By VALERIYA SAFRONOVA
Wearing red Dior sneakers, black Dior jeans and an olive pullover, Joe Jonas swept into Clockwork Bar on the Lower East Side and ordered tequila with soda.
It was Nov. 17, the eve of the release of his band’s self-titled debut album, DNCE. Mr. Jonas, the lead singer, had just staged a surprise pop-up performance near Penn Plaza with his bandmates (including Cole Whittle, the bassist and keyboardist, who joined Mr. Jonas in an eye-catching get-up that included a button-front dress and an apron).
“We’re on a high from that right now,” said Mr. Jonas, 27, unperturbed by the bartender’s request for identification.
The mohawked Mr. Whittle, who couldn’t seem to stop moving, said, “I throw up after every show.” Fortunately, he had taken care of this ritual before arriving at the punk-themed bar.
Depending on your age and musical preferences, you may remember Mr. Jonas as one-third of the former Jonas Brothers, the boy band that induced paroxysms of joy in its teenage followers and became known for the purity rings — and the accompanying abstinence pledge — all three brothers committed to in their early years. (The rings are gone now: Kevin is married with two kids; Joe wrote about having sex for the first time at 20; Nick stopped wearing his at 22.)
In fact, Mr. Jonas’s very public love life, usually involving famous women, was the subject of an episode of Bravo’s “Watch What Happens Live” in July. The host, Andy Cohen, named three women Mr. Jonas has dated — Gigi Hadid, Taylor Swift and Demi Lovato — and asked him to choose which one he would marry, which one he would kill and which one he would have sex with.
“I didn’t want to answer that one,” Mr. Jonas said. “I never explained my reasoning. Demi I married because she’s one of my best friends. And we’d probably just have an open relationship.” As for Ms. Swift and Ms. Hadid, the choice came down to which he would kill. “In that time in my life, I was mad about the breakup with Gigi,” he said. “I was still in that catty phase of it.” So Mr. Jonas, who has most recently been linked to the actress Sophie Turner, gave Ms. Hadid the boot.
But at Clockwork Bar, the topic of the evening wasn’t romance. It was the bromance between Mr. Jonas and Mr. Whittle.
“When we met, we were looking at each other like two dogs in the street,” Mr. Jonas said.
Mr. Whittle added, “We smelled each other’s butts, like, ‘Hey, I like you.’”
They bonded over their music tastes; their love of Matthew McConaughey, particularly his turn in “Surfer, Dude”; and, as Mr. Jonas described it, their “4-year-old-birthday-party diet of chicken fingers and French fries.”
“It’s probably annoying to anyone we will ever date because we’re literally like this,” Mr. Jonas said, pressing his shoulder against Mr. Whittle’s. “If my arm isn’t touching his when we’re sitting here, I’m wasting my time.”
After finishing a couple of drinks at Clockwork Bar, Mr. Jonas and Mr. Whittle moved on to Sake Bar Decibel in the East Village.
They piled into the booth next to each other, ordered French-fry chips, edamame, chicken meatballs and a bottle of Tenzan sake.
Conversation turned to the fanny pack Mr. Whittle was wearing, one of many in his collection.
It turns out that his fanny packs have played a starring role in some of the band’s adventures, which are a far cry from Mr. Jonas’s Disney-endorsed pop-star days, when a typical night involved watching a movie, then heading to bed.
“He handed me a joint in Amsterdam, like, ‘Hold this for me,’” Mr. Whittle said, nodding toward Mr. Jonas. “I saw it go in,” he said, referring to the fanny pack he was wearing at the time. “We had to go to the airport in an hour. I couldn’t find it anywhere. We have a missing joint that will one day appear.”
Mr. Whittle and Mr. Jonas then headed a few blocks over to Pyramid Club on Avenue A. With more drinks in hand, they wandered downstairs, where two musicians performed for an audience of five. Jumping in front of the stage, Mr. Jonas and Mr. Whittle pumped their fists and shouted support.
As midnight approached, and with it the stateside release of their first album, Mr. Whittle remained an energetic blur of color, while Mr. Jonas seemed to grow more serious and expectant.
Earlier in the night, he had talked about the changes he had gone through after the Jonas Brothers split up. “When there’s a tight leash on you for so many years, when you can be free, at first it’s rebellious,” he said.
But after that period ended, he began a new search for an identity: “It doesn’t happen often that you get a second chance or get to press a reset button.”