The Jonas Brothers
Ask the Jonas Brothers who they’re hoping to turn into fans with their new self-titled CD and they won’t say “everybody.” But that’s precisely what they’ll mean. “We’re aiming for people our age,” says 17-year-old Joe. “But we also wanna get kids younger than us,” adds 14-year-old Nick. “And older people, too,” 19-year-old Kevin pipes up.
The highly anticipated follow-up to the New Jersey siblings’ 2006 debut—which featured the TRL hit “Mandy”—The Jonas Brothers is sure to make good on the band’s goal: It’s a high-energy pop-punk disc overflowing with insanely catchy hooks, muscular guitar fuzz and mature songwriting that reveals just how much growing up the boys have done since we last heard from them.
Talk about something for everyone: In “S.O.S.” they attack a fierce dance-rock groove, while in “Hello Beautiful” they go soulful and acoustic. “Games” rides a laidback reggae groove the Police would envy, then switches gears into a zippy Ramones-style rave-up. “Hollywood” pairs a tricky funk beat with divebombing guitar lines,” and “When You Look Me in the Eyes” builds to a power-ballad crescendo. In “Goodnight and Goodbye,” the album’s most ambitious cut, they combine Warped Tour-style punk with musical-theatre trimmings inspired by Nick’s years on Broadway in Les Misérables and Beauty and the Beast. Throughout the album, the boys reflect on a variety of emotional hardships without losing their grip on the positive vibe that underpins all their music.
Remarkably eclectic yet bound together by the brothers’ trademark harmony vocals, the CD is the natural result of the wild times the Jonases have experienced lately. After spending much of 2006 supporting their debut on the road with tween-scene heavyweights such as Jesse McCartney, the Veronicas and Aly & AJ, the brothers found themselves reaching a new audience earlier this year when the Disney Channel put the band’s “Year 3000” video into heavy rotation. “As soon as that happened, the song entered the Top 10 on iTunes and our MySpace comments doubled,” Kevin marvels. “It was almost impossible to keep up with the new friend requests!”
It didn’t get any easier: The band’s profile continued to rise over the next few months thanks to appearances on Radio Disney and the Meet the Robinsons soundtrack, where the Jonases remade Kim Wilde’s “Kids in America” as “Kids of the Future.”
Eager to provide their quickly expanding fanbase with new music, the band entered L.A.’s Seedy Underbelly studio in February with producer John Fields, whose work on Switchfoot’s The Beautiful Letdown had made the boys huge fans of his. “John lives rock music,” Joe says of the producer, who’s also worked with Rooney and Pink. “We always thought it would be so cool to work with him.”
They worked quickly, recording the album from beginning to end in a mere 21 days, a feat they accomplished in part because they knew the material so well: Where their debut featured work by a handful of professional songwriters, The Jonas Brothers only contains songs penned by the Jonas Brothers themselves, with occasional assists by pals like Bleu (“That’s Just the Way We Roll”), P.J. Bianco (“When You Look Me in the Eyes”) and the boys’ own backing band (“Games”). “As brothers, we just know how to work together,” Nick explains.
“When we signed to Hollywood,” Kevin remembers, “we told the label, ‘Hey, we have some demos of songs we’ve been writing for the past year and a half.’ We thought it’d be so funny to just record those songs for the album to see what we could get away with. But those turned out to be the songs on the record!”
The brothers say their writing reveals a lifetime of influences—everything from My Chemical Romance to the Backstreet Boys to Weird Al Yankovic (with whom the band recently shared the stage at New Jersey’s Bamboozle festival). Still, what you really hear on The Jonas Brothers is the sound of three young musicians finding their own voice—their own distinctive blend of Nick’s way with an R&B vocal, Joe’s love of danceable beats and Kevin’s obsession with guitar solos.
“This album is so us,” says Joe. “The first one was us kind of coming into what the Jonas Brothers could be,” Kevin adds. “Whereas this one really shows off where we’re at right now.” The youngest Jonas but perhaps the wisest, Nick concludes thus: “We love what we’re doing and we want to do it for a while.”
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