EW's latest cover star dishes on his peers' success, social media, and that one awkward guitar solo in outtakes from his cover story


Though he’s only 23, this week’s cover star Nick Jonas has already lived a Keanu cat number of show-business lives — first as a successful child actor on Broadway and London’s West End, then as the youngest member of Disney pop juggernaut the Jonas Brothers, and more recently as a both a grown-man solo star on the music charts (his latest album, Last Year Was Complicated, is out June 10) and an actor in challenging roles (he plays a gay MMA fighter on DirecTV’s Kingdom, which returns June 10, and a frat boy facing extreme circumstances in the James Franco-produced indie Goat, due this September).

In a wide-ranging conversation with EW last month in New York City, Jonas opened up about his child-star past, his famous friendships, and that unfortunate guitar solo, among other subjects. Here are six things you won’t find in the story, which is on newsstands now:

He has vivid early memories of music

“My dad was music director at a bible college — he was in rehearsals with the band and I must have been two or three,” Jonas remembers. “I don’t know if it’s possible to have a memory from that age, but I remember watching him play and my mind was blown that his fingers on the keyboard were making that noise, that sound. The drum set was in this in this sort of plexiglass soundproof box, and I remember walking up to the drummer and knocking on the door. I went in and started playing the drums, and from what my dad’s told me I was playing well, like with real rhythm. And he said when I would sing a note, if I was flat or I was sharp and I would tilt my head to the side and correct my own pitch.”

He continues, “My first introduction to pop music was probably the Osmonds, the Jackson 5, the BeeGees… Then the Beatles eventually. My father was pretty specific about what we listened to early on. He really respected current pop music, which at that time would have been, like, Backstreet Boys and *NSYNC and Britney because he was a big fan of Max Martin–his songwriting, his production style. At that time the clarity of the sound of those records was so far beyond anything else really. And the only other thing to compare it to was Mutt Lange, and so I became a huge Shania Twain fan, still am. So that was my first introduction to pop. That video on the beach in the white, it’s all still there, imprinted [laughs].”


Yes, he knows he messed up at the iHeartRadio Awards

“More than anything, in that moment, I was so confused as to what happened [laughs]. The truth is I really had played it right so many times, then in that one moment, I hit a wrong note and my mind went blank,” he says. “And I knew pretty quickly that I would have to find a way to just laugh about it. As a professional musician, I think it’s the worst-nightmare scenario. You have to just keep pressing forward, find a way to laugh about it and say I have to be okay with this, sh– happens to everybody.”

But even so, he says the moment was “definitely frustrating. It’s one of those things that’s like ‘How did that happen?’ But it’s one moment in a career. I think it’s about understanding that balance and also realizing in some way or another, everybody goes through a similar situation.”

He’s proud of his peer group

“I’m pretty biased because she’s my friend, but I think the world is starting to see after the Grammys that Demi [Lovato]’s probably one of the best vocalists in her lane, and Selena [Gomez] has been incredibly, incredibly smart,” Jonas says. “She played me [her 2015 album] Revival maybe six months before it came out and I knew, like, this is excellent. I was such a fan of ‘Good for You’ and ‘Hands to Myself.’ If you want to talk about that sort of graduating class of 2008, I’m really proud — it’s a really good group. Regardless of some of the history between us in different ways, there’s a general strength and empowerment that we all feel, still being in the mix and being in a good spot. It’s a cool thing.”

He still second-guesses himself as a songwriter

“I trained myself to not get my hopes up, because there were so many times in the room where you’d be like, ‘This feels amazing, this is a hit!’ And it never saw the light of day,” he says. “But the first time I played ‘Jealous’ for my manager, he got up and was like, ‘Why aren’t you more excited? And I was like ‘because I don’t really know anymore.’ We laugh about it to this day because he was so sure. Right away he knew. And then once I finished it and looked at it as a complete product, I saw a glimpse, but I didn’t know for sure in that moment.”

He had a lot to get off his chest on the new record

“A lot of people have said, ‘Oh, this is a really quick turnaround because the last record came out in November 2014,'” Jonas says of This Year Was Complicated. “I started writing it the week the last one came out, so it was really the last year and a half, just little pockets a few days at a time, to spread it out and actually live a life so I’d have something to write about. But I knew what I wanted it to sound like so I knew I could accomplish a cohesive thing in the time in between. Some people can go into the studio and do it all in one chunk, but to me life is too important, it informs the work too much to not live.”

He continues. “I have a lot of memos in my phone of songs, I’ve had dreams about a melody. It’s always melody first as far as when stuff like that happens — I find that my melodic sense is my strongest asset as a songwriter. I’m just now starting to sit in on sessions with artists I really like and hoping something comes of it–I went into the studio with Jessie Ware, who I love, and working with Tove Lo [on ‘Close’]. She’s quite fearless in all aspects. I did a session with Corin Roddick from Purity Ring. The song didn’t make the record but he’s awesome. He did say that when they first started every time they Googled themselves it would bring up stuff about us, which I felt bad about [laughs].”

He’s into social media… sort of

“MySpace existed back when [the Jonas Brothers] started, which seems ironic now,” Jonas says. “Twitter, Instagram, Snapchat, and whatever — I kind of joined late. It was definitely hard to get used to all that stuff though, especially because I didn’t prioritize it, and a lot of artists put an emphasis on it much earlier and believed that it was gonna stick around a lot sooner than I did. I like Instagram — it’s a good way to keep up with my friends without having to text or call all the time, and I really like Snapchat. Twitter is cool, but I feel like the visual [stuff] is way more exciting.”

For more on Nick Jonas, pick up the latest issue of Entertainment Weekly on newsstands now or purchase a copy here.