“Music on Red Bull.” Without hesitating, that’s how 17-year-old Kevin Jonas describes the hyper-adrenalized sounds he’s created with his two brothers, 13-year-old Nicholas and 16-year-old Joseph, on the Jonas Brothers’ debut album, It’s About Time. And it’s no wonder since the boys’ influences include an eclectic mix of artists ranging from the Ramones to the Jackson 5 to the Modern Lovers–all purveyors of tight, catchy anthems. One thing is for sure, the Jonas Brothers are all ready to keep the momentum going strong. “We go crazy on stage!” says Kevin. “It’s so much fun!”
Music always played a major part in the brothers’ lives growing up in Wyckoff, New Jersey. Their parents are both musicians, so gathering around the piano for sing-alongs was an essential part of regular family bonding, yet each brother found his own musical calling in a different way.
We interview Kevin.
HIP: Where are you at?
KEVIN: Home in New Jersey.
What is it like being signed to a record label?
It’s a lot of fun. It’s one of those things that’s surreal for me. It’s one of those things where I wake up and ask “where are we going to today? Wow, we are doing that?” It’s very cool. I’m very excited about it.
Any surprises so far?
Of course getting signed was a huge thing. Nicholas got signed first and was working on his solo career and record. And then we wrote a song together and we all got signed. It was one of those unexpected cool things that happened.
A lot of bands say they have chemistry—but it can’t get much better than being in a band with your brothers.
It’s very cool. We get a long really well. We don’t fight. Its cool traveling with your family and it makes for a great time. You know you won’t fight on stage and know you will have a great show.
No Oasis things happen?
No. (We both laugh)
So none of this was planned?
It was really on the fly. It was a fun thing where we wanted to see what would happen. So we were like “let’s write a song and see what happens.” We had no idea what the potential was. The first song we wrote ended up being a good song where everyone liked it. Nick knew he wanted to do it but we were really like—he was thinking we could do a song or two on his album and it really ended up all of us getting together and making an album.
How did it get to Columbia Records?
It’s a funny thing. Nicholas wrote this one little song—he wrote a Christmas song—he wrote that and someone heard it from Sony. He got signed right away. We didn’t have to hand it off to somebody. So he got signed and we wrote a song together and we all got signed. It wasn’t one of those things where we were a band together for ten years before getting signed. We weren’t playing at all—but now we have been developing as writers.
After the “wow” period when did it set in that you had to write a whole record?
It set in right away because they had a date they wanted it. So we got to work and really had to write. We loved it.
Was it stressful?
It was stressful because we wanted a great record but at the same time they wanted to give us the freedom to make something we loved.
What was your approach to writing?
We got with some writers, wrote some songs by ourselves, it was all over. [Someone yells in the background] My brother just yelled. He turned on the TV and they are playing our song.
That has to be surreal.
That is a little crazy.
On top of that you have been in magazines like Cosmo.
It’s amazing. We find out that we have all these articles from fans on our Myspace page.
You have to keep your head on straight—so your parents must be nervous.
Well, we definitely understand this—this is just a huge ride and you have to enjoy it.
What was it like to do your first show?
We rehearsed for a long time and then we went on a tour. We wanted to do the dirty club thing and it was really cool. We wanted to tour so bad. When we are home we don’t know what to do with ourselves.
Were you nervous for the first show?
The first show we played was fifteen thousand with the Backstreet Boys. We just got thrown in. It was very cool.
Was it natural?
It was nerve-wracking but it was exciting. We were like “whaaaat did we just do?” (We both laugh) When you are done with a show it feels like you were only up there for five minutes because you are ripping through the songs. You are in your own little zone when on stage. You disappear.
Who have been your influences?
There have been a lot of bands like The Ramones, Modern Lovers, and bands like that. But also Stevie Wonder and the Jackson 5. For me John Mayer and Switchfoot.
What do you dream about?
Good question. I always loved music. I always wanted to be a writer. But when I had the opportunity to be an artist what better way was there for me to be a writer and be able to be hands on right away.
Was going into the studio a new experience?
As soon as we stepped into the studio we knew we never wanted to leave.
Do you ever worry that because you are so young you might not be taken seriously?
That is the case with us sometimes. People might think we are too young for this. People don’t realize we can make music for kids because we know what they want to hear.
+ Charlie Craine