You might not be familiar with Big Time Rush, but tweens can't get enough of them. The US boy band's eponymous TV show is one of Nickelodeon's highest ranking, and the four boys who were cast as on-screen bandmates have outgrown their mould, becoming a bonafide hit-making pop group with a gold debut album under their belts... not to mention a collaboration with Snoop Dogg (yes, true), writing credits with OneRepublic and millions of fans worldwide...
I met one half of the band - Carlos (far left) and James (far right) - in a quiet bar at the Mayfair hotel, where they were flicking through a magazine and chatting about Cher Lloyd's 'interesting look'. Between discussing the inevitable Jonas Brothers comparison and second-hand Adele anecdotes, the boys share their excitement for 2012 - the year that sees them release a coming-of-age second album and feature-length film, and embark on a US headline tour with support from the UK's boyband du jour - One Direction...
Because of the TV boyband link, Big Time Rush have been compared to the Jonas Brothers, how do you feel about that?
Carlos Pena, Jr: We’re not trying to be like any other boy band, we’re paving our own way and trying to become something special and unique but if we could have half as much success as the Jo bros had, I’d be happy!
James Maslow: Not to mention they’re the nicest guys. We’ve had extensive conversations with them and I’ve never heard anything negative come out of their mouths.
Carlos Pena, Jr: I truly admire Nick [Jonas] because he’s basically doing what I want to do – he did Jo bros, he did Broadway, he came here and did the West End. Seeing someone play a stadium full of people then do Les Mis in the West End – for me that’s some true art.
So how does it work if, like the Jonas Brothers, you want to pursue individual endeavours?
James Maslow: Right now all of our focus is on Big Time Rush - there’s no time to do individual projects, even if we wanted to . In the future, maybe when we get some time off from the TV show, we will do other stuff. We all started as individual artists, we were all actors and singers in our own rights. But as long as our fans want us around we’ll continue to play shows.
We're seeing a lot of older bands like Backstreet Boys and NKOTB make a return. Do you think it's a good time for boy bands?
Carlos Pena, Jr: What I’m finding special is there’s always a time for different types of music, [in the '90s] boy bands were huge - and Spice Girls had the girl groups. And I feel like the past 10/15 years have been about solo artists. I’m excited to see - in the next few years - who is the next Backstreet or ‘N Sync - it’s getting to that point again.
You filmed Big Time Movie at the end of last year, some of it is set in London, did you film over here?
James Maslow: We were supposed to film over here but - I think for budgetary reasons – they kept us in Vancouver.
Carlos Pena, Jr: I love Canada but six weeks in London would have been awesome!
James Maslow: We had sets - like Victoria. You tell me when you see the movie but i think it looks like London.
You covered Beatles songs for the film, were you already fans?
James Maslow: We all were fans before we covered their songs and once we covered them and realised the intricacy of what they did we had so much more respect.
Carlos Pena, Jr: The only person I know that has recently done live tracking and sung in one take, like The Beatles, was Adele. We did a song with [OneRepublic's] Ryan Tedder who also wrote Rumour Has It – which she did in one take and was like ‘ok, sounds good, I’m done, let’s put it on the record.’
James Maslow: That’s unfair Adele, let me put that out there: you sing too well.
You’re touring the US with One direction at the end of the year, are you familiar with them?
James Maslow: We just met them, in Germany, before we came over here. They’re cool guys.
Carlos Pena, Jr: I really feel like being 21 and 22 in the States is the same as 17 to 19 over here. We weren’t sure how it was going to be because they’re younger than us, but they’re just like us, we’ve all had the same experiences. So it’s going to be a fun tour, I’m excited.
James Maslow: I think all of our fans will be fans of theirs, and if they aren’t I think they will become so. I’d like to think maybe we can do something with them at some point over here in the UK.
What makes Big Time Rush successful?
James Maslow: I think that a lot of it is to do with the chemistry we have. It took two years to cast, it ended up with us four and I’m not sure that it really would have worked with another combination.
Carlos Pena, Jr: We could have just been four boys on a TV show who get given music, record it, throw out some albums, perform here and there and call it a day. But instead we sat down and were like let’s make this a real band. This next album is us being Big Time Rush, we wrote almost every song on the album - which nobody expected the four boys they cast to ever do.
How are you feeling about 2012?
James Maslow: this is our year, I really think so. This is when were really going out there trot play our first headline tours, we’re going to film the third series of Big Time Rush, the movie’s coming out, we’re working on Beatles stuff. I really believe that the past three years of work have led up to this year.
Carlos Pena, Jr: …And we’re hopefully going to come out here and Germany this summer and do some big shows.