“Sucker” is something no one — including the artists who made it — was sure they’d ever hear again: new music from the Jonas Brothers. A three-minute exploration of overwhelming devotion — “you’re the medicine for my pain, the tattoo inside my brain” goes the pre-chorus — “Sucker” rides a beat that’s as stripped down as it is powerful, with the snap of live drums bringing a fresh perspective to the sophistication of modern pop.
“It’s got a great rock feel to it, mixed with some really soulful elements on the vocals,” says Nick Jonas. “The lyric is about being hopelessly in love, and that’s something that resonates with all of us. Kevin’s got a wife of ten years and two kids, I’m newly married, and Joe gets married later on this year. The love in our world, to be able to share that with our fans, that’s a dream come true.”
The reveals are in the music itself. “It starts with Nick singing, then goes to Joe, and then they’re harmonizing together in the first pre-chorus,” says Kevin. “We’re a band with two lead singers, essentially, and this song showcases their voices out front, together. It’s a great way to say: Hey, we’re back.”
“For me, ‘Sucker’ is a poppy Black Keys record,” says Joe. “It’s got bass, guitar, drums and there’s not a lot else going on. It’s nice just to showcase vocals and harmonies — that’s something that I’ve been excited for: to harmonize with my brother.”
Produced by Ryan Tedder, with assistance from Frank Dukes, “Sucker” combines the groove-driven direction that Nick has pursued in his solo career with the band aesthetic his brother Joe has crafted with DNCE. “Joe’s got a little more of a rock-funk sound to his thing, and I’m a little more soulful, r&b pop,” says Nick. “When Ryan played us ‘Sucker’ what really stood out to me was the beat, the overall production, and the blending of those different sounds.”
That blend is a hallmark of the Jonas Brothers’ approach in 2019. “We used to bicker about picking vocal parts,” says Joe. “This time it’s, ‘Whatever’s going to sound the best.’ We’ll cut both vocals — I’ll cut a full song, Nick will cut a full song — and then we’ll put together sonically what we feel will sound the best.”
The road to new music for the Jonas Brothers began a little more than a year ago, with discussions about what form a reunion might take. But before those discussions could get too far, some healing was necessary. The trio announced a split in 2013, after four studio albums, two Disney TV movies, two seasons of a TV series, and non-stop touring had made them into a phenomenon that more often than not drowned out the music itself. But though all three agree good things have come from the split, there were still a lot of feelings to work through. “We were having conversations we’d never really had,” says Joe. Adds Nick, “We did a lot of healing as a family. Healing that was long overdue.”
All three brothers are quick to say that from the moment they picked up some acoustic guitars and sang together again, a feeling they’d missed for far too long instantly returned. “That’s when everything became clear to us: how we were going to write songs, and what they were going to be about,” says Kevin.
“When I’m next to my brothers again, even just in a living room playing old songs, I can’t express the happiness it brings me,” says Joe. “I get emotional. Sometimes I want to laugh, sometimes I want to cry. There’s a joy that it brings.”
“I think our fans will be surprised by how much joy we’re bringing this time around,” says Nick. “We don’t want take ourselves too seriously. We really want to have as much fun as we hope they have. We want that to reflect through our music. There is so much negativity in the world today, that I feel like if you have the opportunity to bottle up some happiness, that’s an honor and privilege. That’s what we want to do.