The musical trio expand their horizons with a Disney sitcom

By Lynette Rice
Updated April 17, 2009 at 04:00 AM EDT

There are no hyperventilating tweens on the set of the Disney Channel’s JONAS. That’s because, unlike Hannah Montana or The Suite Life of Zack & Cody, JONAS — which begins May 2 and stars Jonas brothers Kevin, Joe, and Nick as rock-star siblings trying to lead regular lives — is not shot before a live (read: rabid) studio audience. And that suits Joe just fine. ”It’s nice for all of us,” confesses the 19-year-old, while taking a break on the brothers’ bedroom set. ”We don’t have to worry that every take will be messed up. We appreciate that we can focus on the acting side of things.”

The fact that they are focused on acting at all comes as a shock to many who assumed that the band (who made their Disney debut on Hannah Montana in August 2007) had graduated past the point of basic-cable sitcom stardom. In the last year and a half, the trio earned a Grammy nod, starred in their own 3-D concert movie, and collected a reported $65 million on tour.

So why, with their fourth album, Lines, Vines and Trying Times, set to be released in June to coincide with their first world tour, are the superstars still working for yuks on a Disney comedy? ”This is another thing that we can do,” explains Kevin, 21. ”It allows for us to be in one place and do something we love.” It also allows the brothers, through their characters, to reconnect with the (somewhat) normal lives they had growing up in New Jersey before they became celebrities. On the show, they play the fictitious Lucas clan (their band is named after the street they live on, Jonas). They also get to attend a normal high school (in this case, Horace Mantis Academy) and do normal teenager things (like sharing a bedroom, albeit in a wacky converted firehouse).

Not that the real-life brothers don’t appreciate the perks of fame. ”We realize we’re living a lot of people’s dreams, and we’re grateful for that every day,” says Nick, 16 (who, like his bros, enjoys his own room back in their Texas home with their parents). ”Our dad was just saying it would be really funny if we went back and took a job flipping burgers. And that’d be great and all, but I’m content where I am.”