‘Cake By The Ocean’ band DNCE plays The Dome at Oakdale Theatre
Joe Jonas and his DNCE bandmates are all about having fun and making the funk/pop dance music their group is known for. So why are they seen in the living room of an elegant but stuffy-looking mansion on the cover of their 2016 debut album?
“The last two years DNCE has had amazing experiences, and so it’s always very hilarious to see us in a setting that may be a little posh,” Jonas, frontman for the band behind the massive global hit, “Cake by the Ocean” (the single the group debuted with in 2015), said in a phone interview.
Jonas, 27, said he and his bandmates — drummer Jack Lawless, keyboard/bass player Cole Whittle and guitarist JinJoo Lee — have played everywhere from small clubs to black-tie events. Yet they’re still like kids who enjoy eating “chicken fingers and French fries and all of that college party stuff.”
Since their manager teases they’re “the Champagne of bands,” they welcomed the idea of an album cover that showed them chilling near an elaborate marble fireplace, drinking tea and eating grapes. Whittle is relaxing, too, but in his own wild way. He’s seated, holding a big book called “Humankind,” while throwing his head back and laughing maniacally — much like Jack Nicholson in “The Shining.”
But it’s not unusual for Whittle to do his own thing. The Berklee College of Music grad, who toured the world with Lady Gaga as a member of Semi Precious Weapons, is always full of surprises. When DNCE was on “The Today Show,” chatting about the band’s origins, Whittle joked he “fell out of a spaceship and landed in Joe’s lap.”
It was a good place to land, considering DNCE won the MTV Video Music Award for Best New Artist last year and is in the middle of a coast-to-coast tour. The band, which got its name when someone misspelled “dance” and they liked the way it looked, stops at the Dome at Oakdale Theatre in Wallingford on Thursday, Feb. 9.
DNCE’s music is technical, polished and super catchy. Jonas agreed it’s kind of funny and ironic to think that they broke through with a song about cake.
“It’s a reminder that we have no rules to DNCE, and we’re able to actually kind of create music freely, and not stick by what you’re supposed to write about,” he said. “Obviously ‘Cake by the Ocean’ can kind of mean whatever you want it to be.”
Jonas said knowing they “were able to have this wacky tune transcend across the world” tells him DNCE should always keep in mind when they write music and perform that “we are fun to the core. We can’t lose sight of that.” He declined to share specifics about Thursday’s show, saying, “We’re keeping a lot of it secretive,” but promised a great night.
“I think the most exciting part for me personally is being able to play the full album — songs that we’ve been kind of keeping quiet for so long, because the album took about a year to come out,” he said of their studio album, “DNCE.” We were playing four to five songs and 10 cover songs to fill a 90-minute show (before), and now we have an album worth of tunes and an audience that hopefully knows the lyrics and will sing them back to us.”
Jonas said the ballad “Almost” is the one that’s most personal for him, because it’s from an honest place in a relationship where you realize and accept that maybe you had more affection for someone than they had for you. “It sounds a bit like a woe-is-me story, but I think it’s also a therapeutic song, and it got me over a heartache when I felt like I needed it.”
Touring doesn’t feel like work, Jonas said. “Honestly, I’m having the best time. For all of us, we are each other’s best friends. We knew we were not gonna be doing arenas or stadiums overnight. We’re actually enjoying this ride.”
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