Nick Jonas and Demi Lovato joined the growing number of pop stars protesting North Carolina’s anti-LGBT House Bill 2 by canceling their upcoming Future Now tour dates in the state.
“One of our goals for the tour has always been to create an atmosphere where every single attendee feels equal, included, and accepted for who they are,” the pair said in a joint statement. “North Carolina’s discriminatory HB2 law is extremely disappointing, and it takes away some of the LGBT community’s most basic rights and protections. But we will not allow this to stop us from continuing to make progress for equality and acceptance.”
Queerty spoke with Nick Jonas about the announcement, as well as his upcoming sophomore album Last Year Was Complicated, his champagne problems, and whether he’s a just another “gay cock tease.”
Queerty: I want to start with a very serious and topical question: Do you have any nice gay friends you’d like to fix me up with?
Nick Jonas: [Laughs] Uh…possibly…
Maybe a gym buddy or someone who works out as much as you do…
Got it. I’ll keep my eyes peeled.
Do random journalist not usually ask you to play matchmaker?
Not usually. But it’s a good change!
Yesterday you and Demi announced that you’ve canceled the North Carolina dates on your tour this summer. How did you come to that decision?
You know, it’s a tough situation overall, and I think for Demi and I it was just about doing our best to try and make a decision that made a firm statement, but also took into consideration the fact that this would be very disappointing for our fans that were looking forward to the show. But sometimes you have to make these tough choices in order to hopefully see a change. We can only kind of humble ourselves and try to do our part, but hopefully we’ll see some good out of this very unfortunate situation.
It’s crazy how HB2 has kind of politicized the summer concert season.
Yeah, it has, truly.
Some acts have canceled their shows and others, like Cyndi Lauper, have decided to effectively turn their shows into fundraisers. What made you decide that canceling was the way to go for you?
After we talked about it with the whole team and spoke a lot together, for us it was about making the biggest impact possible. We felt that that would come from the cancelation of the show. Again, it was very tough to make that call, but you gotta do that sometimes and be ok with the frustration and hope that there’s real change.
Your upcoming album is called Last Year Was Complicated. What was so complicated about last year?
I think the break-up that I had over the summer last year was a pretty big piece of the puzzle. And also on top of that, you know, transitioning from being in a band, traveling with my brothers for years to being solo and learning how to tread those waters was just a learning experience for sure. I had to kind of figure all that out but also, you know, just be honest in my storytelling, in the writing of the record. Just lay out all that happened.
What would you say was the toughest part of that transition to a solo career?
The toughest piece for me was probably just being patient. Learning how to realize that building a career takes time and that the small moments of success are great but they don’t define the whole career. Or the moments of disappointment. So it’s about understanding that and trying to be as patient as possible.
So…this is a break-up album?
To a certain degree. There’s a lot on the record about the end of that relationship and the transition to just being single and kinda learning how to live as a solo person on both levels — career-wise, but also relationally.
When you’re writing, how do you decide what to reveal in the songs and what to keep just between you and your ex?
Well, nothing is off limits when it comes to writing. That’s been my MO for the most part, and I’ve stayed true to that. I’ve written about things that I think are incredibly uncomfortable to talk about. Just being able to have that outlet to pour my stories and life into is really key for me.
You have significantly more writing credits on this album than on your last one. Is that about a shift in focus for you?
I just really wanted to take ownership of this project, and make sure that I was really sharing my heart, because I think it was one of those years that was important to speak about for many reasons. And I’m glad I did. I’m really proud of the last record, but I definitely feel like I had more ownership of this one.
So the Songwriters Hall of Fame is giving you the Hal David Starlight Award in June. What’s that feel like at this early stage in your solo career?
It feels amazing. It’s kinda hard to believe, and I hope I can keep growing. But to be recognized this early on in my career is really amazing and I’m just grateful. It’s all kind of surreal, but songwriting has been a big part of my life and one of the things that I’m really proud of in my career.
On the flip side of that, some of your biggest hits, like your current single “Close,” were written by others. Obviously you have a lot of experience as an actor, so I was wondering if you bring some of the same skills to inhabiting a song that you bring to inhabiting a character on a TV show.
Yeah, I think that there are a lot of similarities. The way I approach the storytelling overall — songs that I’ve written or I didn’t write — I think I carry some of that with me. And also, you know, on a show like Kingdom, I was shooting for a lot of the time I was making the record as well, so living in the sort of darkness of that show brings a nice element of drama to the creation of the music as well.
In the past, you and Demi have made surprise appearances at gay clubs around New York to celebrate the release of your albums. Should we start keeping an eye out for you?
[Laughs] Sure! It’s always a good time going and hanging out at the gay clubs. When Demi and I went in New York we had a lot of fun, so it could happen.
James Franco recently said he’s a bit of a “gay cock tease.” Do you think some people could apply that label to you?
No, I don’t think so. I’ve been pretty clear with my heart and my nature of just wanting to be as supportive of my gay fans as they’ve been of me. So there’s definitely not any cock teasing going on. [Laughs] If anything I hope I can be a real ally for the LGBT community and I’m thrilled to be in a spot where I feel like there’s a lot of mutual love and respect.
So one of the songs from the new album is “Champagne Problems.” What are some of your champagne problems?
Huh. Champagne problems… With that song in particular, the whole point of it was the fact that we — my ex and I — when we were splitting up we had this bottle of champagne that we were saving for our anniversary that we didn’t make it to. So I’d say that is probably the biggest champagne problem I had for the past year. But on top of that, I don’t know, when you have a really fun night and you wake up and you regret that fun night because you’re hungover, that’s a champagne problem.
Can you fix champagne problems on a beer budget?
Yeah! For sure!
Pre-order Last Year Was Complicated on iTunes.
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