Since the Jonas Brothers called it quits last year we’ve been in mourning. Where would we get our fix of Jo-Bro from now? Luckily we haven’t had to wait long as youngest brother, Nick, has embarked on a rather good solo project. He’s been bulking in the gym, getting his kit off (swoon) and making some serious grown-up pop music. We caught up with Nick to chat about his single ‘Chains’, being too personal and how he made the entire world thirsty…
The new single is ‘Chains’. What are chains a metaphor for?
I think that it’s a metaphor for feeling kind of bound in hopeless love. You know those situations where you know the person’s not good for you but you keep coming back. I think the other way that I really related to this song was in the sense that I was kind of at a moment of my life where I was breaking free from my past and feeling really liberated, and pushing through that and stepping into the next stage of my career.
So you don’t actually feel chained?
(laughs) I don’t actually feel chained, no, but I think it’s a good metaphor for the song.
In the video you’re being dragged along the floor. Were you actually being dragged?
I was, yeah. It kinda hurt. The floor also had rocks on it and stuff, and the back of my hair got matted down. And I was just wearing a t-shirt. It was really dirty by the time we were done.
You also get pushed over on a chair.
There was a mat for that, but still the back of the chair was digging into my back. It was a very physical video.
Really Nick, it looked like it was quite painful to film.
A little bit, yeah. I think the director had a secret mission to put me through hell, basically. It was fun.
The new music is maybe not what people would expect from you. When you were going into the project was this something you were conscious of doing?
I think that there was a real effort to build a new sound and kind of step out in a new way. I think if you don’t then it doesn’t have an impact. I really focused on working with people that would challenge me and push me in a new direction in a new way. I was really happy with the place that we came to and it felt like it was the perfect next step.
It’s all quite different, too – none of the songs sound that similar. Was that important to make sure that there was variation?
I think it was about collecting the best songs. At the core, vocally, I feel like it all is consistent and has the same elements, that soul-pop-R&B thing. It’s about building on that and creating this sound that is me.
I love ‘Jealous’. I love that it’s up-beat and mid-tempo.
The precursor to ‘Jealous’, if you like, in a lot of ways was the ‘Hold On, We’re Going Home’ kind of vibe, where you still get the mood but the tempo is there.
You talked about how the song was semi-autobiographical. Do you feel like you need to put that personal element across, especially being as well-known as you are?
I think what I’ve realised more and more is that people have such access to you now with the internet and social media, that if you’re not transparent they can kind of see through it. So, I’ve tried to do that and just be real, laying it all out. With songs like ‘Jealous’, it’s sort of the fun answer to when people go really serious with their real-life experiences. It doesn’t always have to be really serious. Sometimes it can just be about stuff that everybody deals with. I think everyone has their moments of jealousy from time-to-time and writing a song that touches on that was helpful for me and hopefully for other people?
Do you worry that you might go too far and reveal too much?
I think you know the limits. You know what’s too much and when you’re saying too much or giving too much away. It’s about trying to set up those guidelines before hand so you don’t make yourself uncomfortable.
It must be weird being onstage performing something that is personal and then realising, “Wait, everyone here knows that I’ve had all these crazy thoughts.”
Well there’s a song on the record called ‘Push’ that kind of does that where it talks about something that I think is a very human feeling and emotion, but don’t really say it. It’s about basically drawing somebody closer so the ball is in your court so you can be the one to push them away because you don’t like feeling vulnerable. It’s messed up but it’s real, you know. It’s real life and real emotions. Those are the times where I think I’m saying too much, but I think people will appreciate that.
You’ve also caused a bit of a stir getting all your clothes off. What was it that made you think that now was the time to do that?
It was a combination of a few things. I’d been training for this TV show, Kingdom, where I play a fighter, so that physicality was there. I’d just signed with Wilhelmina Models as well, and they came to me and said that Flaunt had this idea to do this shoot to pay tribute to the Marky Mark shoot. I was down. I didn’t even think about it twice, I was just all for it. It was crazy to see the impact that it had and the roll out of it all. It did what it was supposed to do, I guess.
Does it make you feel embarrassed to see Buzzfeed articles that are just like “The Thirst Is Real”?
(Laughs) Yeah, it is bizarre and I think you have to take it with the attitude of not taking it too seriously. If you are too serious then it’s a kind of insane way to live life. I had a good time with it, and reading the Twitter comments afterwards was really funny – some of the obscene things people were saying…
I was going to ask if people were being filthy.
Yes very…very filthy, but it’s funny.
Because you’re still seeing someone. How did they feel about it?
She loved it. She actually thought it was hilarious. I had sent her the pictures from the shoot the day we did it and she was saying, “These are hot!”
The music is quite sexual, too. Are you basically just trying to make people feel a bit hot and bothered?
(Laughs). That was the goal that I’d set out to do. But, you know, if people feel that from it then by all means why not, it’s a good thing. I mean I’m a 22-year-old guy and the sexiness of this record is kind of real to the stage of my life that I’m in.
You’ve obviously been doing this for quite a while. Is it liberating to be starting afresh or are you just fed up with having to go through it all again?
No, it’s good. It’s like starting over and that’s a special thing. I feel really fortunate to be in a position to be able to do all this over again and have it almost feel new again. People are excited again. I’m just trying to enjoy the ride and see where it takes me.
Nick Jonas’ new single, ‘Chains’, is out on January 5. His self-titled album is available for pre-order on November 11.
Words: Alim Kheraj.