On the Nickelodeon sitcom “Big Time Rush,” Kendall Knight, James Diamond, Carlos Garcia and Logan Mitchell, are four hockey-playing friends from Minnesota who get their big break in a brand-new boy band.
The real-life story behind the band-within-a-TV-show bares some similarities — Kendall Schmidt, James Maslow, Carlos Pena Jr. and Logan Henderson were all cast in 2009 as both the show’s leads and the members of the concurrently operating boy band. Since then, the show has gone on to three seasons, and was just picked up for a fourth. The band is also currently working on its third full-length album.
But in the real world, the four didn’t meet each other until the final casting party. Schmidt hails from Kansas, Maslow from California, Pena from Missouri and Henderson from Texas. Even though the four aren’t the longtime friends they portray on the TV show, they have since become that way — for the most part.
Big Time Rush, with Cody Simpson
When: 7 p.m. today
Where: Saratoga Performing Arts Center, 108 Avenue of the Pines, Saratoga Springs
How Much: $79.50-$20
More Info: 584-9330, www.spac.org
“We’re not one of those bands — we don’t all have separate dressing rooms and buses; we all hang out together, even though we’ve definitely irritated each other before,” Schmidt said recently from a tour stop in Camden, N.J., just outside Philadelphia. “I was the last one cast, and I met all three of the other guys at the same time, at the casting party. We all have our fair share of complaints with each other, but ultimately, we all want the band to be successful. And deep down, we all love each other.”
That’s a good thing, considering how much time the four have to spend together. With filming for the show, rehearsals for the tours and writing and recording sessions for albums, the band’s members work nonstop throughout the year. They’re in the middle of a 70-date marathon tour of the U.S., which heads to Saratoga Performing Arts Center tonight.
Live, the show also needs to strike a balance among the fictional world of “Big Time Rush”; the recent TV movie, “Big Time Movie”; and real life. Although, according to Schmidt, it’s easier than it might seem.
“The younger kids are probably thinking, it is the same person I am, and they don’t ever get confused as to who’s up onstage — we look the same as we do on TV, except we might have a little bit more rocking haircuts onstage,” Schmidt said. “In general, I think the older girls are going to see a boy band they like, and the younger kids are going to see their favorite TV show.”
Keeping things connected
To that end, the band tries to keep ties to the TV show within the live concerts — or in the case of this tour, the movie, which closed out season two of the show in March. The film is a Beatle-esque spy comedy that features, appropriately, covers of five Beatles songs — “Revolution,” “I Wanna Hold Your Hand,” “Help,” “We Can Work It Out” and “Can’t Buy Me Love.”
“We do a little 10-minute thing in the show where we sing an a cappella song, and then do a song with our soundtrack clips from the movie,” Schmidt said. “People are coming to see the TV show, or the characters in the movie. We decided to do the movie, since it’s more recent and a little more grown-up.”
Schmidt and the rest of the band are hoping to carry over a more mature sound into their next album as well. A new single, “Windows Down,” which heavily samples the riff from Blur’s “Song 2,” was released in June, and was featured on a 2012 rerelease of the band’s second album, “Elevate.” Any musical evolution will be a gradual growth, as the band remains mindful of its fan base.
“I think [fans] would be surprised at the stuff we already have cut — we cut a lot of songs for the second album, and a lot didn’t make it,” Schmidt said. “We have so many songs already done that are just awesome. . . . There’s one we cut the other day that is great, and has a more mature sound. Everyone is constantly making new tracks, and the third album is going to be stepped up, but not too much — otherwise the fans are not able to keep up.”
With their busy schedule, the band has been writing and recording on tour. In between dates, the band has also found time to visit children’s hospitals while in the Northeast — before the Camden show, the group visited the Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia.
“We go to their rooms, because they’re usually in beds, and we sign things for them, get our photos taken with them,” Schmidt said. “We’ve gone to the one in Boston as well. Usually when we come to the East Coast, it’s something we like to do.”
For now, there seems to be no end in sight to the group or the TV show, which of course are intrinsically linked. “That’s why the third album and the fourth season were picked up at the same time,” Schmidt said.
“For us, each one of us — one might enjoy acting more, one might enjoy singing more,” Schmidt said. “The great thing is that right now, we don’t have to choose, we get to do both at different times.”