Tour buses and screaming fans are just part of a typical day in the life of traveling mom Denise Jonas. Her sons, the pop trio Jonas Brothers, are fast-rising stars among the teen/tween set, and just wrapped a two-month tour in support of their self-titled second album.
Before their sons’ band began drawing huge crowds, Jonas and her husband had a thriving Christian ministry in Wycoff, New Jersey. That background has informed their grounded, graceful approach to guiding Kevin, Joe, and Nick, through the competitive music industry.
Jonas and her husband were always musical, and they passed that legacy on to their boys. At the age of three, Nick told his mother that he wanted to perform on Broadway. “I said, ‘I don’t know how to get you on Broadway,’” she remembers, “and I was determined not to be one of those crazy stage moms.”
But they figured out how to make it happen: Nick debuted at age eight in A Christmas Carol and starred in a total of four Broadway shows before the age of ten.
“I was pregnant with Frankie, our seven-year-old, when Nick first started auditioning,” Jonas says. “Frankie doubled his age during the run of A Christmas Carol. I’d park across the street from the show and nurse him in the Garden. I can’t believe I did it!”
The pace has not slowed since the Broadway years. Since forming the band three years ago, Jonas’s older sons opened for Miley Cyrus on her Best of Both Worlds tour, saw their second album hit number five in the Billboard Hot 200 chart in its first week of release, and even filmed a pilot for Disney. Jonas’s husband, Kevin Sr., co-manages the band with Phil McIntire and Johnny Wright (Justin Timberlake, NSync), and the whole family – including Frankie, whom fans have dubbed the ‘Bonus Jonas’ – will hit the road again in July to promote the siblings’ third album.
Travelingmom™ founder, Kim Orlando, caught up with Denise Jonas for a behind-the-scenes look at life with the band.
TMOM: Let’s just jump right into your life as a traveling mom. Tell me what it’s like going out on tour with Jonas Brothers.
DENISE JONAS: When the boys first started, it wasn’t always the long road trips; it was a couple days here and there. I didn’t always go because I had the little one. We started out traveling in our family van to different locations, whether it was a club, a little theatre, or whatnot. The boys would lug their own gear, set it all up, sound check themselves. Then we went to a 15-passenger van with a trailer, and after that it was a few different tour bus situations, but it was so crammed and there wasn’t room with the boys, the band, the crew – everyone on the same bus. Now we’re in six buses and six semis. We’re just so thankful; we think, look at this, we have our own bus to ourselves as a family. Just our six people with the bus driver. It’s our sanctuary.
TMOM: How does it work? Do you run out to Stop & Shop and load up the bus? It’s not like traveling in an RV.
DENISE JONAS: No it’s not. On a typical day, we start out in the morning in a hotel wherever we are, because we arrived the night before. We get in our vehicle and travel to the venue; the boys get there early to do all kind of press, sound checks, meet-and-greets with over 500 people that they personally shake hands with and take pictures with and sign autographs for. Then we get back in the bus and drive to the next hotel. We’ll have been asleep awhile, so we’ll have to wake everybody up to get off the bus in the middle of the night, and trek in with our stuff. The Stop & Shop question is an excellent question. We have a great a production team. We have a daily list that we send out to the production assistant that he gives to the runner to get what we need. Some days it’s toilet paper, some days it’s fruit snacks.
TMOM: Are there rules?
DENISE JONAS: Every tour, from Aerosmith to the Stones to the Jonas Brothers – every bus has rules. Keeping things orderly is very important in such a small space. For us, everyone keeps their stuff on their bunks, trash put away, don’t collect too many things. It’s hard living here for so long, I had to ship 10 boxes home for the holiday time.
TMOM: So you make it out to get shopping done sometimes?
DENISE JONAS: Just for things I need to take into the hotel, when I don’t like spending $50 for Frankie on cold cereal, sometimes I’ll just go get it.
TMOM: What about packing?
DENISE JONAS: The boys have so much to do all the time, as far as press and whatnot, and they’ll accumulate clothing based on what they have to do. Their wardrobe is part of the tour. They love to shop and they love nice clothes; they’ve always been that way. If we need to, we’ll do charitable drops at a local Salvation Army. I’m usually shipping extra things home by the end.
TMOM: How do you get a minute alone?
DENISE JONAS: My mind is always going because there are so many demands with the boys, but we try to seize the moment. I’ve always found pleasure in just watching them perform. I enjoy that moment. It’s worth every sacrifice we’ve ever made. It’s worth not being at home. I work to savor this precious time. I even love the bus bunk. It sounds crazy, but you just learn to adjust. I think we’re given a new measure of grace to get through each day, and that’s what I rely on.
TMOM: Do you go on a family vacation after the tour?
DENISE JONAS: We have scheduled it in. We had a family vacation last year, but prior to that we didn’t have one for three years because we knew the importance of what the boys were doing. They’re the drivers of this, and when your window is open, you have to go through it. In this industry, if you’re out of view, you could drop that quickly.
TMOM: When you’re in Europe, although you’re performing and staying in all these nice places, it’s really not a vacation.
DENISE JONAS: That’s the thing about touring: you’re in all these amazing cities, but you rarely get to enjoy the city. We have tried as much as we can to take advantage of it, have field trip time. And with the boys being high-profile, anything we do has to be advanced, with security. We’re fortunate to be in places where people want to meet the boys. For instance, there were some people from NASA at our concert in Houston, and they extended an invitation. You never know, if we get back to Houston, and we have an extra day, maybe we’ll get to do that.
TMOM: I love that you still do family vacations, even with sons who are young men.
DENISE JONAS: We’re not your normal, typical family – I’m not sure how we managed to make that happen! We just have strong values – we love our boys, but we respect them too. We always wanted to be a close-knit family. My husband was a pastor for so long, and we saw a lot of hurting families and a lot of people who needed help. And it’s not that you can fix people’s lives, but you see so many things that were sad, that broke our hearts, and that made us try to be different.
TMOM: Last question, I ask everybody this. But what is your personal must-pack item. You don’t leave home without your….
DENISE JONAS: Ooh…my make-up. I always get freaked out about my make-up case. I have one bag with my make-up and toiletries. That’s my sacred suitcase.
Liz Warren-Pederson is a writer living in Arizona. She’s way too old for the Jonas Brothers, but is only slightly ashamed to reveal that she listened to New Kids on the Block back in the