Have you ever dated a fan?
Do you date internationally?
What do you look for in a date?
Would you mind marrying me someday?
Have you ever dated a fan?
wo minutes into talking with the Jonas Brothers, a shaggy trio of teen rockers on the brink of Hannah Montana-sized stardom, I'm desperate for a translator. And when I say "translator," I mean "a 12-year-old girl with the innate gift to tell these New Jersey mop-tops apart." • As Nick, Joe and Kevin — just "the JoBros" or "JB" if you're in middle school — conduct a conference call from a tour stop in Grand Rapids, Mich., I'm forced to slow things down and sound utterly, cluelessly 37 years old: • "Who answered that last question? Was that Nick? Joe? Kevin? That was Kevin, right?" • My confusion is usually followed by light snickering and then, "Uh, that was Joe." • Right. J-o-e. Gotcha.
Not only do the members of this Disney-owned family act — Nick, 15; Joe, 18; Kevin, 20 — sound alike, they pretty much give the same safe quotes, too. Goody-goody sons of a minister, the Jonas Brothers spend their interview complimenting "the really great management team around us." They thank fans for "letting us live the dream." They unwind by "going to the mall" and "playing Wiffle Ball."
Questions about solo careers are quickly quelled by aw-shucks answers straight out of Leave It to Beaver: "We're brothers, so you can't really break us up."
Just like Disney colleagues Miley "Hannah Montana" Cyrus and Corbin "High School Musical" Bleu, the Jonas Brothers are squeaky-clean Mouse House stars through and through. They're also a billion-dollar franchise for that very reason. "We're good guys," says Nick or Kevin or Joe. "We don't use foul language in any of our songs."
Of course not. And when they headline a show at the St. Pete Times Forum Saturday, JB will play their catchy power-pop tunes (think Fountains of Wayne for the mac-and-cheese set) with "purity rings" on their fingers, another haloed reason moms approve of them with the same zeal daughters do.
In the face of a modern media looking for dish on young celebs, the Jonas Brothers are trying to stay pure and project positivity, they say. But with the paparazzi on them 24/7, they already feel a sense of imprisonment.
"Every single day is a struggle. You have to pay attention to everything you say. They will twist a quote and make you sound awful. Thank God something like that hasn't happened to us yet."
Wow, good answer.
Um, who just said that?
"That was Kevin," says Kevin.
I'll take his word for it.
• If you could only eat one food for the rest of your life, what would it be?
• Do you ever wish you had a sister?
• Other than Jesus and your parents, who do you look up to?
• Would you guys date girls older than yourselves? If so, how many years older?
In anticipation of my interview with the Jonas Brothers, I asked readers what they'd like to know about the band. The response was immediate and voluminous. And for every question from a young girl, there was a question from an older fan, proof that the JoBros business model is working better than expected.
A few years ago, the Jonas Brothers, from the tony burg of Wyckoff, N.J., were formed by Steve Greenberg. He's the Columbia Records exec who also unearthed '90s phenoms Hanson, the ruddy-cheeked cuties who brought you the hit song MMMBop. The JoBros released an album and received some MTV support. But when Columbia dropped Greenberg, the Jonas boys split, too.
Disney quickly snatched them up, putting them on the soundtrack for animated feature Meet the Robinsons and pairing them with its major franchise player, Miley Cyrus. The JoBros appeared on her hit TV show. They opened for her on her hit concert tour. They starred alongside her in her hit movie. As a result of the exposure, the brothers' self-titled 2007 album, rocket-boosted by such bright, catchy hits as S.O.S. and When You Look Me in the Eyes, has since gone platinum.
Disney allows the brothers to make few public mistakes, guarding their mouths and their privacy. But if you listen long enough, and close enough, and then consult the latest ish of Tiger Beat (they're on the cover), you'll discover all you really need to know. Kevin is the serious one. Joe is the wisecracker. And Nick is the heartthrob mainly because (1) he has Type 1 diabetes, giving him the vulnerable angle, (2) he's the most talented brother, getting his start on Broadway and signing with Columbia before his brothers came along, and (3) he supposedly dated Cyrus, which is pretty much hitting the PR jackpot if you're an up-and-coming star.
Oh, and Nick also pulls high-flying leaps and aerials in concert, a live-show staple that makes the little girls squeal. "He's doing much more dangerous jumps this tour," Kevin says. "We are waiting for (a wipeout) to happen."
"Maybe the last night of the tour we'll grease up the stage," Joe adds. (It should be noted that during the whole interview, that was the only time the brothers actually acted like brothers. Of course they want to see the young cute one wipe out!)
As well as touring this summer, the Jonas Brothers will release their third album, again penned mostly by them. They will also release a movie, Camp Rock, in which they play teen rock stars who make young girls' dreams come true. And eventually there will be a Disney Channel sitcom, J.O.N.A.S., in which they play teen rock stars who moonlight as spies . . . who no doubt make young girls' dreams come true. "You'll be seeing us do a lot more (acting)," says Joe.
No doubt about that. The Jonas Brothers are a genius stroke by Disney. When young girls stop playing with Hannah Montana dolls, they'll want to play with boys. And who better to pick up all those candied hearts than three tousle-haired cuties with Jesus on one shoulder and a guitar on the other?
The Jonas name will only get stronger in the years to come. Nicknamed the "Bonus Jonas," brother Frankie is 7 and wants no part of the JoBros. Instead, he has his own band, his own dreams. So if your daughter isn't yet old enough for Nick, Joe or Kevin, don't worry: The Jonas family has you covered.
• How much longer will Joe grow his hair?
• Which Winnie-the-Pooh character do you relate to most?
• What's your favorite flavor of glucose tab?
• Nick, I made an igloo for you.
Sean Daly can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or (727) 893-8467. His Pop Life blog is at blogs.tampabay.com/popmusic.
The Jonas Brothers dish— as much as they can
.If you go
7 p.m. Saturday, St. Pete Times Forum, Tampa. $32.75-$52.75. (813) 301-2500; sptimesforum.com. The Times Forum will provide a waiting area for parents in the Shots Restaurant and Sports Bar.