When we call Joe Jonas to talk to him about his incredibly hardworking little brother Nick, the DNCE star happens to be in Cabo San Lucas. “We just got off the road, but I’m on vacation,” he says. “Our guitar player is getting her tonsils out, so it forced us to get some down time.” But you get the feeling no one was twisting his arm about Mexico. The boy-band survivor is doing just fine, and now that his band’s “Cake by the Ocean” video has surpassed Nick’s “Close” video by a margin of nearly 40 million views, we figure he’s ready to share some insight on his younger sibling’s success — especially in light of Nick’s Future Now tour with their longtime friend Demi Lovato, whom Joe began dating while they were all on the set of Camp Rock together nearly a decade ago. The romance fizzled, but, as Jonas sees it, an incredible camaraderie remains.
You’ve known Nick all of his life and Demi for most of yours. Are you surprised that these two kids from Camp Rock are doing this huge tour together now?
It’s surprising just in the world we live in — it’s tough to stay friends with people who are in the industry over this much time. But they are two of the closest. They’ve seen each other go through so much, personally and in their careers. It’s cool to see this bond now that they’re adults. I think it’s nice for an audience as well — they get to watch Nick and Demi grow up, not only together, but also musically.
You’re closer to them than most. How would you describe their friendship?
You’d think they’re siblings, sometimes more than Nick and I. They pick on each other, they play games… Demi’s a great listener, and she keeps Nick smiling — she’ll always make a serious situation laughable. So, they’ve found great support with one another and they lean on each other creatively. Nick’s evolved so much as a writer. Demi’s voice is stronger than ever. It’s difficult to take a backseat and say, “Let’s work together and figure out something great.” I commend them both for that.
Demi talks about writing “Gonna Get Caught” when you two were dating. Was it weird to know your brother was helping her write songs about you?
I was oblivious to that until I was asked to step out of a songwriting session or two, then it started to be a little clearer what this was about. [Laughs] We’ve seen each other go through tough times, good times, in and out of relationships. It’s funny to think back on that now. It feels like we were children, although I guess we were. She is like a sister to both of us, and it’s great to know we all have that support. It’s like, it doesn’t matter what comes our way. We’re going to be able to make it through.
Nick’s had a really great couple of years. Are you proud of your little bro?
I’m so proud of him, man. I’ll be honest, I was a bit envious when I saw him catapult into this personal success. I was hungry for it, but it’s something you can’t rush and Nick’s always creative — his favorite hang time is in the studio. We’ll be on vacation and he’ll be writing songs. He doesn’t turn that switch off. We used to laugh about it, because way back when we had crazy 24-hour [Jonas Brothers] days, we’d be like, “We’ll get through this,” but he enjoyed it. He’s stronger in ways than I am. The dude will do a tour, then go shoot a movie. I’m like, “Okay, now where’s vacation?”
You’ve seen Demi go through it. What can you say about who she is today?
She’s the best version of herself I’ve ever known. She’s healthy and that’s obviously something a lot of the world knows now, but she’s gotten over [the really hard part].
I know a lot of friends who’ve gone through similar things and it’s when you have to live with your new self for a few years — that comes with a lot of struggle. And being a pop star on top of that, that’s a lot of pressure, but she’s amazing at speaking truth to what she believes. I wish I could have a bit more of that. Excuse my language, but she doesn’t give a f—. She goes out there and says, “This is who I am.” Considering what we’ve all come from, it’s not always easy. We feel like we have to be cautious.
You’ve said a lot of nice things. What about Nick drives you crazy?
[Laughs] Oh man. One thing about my brother that drives me crazy is he’s very competitive. I love golf, but I had to take a break from playing with him because it would get to be too much. Then I play with friends and they’re just messing around, drinking beers, and I’m like, “Okay, I’m not crazy.” So, sometimes he doesn’t know how to [chill], but now that I don’t get to see him as often, I don’t mind it as much.
You’ve described Demi as like a sister. Sisters can drive you crazy too…
Oh yeah. It’s so funny. Demi will overhear me and Nick talking and she’ll be like, [demandingly] “What are you talking about?!” So she likes the gossip. She likes hearing about my girl drama. I’m always like, “I wasn’t talking to you, Demi.”
Nick said she had some choice advice for him: get out and sleep around.
[Laughs] That sounds about right.
Do you have a story that exemplifies the chemistry between you three?
We were talking about this today actually. We used to do these satellite media tours, where we’d be staring into a camera, talking to local news outlets around the states or the world. Right before we were going on tour together for Camp Rock, we were doing so many of these that we started making a game out of it. Like, “If you can say ‘Jerry Springer’ and sing the theme song to Friends, you win.” We got so good at it, and then so sloppy, that by the last interviews we were saying whatever came to our minds. At one point I remember somebody saying, “I think they’re drunk” after we got off the call because it didn’t make any sense. They’d ask a question, and all of a sudden someone’s talking about squirrels. Those are the moments we treasure.