Jonas Bros. bassist speaks at Edison

BY KATHY CHANG Staff Writer

TOM PETERSON Greg "Garbo" Garbowsky, 22, a native of South Plainfield and bass player for the Jonas Brothers, speaks to Lory Jackson, a disc jockey with the Blue Colt campus radio station at Middlesex County College in Edison on Oct. 2 about his experience touring with the Jonas Brothers. TOM PETERSON Greg “Garbo” Garbowsky, 22, a native of South Plainfield and bass player for the Jonas Brothers, speaks to Lory Jackson, a disc jockey with the Blue Colt campus radio station at Middlesex County College in Edison on Oct. 2 about his experience touring with the Jonas Brothers. EDISON — Three years ago, Greg “Garbo” Garbowsky was going through the daily grind of freshman life at Seton Hall University when he received a phone call that would change his life forever.

“I was actually at a [Philadelphia] Phillies [baseball] game when I got this phone call about auditioning for [the] bass guitar position for a band that would open for the Backstreet Boys. … I took down the number for [Paul Kevin Jonas Sr.], the father for the band Jonas Brothers.”

The bathroom at the Citizens Bank Park, home stadium for the Phillies, became Garbowsky’s home office.

“I organized my audition there,” he said. “My music pastor, Sam Persad, at my church Evangelical Church in Scotch Plains had referred me to their father.”

At the audition, he had a half-hour to learn two songs and audition for the young band, the Jonas Brothers, which consists of brothers Kevin, Joe and Nick Jonas.

“It was five days of sleepless nights later that I found out that I had been chosen,” he said. “No one knew who [the Jonas Brothers] were at the time. Since May 2005, I have been touring with them nonstop.”

Three years later, the 22-year-old Garbowsky came home to South Plainfield from an international tour to spend a little bit of time with family and friends.

Garbowsky visited Middlesex County College in Edison on Oct. 2 to sit down for an interview with Lory Jackson, a disc jockey with the Blue Colt campus radio station.

Jackson, who has known Garbowsky since 1998, said her professor (Louis Dell’Omo) suggested the radio station should start interviewing local artists.

“I knew that Greg was coming home and I asked him,” she said. “This will be my first interview on air. Greg is best friends with my son Josh.”

Greg and Josh met in eighth-grade math class while in South Plainfield.

“I was asked if I wanted to play bass guitar in a band, Level Zero … not because I was good at playing the bass guitar, but because I had one,” he said.

Garbowsky received a bass guitar for his 13th birthday.

“That is all I wanted,” he said. “I basically just taught myself from there.”

Garbowsky played the bass guitar for Level Zero up until the time he got the position as bass guitarist for the Jonas Brothers.

Josh, 22, who said the last time he saw Greg was six months ago, said it is pretty cool seeing his friend in concert.

“The band and I took a vacation down to Myrtle Beach and we got to see Greg in concert,” he said. “We got to hang out with him then.”

Josh, who plays guitar in the band, said his band also includes Danny Lammi, 22, on the drums, Chris Bubnick, 22, on the bass guitar, who replaced Greg, and Ryan Cornell, 22, as the singer. Josh described the band’s music as rock alternative with much influence from various styles and a touch of reggae and classic rock.

“We are working on a CD and the official release is still up in the air,” he said. “Tracks can be heard on our MySpace page www.myspace. com/levelzero.”

Garbowsky said it feels weird coming back home.

“There is no one telling you what to do and there is no day sheet of what is happening,” he said. “It’s just a different world. It takes a couple of days to get adjusted.”

Garbowsky said his experience touring with the Jonas Brothers has been a unique experience.

“Sometimes I look out at the crowd of 20,000 or so people and I ask myself how I got here,” he said. “It’s definitely a blessing and I am grateful for my chance to do this.”

Garbowsky said he does not feel pressure when he’s on stage.

“I think the pressure is more on the Jonas Brothers,” he said. “I work for them, my job is to make them look and sound good … I get the best of both worlds, to be normal and hang out with them.”

It was just a year ago, when Garbowsky had second thoughts of staying with the band.

“We were still touring in a minivan,” he said. “I was thinking this was fun, but maybe I should go back to school.”

But then in the past year, the Jonas Brothers, who described the past year as a “whirlwind” on their Web site, has grown with their 2007 self-titled platinum CD and with their new Hollywood Records album “A Little Bit Longer,” which explores star-crossed standoffs and missed romantic opportunities.

“These three brothers are the same cool people, down to earth,” he said. “We talk about family, not the awards that are won … Nick writes songs for fun on his Friday nights.”

Garbowsky said his favorite song to play in concert is the Jonas Brothers’ hit single, “Burning Up.”

“We play this song at the end of the show and the steel logo lights on fire … it’s pretty amazing,” he said. “One night [Aug. 16], someone forgot to turn off the fire alarm and the sprinklers went off … we lost about $15,000 worth of equipment.”

The 22-year-old has started dipping his hands in songwriting and said he looks to continue.

“I have written the song ‘Tonight’ with Nick,” he said. “We were just talking one night, I had just had a fight with my girlfriend the night before and that is where my input into the song came from. It was a big honor to hear the release of ‘Tonight’ and see it become the number 1 single in iTunes and see my name in Billboard magazine.”

Garbowsky said his favorite city that he has toured in has to be Stockholm, Sweden.

“It is just a beautiful city,” he said. “Since our tour just ended, we look to play every other weekend just so we don’t forget everything.”

Garbowsky stopped to sign several autographs on his way to his interview with Jacks o n .

Among the admirers were best friends Chelsea Leight, 14, and Adriana Blanco, 13, who had Garbowsky sign two Jonas Brothers CDs and a copy of when the Jonas Brothers were on the cover of People magazine.

“This is incredible … it’s just like seeing the band,” said Leight and Blanco, who were grinning from ear to ear.

Leight and Blanco, who have yet to see the band together in concert, asked Garbowsky if the Jonas Brothers could throw a concert in Edison.

“I’ll see what I can do, but they are very busy,” he said with a smile.

Garbowsky, who is set to move to the Los Angeles, Calif., area, said he is off to Italy for promotional work for Disney Channel’s original 2008 movie “Camp Rock,” featuring the Jonas Brothers and Demi Lovato, an American actress, singer and songwriter.

Contact Kathy Chang at kchang@gmnews.com.