Being labeled a "boy band" is no longer a bad thing to Big Time Rush.
The Nickelodeon favorites, featured on the show "Big Time Rush," used to take issue with the classification. But now, says group member James Maslow, "I think everybody has come to terms with the term 'boy band.' "
"When we first started a few years ago, we were the only boy band around, and we didn't love the terminology," Maslow says. "But we're stoked about it now. It's a term that's acceptable again and we love it."
Indeed, boy bands are viable again with One Direction, the Wanted and Mindless Behavior, all picking up some of the pieces left behind by Backstreet Boys, New Kids on the Block, 'N Sync and B2K. (New Kids on the Block and Backstreet Boys successfully mounted a joint tour last year.)
Big Time Rush's contribution began with the hit series "Big Time Rush," which introduced viewers to Maslow, Kendall Schmidt, Carlos Pena Jr. and Logan Henderson.
The show, currently in its third season, paved the way for Big Time Rush to release albums "BTR" (2010), "Elevate" (2011) and the new song "Windows Down" from the upcoming album of the same name, as well as for the group's current headlining tour coming to Verizon Wireless Amphitheater this weekend.
Maslow says the biggest speed bump in moving from TV to iTunes and concert stages was actually the show itself. Acts who break out from TV shows, especially ones geared toward young people, aren't seen as the real deal.
But he says he'd never begrudge his TV roots.
"The TV has been a wonderful platform to sell albums," he says. "But people look at us as being really young. We're in our early 20s. It's a tough line to walk. But on the road we can be our age and sing our songs as us — not as characters."
Getting radio airplay has been difficult, but the group hopes that will change with "Windows Down." The song looks to cast Big Time Rush in a different light, the way "Boyfriend" presented a more mature Justin Bieber.
"It's a game changer for us," Maslow says. "It's the right sound. It's mature enough for radio without alienating our young fans," he says.
The new music and songs the band is known for — "Elevate," "Music Sounds Better With U" and "All Over Again" — are hooking fans straight into concert venues. The Big Time Summer Tour follows the teaser of a tour that was the previous "Better With U" trek.
"That tour was really our first technically headlining tour," he says. "We didn't make it huge: just three weeks and smaller venues, and it sold out. It just wasn't enough. Now it's 60 stops, four months, and it's bigger and better," he says.
This time around, Big Time Rush fans are getting "more pyro, a bigger stage, lots of choreography, new songs and even Beatles songs." (The group once covered Beatles songs for an iTunes exclusive release.)
"And everybody who wants a seat should get a seat."