You know what they say about middle children—they can be quite a handful. But that apparently has to do with the fact that middle children are usually independent, think out of the box and feel less pressure to conform. Am not sure if the “quite a handful” trait applies to Joe Jonas but am pretty sure he exemplifies much of the latter, having caught the attention of the fashion fraternity in recent months.
From headline generating appearances at fashion week to stints as a DJ, made more interesting by the fact that he is constantly on the radar of the rumor mill, the middle Jonas (There is also a younger brother Frankie) appears to be coming into his own and he is doing it with fashionable ease. At just 25, Jonas has achieved much more than your average pop star, having not just conquered teen pop stardom but also credibility, an acknowledgement from Rolling Stone, no less.
Joe was just 17 when The Jonas Brothers released their first single It’s About Time in 2006. Then the band was called J3 and it was Joe who decided on the name change. At their first concert, he introduced the band to the crowd as The Jonas Brothers and that was that. Following their debut, the band toured the club circuit, opening for the likes of The Veronicas. The club crowd, he says, were pretty tough to please, which meant that the siblings had to prove their mettle, that they were “real” musicians.
But things, of course, took a drastic turn when the boys signed on to Disney, a move which elevated them from opening act status to headliners and all within a span of just six weeks. But the Disney association concerts, openings and eventually the sitcom Jonas also meant catering to a younger audience.
“The thing about the show was that some of the writing on it was terrible. It just ended up being some weird slapstick humour that only a 10-year old would laugh at,” he said in an interview with The New York Times in 2013, in which Joe talked candidly about his life as a Jonas brother. “I had to shave everyday because they wanted me to pretend like I was 16 when I was 20. We went along with it at the time because we thought Disney was our only real shot, and we were terrified that it could be taken away from us at any moment.”
Things eventually came to a head and the group parted ways in 2013. While he seems to have emerged unscathed from the break-up, that wasn’t his initial reaction. “It felt like we were just giving up. It didn’t make sense to me,” he says to The New York Times. It was only upon reflection that he understood that it was right thing to do.
Prior to that, Joe released his solo album Fastlife (2011). But he wasn’t in full creative control, a fact he partially attributes to the album’s lukewarm response. But putting all that baggage behind him, Joe is now pretty free to explore whatever he wishes, whether on the fashion circuit, spinning music or with his second solo album.
“I’m kind of in the process of deciding what to do right now,” he says to Scene in April this year. In the interview he talks about working with people he admires, of the desire to create something new, echoing the sentiment of his New York Times interview.
“Now I have control of my life, I’m going back to the drawing board,” he said in the same interview.
In previous interviews you have talked a lot about growing up. Who has Joe Jonas grown into?
I have grown all the way up to 5’7” and I have a bit more facial hair... I also think I have become someone my friends and family can depend on.
The New York Times has referred to the Jonas Brothers as being “among the most culturally important American rock bands of the last decade.” For someone in his early 20s, that’s a pretty big legacy to carry. How do you move on from that?
That’s a huge honor to be called that and definitely a legacy that I am proud to carry. Going forward I aim to pursue different projects, including music and various other artistic endeavors. Through these projects I hope to continue to build onto what has already been established.
You have said in interviews that you didn’t have full control of your first solo album. What are you plans for its follow-up and what kind of direction do you think it will take?
I’m definitely taking my time with this one. It’s taken me a minute to decide what type of direction I want to go, but the beauty of it is that I am in 100% control of it this time. So, I’m making the most of the time I have to really do this right.
They say the second album is always harder than the first for a solo artist. What are your thoughts about that?
I am excited for whatever I get into musically. I don’t tend to think about these things. Music is just fun for me.
In a recent interview, you said you wanted to reset your public persona—more Joe and less Jonas. What are the “Joe” characteristics that public doesn’t know yet?
I eat an unhealthy amount of sushi... I guess you’ll just have to get to know me and decide for yourself.
Are you tired of talking about the Jonas Brothers?
I’ll never get tired of talking about my family. Family is important to me.
Tell us about your deejay-ing. What kind of sets do you spin?
I really just do it to have a good time. I am not trying to become the next Avicii, I just like music.
The media tends to portray you in a rather controversial light. Do you think that you are treated unfairly by the media?
That’s news to me!
For more on Joe Jonas, grab a copy of the October issue of August Man Malaysia.