In honor of the 10-year anniversary of the Jonas Brothers' breakout self-titled album (their first with Hollywood Records), we're celebrating with a week full of JoBros features for our readers. This exclusive interview originally ran in its entirety in a 2007 issue of Life Story.
Early on in his life, Joe Jonas was something of a reluctant star. Rather than worrying about getting on stage like younger brother Nick, he had dreams of being a filmmaker. But gradually that position began to change, first when he was signed up with his brothers to be an actor in commercials and then in print ads. This, in turn, led to his being cast in some regional theater before a Broadway stint in La Boheme. All of which eventually led to he, Nick and Kevin forming the Jonas Brothers. In the following one-on-one discussion, Joe looks back in time at how it all happened, and the fascinating road his life has taken so far.
J-14: So, how insane has your life become?
Joe Jonas: It’s probably about as insane as it could ever be right now. We are running all over the place, but this is all very exciting for us.
J-14: This is obviously a big change…
JJ: If it’s a change that you like, it’s something you can deal with. We’ve been waiting for this change for a little while and suddenly we’re number five on Billboard today, which is just amazing! Just a very exciting time.
J-14: Was there ever a time when you kind of lost the faith that it would happen, or did you always believe that nothing would stop you?
JJ: We were always hoping that it would at some point, and there were definitely times when we thought, “Oh, great, not again!” Like when we left our previous record label or, say, we’d go up on the charts and then we’d disappear. We’d be so frustrated and wonder when the big break was going to happen. But patience really pays off. We just continued practicing and waiting and writing songs and it’s the happiest feeling ever when you see #5, or one of our songs is #8 right now on iTunes. It’s so great. So many great things are happening, and then there’s the Disney Channel push and all of that. It’s just so unbelievable.
J-14: There are so many talented people like you guys who are waiting for that big break. What do you think changed that allowed it to happen for you?
JJ: I think the first time you notice a major change is when people stop you in different places and recognize you. For instance, the other day I was at Starbucks and they said, “Aren’t you Joseph Jonas?” It just makes you feel really happy to see that they’re fans. Or that we’re selling out shows, which is another great sign that things have changed.
J-14: Do you think signing with Disney has had a lot to do with it, or do you feel it would have happened anyway?
JJ: I think Disney had a major part in this. Before the Disney push we were seeing a slight change, but right away, after they put the first video on Disney Channel, on our MySpace page we suddenly had hundreds of thousands of “friends requests” in an hour. It was just unbelievable to see how crazy the response was. Our fan base grew faster than ever. We had so many more fans in the course of one month than we did in two years. Disney is just knocking balls out of the park right now with amazing things, and we’re so glad to be a part of it.
J-14: Those kinds of numbers must have blown your mind.
JJ: We were freaking out. When we signed with Hollywood Records we knew that Disney Channel would play our videos, and we immediately got so excited. We are so blessed with how hard they’re pushing our record; it’s nonstop. Every day our little brother Frankie is saying, “Hey, guys, you’re on TV again!” We are so grateful to the Disney Channel and the whole Disney group for doing that for us.
J-14: You guys seem a little edgier than a lot of things they do, aren’t you?
JJ: We’re definitely more of a rock band compared to a pop band. We play our own instruments and write our own songs and go up on stage and play with our hearts. When people come to our concerts, I can definitely promise them that they’ll have a good time, because the energy in the room is so much fun and the audience screams their hearts out. It’s a fun time.
J-14: In your words, how would you say this has all come together for you guys?
JJ: I first got interested in entertainment when I was about 10 or 11 years old. Nicholas seemed to be singing almost from the day he was born. Everywhere he went, he sang. I just wasn’t into that; I was into movie making. I had our home camera and I would always film around town and make videos with my brother, and things like that. Nick had auditions for his manager and one day we went along with him. They asked us if we would like to audition, too. We ended up doing it and right away we all got signed. We started to do commercials and things like that. We never really went to the Broadway auditions; Nick was the one who was doing Broadway from the time he was seven years old.
J-14: But you continued doing commercials?
JJ: Actually, from that point I really did a lot of commercials and print jobs, and then I told my parents I didn’t want to sing. They were, like, “Why not, Joe?” I don’t know wasn’t the best reason. I guess I enjoyed being a normal kid at school, but when Nick started getting some attention from some girls, I was, like, maybe I should try it. Nick went to auditions for Oliver and it was just at the time I said I would audition for musicals.
Nick came through the audition at a local theater and he had a callback. I was in the lounge playing my video games. The door opened and there was a table full of producers and directors and Nick was standing there. He said, “Joe, they want to see you.” I was, like, “They what?” I didn’t know what was going on, but I kind of got up and walked in. I had long, shaggy hair and glasses and they were whispering to each other. They said, “Can you please come back tomorrow?” “Okay.” “Thank you.” I found out they wanted Nick for the lead role of Oliver and they wanted me for the role of the Artful Dodger. From that, I came back the next day and I got it on the spot. It was one of the greatest experiences for me ever.
J-14: So the two of you had a chance to work together early on.
JJ: Actually, Nick ended up not doing it, because he ended up getting a Broadway show instead, but Oliver was the best thing ever for me. From that point, I didn’t want to do anything else. It really taught me how to perform on stage and it helped me to come out of my shell. I was 12 or 13. The director was really hard on me, but it was something I really loved and he will always be in my book as someone who helped me to perform. He showed me you can take chances on stage. Being up there on stage, even in the rehearsals, I remember I was having a hard time performing it. He was, like, “Okay, Joe, if you don’t act out and go crazy with this character, they may have to get another person.” When I heard that, I freaked out, because I was having so much fun. So the next day I decided to go crazy and he loved it. So I became the crazy kid in the cast.
J-14: From there you did end up on Broadway in La Boheme, right?
JJ: Yes. The audition room was packed. I had seven callbacks over six months. Finally the last callback was at a roller rink and we had to skate, which was real confusing. I didn’t know what I was doing with the roller skates, but my dad knew what to do and he found me the best roller skating coach in New Jersey. For two days in a row, six hours a day, we worked so hard. First it was me trying to stand up, and by the end I was doing spins in the air. It was just crazy and I was, like, “Thank you, God, for helping me.” I was so proud, because I ended up being the best kid there. You walk in there and you don’t know what to expect. I was so happy to know that I was the only one who knew cool tricks. He taught me just enough to make me look good. So I was on Broadway for eight months and it was just amazing.
J-14: And then the recording studio began calling out to you.
JJ: From there, Nick recorded a Christmas song and they wanted to sign him because he had an angel-like voice. He started working on a solo project, and one day Kevin and I were, like, “Hey, Nick, do you think we can write a song together?” We wrote “Please Be Mine,” which was the first song we wrote together and the fans love it. We walked into the label one day and Dave Massey, Nick’s A&R guy, freaked out and said, “Whoa, there are brothers?” From that moment we immediately became a group project and started working with different people every day. It was just really great and that’s kind of the story.
For a safe space to obsess over celebrities in the same way you did when you were 14, join our J-14+ Facebook group to continue the conversation.
A Jonas Brothers Hair Retrospective: The Good, the Bad, and the Side Bangs
Exclusive: How the Jonas Brothers Became the Band You Know Today — Straight From Nick, Joe, and Kevin's Mouths
The Jonas Brothers Take Us Track-by-Track Behind the Meanings of the Music From Their Second Album