LOS ANGELES (Reuters) - Imagine a boy band that bills itself as a rock act but wears purity rings, worships a computer geek and eschews mixing music with politics.
Welcome to the world of the Jonas Brothers, the latest act to hatch from the same Walt Disney Co music incubator to have spawned chart-toppers like singer-actress Miley Cyrus, a.k.a. Hannah Montana, and hot-selling soundtracks to the “High School Musical” and “High School Musical 2” television movies.
The brothers, who sport purity rings signifying their pledges to remain virgins until marriage, began their first national tour as headliners on Thursday in Arizona.
The trio — comprised of Kevin, 20; Joe, 18; and Nick, 15 — cite punk pioneer Elvis Costello and 60s-era rock singers The Rascals as creative influences.
Helped by Disney’s marketing clout, the band’s catchy tunes and squeaky clean lyrics laced with “muscular guitar fuzz” have moved beyond Radio Disney to Top 40 stations and landed them a lucrative touring deal with Live Nation, the concert promoter that backs Madonna.
Despite their foray into the world of rock ‘n’ roll — long a refuge for teen angst and rebellion — the New Jersey-raised sons of an ordained minister vow they will stick to their wholesome ideals despite the trappings of fame that derailed other Disney alumnus like Britney Spears.
“It’s everyone’s own decision, but the pressure’s definitely there in the spotlight to join a lifestyle,” said Nick, who plays guitar and sings lead vocals with brother Joe.
“We want to continue being a positive influence,” said Kevin, when asked if they ever faced criticism for being so straight-laced in the world of rock.
“I don’t think it’s a contradiction. It’s more of a new way of looking at things. We’re trying to be different. It’s who we are as people, and it’s how we set ourselves aside from people, not making a statement with their personal lives,” he added.
And the brothers are extremely clear about staying away from controversial subjects in their lyrics and sticking to songs about love, break-ups and the trials of growing up.
“People ask why you write about love and broken hearts and things like that. Some people say you should act more like a rock ‘n’ roll band and sing about things political,” said Kevin. Nevertheless, they plan to steer clear of politics.
“We don’t want to get anyone mad,” said Joe.
“It’s not who we are as people. We are fun and want to have fun,” said Nick.
Dates for the Jonas tour have sold out quickly, with some cities booking two shows on the same day. “A lot of people have picked them as the next big act that will explode, said Gary Bongiovanni, editor of concert magazine Pollstar.
After they were dropped by Columbia Records, Disney’s Hollywood Records signed them in 2007 and began airing their music and videos on Radio Disney and Disney Channel.
In addition to their third CD, due in July, they have an upcoming Disney film “Camp Rock.” Plans for a TV show were put on hold due to the Hollywood writers strike.
Like many in their generation, the Jonases go to the Web for entertainment and, in fact, the avid iTune users count meeting Apple Inc chief executive Steve Jobs as one of their highlights in the past year on the road.
“It was as good as meeting any celebrity; it was just awesome,” Joe said.
Editing by Bob Tourtellotte and Eric Walsh