Glenn Messner is a pyrotechnic officer currently touring with Bon Jovi. In celebration of July 4, I spoke with him. We, I believe, as humans, have a special relationship with fire and explosions. Some of us have a special relationship with fire and explosions when listening to songs like "Livin' on a Prayer." The earliest controlled use of fire by hominids dates back about 1.5 million years. Not until 7000 BC did Neolithic man acquire reliable fire-making techniques. And not until AD 1986 did Bon Jovi acquire the ability to play "You Give Love a Bad Name" with flash pots firing off.
What do you do?
I am in charge of all pyrotechnics and proximate pyrotechnics for the band Bon Jovi. Basically, I make sure anything onstage involving explosive or flame is safe.
So you like to blow shit up?
I've never actually blown shit up. Exploding feces would be messy, and it wouldn't get me very far.
I don't know. I think if you exploded feces on Jon Bon Jovi while he was singing that song "Have a Nice Day," it would be amazing.
Is this really what you wanted to talk about?
What's the best Bon Jovi song for pyro?
"Wanted Dead or Alive" has some flame effects, shooting flames, and smoke generation. I'm partial to hazers. Although that's not so much pryo. It's a water-based solution that puts out continuous and evenly diffused fields of haze. It makes the lights cut through and appear more effective. Nothing beats a good ol' flash pot, though.
Did you explode cockroaches with firecrackers when you were a kid?
You can joke, but I take my job very seriously.
Are you a pyromaniac?
I'm a specialist. And if this is all this is going to be about, I'm hanging up.
You're telling me that not once have you ever exploded a small animal or insect with a firecracker?
What's your deal with cockroaches?
They're not such a bad species; people shouldn't hate on them so much.
I never said I hate cockroaches.
You just blow them up.
I've never blown up a cockroach. Are we done?
You're living on a prayer.
I'm hanging up.
I'll miss you.