couple of our shows – if we see a child that doesn’t have protective headphones on, we send a security guard out there. Years ago, we made a room in the back so that mums could go there and watch the show."

rock star baby pacifiers
Q. How do you balance family and career and build a great relationship with your child?
A. "You get a licence to drive, but there’s no licence to be a parent. I believe there are no bad people out there. Our jails are full of what used to be good kids. And it’s hard because people have to work and stuff, but if you really make the effort to find out what’s happening with the most precious thing in your life, to give whatever time you can give to them, even if you’re tired, it is really important. When they get nine ten eleven, they have to go there [and be independent], but that’s when you have to keep talking to them. Ask ‘what are you thinking’. In this hi-tech society you can ask things like ‘How do you work this ipod’. The kid will think ‘Great I can show him how to do something’. Kids start to fight because they are hitting a wall, but if you open up to them and give them the room to talk, they will tell you about things like their Facebook page. Let them show you stuff and then you will show them something and they will say ‘Dad, that’s goofy’ – it’s cool."

Q. How do you go about designing the products in the Rock Star Baby collection?
A. "I have a great designer – I often scribble something on a napkin, then Louisa just comes up with the designs. She makes a cast from her drawing, then we figure the best materials. I have a very focused view on how I want it to be. The Rock Star Baby brand has grown into itself. Initially of course, I financed everything, I made everything in Madagascar in five factories. I made leathers, cashmeres, shoes I manufactured all that, and I learnt. And the money that I put into it was my ‘University’. My friends that owned big companies said: 'You don’t use your own money.' I said: 'I know, but I need to learn this.' And because I learned all about that part of the process, I can now sit down and know which way to go."

Q. So what's coming up for the Rock Star Baby brand next?
A. "I want to reintroduce leathers – I think they are the hippest things to give kids. Leather skirts, leather jackets. But again, you have to crawl before you walk, walk before your run."

Q. How does it make you feel when you see your products out and about?
A. "It's like when you play a show and you get immediate gratification. I really get off when I see one of the Rock Star Baby strollers going down the street."

Q. What other things are on your agenda?
A. "I make good money being a drummer. So I also do charity golf tournaments each year and I fly people in – but I've had to do it through the Jack Nicholson foundation, but I wanted to make the Tico Tours Foundation for Children – to give back a little. In 2009 I am starting The Tico Torres Foundation so it runs independently."

rock star baby pacifiers
Q. Being in a rock band is often like being in a family, where you know each other so well and have similarly rocky relationships. How do you balance the Bon Jovi family with your own family?
A. "We’ve been together a long time, we are all parents and we’ve all got our own separate lives. When we are away from each other, we spend our time with our families. I don’t really communicate that much with the guys while we are away, cos we’re together like 24 hours a day – for 25 years – that’s got to be enough! We each do our own projects, then come back. It’s like, remember when you were away on holiday from school and you come back and you’ve all got new outfits, new haircuts and you did something. You ask ‘What did you do?’ And there are all these new things to talk about. It’s the same thing when we get back together again after a year, two years. We have something new to write about. So we make music that way. And it keeps it fresh. At the end of a tour? We have a term – we can smell the barn."

Visit the Rock Star Baby website and see the full collection at www.rockstarbaby.com




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