When Tom Chaffier texted the rest of his bandmates that their band, Eighteenth Hour, would be opening for rock legends Bon Jovi, some of their initial reactions were not quite what he was expecting.
"They were like, 'Are you serious?' They thought I was (messing) with them," Chaffier said Thursday evening during a phone interview. "The funny thing is (lead guitarist) Dave (Zullo) was in mid-flight when he checked his messages. I think he pulled down one of the emergency oxygen masks."
The Bethlehem-based quartet was announced Tuesday as the winners of a contest to open for Bon Jovi during the latter's May 2 This House is Not for Sale Tour stop at the PPL Center. The announcement was made on Allentown-based radio station 95.1 WZZO.
Earlier this month, the band auditioned by submitting a YouTube video of them performing the song "Damage Done" to WZZO. Chaffier said the clip went through two rounds of judging before the decision was made. "I imagine we all had a similar reaction mixed with shock, excitement, and disbelief," he said.
This is the third time Bon Jovi has invited local and regional bands acts to open for the multiplatinum recording artists, according to a news release. Bon Jovi released their album, in;
Eighteenth Hour will have 20 minutes to shine before turning the stage over to Bon Jovi, Chaffier said. They will be performing four songs during their set -- a mix of two new cuts and "two that anyone who knows us are going to know," Chaffier teased.
Eighteenth Hour is, fittingly, celebrating its 18th anniversary this year. The band's current lineup has been in tact since 2003, rounded out by vocalist-guitarist Geoff Houser, lead guitarist David Zullo, and bassist Jim Touchton.
Chaffier said the timing for the show could not be better. The group is heading to the studio in early June to record the follow-up effort to their 2012 effort, 6, with hopes of releasing the album in late summer or early fall release for the new album.
"We're always writing. We have this group of songs now we're really proud of," Chaffier said. "This new batch of songs are a little more stripped-down than what we're known for. These songs, for the most part, are more direct."
In August 2015, Eighteenth Hour opened for 3 Doors Down and Collective Soul at Musikfest in Bethlehem. The band has also shared the stage with Thin Lizzy, Spacehog, Days of the New, and Skid Row, among others.
In addition to being the recipients of two Lehigh Valley Music Awards, Eighteenth Hour won WZZO's 15h annual "Backyard Bands" competition. Chaffier received a 2015 Greater Lehigh Valley Music Association's Veteran Award during the 2015 LVMA ceremony.
"I remember saying years ago that as long as we're moving in a forward direction, we'll keep doing it and here we are, still doing it," Chaffier said. "We're still getting bigger and bigger shows and it's still paying off... We did the announcement in the morning and within a few hours people were discovering us all over the place."