If 2007 was the year of Hannah Montana/Miley Cyrus, 2008 might be the year of the Jonas Brothers.
At least the teen pop-rock act seems to have all the pieces in place for a breakthrough of “Montana-mental” proportions.
The career of the Jonas Brothers kicks into high gear this summer with a run of headlining shows at outdoor amphitheaters, including a stop at the Comcast Center in Mansfield on Thursday.
The tour comes on the heels of the June debut of the first Jonas Brothers movie, “Camp Rock,” on the Disney Channel. Meanwhile, the same channel continues to air the reality show mini-episodes, “Living the Dream,” which follow brothers Nick, 15, Kevin, 20, and Joe, 18, on tour.
Next comes the release of their new CD, “A Little Bit Longer,” scheduled to hit stores Aug. 12. And plans also call for filming to begin this fall on a new Disney Channel series, “J.O.N.A.S,” which will feature the brothers playing spies in an action comedy. Beyond that, there’s talk of a book and a 3-D concert movie.
Kevin Jonas says the group relishes its mushrooming success and exposure, despite its challenges.
“It’s really crazy,” he said in a recent interview. “But it’s a lot of fun. We’re enjoying every minute of what we do. The schedule we keep is demanding, but it’s definitely an amazing experience. We really enjoy going on the road as much we are able to.”
The Jonas Brothers’ momentum began to build when they landed the opening slot on last fall’s monumental Hannah Montana/Miley Cyrus tour. Those arena shows sold out in minutes, and the unprecedented demand for tickets allowed resellers to fetch upward of $3,000 for some seats.
Originally signed by Columbia Records, the Jonas Brothers’ 2006 debut CD, “It’s About Time,” was in the works for nearly thee years before it was released. In fact, it originally was going to be a solo project for Nick Jonas, who had performed in several Broadway musicals.
But when songs written by all three brothers were submitted for the CD, Columbia shifted gears and decided to turn the Nick Jonas solo album into a group project.
“It’s About Time” made only a modest commercial impact, and before making their self-titled second CD, the group split with Columbia and signed with Disney’s Hollywood Records. That second CD has sold more than a million copies since its release in August 2007.
The Jonas Brothers are a different kind of teen act — more like Hanson than ‘N Sync or the Backstreet Boys.
Like the Hansons, the Jonas Brothers co-write most of their songs. They also play instruments on their CDs and on stage, with Kevin on guitar, Joe on keyboard and guitar, and Nick playing keyboards, guitar and drums.
Kevin Jonas said this might be one reason they are succeeding at a time when, with the exception of Cyrus, the teen pop scene has fallen out of the spotlight.
“I think for us, since we’re there from the beginning with the writing of the songs through the production, it just becomes a different experience,” he said. “This music really is us. It’s not like a manufactured version.”
The Jonas Brothers’ sound, too, is a bit different than many of the hugely successful teen pop acts of days past. Where ‘N Sync and the Backstreet Boys leaned toward an urban-influenced dance-pop sound, the Jonas Brothers have more of a power pop sound.
For “A Little Bit Longer,” the brothers even hinted that the new songs are influenced by the likes of Elvis Costello, the Beatles, the Animals and the Rascals.
They emphasize, though, that “A Little Bit Longer” won’t be a major departure from their second CD.
“It’s definitely not a completely different change by any means,” Joe Jonas said. “But this record was definitely inspired by some of the artists we look up to, like some Prince and Elvis Costello influences and a little piece of funk (getting) into some songs.”
Kevin Jonas said fans who see the current tour will get a good sampling of the new material.
“We’re excited about it,” he said. “It’s a whole new production and, of course, it’s going to be outside in amphitheaters, and so it will have a summer vibe, and we can’t wait for everyone to come out.”