Still in love with you: A roundtable discussion on the Jonas Brothers reunion

Still in love with you: A roundtable discussion on the Jonas Brothers reunion

Former admins from Jonas Brothers Philippines get together to talk about their fangirl pasts.

Art by Kitkat Lastimosa

 

Thank you for holding,” came a tweet from Joe Jonas on the first day of March. “Sh*t = Together.” There’s even a sunglasses-wearing emoji for emphasis. It’s a direct follow-up to a tweet of his from 2013, where he asked fans to “please hold while we get our sh*t together,” before they eventually announced the breakup of the Jonas Brothers — a band that could very well have defined fangirl culture in the late 2000s.

Because now the Jonas Brothers are decidedly un-broken up. They’ve unleashed a new single with a video featuring high fashion and their significant others (as in, the real Mrs. Jonases, in the end), purity rings and Ed Hardy shirts long forgotten. Everyone (and, I can attest to this, everyone’s mothers) is glad to have them back. They sound better than ever, and they’re also cuter than ever.

You can no longer tell this about me, but for a time, between the ages of 11 and 15, I was totally devoted to the Jonas Brothers — so much so that I was an active member of their official Philippine street team. Somehow we found each other, coming together first on an online forum dedicated to our boys, and then in real life. We had a zine and a website with a domain. We were as official as it got, and found ourselves in magazines and newspapers and even on TV. We had fun, and best of all, we became lifelong friends, remaining tethered to one another and in touch.

The street team itself has remained active, supporting the brothers through different projects. It’s now primarily managed by Samantha Labao, who is also a Nick J. ambassador handpicked by the man himself.

So when I was asked to get the gang back together on a group chat to discuss the good old days and our feelings, I couldn’t be more thrilled. Turns out there are just some things that’ll always be a part of you.

I’ve been missing you, it’s true: The Jonas Brothers are back

Fiel Estrella: Hi everyone, thanks for doing this with me! I’m so excited to catch up. To start off, how did you react when you found out about the reunion?

Eira Gruta (co-founder): [It felt] like the world was okay again. [laughs]

Jasmine Shewakramani: LOL, I legit cried. My phone was blowing up, I wondered why. ’Yun pala, boom.

Kitkat Lastimosa (co-founder): I didn’t expect to get as emotional as I did? Especially when I saw the [James Corden video].

Kate Cruz: I screamed at my mom! I got goosebumps everywhere.

Maui Santos: I was losing my shit [on] a bus on the way to work.

Eira: No, but for real, you know all those tweets saying the world was never okay again after the Jonas Brothers broke up? For some reason, I felt like everything would be okay again after the news.

Fiel: I didn’t expect to get so emotional, either! It felt like they picked up right where they left off, but also everything was different in a good way.

Samantha Labao: Over the past months, there were little pieces of hints that all pointed to a Jonas Brothers reunion and everything added up when they finally confirmed that they are indeed coming back. It was the best feeling in the world.

As the official Philippine street team for the band, Jonas Brothers Philippines had a zine and a website with a domain | Photo courtesy of Kitkat Lastimosa

Time for me to fly: The beginnings of a little street team that could

Fiel: Eira and Kitkat, can you talk about how you started the street team and the forum?

Eira: There was this girl in my high school who wouldn’t shut up about [the Jonas Brothers]. You might know her, she goes by Kitkat.

Kitkat: Hate to be a hipster but I’ve loved them before they were famous. [laughs] When I got into them, I was really looking for people to talk about them with. I found this forum with a bunch of American fans and it was a super fun little community. Then me and Eira just decided to localize. Eira would literally search for people on Friendster that listed Jonas Brothers as a favorite band, and she would message them!

Jasmine: I think they were also one of the bands I knew that really tried hard to make their fans part of their story. From them I learned the term “street team.”

Kitkat: They really knew how to use the internet to the best of their advantage, probably at a time when not a lot of bands did. Remember when they would make cute videos for their YouTube channel? “Dude, I went to the year 3000!” That was a big part of it.

 


 

Eira, remember when it was just the two of us and we’d send cold emails to record labels and other important people? We were literally children trying to sound professional.

Eira: “Dear Sir/Madam, we love the Jonas Brothers po. Please distribute them po in the Philippines ’cause duh.” We cold emailed Disney Channel, and they [invited us to a screening of Camp Rock].

That’s just the way we roll: Fangirls, forums, and friendship

Fiel: Okay, what are some of your favorite memories from all the shenanigans we got up to?

Kate: OH BOY. How did we all meet in real life? I forgot [our first official meet-up].

Eira: We went to The Block, was it? [The Hannah Montana 3D concert was premiering on Disney Channel] and we literally handed out 3D glasses to people and told them to watch out for the Jonas Brothers.

Jasmine: I think most of us met at either the album launch, the Total Girl Plus shoot, or the Jonas Brothers 3D movie premiere.

Kate: Yeah, and in between these events we all met up for other stuff too, like that Christmas party in Kitkat’s place!

Fiel: We watched Night at the Museum 2 in the cinema for their cameo!


Jasmine: We really, really, actually became legit friends. We had so much time [and energy] on our hands.

Kitkat: The TG shoot was a big deal. We had a whole freaking spread.

Jasmine: We had to bring all our stuff [like posters and merch]. OMG guys, our style.

Kate: COLORFUL SKINNY JEANS [AND] WAYFARERS!

Fiel: A friend of mine said it all looked very 2000s Disney.

Kate: Also remember we’d always go, “JBnoys, make some noise!”

Kitkat: WHY DID ANYONE EVER LET US DO ANYTHING?

Kids of the future: Growing up with the Jonas Brothers

Jasmine: Let’s be real, we got a whole bunch of marketable professional skills out of our time at Jonas PH. Because of the Facebook and Twitter, I actually had JBPH on my resume for social media management. Made a career out of it. And fan fiction really helped level up our writing skills.

Kitkat: I’m only a graphic designer by profession because I wanted to make Jonas Brothers fan art. I learned how to make a freaking website with a real content management system. I like to tell people I peaked at 16 because of all the things we were able to accomplish.

Jasmine: But you know what, more than [careers], it’s just so wonderful to see where all the fans have gotten to now. Some are married and have kids. 10 years ago my parents could not understand my obsession, but it never wrecked my life in any way. They brought me to the girls who would be my bridesmaids. They got me [where I am now]. It’s been awesome.

Maui: The Jonas Brothers legit saved me.

The fanclub was as official as it got, and found themselves on magazines, newspapers, and even on TV| Photos courtesy of Kitkat Lastimosa

Kitkat: I feel like my life would’ve turned out differently. And it makes me so proud to see all of you thrive ’cause I’ve known you’ve been amazing and talented since we were teenagers.

Fiel: That leads me to my next question. How did you grow with the Jonas Brothers? Through the years, did their role in your life change? Did you “outgrow” them only to rediscover what made you love them?

Samantha: I never outgrew them. They were always part of my life. Even when they did solo ventures, the natural thing to do was to keep supporting them.

Eira: Until now, my friends still know me as “that Jonas girl.” In college they would always ask me, “Are you that girl in TG?”

Kitkat: It surprises me that some people still know me as “that Jonas Brothers girl.” At a party once someone was like, “Are you Kitkat, from jonasbrothers.ph?” That was from last year.

Kate: In my mind (and even in [other] people’s minds!), I’m still that same girl who’d cry over them every day and watch Camp Rock 103730272 times a day.

Maui: I’m fangirling about other groups now but JB will always be that group for me.

Jasmine: I wrote this on my Twitter a couple of days ago and I think it sums it up for me. “I always felt that this was my last, greatest fandom. When they broke up, I was done with that life; it was time to grow up. I would never fangirl as much as I did for them for anything else. But guess who’s back, bitches.”

A little bit longer: Welcoming the new era

Fiel: What did you guys think of “Sucker”? The outfits (THE LACK OF SLEEVES), the sound, the video?

Jasmine: I was like, “OMG, this does not suck.” [laughs] I think there was always a tiny fear na they might not be as great as we thought they were.

Fiel: Yeah… I feel bad for not having more faith and having low expectations but they really blew it out of the park.

Samantha: It was wonderful and catchy! Like Nick said in an interview, they did a great job integrating [his solo stuff] and the DNCE sound.

Maui: I loved it! The video was great as well. It has been on repeat ever since.

Jasmine: I would like to turn your attention to Joe Jonas in bondage. (I can’t believe I’m saying these words.)

Kate: I thought I was just high on nostalgia, but I listened to it again, and yep, it’s [actually] good!

Eira: They’ve obviously shed [the Disney image], and I’m just so, so happy they’ve stayed as genuine as they are.

Samantha: I do hope that more people (apart from fans) would start to pay attention to them. It’s high time for people to start recognizing them as genuine musicians and not Disney ex-acts.

Kitkat: I’d like to think the reaction has been really great? The nostalgia plays a big part but the song is a freaking bop.

Fiel: It feels like all those years of being made fun of just because their demographic was teenage girls (and for us as those former teenage girls) finally paid off.

I know, we’re inseparable: The JBnoys make some noise (again)

Fiel: Last question — what do the Jonas Brothers mean to you?

Kitkat: I think more than anything I’m super grateful that I was such an enthusiastic fan and I was able to turn my fangirling into actual marketable skills. Also super grateful for all the friends I made along the way. Like, can you believe they brought us together?

Eira: The Jonas Brothers defined my childhood, I think. But they also kind of paved the way for adulthood for me. With everything I learned from being someone who wanted to make people listen to their music, I’m definitely who I am today because [I was] passionate about them.

Kate: They made me who I am today. I’ve done so many things that I would have never imagined because of them. If I wasn’t such a huge fan of theirs, I wouldn’t be working in the music industry now! They’re a big chunk of my life.

Maui: It’s hard to explain. They will always be my first band love, they saved me from dark times with just their music. I met my ride or die friends because of them. I will forever be grateful for them.

Jasmine: I’ll always be thankful to them. I mean, I still wanna be Mrs. Joe Jonas (hi babe, call me!), but seeing as that won’t happen anytime soon, I can be happy with where they’ve helped lead me anyway.

Samantha: I’d also say they are my first love. It sounds cheesy, but that’s my reality. I can’t imagine my life without knowing them. More than anything, they are my source of happiness and that alone is enough for me to keep rooting for their success.

Fiel: I thought I outgrew them but I think they just became another part of me I didn’t have to define that’ll always be there, sure and steady. They were my first favorite band and that’ll always mean something.

And that’s it! Thanks so much again for your time and all the really wonderful answers.

Kitkat: Thanks fam! Thanks Jonas Brothers, [because they’re] reuniting.
Eira: And so are we!

Tags:
#culture #music #self

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