Today, DNCE will be entering their first rehearsal with the full cast of Grease: Live. The band signed on to play Johnny Casino and the Gamblers, the fictional band that soundtracks Rydell High’s famous school dance scene, and even more famous dance-off. Filling the shoes of Sha Na Na, the band that played the Gamblers in the film version, Joe Jonas will lead the group as Johnny Casino alongside a star-studded cast, including Julianne Hough as Sandy, Vanessa Hudgens as Rizzo, Aaron Tveit as Danny, Carly Rae Jepsen as Frenchy and Boyz II Men as the Teen Angels.
Jonas spoke with Rolling Stone about he band’s latest gig and the success they’ve seen from their still-rising debut single “Cake by the Ocean,” off their debut EP Swaay.
How did DNCE get involved with Grease: Live?
We actually had the producers come to a little club show we did in New York City. After the show, I guess they thought we’d be great for the role of Johnny Casino and the Gamblers. We love the movie and the music. It’s this timeless show that everyone is familiar with. For us, we had to say yes. We were so thrilled.
I saw that not only are you all performing the classic Grease dance track “Born to Hand Jive,” but you’re also singing a Crickets cover [“Maybe (Baby)”] and your single “Cake by the Ocean” …
I’m not sure which of them we’ll be doing for the show itself, but obviously “Hand Jive” is such a classic song. We mixed “Cake” into a Fifties, swooning kind of song. It’s going to be a really cool take on something that’s modern.
How did the Crickets cover come about?
That was brought to us, and we recorded it for the iTunes release. It’s really fun to perform that one. It’s really fun to perform that one. It’s a super rockabilly song.
What’s your relationship with the movie and the musical?
Oh yeah, big fan. Have always been a fan. It’s something that I grew up watching, and my dad tells the story constantly about how he made just enough money mowing lawns so he can see both Star Wars and Grease. He says he saw both in the theater about 20 to 25 times each. Obviously growing up in the house, it was always playing.
Do you have a favorite song from the show?
I love “Sandy” and definitely “Greased Lightning.” Also “You’re the One That I Want.” The top three classics.
Since DNCE isn’t the only pop music act to join the cast, do you have any favorite songs by Boyz II Men or Carly Rae Jepsen?
Oh man, Boyz II Men. Obviously the hit “I’ll Make Love to You.” Carly has some incredibly records on Emotion, and I really like that whole [album].
On top of the Grease: Live gig, “Cake by the Ocean” has been growing so much since its release last fall. How does it feel to see this new project grow?
It really is overwhelming for us. We didn’t know what to expect. The band has been such a joy for all of us. We get to live our dreams, yet again, for all of us who have been in bands and played with other artists. It can be difficult in this day and age to get second chances in the music industry. There’s so much material out there. To make a mark, it really feels great. We’re just going to keep doing this thing until hopefully “Cake by the Ocean” is everyone’s favorite song, and we’ll think about another single.
Will a full-length album be coming out anytime soon?
We’re shootin’ for summertime! August is when our light projection is, but nothing is set in stone. We’re shooting toward that. We have a big tour we’ll be going on and will be doing a little bit of travel in Europe. We have so much on our plate already.
Finally, the band has such unique stage fashion, so I’m wondering if you guys know what you’ll be wearing for the show?
We don’t know quite yet! We’ll be going quickly into [rehearsal] and wardrobe. We have an interesting style to our band, so we’ll see how well they can mold us.