Hashtag. Tweet. Retweet. And more tweets. Boy, if our Twitter responses could be converted to screams we’d be breaking record decibel levels many times over.
But that’s exactly where our pursuit of American boy band Big Time Rush began.
It all started with a very polite ‘Please interview Big Time Rush’ tweet, which was widely retweeted, for a few days. And as days turned to a week, the tweets increased. Eventually, they took on a slightly, err, warlike tone: “Where is your interview with Big Time Rush?” asked some more, while some chimed in: “Yes, UAE Rushers want answers”. By the time we got a flurry of “We want BTR” (add multiple exclamations) tweets in a single hour, we knew we had to act.
So a few calls and many rounds of emails later, we finally got Kendall Schmidt, 21, and Logan Henderson, 22, on the phone from Los Angeles.
“Aww, we love our fans in Dubai,” said Schmidt, all charm, no sham.
Bandmate Henderson added: “We really want to come and visit soon. We love you very much and the UAE seems like a very cool place and I can’t wait to visit.” Cue more charm.
Having dealt many times over with thousands of delirious, screaming young girls ever since their TV show first aired on Nickelodeon in 2010, the young men had a practiced calm about them. Interestingly, barring Germany and the UK, Big Time Rush, also popularly called BTR, have never performed outside of the Americas. But thanks to Twitter, Facebook and all the new platforms that their ‘tween’ fans spend their time, the show and the band are a global phenomenon.
The band, which also includes Carlos Pena, Jr. and James Marslow, was selected in a US-wide hunt after writer-producer Scott Fellows hit upon an idea of creating a Jonas Brothers-style music-inclined show for Nickelodeon. With a storyline based around the misadventures of four young hockey players as they brace for success after forming a boy band, the show became an instant hit in the US after its debut in January 2010, becoming Nickelodeon’s highest-rated live action series in its 30-year history.
The show’s creators quickly capitalised on the popularity, launching BTR’s self-titled album later that year, which went on to debut at No. 1 on the Billboard Children’s Chart and the Soundtracks chart. Around the same time the next year, the band’s second album, Elevate, was released, which was immediately followed by a US tour. A third album, Windows Down, is currently in the works with no release date yet.
Big Time Rush is now broadcast in 78 territories and in 17 languages.
The boys, who had British-Irish boy band One Direction open for them for a few of their sold-out US shows in February, are currently filming the third season of the show, out on a TV set near you later in the year. That’s why Henderson and Schmidt could finally take some time off to speak with us. So here they are in their own words, speaking about girls, One Direction, Justin Bieber and their Rushers in the UAE. What’s more? For those of you who’ve been tweeting to us over the past few months, we managed to sneak in some of YOUR questions.
Kendall Schmidt, 21 (character name: Kendall Knight)
Q: So Kendall, when are you coming to see us in the UAE?
A: I guess it really depends. We are doing a summer tour in the US coming up in July. Then we’re doing a few dates in South America and then I think we have to go work on the third album or our fourth season and then hopefully doing a world tour in 2013.
Q: All this attention and adulation. Does it sometimes seem crazy to you?
A: It’s very surprising. The TV show gets a lot of the exposure thanks to Nickelodeon but it’s the internet that fuels a lot of the interest in the music I’m sure. People all over the world can go online and look up our music in a second and see YouTube videos. We’re so happy that we have fans worldwide.
Q: How important is social media to you?
A: It’s THE most important element. We work hard, make the show and the music but no one’s going to hear about it if it doesn’t get out through Twitter and on the website and stuff. I’m on Twitter every day, sometimes just tweeting random things. Also if we’re putting on a show in an area, it’s a great tool to remind people about it.
Q: Do you really interact with your fans though?
A: What’s funny is that people on Twitter think that I don’t see some of the tweets that they put out, but I’m always looking and reading everything. People are surprised when I respond or when I follow them back. There’s no rhyme or reason to it but I think it’s nice to keep it fresh and random and give people a chance to be followed and replied to once in a while.
Q: And you’re currently filming the third season of Big Time Rush?
A: We’re a little over halfway through it. It’s going to be wonderful. It’s going to be really awesome season this one and we’re going to have a lot more relationships and stuff so all the girls watching it can have fun and enjoy it. There are always gags and stuff so I am sure every one is going to enjoy it. But whatever we do, we make sure people of every age can watch it and we work very hard to keep it that way. So third season is going to be an elevated version of previous episodes.
Q: Speaking of relationships, we hear you are still single?
A: I’m single. I have been single for a while – at least a year. And I think I can speak for Logan, I think he is single too, I’m pretty sure. Carlos is dating his girlfriend Samantha and James is dating his girlfriend Sage. We’re just the two single guys in the band.
Q: You’re just 21. Growing up did you ever imagine your life would turn out this way?
A: I couldn’t have really imagined it. It’s been awesome. I feel blessed. I feel like a normal guy who has a really cool job. And I wouldn’t be able to do it if people didn’t enjoy watching and listening. I am blessed that people feel like I have something they want to watch and pay attention to. It’s been quite an adventure so far. I’m still young and I’m planning to do music for the rest of my life so I hope people will be interested for a long time.
Q: One Direction recently opened for you for a few shows. How did that go?
A: It was great. They opened for us for 12 or 13 shows. They are great guys. We didn’t really have a chance to hang out with them in the beginning but we made it a point to towards the end to catch up. Niall [Horan] is a good friend of mine. He is the one I talk to the most often. Hopefully they’ll stop by and we’ll cross paths again. They are really cool guys and I wish them all the best.
Q: Does all the touring, filming and recording get to you some times?
A: It just kinda’ happens I suppose. I don’t really know how much more we can do. We kind of do some thing every single day, all day. Today, I am not filming but I have interviews and I have to head to the Nick animation studio for some business with Nickelodeon. There is always something going on. Last year I was busy like 345 out of 365 days. So it’s definitely a full time gig.
Q: What about studies? Do you have time for that at all?
A: I finished high school. I don’t really have time right now and it’s not really what I want to do. I want to focus more on being creative and see what I can do on my own and I can always go back to studies later.
Q: You also write a lot of the BTR songs, where do you get your inspirations from?
A: Obviously past experiences with girls is always something you can write about. Experiences in life, being driven, things happening, things not happening, it really depends what you’re feeling at the moment. Sometimes you write songs that have nothing to do with how you feel anything about. You write songs just to be creative and different. Like for instance, Cover Girl on the second album was about a friend of mine I have known for a long time. It was easy to write about it because I’ve known her for such a long time. And then there’s another song, You’re Not Alone, which is mostly about being there for somebody and then that person not noticing it. I think we’ve all kinda been through that. It’s really about writing things that people can relate to.
Q: You had a song titled Boyfriend in your first album. Have you heard Justin Bieber’s song?
A: Yeah, our song came out a little over a year ago. I love his song, it gets stuck in my head. There are multiple songs with multiple names out in the worlds so…
Q: Our Twitter follower @TeamJMac_BTR wants to know what your blood type is.
A: I’m not sure. I think it’s O+ve, the common one.
Q: Hmm and @TomlinSchmidt wants to know whether you got your eyes from your mum or your dad.
A: A little bit of both. My parents both have light eyes. In fact, my whole family… my brothers… all five of us including my dad and mum have light green eyes. I think it comes from my dad’s German heritage and my mum has European heritage so yeah. It’s interesting, it’s the one thing my whole life I have been complimented on in my life, even when I was a kid.
Q: And @Hana_Carlitos asks if you read and reply to your fan mail.
A: Absolutely. In fact, every single piece of fan mail that someone sends me gets replied to and an autographed picture sent back courtesy of my dad and me.
Q: @NabiiLoganJMac’s question is how do you find the time to get in touch with all the Rushers?
A: I used a website called Staree.com where I post pictures through that and it goes to Facebook and Twitter. So check that out.
Q: @PenaRAWR wants to know if you will come to Dubai soon.
A: I really hope so, believe me.
Logan Henderson, 22 (character name: Logan Mitchell)
Q: Hey Logan, the most number of questions we get asked is when you’re coming to Dubai.
A: That’s really cool. We’ve been given the opportunity to see outside of the US and I would love to visit Dubai very soon.
Q: Isn’t it crazy sometimes to know you have people all over the world watching your every move?
It is crazy to be connected with people from all over the world on Twitter from places like Dubai, Brazil, who want to know what we’re doing and to be such huge fans of the show. It’s really cool.
Q: You’ve done a bit of travelling, what other places do you really want to go?
A: I know Brazil is huge. Italy is big for me. Actually, I want to visit all over the world. At 22, I want to see everything and go everywhere. I just want to see where this journey takes me and I’m up for anything.
Q: What else would you have been if you were not a singer or an actor?
A: I don’t know. I went to LA not giving myself any option except for that. It’s so hard to answer that because it’s exactly what I want to do.
Q: But don’t you miss normal life sometimes?
A: I think everything happens for a reason. And that is exactly what I love about the show. I’m being able to, I guess, be led into the direction that was not maybe exactly what I wanted to do, but exactly what I’m supposed to do. College is huge for me… I really want to go to college. I won’t be able to do that but I’m having the time of my life. So I’m happy.
Q: So why are you still single?
A: It’s hard to have a relationship on the road. It really is. It’s not a cool to tell girls ‘I’ll be gone for the next four months’. But you know, it’s fun to be single right now. I get to go to places, make friends everywhere I go. So I’m enjoying single life right now.
Q: How do you think you have grown as a person with Big Time Rush?
A: You grow so much as an individual, especially this time of my life from 18 to 22. I’ve grown so much as an actor and as a singer, as a songwriter, I guess it’s like a natural evolution of who I am as a person. It’s been fun to think outside of the box, to be creative and being present. It’s been such a cool feeling. I envision next year we kind of all do what we want to do and not having any fear any more.
Q: If you were to pick between acting and singing, which one would it be?
A: That’s hard. I moved to LA for acting and I love it. It’s a passion of mine. But music kind of found me. I find it really cool to have that feeling of being on stage and kind of like live the rock and roll life. It’s kind of like nothing else. So I’m going to have to go with music right now.
Q: So how much time do you spend on Twitter really?
A: We are on Twitter and Facebook and all the other social media. I’m able to be connected all around the world at any time so whenever I wake up, even at three when I can’t sleep, I’ll post something and someone around the world will see it and I can be connected with them. So that’s cool.
Q: So you respond to every one?
A: I kind of try to respond to everybody and try to see at different moments what people are doing. The people that spark my interest are people who want to know and ask about what’s going on in my personal life and ask questions that people don’t usually ask. You know, I try to be fair to every one on Twitter.
Q: Where do you see yourself five years from now?
A: I know we all want to go as far as we can possibly go with BTR. We want to be the best thing we can possibly be. It’s cool working with three other guys who have the same goal and the same mentality around the project. It has been such a big project in our lives and I know we want to make the best pop music, we want to keep on having fun and we haven’t stopped yet. I think we will probably stop when it gets boring and stops being interesting. But I think we are still on the rise. And having so much fun being creative and exploring music and acting so we’re going to go as far as we can.