Nick Jonas steps out solo to show "Who I Am"

Fri Jan 22, 2010 9:44pm EST
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By Ann Donahue

LOS ANGELES (Billboard) - When Nick Jonas, the youngest member of the Jonas Brothers, announced his solo side project, the Brothers went on the offensive to ensure their fans that the trio is not breaking up, posting that fact in all caps on their MySpace page. What more evidence does a teen girl need?

Nick Jonas & the Administration's "Who I Am" (Hollywood Records), which hits shelves February 2, isn't a teenybopper project, but rather one that combines Jonas' youthful appeal and the experience of rock-solid industry veterans. The Administration comprises John Fields -- the Jonas Brothers' longtime producer -- on bass and former New Power Generation members Sonny Thompson, Michael Bland and Tommy Barbarella.

The album was recorded in two weeks at Nashville's Blackbird Studios, although the 17-year-old Jonas says he was stowing away solo song ideas -- ones with a rougher edge than those he writes with his brothers -- for the better part of two years. The first single, "Who I Am," debuted on the December 2 telecast of CBS' Grammy Awards nominations concert. It holds at No. 8 with a bullet on Billboard's Heatseekers Songs chart and has sold 120,000 downloads, according to Nielsen SoundScan.

The band is on a 14-stop club tour to promote the album, including dates in New York at the Beacon Theater and in Los Angeles at the Wiltern. During a practice session for the Grammy nominations show in Burbank, Calif., Jonas sat down with Billboard and talked about the new album, what's next for the Jonas Brothers and why his first stop after he's elected president of the United States will be Roswell, New Mexico.

Billboard: Why did you decide to record a side project?

Nick Jonas: This all came about around two years ago when I started writing some songs that stylistically weren't right for the Jonas Brothers. I was finding inspiration from Elvis Costello, Prince, Stevie Wonder -- all these guys that I've really admired. After writing about eight or nine songs, I thought, "It would be great to go record this some day." The timing worked out -- we had two weeks off from some touring and recording that my brothers and I were doing -- and so I went to Nashville with the Administration and I made this record.

Billboard: Two weeks is a tight deadline to record an entire album.

Jonas: Nashville was intense, and going into it I was excited, but a little nervous. But once I got there and sat down with the musicians for 10 minutes I knew it would be possible. It was really less than two weeks -- it was about eight days -- and then the mixing went on for another four. I left with a CD and was really proud and happy about it.   Continued...