BIG TIME RUSH MEMBER CARLOS PENA, JR. DISHES ABOUT REHEARSALS, FASTING + PUPPIES ON THE ROAD
When PopCrush recently spoke to Carlos Pena, Jr. (third from left) of Big Time Rush, he was on day two of a five-day cleanse/fast. He was in physical misery, but his spirits remained high. Only when you’re a member of a boy band, right?
Pena was also knee-deep in rehearsals for the band’s upcoming tour with One Direction — which kicks off Feb. 17 in Las Vegas — learning new moves and taking care of his brand new puppy who will accompany him on the road. During our chat, Pena spoke about boy bands through the ages, where Big Time Rush fits into the canon of boy bands and why he thinks his band is different. He also shared details of his first concert and how it relates to BTR fans coming to see he and his boys for the first time.
Big Time Rush is both a band and TV show characters. Do you ever think that gets confusing to fans? Is there a division about what’s specific to the band and what’s specific to the show?
First off, I believe that the only way for people or bands to stay relevant is to change. Justin Timberlake went from being in a boy band to a successful solo artist to a movie star. We reinvented our version of the boy band with the show. We’re not the Backstreet Boys or ‘N Sync. We are different from One Direction. I feel like we’re in a good place because of that — we’ve reinvented ourselves.
At the same time, we are in a boy band. The TV show is very ‘kiddie’ and it effects the older audience, but once people meet us and see the show, and they realize the show and the band are two separate entities. We are gathering believers of Big Time Rush. They call themselves themselves ‘Rushers.’ We are making ‘Rushers.’ It’s a great job. I am so blessed doing this. I could be sitting at a desk or doing a 9 to 5, but I get to be on the road.
Did you have a favorite boy band growing up?
I was all about Backstreet Boys, but I can’t pick a fave between them or ‘N Sync. Do you remember that one band LFO? They were great. I really think the music was so pure back then. Nowadays, songs are about sex, drugs and alcohol, but back then, they talked about other things. When Backstreet Boy sang, “I drive myself crazy,” it was nothing negative. It just about going crazy thinking about when I’m not with you. It was pure. I hope we can bring that back.
What’s a creature comfort that’s not an iPod, Blackberry, MacBook or technological device that you have to bring on the road with you?
I got a dog over Christmas. She is a German shepherd. I am going to bring her. Her name is Sydney and she’s 16 months. She was a police canine. I needed a puppy that could fit into my lifestyle. James [Maslow] is ambitious and got a puppy, and is bringing his puppy on the road. I needed a dog that would fit right in. She has been through training but not her bite work, which is good. I am sure kids will want to pet her, and she doesn’t bite, so she is fully obedient, sits in her crate, comes to rehearsals and watches us.
She can be the Big Time Rush mascot.
Yes! [Well], I say ‘Good luck James,’ though, with the puppy. We’ll have all our dogs on our bus, like a wolf pack, but he’s [already] got his work cut out for him.
Listen to ‘Love Me Love Me’
So, you’ve been rehearsing for the upcoming tour. What’s your favorite song to work out your moves to? What are your rehearsals like? We always perform one of them. Right now, we are learning ‘Love Me Love Me’. The dance is going to be amazing. The dancing is awesome. We go in around 11 and we hang out for a little, talk about what we want to practice and take a crack at it. It’s not the easiest of rehearsals, especially with this cleanse I am on, but it’s fun. We have to do our own parts on our own, but in the most part, we are in the same room, learning it so we can get it clean. We started on the really hard stuff, that makes total sense. But with ‘Love Me Love Me,’ seeing it and learning it,
How psyched are you for the tour?
The tour is going to be incredible. We’re just getting ready for the winter tour, and then the summer dates coming up and it’s only going to get bigger from there. I am super excited about it. We are playing important venues like Radio City. I never thought I would ever play there. It’s going to be a night to remember. My favorite thing is seeing kids come to see us and telling us it’s their first concert.
Let’s flip the script here. What was your first concert? Spill it!
Mine was Ashford & Simpson. It’s not the most crazy or cool answer, but I will always remember that show. My second was the Jonas Brothers. You can see I had a really bad concert run as a kid. It’s cool that we can be these kids’ first concert ever. To me, that is the biggest honor. It’s incredible. I am super excited.
Are you doing anything to prep for this tour?
Actually, I am doing a cleanse, which I mentioned, with some of my friends. My friend was like, ‘If I die, you’re going to die with me.’ You can’t eat sugar. I am a boy in the middle of rehearsal for tour, and I need to eat, but no, no, sugar. I am craving a Twix. The cleanse shows me how our body relies on processed artificial stuff!
Like Nick Cannon, Mariah Carey‘s husband. He was just in the hospital for kidney failure because he ingested too much sugar and processed food.
I know. I normally have a lot of energy and like natural sugars, but I want the quick fix.
Okay, so nix the Twix and the fix, and have an apple.
I have been eating strawberries and berries. I will say, though, being in rehearsal, eating no sugar and drinking green tea, it’s made me feel cleaner but it’s not fun! I never realized how much sugar I ingest.