A return to music from Jonas Brothers had been a long time coming: After premiering new songs live in concert last year, they kicked off their comeback with the boisterous “Pom Poms” before hitting a new sonic high point with the lushly melodic “First Time.”
But that’s not all they have up their sleeve: The other new tunes they have in the hopper, like the muscular, aggressive “What Do I Mean To You,” transform the once-squeaky-clean boy band trio into a real rock act. That might come as a surprise to those familiar with their previous work, as well as fans of Joe Jonas‘ slick R&B-pop or Nick Jonas‘ acoustic-driven singer-songwriter tunes — but on their upcoming LP V, due out this fall, they show off a more diverse roster of sonic influences.
“We all like different kinds of music,” Joe explained of the various directions the boys took with their solo careers. “I think it was more about the places where we were in our lives, and what we were listening to, or what we were influenced by with the artists we were really into at the time. For me, that was the style of music I was really into at the moment — same with Nick, he was also super influenced by that stuff. With this record, we pulled pieces from all our inspirations. But at the same time, we put a lot of pressure on ourselves to make it sound different than anything we’d done before.”
If “First Time” showcased a more mature sound from the brothers, they take things even further in a dark direction on “What Do I Mean To You,” the likely next single. “I was inspired by being in London,” Nick said. “It’s really dark. That’s what I love about this song. We used to be more creative than we needed to be with our lyrics to disguise the things we were really talking about and the people we were talking about. Now, it’s more fun to just lay it out. The person’s name who it’s about is in the second verse of the song.”
“My favorite line in the song,” he continued, “is ‘Keys to an open door, don’t need a lock / Stains on a dirty floor, you don’t see a spot.’ Basically it’s just saying that this person treats you so poorly that you just have to lay it out. As a creative person, you always fear that they’re going to hear it and feel a certain way about it, but you have to be true to yourself — otherwise you’re going to regret not being that transparent.”
“There’s a real difference between doing it for publicity and doing it because it’s your passion,” Kevin Jonas added.
As for the distribution side of this next era? The boys are focusing their energy on their app, which they say is giving fans an inside look at their lives.
“We have things that we can feed to the world that we can just put out on a news blurb or post on Twitter or put on Instagram,” Joe explained, “and you’re just giving that away. Access to the artist is extremely important. But to have one place that people go to as a destination for all things Jonas Brothers — that’s a win for us because it’s our vision, and it’s important to know that the app can do that.”
Still, it always comes back to the music for the brothers Jonas, despite their rep. “In the past few years we’ve embraced a modern sound that we like,” Nick said. “We’ve had fun with experimenting and seeing what we can do to stretch the sound and continue to evolve. That’s why it was a really fun journey to take on this record.”