A little over a month has passed since I spent the day on set with the Jonas Brothers for our May cover story and when we meet again (albeit virtually) for this interview. And in that time, the trio have practically been to the moon and back. From the moment they departed the eccentric Brooklyn gymnasium that served as the setting for our photo shoot up to when they said their synced hellos from a remote recording studio in NYC, the band’s schedule has included everything from performing on Saturday Night Live to putting multiple surprise shows across the U.S. and in London, talk show appearances, and performing at the F1 Miami Grand Prix. Add to that, the need to balance their individual lives, which involve business ventures, DJing, and spending quality time with their respective families; it’s clear the Jonas Brothers have been on overdrive. Yet, despite their arduous schedule, the brothers are in a cheerful mood and eager to dive into the conversation surrounding their new album, The Album. Some may chalk it up to years of media training, but throughout the conversation, I get the idea that they’ve taken the time to nurture who they are as individuals and are now ready to throw themselves back in the ring as a band on their own terms.
While they’ve already been running at a mile a minute leading up to the album release, the next few months promise to be more chaotic, even by Jonas standards. After much anticipation and to critical acclaim, The Album debuted on May 12th. Despite the name being simple in nature, it alludes to how much the music is, according to Nick, “uniquely Jonas Brothers.” The youngest of the three emphasizes the importance of this pivotal moment in their career. “It’s the album we’re most proud of because it represents where we are now and our journey thus far,” he explained. While they still perform and constantly reference their pop-punk days, the trio has leaned into a more ‘70s, Laurel-Canyon inspired sound for their latest release. That’s not to say they’ve moved in a completely new direction of music. In true Jonas Brothers fashion, the essence of The Album still radiates the playful confidence and joy we’ve come to love of the group over so many years, encouraging you to play it on full blast. It’s worth mentioning the first two singles, the upbeat “Wings” and “Waffle House,” the first of which featured The White Lotus star Haley Lu Richardson in the music video, have already become viral hits. It easily can be your summer poolside soundtrack, but the occasional dramatic songs soaked in emotion are perfect for when you’re in your feels.
The Album does, however, catapult the band into new lyrical territory. “For the first time, we’re talking about things we haven’t talked about in our music, which is fatherhood or brotherhood,” Kevin shares. The brothers are finally in similar places in life where they can equally understand what the other is going through. With an ease in his voice, Joe expands, “We’re all fathers now. Before, one of us was going through something emotionally that the other could simply not connect with. You all end up bringing to the table too many ideas and it felt like there were too many cooks in the kitchen. This time around, we’re actually able to work together quite well.” The most sentimental track, “Little Bird,” dedicated to their daughters, demonstrates this point while causing a collective tug on heartstrings everywhere.
Fatherhood is a common theme that surrounds this new era of the Jonas Brothers. Kevin was first to jump to the subject, sharing that “fatherhood is the number one driver.” He continued with a calming, yet impactful force in his voice, “The reason who I am today is because of my kids. Whether that is figuring out how to get home sooner or thinking about them when we’re writing, it’s ever present. They are your children. They are the most important thing in your life.” Even between photo setups on our shoot, they managed to squeeze in a FaceTime call to their daughters, ensuring that no matter how busy they get, family always comes first.
Despite being in awe of each other's journey as dads, Kevin, Joe, and Nick stay away from giving each other parenting advice. “That was an unspoken rule—we really don’t do that. I think that’s super healthy,” Kevin says. Watching their interactions on and off camera—a slew of inside jokes and constant nods to each other's career moments in our interview—I’d describe the current state of the brothers’ relationship as exactly that, healthy. While a breakup might create a forever-long rift between bandmates, the 2013 dissolution of the Jonas Brothers was actually the first step of their healing. In a very raw and painfully-honest essay to New York Magazine that same year, Joe explained that the decision, while disheartening to many, came down to how to focus on their relationships as brothers, and not bandmates, telling the publication, “I didn’t care about the money; I just wanted to figure out the right, healthy way for us to be good as a family.”
I will share a personal view: As someone who has three siblings (and other members of big families can probably attest to this too), those relationships are unequivocably the most natural and the ones that involve the most work to maintain. Let’s be honest with ourselves—who really has effectively hashed things out with their families before their frontal lobe completely developed? Therapists around the world would care to chime in. Adding worldwide fame to the mix can push the glass a little too close to the edge, especially when fame comes as a result of something you and your siblings have worked at since you were kids. When the glass ultimately fell and shattered for the group in 2013, fans were left in a shocked haze. Somewhere along the way, the lines between brothers and bandmates blurred. How do you define boundaries when your family is your work? It may have taken almost 20 years since the band’s inception in 2005, but Nick credits the current stage of their sibling journey to how they currently handle work-life balance, which relies foremost on communication. “A lot of things used to get bottled up and stay inside, and now, we definitely share our frustrations more freely along the way. We’re brothers at the end of the day, and we also work together. It’s a lot to unpack on a daily basis but we found a good balance and I think that’s because with time, age, and maturity, you find a way for it to all make sense and enjoy the ride. Life is too short to not enjoy it and the one that we’re on is pretty incredible.”
With the 2019 album, Happiness Begins, arguably noted as their comeback moment, the pressure was indubitably prevalent. Nick, in between nervous laughs, tells me, “On the last album, it was important that it worked, and people cared.” To the faithful fans that never stopped caring (me included), this might leave you perplexed. After all, I don’t need to explain how impactful the Jonas Brothers' rise to fame was for the cultural zeitegest of their time. (If I must—think the rise and fall of the Dunn Brothers turned Daisy Jones and the Six, minus the drugs or twisted added romances involved.) The debut single off Happiness Begins, “Sucker”, skyrocketed to number one on the Billboard Hot 100, a milestone their Disney-era songs never quite reached. It was evident that even after six years, there was a sleeping army of Jonas Brothers fans ready to be awoken. The momentous impact of Happiness Begins made it easier for them to approach The Album with a settled ease. The four year gap between Happiness Begins and now is not something they shy away from dissecting. Time is of the essence, after all. “The music for [The Album] came back pretty naturally. Originally we started in a unique setting where Nick was in one room with producers he was familiar with and I was in another with some great people that I’ve worked with [in the past] and we brought everything together and put the best of to the table, ” Joe shares. Ironically, while it was a difference in musical goals that ultimately led to their breakup, it is now those very differences that are the driver on this album being what they call their best yet. “In a lot of ways, we’re three individuals that make up this band,” Nick says.
Despite the explosion of excitement from their initial comeback, the current era of the Jonas Brothers has pushed them to the forefront of media and music attention, even opening themselves up to newer and younger audiences. When my digital algorithm was serving Jonas Brothers content towards me in spades, I originally thought it was due to all the time and research spent on this story. However, I was quickly swayed by family, friends, and social media users who made it clear to me—the Jonas Brothers really are everywhere.
How does a band from 2005 stay on top in 2023? To exist in the realm of relevance, some artists hold onto nostalgia for dear life (Case in point: the recent uptick in “rewatch” podcasts around early aughts shows) and some artists pack away the past completely. The Jonas Brothers, however, do neither. They embrace who they were in the past, but are also able to tell a new story of the experiences they’re living now. Nick explains that with their recent shows, which included a Broadway residency that had them go through a different album each night, walking down memory lane is far more meaningful now than it ever has been. “It’s not necessarily because we’re living in nostalgia, but because we’ve all grown up together. It feels like one big party where we can celebrate the journey we’re on now,” he says.
With the mounting pressure in the early stages of their careers and in their 2019 comeback, it makes sense that the band has just now reached a point where they are seamlessly weaving together their past and present. Kevin reveals the way in which they moved in their adolescence factors into their approach of the past today. “My girls discovered, because of Disney+, our shows and there were full episodes and moments that I don’t remember filming. That’s not because we blocked them out, but we were moving so fast in those years and so many things happened so rapidly that it’s hard to remember all the moments. That’s what we’re [prioritizing] now, which is to enjoy, take in, and really focus on and celebrate the wins,” he says.
Nostalgia is certainly a powerful driver of their collective careers, but it’s not what defines the Jonas Brothers. At the end of the day, they’re three brothers from New Jersey who are no doubt professionals, but also trying not to take things too seriously. In “Waffle House,” they reference butting heads with lyrics like, “Oh, that's why some nights we try to kill each other.” In concert, they sing each other's solo songs like they’re their own. (Fans are patiently waiting for “Jealous,” Joe’s version.) When one brother says they want to work on a project, the other two give him the space to make that happen—no offense taken. And their current reign on TikTok furthermore proves the bands’ willingness to just enjoy where they are now. Joe, the most active content creator of the three, is quick to jump in on the subject. “We see the value in [TikTok], but also it is fun. It’s only fun if you enjoy yourself during the process. It’s so easy to hate on the new social media. We started off with MySpace being a thing. We had 100 followers on MySpace and we were like, we did it guys, we can retire. We made it.” The brothers aren't just holding onto the past—they’re making space for themselves in the future.
As for the next 20 years? The trio still have their own bucket list to comb through. While they’re checking off performing at Yankee Stadium this summer, playing at MetLife stadium, home of the Giants, stands high on their list. It’s safe to say that the Jonas Brothers are in it for the long haul. “If we’re still making music and pursuing doing what we love in another 20 years, I mean, pinch me—that’s just awesome,” Joe says.
Photographer: Rebekah Campbell
Stylist: Michael Fisher @ The Wall Group
Groomer: Kumi Craig
Manicurist: Michina Koide @ Art Dept
Art Director: Natalia Styzk
Executive Talent Director: Jessica Baker