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"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.
The oldest, Kevin, who plays guitar and sings backing vocals, was home sick one day when he found a guitar and a "Teach Yourself Guitar" book lying around the house. "I spent the next three days learning how to play the basic chords," Kevin remembers. "That was about four years ago."
Nicholas, who shares lead vocals with Joseph in the group, began singing as soon as he could talk. "From the time I was two years old, I would wake up in the morning and start singing all the time, every second of the day," he says. Nicholas, whose voice has been compared to that of previous prodigies Stevie Wonder and Taylor Hanson, was "discovered" singing while getting his hair cut in a local barbershop. His poignant voice caught the attention of a woman in the shop who immediately referred him to a professional show business manager.
Joseph's original plan, however, was slightly different than his brothers. He first dreamed of becoming a comedian and wanted to audition for sketch comedy shows. "But I was always attached to music and loved listening to different kinds of music, especially rock," he says.
Meanwhile, Daylight/Columbia Records, after hearing Nicholas' incredible voice, began planning a solo record with him. And then fate intervenedů. Nicholas and his brothers began submitting songs that they'd written together with the intention of having them appear on Nicholas' solo album. When the label became aware that Nicholas had musically talented siblings, a group performance was arranged. After a spectacular group audition was held for the label, the direction was clear. "All three of us were signed pretty much on the spot as the Jonas Brothers," Kevin says.
For the Jonas boys, the real fun began as they combined their musical abilities to write and record their debut album together, quickly realizing how lucky they were to have each other for both personal and professional inspiration. "It's awesome to have my brothers on stage and in the studio with me," explains Nicholas. "You have a security that everything is going to be okay, even when you mess up."
As Kevin puts it, "It feels like the most natural thing we could be doing. When we write a song we get in a triangle. I start playing the chords that we've chosen over and over and then we'll keep going around in a circle until we have figured out the lyrics for our song."
They're all particularly proud of their vocal chemistry as well. "Nicholas is the powerhouse vocal," says Joseph. "He's just got this young, soulful voice that catches everyone's ear."
"Joseph just has this really cool, smooth rock voice," Nicholas points out. "He really knows how to get the crowd going. Kevin is the one that holds us all together. Joseph and I are the singers and we take turns on keyboards, and percussion, but Kevin mostly plays the guitar and that's the part of the group that we need--he's the glue that keeps it together."
Joseph sees them all collaborating for years to come. "We're brothers so it's not like if we got upset at each other that we can be like, 'Well I quit.' They're still my brothers. We love to do this and we know we're going to keep doing for a very long time."
Inspiration for the group's songs comes directly from the boys' personal experiences--from the highs and lows of dating to being on the road to having been given the opportunity to follow their dreams at such a young age. "A lot of it is about typical teenage love stuff like 'Oh, what am I going to do if I can't see her today?' It's not stuff that we don't know about," says Nicholas.
"There's been heartbreaks and there's been crushes so we know how it feels and can write about it," explains Kevin, but overall, the songs of the Jonas Brothers celebrate the joy of living and encourage people to feel good. "The album is meant to get people up and have fun and raise their energy," says Joseph.
"We decided to call the album It's About Time," Nicholas reveals, "because so many of our songs seem to deal with different aspects of time." Kevin continues the explanation of the concept, "There's '6 Minutes,' which is about how quickly you can run through the full range of emotions when you feel strongly about someone you just met. There's '7:05,' about etching in your memory the exact time a relationship ended, and, well, the list goes on."
Songs on the album that stand out for the boys include their tune "Time For Me to Fly," a catchy, fast track that is about "following our dream of making music" according to Kevin. "The song is about us working hard, playing music every night and trying to make things happen."
One of the more personal tracks on the record is the first single, "Mandy," which is about a girl that their mother, a sign language teacher, taught to sign so that she could pursue her dream of working with the hearing impaired. Nicholas, Joseph and Kevin each formed a special friendship with Mandy. "We were writing songs one day and decided we wanted to write about something really nice--so we wrote a song about Mandy," recalls Nicholas. "She's the nicest girl you will ever meet. She knows what you're thinking all the time."
"Don't Tell Anyone," one of the more emotional songs on the record, is about liking someone but not being able to admit it. "One Day At A Time" talks about how minutes seem like days after you find yourself on the wrong end of a breakup. "That's probably the darkest song on the album," says Kevin.
For now the brothers are just relishing in the experience of having other people hear their music live and making new fans one city at a time while they are on the road. "We've known for a while how it felt to be on stage, but we never knew how it would feel to have people love music that we've written and which we both play and sing. It's very gratifying when fans come up to us after shows and tell us how much they relate to our songs," says Joseph.
"We all have such passion for what we do and for our band," explains Kevin. Our dreams have really come true and we're just so lucky."
One of the most popular teen-affiliated groups of the 2000s, the Jonas Brothers' craft hook-filled power pop anthems in the vein of McFly, Hanson, and the Modern Lovers. The young New Jersey natives (while readying their 2006 debut, brothers Joseph, Kevin, and Nicholas Jonas topped out at 16, 17, and 13, respectively) were reared in the city of Wyckoff under the tutelage of musical parents. Nicholas showed a particular flair for singing; by the age of seven, he'd already begun a modest career as a Broadway performer. The young performer also took an interest in songwriting, even co-writing a Christmas tune in 2002 alongside his father. Several years later, his soulful voice had wowed enough executives at Daylight/Columbia Records to warrant a solo album, and Nicholas began writing original material with help from his two brothers. The siblings' songs impressed the president of Columbia, who ultimately signed the trio in 2005.
The Jonas Brothers' full-length debut, It's About Time, was released in August 2006. Featuring the songwriting talents of Desmond Child and Fountains of Wayne's Adam Schlesinger, the album peaked at number 91 on the Billboard charts and earned the siblings a modest audience, particularly among fans of Radio Disney. Nevertheless, the Jonas Brothers were dropped from Columbia's roster in early 2007. They bounced back by signing with Hollywood Records, a Disney-owned label that helped the group exponentially expand its fanbase. An eponymous sophomore album, Jonas Brothers, arrived in August 2007, supported by a number of Jonas Brothers appearances on the Disney Channel's various programs. The band also toured in support of the record, selling out shows coast to coast -- including a stop at the Gibson Amphitheater in Los Angeles, which was the fastest sold-out show in the venue's history. The reality television show Jonas Brothers: Living the Dream documented the band's life on the road, and the band's TV presence was furthered along by Camp Rock, a 2008 Disney Channel television movie that featured the brothers and up-and-coming star Demi Lovato. The movie was watched by 8.9 million viewers and launched the Jonas Brothers' next single, "Burnin' Up," which helped whet demand for the release of A Little Bit Longer later that year. James Christopher Monger & Andrew Leahey, All Music Guide