Many U.S. boy bands have tried to recreate the success the Backsteet Boys, ‘N Sync and 98 Degrees enjoyed in the late 1990s and early 2000s (Ever heard of LMNT, which included “Glee” star Matthew Morrison, or Audio, formerly the Diddy-produced B5?) but nearly all have failed to make a real impact, for one reason or another.
Big Time Rush could change that.
The quartet’s self-titled show on Nickelodeon, which formed the band in 2009, has been renewed for a third season (the band members play fictional versions of themselves on the show, much like The Monkees did in the 1960s). Big Time Rush also followed up its 2010 debut album, “BTR,” which peaked at No. 3 on the Billboard 200 and featured a Snoop Dogg cameo, with November’s “Elevate,” which peaked at No. 12 on the Billboard 200.
Not bad for four guys who didn’t exactly have boy band aspirations.
“I don’t think we ever envisioned being in a boy band,” said Big Time Rush’s James Maslow over the phone last week from Las Vegas. “We had our own bands and projects before this. Once we saw where this could go, we got together and made this the best it could be.”
The audition process lasted two years and included more than 1,500 aspiring singers and actors. Fellow band member Logan Henderson described it as a triple-threat “boot camp” because it involved choreography, singing and acting.
“The waiting period was miserable,” said Henderson, also on the phone. “We couldn’t go out and audition outside of that. It was a tough decision to stick with it but we’re glad we did.”
How did their friends react to their decision to join a boy band?
“They were supportive,” Maslow said. “I think they were stoked that their friend was on TV and had a record deal. … They even have this drinking game for me: Every time my character does something silly, take a drink.”
(Most of Big Time Rush’s fans aren’t legally old enough to drink, but all of the band members are: Maslow and Kendall Schmidt are 21, and Henderson and Carlos Pena Jr. are 22).
Big Time Rush played the B96 SummerBash in June at Toyota Park and return for a sold-out show at the Akoo (formerly Rosemont) Theatre Friday. Henderson expects the shows on this tour to be vastly different from the band’s past concerts, from the stage design and lighting to the wardrobes and choreography. The band had been working on the latter for days when we spoke over the phone.
“I can’t feel my legs,” joked Henderson.
Fans can also catch the band in its first original TV movie, “Big Time Movie,” which airs March 10 on Nickelodeon. The guys are called into action to save the world in the James Bond-like special, which takes place in London, and cover a few Beatles songs along the way. And yes, they’re aware some overly protective Beatles fans might not be thrilled with the idea.
“We’re sharing the Beatles with fans who are on the younger side and might not know The Beatles unless their parents listen to them,” Maslow said. “You can’t hate on the fact that we’re spreading their music to a new generation.”
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