Friday, February 24, 2012

Rushing into the big time

Just as the Monkees entertained the tween set in the late 1960s, with a comical and musical television show that branched the group out to hit albums and sold-out concert tours, the boys of Nickelodeon’s hit TV show “Big Time Rush” are taking a similar path.
The show, which premiered to record ratings on Jan. 18, 2010, is comprised of Kendall Schmidt, Carlos Pena Jr., James Maslow and Logan Henderson, playing four young men whose characters share their first names and love of music.
“We are like brothers and are so excited to be doing this show,” Pena said. “There can be one day when we all get along great and another day when we get in an argument because someone got the last packet of mustard. At the end of the night, we all go to bed knowing it’s all good.”
On screen, the four play former hockey players that were picked out to form a boy band, and each episode navigates through their antics and schemes as residents at the Palm Woods Hotel and students at the Palm Woods School, both establishments intended for aspiring actors, singers and other performing artists.
Kendall is the leader, James the lady’s man, Logan’s the brains and Carlos is the funny one, though their fictional personalities are not always accurate with who they really are.
“There are parts of us in the characters, but they aren’t really us,” Pena said. “For example, my character is pretty fearless, but in real life I am really cautious. Logan is probably the most like his character.”
But these aren’t just actors. The boys can really sing, and as a band, Big Time Rush has released two best-selling albums, “B.T.R.” and “Elevate,” and they already are working on a third.
Last summer, Nickelodeon wanted to cash in on the show’s popularity and had Big Time Rush go out on a small concert tour. The result? Thousands of screaming fans and sold-out performances that rivaled the boy band popularity that New Kids on the Block and ’N Sync achieved 25 years earlier.
“It’s amazing to know that we are bringing boy bands back,” Pena said. “So many people have tried, but we are doing it. It’s crazy and gets really loud, but it’s the most incredible energy you can feel when you are on stage and it keeps you pumped the entire show.”
Big Time Rush currently is on its first headlining tour — The Better With U Tour — and will take the stage March 2 at the Patriot Center.
“We did the summer tour which was very basic and that got us ready for this. We spent the last month rehearsing on dance and vocals,” Pena said. “None of us ever expected to be in a boy band, so that was a challenge in itself, but we are doing something new and exciting and it’s been a lot of fun.”
The band has come a long way since its last tour. It’s no longer just them singing on stage; now it’s a full-fledged rockin’ show complete with dancing and spectacular sights.
“This will be unlike any Big Time Rush show that anyone has ever seen. We have pyro, do some acrobatics on the trampoline, the set is incredible and we will be playing new and old songs,” Pena said. “We definitely bring some elements of the show on stage, but we are being ourselves. We put on a really great pop show. I think people are going to be very impressed by what they see.”
Just two nights into the tour, Pena said the band already is feeling comfortable.
“It’s been a great start and we are having so much fun,” Pena said. “It seems like it gets better every night as we get more comfortable and I am super stoked to see how we do on night 19.”
Joining the band as an opening act will be One Direction, the British boy band made famous by Simon Cowell on the last season of the “X-Factor UK,” and currently racing up the charts with the tune, “What Makes You Beautiful.”
“I love to see all the kids having fun,” Pena said. “I love seeing people with their hands in the air, screaming and it gets us going for a fun show.”
Once the tour ends, the boys will return to L.A. for production on the third season of “Big Time Rush.”
“We start shooting in April and it’s going to be awesome. I know a lot of the new songs are being worked in and we are getting a lot of big guest stars,” Pena said. “They all have kids and want to be on the show and it’s awesome. Erik Estrada plays my dad. Fabio, Miranda Cosgrove …a lot of fun people are coming by. It’s going to be a great season.”

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