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.
As Kevin Jonas explains it, his turn towards music as a possible career was purely accidental, coming about when he was home sick one day. Picking up a guitar that was there, he decided to teach himself how to play. “That was the day I realized that I was meant to play music,” Kevin exclaims.
And it’s something he has pursued ever since, though, as he reveals in this interview, it wasn’t until he started writing songs with his brothers that he realized that there was definitely something there between the three of them. In the following interview session, Kevin reflects on the long road to the top that he and his siblings have been on. Kevin expresses genuine gratitude for everything they’ve managed to achieve and the sacrifices their parents have made for them.
J-14: What do you think it was about your parents that they allowed you to pursue this dream?
Kevin Jonas: I guess it’s the knowing and hoping that something would happen, and that they saw something more in their kids — in a humble manner — that said possibly it was something that could work. There was something in Nick, becoming the Broadway star that he was and working from the age of 7, being on Broadway for four years, and then doing the music. He’d done four Broadway shows, which is pretty impressive – we’re pretty sure he holds the record for the largest number of Broadway shows done by someone under the age of 11. And my parents have sacrificed so much, more than any parents really should. And they’re amazing, and we appreciate everything they’ve ever done for us and always will.
J-14: Being a teenager can be tough — how much more difficult is it being a celebrity in your teenage years?
KJ: Of course, it’s the best thing that ever happened to me, and this has been one of the most crazy and most fun lives ever. I have a blast every single day. I am blessed that I get to do this thing I love to do and if I wasn’t doing this I’d probably be working as Starbucks. So the fact that I get to travel around on a tour bus all around the country is pretty awesome.
J-14: Do you look at the downward spiral of some other teen celebrities as a cautionary tale for yourselves?
KJ: It’s definitely a cautionary tale in that it tells you to know who your friends are, and who are the people you want to keep close. And at the same time don’t let others influence you in a negative way, because that can happen in anything, honestly. So we are very hard on ourselves and with everything we do, we watch it very wisely. And we have an amazing team with us, amazing people who work with us, and we get to do some amazing things.
J-14: And that’s an important way to keep yourself grounded, because you could easily get carried away with everyone screaming for you at concerts.
KJ: Absolutely. You can get wrapped up into all of that. And with us, that’s not the case at all, because there’s always someone bigger than you, there’s always something you haven’t reached yet, and our goal is to do as many things possible in our career as we can.
J-14: You’ve mentioned that growing up your family didn’t have a lot of money. Is financial success difficult to adjust to?
KJ: Money is relative – it costs a lot to be on the road, but we’ve been very blessed. We all know what it’s like to not have a lot, so the fact is when we can bring people on, bring crew members on, it’s amazing. Remember, this is our first real tour. When we were first signed to Columbia Records we toured, but it was in a van and trailer. We did opening dates, and you don’t make a lot of money. They say if you want to open for Jesse McCartney or The Backstreet Boys, you’re not going to make anything. The exposure level is so high, that it’s worth it to go on those tours, but you don’t make a lot of money on them.
J-14: You’re just doing what you have to do to make it.
KJ: Exactly. And we did that for a long time. And it’s hard. We’ve slept in vans, and our dad drove us overnight and for days in the van. He was the driver, and we were our own crew. We did this thing called the School Tour where we woke up at 3:00 AM every single morning and drove to the schools. We would load everything in, and set up an entire PA system with one other guy. And we wouldn’t stay in a hotel over night.
J-14: The finances were that tight?
KJ: I think we had a certain amount for a budget, because if we stayed in Boston we might stay in a hotel because it’s a 4 ½ hour trip, but with Philly, we drove back after the show. And we learned how to play without sound checks, and we worked hard. I learned how to become a roadie on that tour, and I loved it, but it’s hard work and everyone got sick. And then we got to tour with a full bill, and we got a tour bus, but we never had a crew until this tour we’re on right now. Like I said, we and our band would do the unloading, and sometimes our band would do it because they didn’t want us to do it, or if we were on a radio show or something.
J-14: How do you feel when you look back at those days?
KJ: It was crazy, and it was also absolutely an amazing time in our lives. But now, as we have some kind of success, it’s a gift from God because now we have a crew, now we have four different guys that are always with us. Our band walks in and everything is set up and they can do their sound check, and then we walk in and we sound check as a band, then we walk off stage after an hour and we’re done. And it’s the greatest feeling having someone hand you a guitar, you know? We’ve always been so blessed to have the opportunity to do what we do, but now we have the opportunity to also enjoy it.
J-14: Obviously, you’ve paid your dues.
KJ: Absolutely. We’re not one of those groups who have one song on the radio and, boom, they’re an instant success. We worked hard from day one and didn’t get a lot of respect, possibly because of the way we were marketed.
J-14: What would you say the turning point was when it all started to come together?
KJ: I think the breaking point was when we started writing songs together, and seeing that we could do it, and loving it and having fun together. The songwriting did come naturally, it really did. The first song we ever wrote together was the song that got us signed, you know, so it was either luck, fate or something in between. We hit something.
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