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The brotherhood of pop

Hyperventilating fans and media follow the Jonas Brothers wherever they go. But it wasn’t always like this for the boy banders

Published: March 8, 2009 4:37:31 pm

Hyperventilating fans and media follow the Jonas Brothers wherever they go. But it wasn’t always like this for the boy banders
Cameras have been set up outdoors on New York’s Fifth Avenue to allow a few hundred teenage girls to stand close when Nick,16,Joe,19,and Kevin,21,promote their film that opened recently: Jonas Brothers: The 3D Concert Experience.

The Jonas Brothers are here. You know from all the pandemonium breaking loose. Crisscrossing town in an SUV caravan,the boys unveiled their wax likenesses at Madame Tussauds,taped an MTV special,then performed at Saturday Night Live. As usual,they were well behaved and well dressed.

If that seems a lot,consider they are just coming off a sold-out concert tour on which their 3-D movie was made,are filming a Disney Channel series to premiere in May and were invited to the White House on Obama’s inauguration night—after having been the Bushes’ guests there just before leave-taking. They were jamming on stage with Stevie Wonder at the Grammys,where they were a best new artist nominee. They had just sold out an impromptu concert at Ryman Auditorium on their first visit to Nashville,Tennessee,and were named “breakthrough artist” for the American Music Awards,where they also performed. They are the first artist to have six consecutive iTunes No. 1 tracks. All this while watching their current album,A Little Bit Longer,reach 1.5 million.

Not bad for guys who hardly more than two years ago had a record that wouldn’t sell and “were just four brothers (they have an eight-year-old brother,Frankie) in one bedroom,” Kevin says to each talk show host.
It wasn’t always hyperventilating fans and nonstop media. They grew up in Wyckoff,New Jersey. Says Kevin Sr.,44,a former Christian minister and songwriter and musician who co-manages his sons,“They grew up in our van,Kevin,Joe and,for a while,Nick,travelling around” while he and wife Denise took Christian singing groups on the road.

Nick was “discovered” one day singing while his mother was getting her hair cut. Before he was 10,Nick had performed on Broadway in Annie Get Your Gun,Beauty and the Beast and Les Miserables and soon signed a recording contract with Columbia Records,using Wonder’s Superstition as his audition song.

Joe saw how much fun Nick was having,so he auditioned and at 12 was cast in Baz Luhrmann’s La Boheme. During that time,Kevin picked up the guitar and taught himself to play,and “it has never left his hands,” says Kevin Sr. When Columbia heard their songwriting collaboration,it optioned Kevin and Joe into Nick’s contract.

But the record company couldn’t find the right platform to launch them. Nick’s solo record was put on the shelf,and the brothers’ first group album,after more than a dozen release date delays,came out in August 2006 and sold fewer than 15,000 copies.

Then came a new record deal with Disney’s Hollywood Records,which could target the clean tween market. When Disney placed the Jonas Brothers as guest stars on Miley Cyrus’ Hannah Montana,the show earned its highest rating. When the brothers were chosen to open for Cyrus on her Best of Both Worlds tour in 2007,there could not have been a better promotional campaign.
Their ‘Jonas Brothers’ record was released almost one year to the day after their previous album and has sold 1.8 million copies worldwide. Their supporters believe that what sets the Jonas Brothers apart is that they write their own songs and play their own instruments.
_Sean Patrick Reily,LATWP

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