Nick Jonas on His Breakout Year, 'Scream Queens' & Having a 'Balance' of Muscles and Music

Miller Mobley
Nick Jonas photographed on Oct. 7, 2014 at Jack Studios in New York City.

My, what a year it's been for Nick Jonas.

A year ago today -- July 24, 2014 -- Jonas released "Chains," the first taste of new music from his self-titled album and, effectively, the song that ushered in Jonas as an adult artist. In the past 12 months, he's notched two top 20 hit singles on the Billboard Hot 100 with "Jealous" and "Chains," sold over 3 million song downloads in the U.S., according to Nielsen Music, and scored a top 10 album on the Billboard 200 with Nick Jonas.

Oh, and there's also his acting roles on the DirecTV drama Kingdom (its second season premieres later this year) and Fox's upcoming Scream Queens, plus his upcoming first proper tour as a solo artist.

"It's been a good year," Jonas tells Billboard in the latest edition of the Pop Shop Podcast (skip to 20:35 to listen). "I still feel like, in my mind, there's a lot more I want to accomplish. My eyes now go to the next thing, and just continuing to progress and push myself a little harder and… You know a big thing too was announcing the partnership with Demi and our manager Phil [McIntyre] -- Safehouse [Records]. That was exciting too."

"It's been a really special year and now I'm just focused on the next thing and kind of coming even harder. So it'll be an interesting year ahead as well."

Fans will be pleased to know that "next thing" also involves new music. In between shooting Kingdom and playing shows, Jonas says he's "been writing music as well" and that there will "be an announcement about what that music's gonna be soon." He also teases that "some new music" will be featured in his upcoming tour, which kicks off Sept. 6.

You Scream, I Scream… Jonas will soon be seen in Fox's new series Scream Queens, co-created by Ryan Murphy. The show -- which Murphy has described as "Halloween meets Heathers" -- premieres on Sept. 22 and features Jonas as a fraternity brother named "Boone." 

But will Boone survive the first episode? "You never know," Jonas says.

"The show's full of surprises. So, I will say this: I cannot say a word about it because Ryan Murphy will kill me. Literally. [Laughs.] It's not what you expect. Maybe you expect it, but it's not what you expect as a whole for the show. It's one of those things where he tries to keep the audience on their toes and he does a very good job. "

Talking Body: Much has been said about Jonas' buff physique, which many first took notice of two years ago, when he shared a shirtless selfie via Instagram. Since then, he's posed for provocative photo shoots -- including a very buzzed-about spread for Flaunt -- which have brought on many questions from the media about his body.

"You know, I feel like there was a moment I was really kind of tired of hearing about it," Jonas says. "But there are these things that happen in a media cycle that you have to be willing to talk about and address because it's the thing you get asked all the time, but they feel like it's a new question. So you understand that."

However, he notes that after he scored a second hit single (with "Chains"), there was a perceivable shift in how he was viewed. Essentially, his music became what people were talking about, instead of just how great he looked with his shirt off. 

"It was a really amazing moment," he says, "after the success of 'Chains' -- which was a good thing that there was a follow-up to 'Jealous,' so it wasn't just like a one-hit thing -- but after the success of 'Chains,' I really felt like there was a turn towards the music and understanding that I was trying to make bold artistic statements and progress and grow. And that it was less about the look and more about the music. There's probably a balance of both, but I'm OK with that and loving the ride I'm on and feeling like people are open to all of what I'm doing, which feels good."