For a few years, my two brothers, our father, our backup band, and I drove around in a van from city to city, playing any venue that would have us—schools, churches, bat mitzvahs—while our mother stayed at home to take care of our youngest brother, Frankie. We opened up for the Veronicas, who had a club crowd, and we had to prove to those crowds that we could really play. It was always a struggle because every single night we were walking into hate.
Sometimes people flipped us off, threw water bottles at us.
But when our dad heard us, he said we should play it for David Massey, who was A&R-ing Nick’s project at the time.Miley Cyrus played an already-famous pop star on a Disney show, Hannah Montana, and as we were starting to blow up, we got a boost by playing ourselves, as her favorite band on her own show.That was definitely our first major love shown by Disney, and I think it might have been a trial to see whether they should give us a show of our own, and they did. To some extent, I was used to growing up in public.I was a pastor’s kid, so eyes were always on me, even then.Then we made a music video for a cover song that we initially didn’t want to do because we hadn’t written it, called “Year 3000,” exclusively for Disney, which led them to start playing the song on Radio Disney and the video on the Disney Channel. We went from an opening act to headliners, first in half-theaters, then full theaters, then half-arenas to full arenas, all within a span of around six weeks.Playing the Texas state fair in 2007 was a turning point.There were 40,000 people, and we needed to get a helicopter in order to make it to the show because the traffic was so bad.I remember sitting in that helicopter, flying over all those cars, and thinking, This is really happening. They’ve done it with so many pop stars and young actors, from Hilary Duff to the High School Musical crew.Especially Nick, who was only 12 (I was 15 and Kevin was 17), and he had to make all these big decisions about whether he wanted to be in a band or work solo or work with his brothers. It took about two years before we released our first record, It’s About Time, in 2006.We were working on it for so long, and our dad had to drive us to the recording studio in the city every day.