Times are changing for the Jonas Brothers, with Joe going solo (for now) and Kevin marrying Danielle Deleasa, a former hairdresser, in 2009. "Actually, I hit on her first," Joe says of meeting his future sister-in-law when the band of brothers were on vacation in the Bahamas. "And after that she and Kevin hit it off, of course. Now we have a fourth person traveling with us everywhere, so that's a different thing completely."
It's afternoon. Joe's driving his big black Mercedes G-Class down Sunset to the studio to work on his album. He's thinking about the days when he and his brothers and his dad toured the country with a trailer full of instruments, performing wherever they could. Success did not come easily, he says, and it got to the point where "we were about to say, 'This sucks—we don't want to do this anymore,' but then it all sort of started to happen for us."
And happen it did. "We've seen every state in America besides Alaska and Hawaii, been all over Europe. It's been so much fun." Sure, there have been times when it's gotten a little weird, rocking out for little girls. "We did some things that were like, 'Really? We're gonna do this? Like, go and play for an elementary school, are you serious?' At the time I was like, 'I'm 17, I wanna go meet girls at high schools.'
"And now I'm 21," Joe adds. "I wanna go play my music in a club."
Joe draws inspiration from one of his heroes—Bono—in moving forward with his dream: "I just want to believe that people are gonna really accept me for who I am and the music that I'm making now."
Joe went to see U2 play in Toronto last year. "After the show we got an e-mail saying Bono wants to invite you to the after-party. He comes waltzing in with his jean jacket buttoned down to here, pointing his finger at everybody. We hung out with him till three in the morning. He told me, 'The songs you write, really be honest, don't hold anything back. The reason for being an artist is you gotta be honest.' And I was like, 'Wow.'
"He said, 'I have countries that hate me, but I don't care. I have dictators that wanna put my head on a stick. So the next time you write a song, write from the heart, and really be honest, and don't be afraid of it.'"
Joe arrives at Henson Recording Studios—Charlie Chaplin's old studio. He parks the car. "When I was younger," he says, getting out, "I was always trying to make people satisfied with the way they thought I was supposed to be. And finally understanding that, in music, you can really be yourself and people accept you for who you are, that was a big thing to me." Work awaits, and as he heads inside, he adds: "I'm really excited to get the ball rolling and write some more stories in the book of craziness."