Jonas Brothers' 'Chasing Happiness': What They Say About Purity Rings, Falling in Love and Breaking Up
By Paige Gawley
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The Jonas Brothers aren't running away from anything in Chasing Happiness.
The boy band's new Amazon Prime documentary offers an unprecedented look at Kevin, Joe and Nick Jonas' lives as individuals, brothers and bandmates. As fans of the trio know, they went through a contentious split in 2013 before reuniting earlier this year.
Their no-holds-barred approach to the documentary, which covers everything from their New Jersey beginnings to their current wives, gives fans a deeper understanding of how they turned into the men they are today.
Keep reading for the nine biggest bombshells from the doc.
1. Kevin was bullied as a child
While Nick was excelling on Broadway and Joe had similar aspirations, the eldest of the Jonas brothers had interests that he categorizes as "kinda odd," including gymnastics, pole vaulting and magic.
"I became a target. Kids were cruel at that age. They would call me gay. They would call me a f*g. They would call me p*sshead. It would break me down. I remember coming home from school and crying to my parents," Kevin says. "But I think what was really hard was I never felt like I could find the place where I fit in. Even though I had things I loved, I just never felt like I connected with anyone, like, truly."
While Kevin ended up finding his niche in doing commercials, everything really fell into place for the three guys when they began making music together. They wrote "Please Be Mine," which they released in 2006, in 10 minutes in their basement.
"I think that was the moment we all looked at each other and we’re like, 'This could be something,'" Joe says of writing the track.
"Very few feelings in my life as sure as that," Nick agrees.
2. Kevin "could see every single bone" in Nick's body ahead of his diabetes diagnosis
The guys started touring and, despite the financial strain and grueling hours, all was well for a while. That is until Nick's personality, his dad, Paul Jonas, says, "was getting direct, more agitated." According to a band member at the time, Nick would "demand" that they often pull over for food and drink, causing him to have to stop and use the restroom every 15 minutes or so, something that, Joe says, "was like a running joke."
"One day, me, Joe and Nick were all sharing a room and Nick is changing," Kevin recalls. "I look at him and I could see every single bone in his body."
"I look in the mirror and I’m like a skeleton," Nick agrees. "I feel like I’m dying."
After Joe went crying to his parents about something being wrong with his brother, Nick was taken to the doctor and was instructed to go immediately to the hospital without stopping at home or packing a bag.
"I passed out in the hospital room because I couldn’t see him, like, all hooked up to all these wires," Joe says. "It was, like, a really life-shifting moment for everybody."
"Nick as we had known him -- happy, smiley, smiling, singing at the top of his lungs when he wakes up -- he was different after that," the brothers' mom, Denise Jonas, agrees.
Due to fears of being dropped by the label, the Jonas family initially kept Nick's diagnosis a secret and he went directly from the hospital to the stage, where they "rocked it," according to Paul.
3. Starting and continuing the band nearly led the family to financial ruin
While it was exciting news when they initially got signed, the Jonas family had to keep it a secret so as not to jeopardize Paul's job as a pastor at a local church.
"We were signed to a secular label and we weren't making a Christian album," Kevin explains. "There was this perception that was on us that we were supposed to be these squeaky clean, perfect kids. Dad’s job essentially hinged on it."
"Singing about girls started to become, like, a bit of an issue," Nick recalls. "… I started to realize that our dream that we were chasing freaked a lot of people out in church. It’s a totally different lifestyle than I think they expected a pastor’s son to be in."
Eventually, in what Paul describes as a "devastating" decision, he resigned from his post, causing the family to lose their home while the brothers were simultaneously dropped from their record label. The family, who had invested more than $90,000 in the band, moved to a two-bedroom house where all four boys -- they have a younger brother, 18-year-old Frankie -- shared one bedroom and relied solely on Jonas Brothers for income.
"Having the pressure to go out there and tour to make money became a different reality setting in, like, we have to do this so we can survive," Joe says. "Rather than this just being like we were out there doing it when it was, like, free and fun. And that’s a lot of pressure for somebody that age."
Though that experience still haunts them to this day, the guys ended up writing their first, self-titled album in the basement of that tiny home.
"I think that we felt that people didn’t believe in us, so we were going to prove them wrong," Kevin says.
4. Nick "knew what [love] felt like" after meeting Miley Cyrus
When the Jonas Brothers were offered a guest spot on a 2007 episode of Hannah Montana, a Disney Channel series starring Miley Cyrus, it changed everything for one brother in the group.
"I think my brothers and I became the closest when we found a common ground beyond music and family -- girls," Nick admits with a laugh.
"When I was in high school, I couldn’t get a date no matter how much I tried. I could not get a date," Kevin says. "After Disney Channel plays our [‘Year 3000’] music video, life immediately changes as a teenager for me. Me and Joe were, like, wing-manning each other constantly."
"We got to be on the Hannah Montana episode on the Disney Channel. That changed girls for Nick forever," Kevin continues. "When he met Miley, I think that kid’s head exploded."
"I started writing about love and I actually knew what it felt like," Nick adorably says as "Love Bug," a Jonas Brothers song from 2008, plays in the background. "For the first time, I was asking them questions that only a younger brother can ask their older brothers."
5. Joe was initially the only brother offered a role in Camp Rock
Following their Hannah Montana episode, Joe, and Joe alone, was offered a role in Camp Rock, a Disney Channel Original Movie that debuted in 2008. While the Jonas parents considered the offer, Paul says they ultimately decided they couldn't split the guys up. After a call to the head of Disney, the three Jonas brothers were booked for the film.
Nick describes the experience of filming the flick in Canada as "incredible," though the location for the shoot did remove them from society for a while. So much so that, when they made their way back to the States for a performance at the Texas state fair, they were shocked to see how much "Year 3000" had exploded, causing them to have to get to the venue via helicopter.
"We had no idea that people were getting excited about the Jonas Brothers," Kevin reveals. "Well, we found out that day."
6. The purity rings were "just something we did when we were young kids"
As the brothers' quick rise continued, they were viewed as, Joe says, "these cookie-cutter boy band brothers," due in large part to the promise rings they all wore.
"In the Church, it was encouraged that we go through this program. It was, like, wait for the right person or wait for marriage. All the kids that I grew up with were doing it so I was like, 'Oh, this is cool.' Probably by 15 I was like, ‘What?! What is this?’" Joe admits. "And that was not who we were, it was just something that we did when we were young kids. But we wore the rings through the first bit of the band starting to explode. At that point, it was already too late because it was in the media."
"We had all this success and that’s the only thing we could hear or focus on, was things that people were saying about us," Kevin says.
"It was embarrassing to be aware of this joke in real life with people," Nick adds. "When I would go to a sporting event, they would put me on the jumbotron, or us, or whatever, they would boo us. As a sports fanatic, I would be so hurt because I was like, 'I am one of you. I’m just like you.'"
Their much-discussed image was only reinforced by the brothers' Disney Channel show, Jonas. Nick counts returning for season two of the series as his biggest regret regarding the band.
"We shouldn’t have done that. It really stunted our growth, you know?" Nick says. "I feel like it was just a bad move. Like, it was just not the time. Literally, we couldn’t evolve because of it."
"The show was not good," Joe agrees emphatically. "It didn’t feel like it was us anymore. It felt young and we’re becoming adults.”
"It was not on brand for us, with the band we were becoming, the songs we were writing," Kevin adds. "… I think that affected the perception of the band that we were a joke. They’re not real. They’re robots."
That joke hit its peak when South Park did an episode about the brothers.
"They were saying Disney created a band who were these cookie-cutter boy band brothers. That everything was perfect and they used Christianity and purity rings as a way to sell music to kids," Joe recalls. "I mean, they weren’t far off that’s for sure."
7. Nick's decision to break up the band was "heartbreaking" for Joe
In between Jonas Brothers albums, Nick began to find solo success by moving to New York and performing on Broadway, while Joe experienced his "first failure" with the 2011 release of his solo album, Fast Life. Nick felt like his band with his brothers "was a ticking time bomb," while Joe was "scared" about Nick's growing individual success.
Though they briefly came together for songs that, according to Nick, "didn't connect," and were even slated to embark on a massive tour, Nick got cold feet and told his dad he couldn't go through with it.
"[Nick] said, ‘I feel like I’m fighting against something that’s not working. I’ve given everything I have to this music, but I’m going here, Joe’s going here, Kevin’s over there and I just can’t do it anymore,'" Paul recalls.
Nick told Joe and Kevin his decision shortly thereafter, something that Joe ultimately struggled with the most.
“It was not, 'My heart’s not in it and I want to be real with you as band members and brothers, this is where I’m at.' It was, 'The band is over. I want to go do stuff without you guys and I’ve made up my mind,'" Joe says. "... I felt betrayed. I felt lied to. I felt angry. Numb."
"I was 25, 26, this was all I’d known. This is what I loved more than anything. I loved doing this. And somebody that you loved and cared about so much could take it away from you so quickly. That was heartbreaking," Joe continues through tears. "What hurt the most is that it came from Nick because he is my best friend and I thought that me, Kevin and Nick were going to do this forever. It was us against the world... For a while it was dark.”
"And Joe said, 'I have nothing to say to you... You get one taste of solo success and you forget all the work we put in together," Nick recalls of Joe's reaction.
"Joe has shut down. I’m looking at my brother just being destroyed inside… Joe finally broke down and was like, 'You want to be done? Fine. We’re done,'" Kevin adds. "That’s when I knew the band was over. Because Joe and Nick were thick as thieves."
8. Joe and Nick thought Kevin was "holding us back" following split
Despite the bad feelings that resulted from the split, Joe and Nick went on to perform together at multiple Jingle Ball concerts in 2015, something that hurt Kevin immensely.
"What I was told was the radio station said, 'If you don’t play these shows we will never play the Jonas Brothers or any Jonas individually on the radio again. It would just be like, 'Joe’s gonna play his music, then Nick’s gonna come out and Nick’s gonna do his music. No Jonas Brothers music, so Kevin, it’s OK. You don’t have to be there,'" Kevin recalls of his initial impression of Joe and Nick's gigs.
"The entire set was them singing all the Jonas Brothers songs together. All the big hits. All the big moments. And I’m just not there," Kevin continues emotionally. "I think that might’ve been the hardest moment of my entire life."
"Didn’t really see them for Christmas that year. Didn’t really see them for the holidays," Kevin adds of the fallout from his brothers' concerts. "But I think what was hard for me was, when [Kevin's 5-year-old daughter] Alena came, we weren’t really talking. It was the first time I saw my brothers since the breakup."
For his part, Joe candidly admits that he and Nick agreed to the shows because they "felt [Kevin was] holding us back."
"I think there were moments that Nick and I wanted to do our own thing and we felt like your focus was not in it anymore and it wasn’t a priority for you, starting the family was," Joe explains of Kevin's marriage to Danielle Jonas and his focus on their reality show, Married to Jonas, which, Kevin says, Nick and Joe were "kinda forced" to participate in. "Your guitar playing kind of, like, fell in the backseat. And I think we both wanted to continue doing music. And I think that we had these gigs in front of us."
"Now that I think back on it I realize how f**ked up it is, going to take a Jonas Brothers gig and you weren’t on stage. But it took me time to understand having someone in my life that I’ll do f**king anything to see Sophie for an hour," Joe continues, referencing his wife, Sophie Turner. "All of those years, our first love was music, our first love was the band. And so for me, as a teenager and a young adult, to see you prioritize anything but was bad. But it took me a long time to understand that. You found love very young. And I think you do know now too, it’s a balance."
"Back then we didn’t feel like you even tried that. We felt like it was just like, 'The show’s done, I’m out.' And it was like, 'Well, f**k.' Sometimes that hang with brothers is so important," he adds. "… I love you. I’m sorry that you had to go through that."
9. Their time apart was "necessary" for a successful return
While all the brothers seem to have regrets about how their breakup and the ensuing drama went down, they are all currently on great terms and in happy, loving marriages.
"You spend so much time chasing happiness and the things you think will bring you that joy in life, not realizing it’s been there all along," Nick, who initiated their reunion, says. "... The time apart was necessary. I was able to pursue different creative avenues and experiment with life in a way I never could before."
"I was feeling inspired. And it led me to find something even greater than I could ever imagine. Love," Nick adds of wife Priyanka Chopra. "And this love has changed my life forever."
"Letting go of my anger and my sadness, it took time. I’d rather we be brothers and not have our band dictate our relationship," Joe admits. "... I think my proudest memory would be this past year. Because this is the year that I have grown as a person and I’ve grown with my brothers. It’s been a long road. We’ve been through so much."
"In finding myself, I was also able to find a partner," Joe continues, gushing over Sophie. "The impact of falling in love has made me want to be a better man, a better person. And, ultimately, made me a better brother."
"We all spent time apart, truly coming into our own. I focused on my family. On being the best husband and father that I could be," Kevin says of daughters Alena and Valentina, 2, before revealing why, after all this time, it felt right to get the band back together.
"It wasn't about the money. It wasn't about the fame," Kevin says. "It was, 'Hey, brothers. Do you want to do something awesome again together?'"