A version of this feature appears in Friday’s Weekend Look section of The Oklahoman.
Big Time Rush brings ‘Summer Break Tour’ to Oklahoma City Sunday
For the boy band, which is the centerpiece of the hit Nickelodeon series of the same name, “Summer Break” is their fourth tour and it’s supporting their third album, “24/Seven,” which they released June 10 through Nick’s partnership with Columbia
For the four guys in Big Time Rush, singing in a gold-selling pop band that also happens to be the centerpiece of a hit television show has been quite the bonding experience.
“We’ve done so much together already. I mean, we’ve toured all over the world, we’ve played for the president multiple times, seen millions of fans and done 74 episodes of a television show all in like literally four years. Now, there’s something like 65 songs that we’ve put out,” said Kendall Schmidt, one-fourth of the popular quartet, in a phone interview last week.
“I mean, I was turning 19 (when I joined the band) and I’m 22 now. So this has all happened really quickly. And I think the future’s looking bright.”
Big Time Rush — or “BTR,” as their fans, or “Rushers,” refer to them — and fellow Nickelodeon TV star Victoria Justice launched their “Summer Break Tour” last Friday at the Gibson Amphitheatre in Los Angeles. The tour stops Sunday at Oklahoma City’s Chesapeake Energy Arena.
“They’re very down-to-earth guys, and they’re really funny. Like when you get all four of them together, it’s just guaranteed to be a good time. They crack me up,” Justice said in a separate phone interview.
Schmidt acknowledges that he and his bandmates — James Maslow, 22; Carlos Pena, 23; and Logan Henderson, 23 — tend to be a dynamic combo.
“When all four of us are together, it’s kind of crazy. I don’t think we’re nearly that energetic apart. Like in my own personal life, I don’t think I’m that crazy. So that’s definitely something that happens when we come together,” Schmidt said from L.A. while taking advantage of one of his last chances to drive his new BMW 3 Series Hybrid before boarding a tour bus for the next couple months.
In the spirit of the 1960s sitcom “The Monkees,” the Nick show, which launched in 2009, follows the fictional lives of four high school friends who move to Los Angeles, ink a record deal and become a chart-topping boy band. “Big Time Rush” was the most watched live-action series premiere in Nickelodeon’s history, with 6.8 million viewers, and the show, which launched its fourth season last month, averages 3.6 million total viewers.
At the same time, the foursome makes the original music that makes the series. Their current “Summer Break” is their fourth tour and it’s supporting their third album, “24/Seven,” which they released June 10 through Nick’s partnership with Columbia.
“You can imagine, being that all four of us were writing, by the time we came to assembling it, we had like 60 songs. So it was really hard to choose and … when we did, we just tried to make it as easy as possible and just say ‘Look, best song wins.’ And that’s how we did it. And this album is full of just the best picks of what everyone wrote,” said Schmidt, who has been acting since he was 11 years old.
“We’re proud of it because, yeah, a lot of people say that they write their music. But I think 13 out of 15 of these songs we literally wrote … and I don’t think it really happens that often with like TV show projects.”
While their 2011 sophomore album “Elevate” took a more deliberate approach, Schmidt said the band just set out to write the catchiest and most fun songs they could for “24/Seven.”
“The last album ‘Elevate,’ which I love — I love all our music, and I’m kind of nerd ‘cause I don’t know if it’s cool or not to listen to your own music — when we were writing it, we were kind of like searching for this radio song and we were trying to do something that Big Time Rush has just never been,” said Schmidt, who has been acting since he was 11 years old.
“It’s sort of like the Jonas Brothers, where if the Jonas Brothers were constantly trying to chase a radio song, they wouldn’t have ever had the success that they did. Because they played arenas with no radio success at all. It was proof that a television show could fuel the popularity of a project.”
Before “Big Time Rush,” the Wichita, Kan., native had earned acting credits on series like “Frasier, “Gilmore Girls” and “CSI: Miami,” but as a teen, Schmidt also started his own band, Heffron Drive.
“When I was 17 or 18, we were writing songs and like starting to get some popularity on MySpace and then I booked ‘Big Time Rush’ and then that was kind of put on the back burner. So like I had used what I learned there … and then we got to work with literally some of the best people in the business. And some the nicest people as well, who had no problem teaching us and showing us what they know. So the lessons that I’ve learned in the last four years of songwriting have been probably the most priceless parts of it,” Schmidt said.
“That’s what I want to do most, honestly, in my career after — you know, I don’t know how long Big Time Rush goes — but after that, I would love to write songs for other people and write songs for myself.”
Schmidt said he hasn’t heard for sure if the TV show will be back for a fifth season.
“Being in the band, you’d think they’d tell us and we haven’t heard anything. … I think we’re in for as many as they want to do. So it’s kind of up to them and it’s up to how it goes on this tour. It seems like this tour is going great,” he said. “Even if there isn’t a TV show, the music continues on. We still have a record deal as well.”
While he and his bandmates are close friends — they often vacation together and are planning another group holiday after their Mexico shows in August — Schmidt said they are looking to the future beyond BTR.
“We all support each other. … I think everybody wants to like express themselves in their own individual way coming up soon, you know, because we all are in our early 20s. I think everyone’s itching to kind of do whatever music they want to do. At the same, we all know that Big Time Rush is an amazing band,” said Schmidt, who recently played some Heffron Drive acoustic shows in Germany.
“It really is a dream come true. You know, people who have a sort of job like this say all the time like ‘it’s a dream come true.’ And it really is. But it’s so much more than that. It’s more than I can really put into words. But I’m kind of having a great time, and I’m only looking forward to the future.”
“Summer Break Tour”
Featuring: Big Time Rush and Victoria Justice.
Special guests: Olivia Somerlyn and Jackson Guthy.
When: 7 p.m. Sunday. Doors at 6 p.m.
Where: Chesapeake Energy Arena, 100 W Reno.
Information: (800) 745-3000 or www.chesapeakearena.com.