DNCE is pop rock quartet that will headline a concert at the EKU Center for the Arts Thursday night. Exactly one week ago, they were at the famous SXSW Music Festival in Austin, Texas, trying to create a buzz and build a following like countless other bands that descend on the live music mecca.
But DNCE is not your usual up-and-coming band, mainly because their frontman is quite the opposite of up-and-coming.
DNCE is the latest musical endeavor of Joe Jonas. Yes, that Joe Jonas. The Joe Jonas who sold 17 million albums and headlined arenas — including Rupp Arena a few times — playing to screaming female masses in the mid-to-late ’00s with his siblings Kevin and Nick Jonas as part of the Disney teen-pop powerhouse The Jonas Brothers.
This is actually Joe Jonas’ second attempt to find musical success away from The Jonas Brothers. His first solo album, 2011’s Fastlife, never did pick up speed with listeners. But he said DNCE feels like something with a lot less pressure and a ton more promise.
“I was creating music on my own and trying to figure out what the next step would be. I wasn’t quite hitting the mark that I wanted,” Jonas says of his solo venture. “It rides on your shoulders quite a bit when it’s a solo thing. I feel much more comfortable with a band.”
The band itself came together organically and features some players with Jonas Brothers connections. DNCE drummer Jack Lawless toured with The Jonas Brothers until 2013 and guitarist JinJoo Lee toured in support of the sibling superstars as the guitarist for Jordin Sparks (a tour that came to Rupp in 2009). Bassist Cole Whittle, former member of the rock group Semi Precious Weapons, came on later to round out the group.
DNCE (the name coming from the word “dance” with out the “a”) had an almost instant chemistry and helped Jonas’ propel his tendencies for funk-infused and disco-indebted pop rock and playful lyrics. These are exemplified on the band’s 4-song EP Swaay and the hit single Cake By The Ocean, both released in the fall of 2015.
“That was kind of our vibe, we wanted to create something that was where we’re at at the moment. We’re carefree and having fun in that moment,” Jonas says.
DNCE is prepared to take its version of catchy, kinetic pop rock to a larger audience. They plan on releasing a full-length album later this year and will be opening up for pop star Selena Gomez on her upcoming summer tour. For Jonas, he said this band best defines where he’s at musically and getting a chance to capture fans’ attention is just as sweet the second time around.
“I think the only difference is that some of them (Jonas Brothers fans) stuck around and new ears are listening,” he says. “It definitely feels good to know you have a voice in music.”