G roup formed in 2005 in Wyckoff, New Jersey; members include Kevin Jonas (born November 5, 1987), guitarist and vocalist; Joseph Jonas (born August 15, 1989), vocalist, guitarist, drummer, and piano player; and Nicholas Jonas (born September 16, 1992), vocalist and keyboardist; all sons of Kevin, Sr. (a Christian minister) and Denise Jonas.
Addresses: Record company—Hollywood Records, 500 S. Buena Vista St., Burbank, CA91521. Web site— http://www.jonasbrothers.com.
N icholas Jonas was a Broadway performer in Beauty and the Beast, 2002, and Les Misérables, 2003; Kevin Jonas appeared in commercials as a child; Joseph Jonas appeared in La Boheme, 2002-03; brothers also performed together at Christian events and anti-drug rallies; Nicholas Jonas signed with Columbia Records as a solo artist, 2004, and released self-titled album, c. 2005. The Jonas Brothers band formed, 2005; signed with Columbia, 2005; released It’s About Time, 2006; moved to Hollywood Records, 2007; released Jonas Brothers, 2007; toured with Mi-ley Cyrus, 2007; toured as headliners in 2007 and 2008; signed Live Nation agreement, 2008; starred in several Disney Channel projects including Camp Rock, a television movie, 2008, Jonas Brothers: Living the Dream, a television series, 2008, and J.O.N.A.S!, a television series, 2008.
A teen pop sensation, the Jonas Brothers are often compared to Green Day, but considered a cleaner version of the band. After struggling with their first label, the brothers—Kevin, Joe, and Nick—signed with Hollywood Records, toured with Miley Cyrus, and became a music phenomenon in 2007. They eventually signed a deal with Live Nation, and had their own movie and television series on the Disney Channel. Writing in the Syracuse, New York Post-Standard, Carrie Stetler called their popular music “sunny power pop brimming with good attitude and sensitive yearning.”
The brothers are the sons of Kevin Jonas, Sr., and his wife, Denise. They were raised in Wyckoff, New Jersey, where their father was a minister at a Christian church. The brothers—including the youngest brother Frankie (later dubbed “Bonus Jonas”) who was not part of the band—originally attended East Christian School in North Haldeon, New Jersey, but were later home schooled and sang at Christian events and anti-drug assemblies at schools for fun.
Nick was the first in the family to have a serious musical career. After being heard singing in a bar-bershop, he was signed by a manager as a young boy. Nick then appeared in several Broadway musicals as an elementary school student, including Beauty and the Beast and Les Misérables. Then, a holiday song co-written with his father, “Joy to the World (A Christmas Prayer),” was featured on a benefit album and played on Christian radio stations. His brothers also had some success as well, with Kevin appearing in television commercials and Joe appearing in a stage show, Baz Luhrmann’s La Boheme.
On the strength of his singing, Nick signed a solo deal with Sony in 2004. His brothers, Kevin and Joe, decided to help write songs for his album. While incoming Columbia Records president Steve Greenberg was not impressed with Nick’s album, he saw potential with the brothers, as he had when he discovered the pop sensation Hanson (also a trio of brothers) years ago. Greenberg told Billboard’s Mi-kael Wood, “I didn’t like the record he’d made. But his voice struck out, so I met with him and found out he had two brothers.”
Columbia signed the brothers together as an act in 2005. Greenberg explained to Wood of Billboard, “I liked the idea of putting together this little garage-rock band and making a record that nodded to the Ramones and ’70s punk. So Michael Mangini and I went into the studio with the Jonas Brothers and did it.” Kevin explained their sound was different than Nick’s as a solo artist, telling the Village Voice, “Nick’s sound was a little more adult contemporary, but our sound changed as a group. We’re definitely a rock and roll band.”
After being signed to Columbia, the Jonas Brothers spent the next two years working on their debut album. They wrote some 60 songs, and then re-wrote them. They collaborated on their songs with leading songwriters like Desmond Child, Adam Schlesinger, and StarGate along the way. While the experience was frustrating and they feared the album would never be released, It’s About Time finally came out in August of 2006 in limited release after being delayed several times.
By the time the album came out, the Jonas Brothers were already seen as part of the next wave of boy bands, albeit ones which played their instruments and contributed to their own material. While firmly in the rock category, the brothers sung in harmonies about teen topics like doing homework and going online. As committed Christians, the Jonas Brothers also sang about their faith.
The first single, “Mandy,” was pushed on the Internet and MTV’s Total Request Live, but attracted little attention. The Jonas Brothers tried to build their fan base by touring with hot young bands like the Veronicas, Backstreet Boys, and Jesse McCartney.
While the brothers attracted some female fans, the album did not do well in the first few months of release and was not available in many stores.
The brothers were frustrated by the lack of support from their label and had a meeting with Columbia executives. Greenberg had already left the label, and his ideas for grass-roots support went with him. Their manager, Phil McIntyre, told Wood of Billboard, “It was important to find out what their game plan was before we did anything. We had a very frank meeting with them in which they said they were not ready to go to the next level of setting up the project.”
In early 2007, the Jonas Brothers decided Columbia was not working for them and looked for a new record deal. After being dropped by Columbia, they signed with Hollywood Records, a label associated with Disney, which was looking for a boy band to fill a teen-pop niche. Their debut album was re-released on Hollywood Records, and became the first boy rock band pushed by Disney.
Despite the problems with Columbia and the transition to a new label, the Jonas Brothers had their breakthrough hit in February of 2007 with “Year 3000,” a song which was added to It’s About Time at the behest of the record company, which thought the album needed a strong single. “Year 3000” had originally been a hit in the United Kingdom in 2002 for the band Busted. For the Jonas Brothers, “Year 3000,” was a smash on Radio Disney and as a single download on iTunes. It also became a Top 40 hit on Billboard charts.
Soon after signing with Hollywood Records, the Jonas Brothers began working on their next album. They worked with producer John Fields (who had worked with Jimmy Eat World, Switchfoot, and the Backstreet Boys) on new songs, spent three weeks recording them in Seedy Underbelly studio in Los Angeles, and released their second album in September of 2007. Entitled Jonas Brothers, they had a hit with “S.O.S.” The single was number one on iTunes. The album itself sold 360,000 copies between August and December of 2007, then more than a million by early 2008, and was certified platinum. By March of 2008, they sold 2.5 million digital tracks.
While the Jonas Brothers were attracting more attention for their music, a key to their success came when they served as the opening act for pop phenomenon Miley Cyrus in 2007. Cyrus had a popular television series on the Disney Channel, Hannah Montana (on which the brothers made a guest appearance), and numerous sold-out tours. Opening for Cyrus brought the Jonas Brothers a whole new audience, which they built on with their own tour dates later in 2007.
Because of the constant touring in 2007, the brothers found it challenging to schedule studio time to record their next record. They cut a deal with Gibson Guitar, a company they already endorsed, to change their tour bus into a recording studio during a series of West Coast dates. Using the bus allowed them to record at least 15 new tracks in record time with Fields while continuing to tour. The songs featured new influences like Elvis Costello, the Beatles, the Animals, and the Rascals. The album—described by Kevin to Elysa Gardner of USA Today as “a hopeful, good-time kind of record”—was scheduled for release in August of 2008.
Although the Jonas Brothers were considered an emerging act, the depth of their success and potential for growth was confirmed when they signed a two-year, multimillion dollar worldwide touring deal with Live Nation. They immediately began touring in early 2008, and many dates were sold out in minutes. Explaining their appeal, Live Nation’s Jason Garner told Jac Chebatoris of Newsweek, “They’re good-looking guys, they write their own songs and it’s music that you can’t get of your head. This is a band who is doing everything right.”
Reviewing a show in their adopted home of Los Angeles, Mikael Wood of the Los Angeles Times wrote, “the Jonases are tremendously more polished performers than predecessors such as New Kids on the Block; even if they relied on their four-piece backing band for most of the music’s muscle, the brothers’ singing and playing reflected the degree of sophistication their media-savvy fan base now expects.”
The brothers also extended their deal with Disney to appear in Disney Channel projects. In the spring of 2008, a reality series based on their 2008 Look Me in the Eyes tour was scheduled to air on Disney. Entitled Jonas Brothers: Living the Dream, the short-form reality show depicted their lives both on stage and off. Other family members, including their parents and little brother, also made appearances.
In the summer of 2008, they appeared in the movie Camp Rock, which aired on the Disney Channel,ABC Family, and ABC. In the film, Joe plays a bad-boy rocker whose bandmates in the fictional Connect Three, played by Kevin and Nick, send him to summer music camp. There, he meets a girl who is trying to find herself and falls in love. Of the film, Joe told Alan Scully of the Patriot Ledger, “The movie we filmed had a lot do to with music, so we were able to connect with our characters because we did play a band in the movie.And I did play a musician. It was definitely different for us, but we had a lot of fun.”
The Jonas Brothers were also getting their own fictional television series, Junior Operatives Networking As Spies or J.O.N.A.S. on Disney. It was to be filmed beginning in September of 2008, and air at a later date. In the show, the three brothers play rock stars by day and secret government spies at night. In addition to their work on Disney, the brothers also appeared on a Baby Bottle Pops commercial and signed on as sponsors of Breakfast Breaks.
Though the Jonas Brothers were popular, they realized that being a teen sensation had its limitations and hoped to become mainstream successes. Joe told Moser of Tulsa World, “I think the thing that’s really going to help us is the fact that we write our own songs and we’re in the studio when they’re produced, and we’re writing songs for other artists right now. And I think that that’s really a major part in everything we do in the future and right now. But we are brothers, so we can’t really break up.”
While the Jonas Brothers were hugely successful, they remained down to earth and grounded in their beliefs and family. Seattle Times’ Marian Liu wrote “In person, the brothers are extremely polite, definitely more cordial than typical rock stars. They are gracious and say a lot of thank-yous. They seem genuinely enthusiastic about meeting fans, and hold up a squeaky clean image, perfect for their pint-size fans and their parents. The brothers attribute this to a strong family base and their faith.” Kevin told Liu, “We try to be the people that our parents raised us to be.”
It’s About Time, Daylight/Columbia, 2006. Jonas Brothers, Hollywood, 2007.
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Village Voice, May 3, 2006.
“Jonas Brothers,” VH1.com, http://www.vh1.com/artists/az/jonas_brothers/albums.jhtml (May 18, 2008).