Friday, August 24, 2012

Big Time Rush ready for long run

Big Time Rush (pictured at Radio City Music Hall in New York) will perform Aug. 28 at Amway Center in Orlando.Although the research isn't conclusive, there's a promising trend in the potential longevity of TV-generated pop bands with recent news of a reunion tour by the Monkees, beloved TV icons of the 1960s.

So it's conceivable that Big Time Rush, the latest example of a bunch of TV characters who double as a band, could transcend its current spot on Nickelodeon's prime-time lineup to create a musical legacy, too. The boy band will put a spotlight on its musical side on Tuesday at Amway Center, the group's first arena show in Orlando after appearances in town at Universal Studios in 2011 and earlier this year.

"It's hard to plan in the long-term in the music business," says band member Carlos Pena by phone from a recent Texas tour stop. "I'm not sure how far the TV show will go and we are getting pretty old."

Yet, even at the advanced age of 23, Pena and his bandmates — Kendall Schmidt, 21, James Maslow, 22, and Logan Henderson, 22 — might have a few more good years ahead of them. Looking at the recent successful reunion tours of ancient boy bands such as the Backstreet Boys and New Kids on the Block also is encouraging, Pena says.

"If we keep putting out fun radio hits, I think we could be around for a while," Pena says. "I'd love to be like New Kids and the Backstreet Boys and do a 40-year-old reunion."

So far, the band has done an admirable job of building a real-life music career to match the pretend one that is the basis of the "Big Time Rush" TV series that debuted on Nickelodeon in 2009. Although each band member plays a fictional character, each keeps his own first name, all the better to blur the real and the imaginary in the tale of four performers who move to Hollywood to become pop stars.

Before each season, the show's producers sit down with the band members to hear about real-life stories of touring and recording, experiences that often find a way into the show's scripts.

"So it's an over-exaggerated version of our real lives," Pena says. "It's like watching us become who we are in the TV show. We put out an album in the TV show, and in real life we put out an album. So it's a timeline."

In real life, Big Time Rush's 2010 self-titled debut was certified gold (for sales of 500,000 copies) and was followed by a sold-out, 30-city U.S. tour. The band's follow-up CD, "Elevate," has pushed the band's sales figures above 1 million albums and 3 million digital tracks worldwide. In October, Big Time Rush opened for Justin Bieber for 70,000 fans at a concert in Mexico.

On Monday, the band played a "Kids' State Dinner" at the White House.

Is Pena surprised by the band's success?
"It's really cool to see how the group and the music and the brand has evolved in last four years," he says. "As a touring act, it's a little new for us, but we kind of enjoy it a little more than the TV world.

"There's a little more freedom and room for expression. if we want to change it up one night onstage, we can do it a little differently. We're definitely enjoying it."

The band also enjoyed more creative freedom on "Elevate," taking a bigger role in song selection, cover art and other decisions. That input has continued as the band has started work on its third album, which has yet to be assigned a release date.

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