Aside from a joint explanation on Good Morning America in October, each of the Jonas Brothers have stayed silent about their disbandment. But Joe Jonas revealed his share of shockers — about the recent breakup and his boy-band life with brothers Kevin and Nick — in New York magazine’s “Joe Jonas: My Life as a Jonas Brother.”
From doing drugs with child stars to hooking up with Jonas Brothers fans and slamming Disney Channel’s media strategies, The Hollywood Reporter highlights his top 10 confessions from the new tell-all:
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1. He isn’t strictly religious. Joe and his family left a church called Assembly of God when he was 14, after a scandal involving stolen money divided the congregation. “After that the concept of church really upset me for a long time,” he said. “I mean, I believe in God, and that’s a personal relationship that I have, but I’m not religious in any way.”
2. Disney’s star-making formula wasn’t always appealing. While the company quickly launched the trio’s career, Joe notes that the Disney Channel steps to stardom the band went through weren’t necessarily pleasant. Of their Jonas sitcom in 2009, in which the Jonas Brothers acted as members of an already-famous band, Joe said, “It just ended up being some weird slapstick humor that only a 10-year-old would laugh at. They took out the kissing scene that Nick had. I had to shave every day because they wanted me to pretend like I was 16 when I was 20 (when the show was done, I cut my hair off and grew as much of a beard as I could).”
3. The company required cringe-worthy media training. Joe says they were constantly pressured to keep their image Disney Channel clean. “They’d teach you how to change the subject, whenever you were asked an uncomfortable question, by saying something like, ‘Oh, that reminds me of my dog! I have a great story about my dog!’ Playing dumb is the best way of getting out of anything.” They also strategically divided interviews by subject (Nick took serious questions, Kevin took lighthearted ones, Nick and Joe answered anything related to songwriting).
4. He thinks Disney Channel ruins their child stars. Joe observed that the network pulls “spunky” stars into the spotlight, and then pushes them off the edge. “Being a part of the Disney thing for so long will make you not want to be this perfect little puppet forever…Come on, guys. You did this to yourselves.” And what happens when they eventually deviate, as Vanessa Hudgens did with her nude-photo scandal in 2007? “We heard that she had to be in the Disney offices for a whole day because they were trying to figure out how to keep her on lockdown.”
5. Jonas Brothers fans sometimes acted like a “zombie apocalypse.” Joe used the phrase to describe an overwhelming meet-and-greet in Spain, and then listed various experiences with out-of-control fans: a girl showing up in his hotel room, a guy blasting the band in the tabloids for not taking a photo with him while out to dinner with friends. Still, he admits to having occasionally dated fans. “I remember I invited a fan to a movie, and we just made out the entire time. I don’t even remember what the movie was about. I must have been 16 or so.”
6. The promise rings thing was blown out of proportion. Though the siblings became known for joining the True Love Waits pact at a young age (Joe did at 10 or 11 years old), Joe claims the media paid too much attention to their brothers’ promise rings. “I remember this interview with this guy whose entire agenda was to focus on the rings,” he recalled. “He kept pushing the subject, and when we insisted that we didn’t want to talk about it, he told us, ‘I can write whatever I want,’ which terrified us.”
Add the rings to the facts that they were young boys on the Disney Channel, and the trio had to settle for a sugarcoated career. “If a lyric was slightly sexual, someone at the record company would tell us we had to change it. It could be the most innocent reference, like ‘I’m alone in a room with you,’ and it would have to go. It felt like we couldn’t be creative, so we stopped listening to them and just started handing shit in.”
7. He lost his virginity when he was 20. “We decided to take the rings off a few years ago,” he revealed. “I did other stuff before then, but I was sexually active at 20. I’m glad I waited for the right person, because you look back and you go, ‘That girl was batshit crazy. I’m glad I didn’t go there.'”
8. He thinks celebrity breakup songs are a cop-out. Joe, who dated love-inspired lyricist Taylor Swift in 2008, took a dig at those who dish about their relationships. “I might put it in my music a little bit, and hint at it…But I’m not going to openly say, ‘Yeah, actually, this person is a bitch, and she did this to me.’ I don’t feel the need to do that to sell records.”
9. He secretly dated Demi Lovato. Besides routinely hooking up with an anonymous girl in her car, Joe also secretly dated his Camp Rock co-star for a month, just before she entered rehab. “I really got to know her and got to see the ins and outs of what she was struggling with, like drug abuse. I felt like I needed to take care of her, but at the same time I was living a lie, because I wasn’t happy but felt like I had to stay in it for her, because she needed help. I couldn’t express any of that, of course, because I had a brand to protect.”
10. He first tried marijuana with Lovato and Miley Cyrus. “I must have been 17 or 18. They kept saying, ‘Try it! Try it!’ so I gave it a shot, and it was all right. I don’t even smoke weed that often anymore.” He also fell down a flight of stairs on his 21st birthday, nearly sending his media team into a panic. “Now I appreciate wine or a vodka-soda at the end of the day every once in a while.”
11. “The Jonas Brothers’ breakup was going on for a lot longer than a lot of people thought.” With conflicting songwriting priorities, Nick’s occasionally overwhelming leadership role and a persistent image as a boy band (Joe never danced, he said) rather than a trio who played their own instruments, the music began to break up their brotherhood. Nick first presented the idea of “closing a chapter and moving on” in the middle of a big fight, and Kevin warmed up to possibility when realizing how “stale” their music would get after tracks would sit around long after recording. “It would have been really tough for me to go on a last-hurrah tour,” he wrote for fans. “At the end of the day, we’re trying to take care of ourselves as family. And that’s fine. And that should be fine.”
12. His new music will follow the solo album that got away. “One of my biggest career disappointments happened a few years ago, when I made a solo album that never saw the light of day,” he said of working with Rooney lead Robert Schwartzman on more than a dozen songs that were “Hall & Oates–y” with a Freddie Mercury vibe. The project eventually morphed into the underperforming Fastlife, which Joe said he released too quickly and with too many decision-makers on deck that wanted him to be the next Justin Timberlake.
At 24, Joe is ready to speak up and pick up where he left off. “I’ve been through a shit-ton of stuff, but I’m genuinely excited because now I can go back to the studio with those people who I used to work with. I don’t have to rely on anyone else’s opinion, whether good or bad, and hear them say, ‘No, no, you can’t go write with them. That’s too weird for us.’ Because weird works. Look at Lorde.”
- This article originally appeared in THR.com.