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James Maslow Interview: 'Big Time Rush' 2nd Season on Tap, Band Releases Debut Album

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James Maslow

The hit live-action, musically-inspired Nickelodeon comedy series Big Time Rush, features James Maslow as one of the four singers in a band from Minnesota brought to Hollywood to become the next big boy band. The show also stars Carlos Pena, Jr., Logan Henderson, and Kendall Schmidt as the 20-year old New York native’s high school best friends.

Not only is Big Time Rush the number one live-action series on Nickelodeon, the group’s single, “Halfway There,” currently sits on the Top 100 iTunes chart. Season two of the series will premiere on September 24 and the band will also release their first album on October 11, 2010.

“We bicker like brothers all the time, but having said that, we’ve become like brothers. We spend seven days a week together almost every week.”

Melissa Parker (Smashing Interviews Magazine): James, are you currently filming the second season?

James Maslow: Yeah, we’re filming 75-80 hours straight, plus concerts and rehearsals so it has been busy.

Melissa Parker (Smashing Interviews Magazine): What is the premise of the show?

James Maslow: The four of us are normal high schoolers playing hockey in Minnesota and we get this amazing opportunity to go to Los Angeles and become a music group. Now we’re based in LA and it’s kind of like behind the scenes of four young kids goofing off and becoming a successful band.

Melissa Parker (Smashing Interviews Magazine): Tell me about the audition process.

James Maslow

James Maslow (Photo by Mackel Vaughn)

James Maslow: The audition process quite literally was two years long. It was kind of ridiculous actually. They did four national casting tours where they went to six or seven major cities from LA to New York to Florida to Texas.

I was the very first audition they’d ever had so I went through the entire two-year process through four screen tests with four different casts. It was quite amazing how long it was, but after two years they found the four of us, we got picked up, and started going full force. It’s hard to believe the time spent but it was very well worth it.

Melissa Parker (Smashing Interviews Magazine): It sounds more brutal than American Idol.

James Maslow: It was similar, yeah.

Melissa Parker (Smashing Interviews Magazine): Had you ever thought of auditioning for American Idol?

James Maslow: It crossed my mind a couple of times, but I never watched the show a whole lot. I just didn’t have that much time to watch television. I think the honest reason I never auditioned is I didn’t want to wait in those gigantic lines (laughs). On the other side of it, I really believed I was going to make it in my own way so I wasn’t that concerned about not auditioning.

Melissa Parker (Smashing Interviews Magazine): You have been singing from a very young age.

James Maslow: Yes, since I was six years old. I was singing in the San Diego Children’s Choir. That was actually the beginning of my professional career if you can call it that.

Melissa Parker (Smashing Interviews Magazine): Your character, James Diamond, on Big Time Rush is a bit obsessed with his looks.

James Maslow: You know, I’d say he verges on narcissism, yes (laughs).

Melissa Parker (Smashing Interviews Magazine): How did Bandana Man come about?

James Maslow: Bandana Man has become quite an icon. I get many questions and tweets about if he’ll ever come back. I’ve been told he probably will. Bandana Man came about because I have long hair and when I work out I wear bandanas. Scott Fellows, the show’s creator, thought that was really cool so he created a whole character out of Bandana Man.

That’s kind of a James Diamond version of becoming a super hero. It’s his super hero in disguise. It was fun to play him so I’m actually looking forward to Halloween to see how many kids dress up as Bandana Man.

Melissa Parker (Smashing Interviews Magazine): It’s kind of your alter ego.

James Maslow: I suppose, yes, my alter ego.

Melissa Parker (Smashing Interviews Magazine): Are the four of you close friends off the show as well?

James Maslow: We bicker like brothers all the time, but having said that, we’ve become like brothers. We spend seven days a week together almost every week. We’ve been through things like playing in Times Square.

This week we’re going to film at 7:00 AM, get on a plane at noon, and play a concert in Vegas Saturday night. When you go through lack of sleep like that, it brings you together. There are some things that only the four of us will be able to share. So, in that sense, we’re very close.

Melissa Parker (Smashing Interviews Magazine): What was the experience like making an album for the first time?

James Maslow: We’ve been in so many different studios with so many amazing producers and songwriters from Kevin Rudolf to Kevin Childs and Emanuel Brock. These people have made hits you hear on the radio.

At this point in my life already I can say, “Hey I’ve worked with them or that person wrote a song for my group.” It’s pretty amazing to say that already so it’s been quite an experience. These past couple of years have been the greatest learning experience in the world to see how all of that works and be able to start producing and writing my own music.

Melissa Parker (Smashing Interviews Magazine): Are the songs on the first album from the show or will there be others also?

James Maslow: Both. The album’s coming out on October 11 and it will have 11 or 12 songs. It’s going to be a few from the first season, although we’re going to try not to get the ones already for sale as singles. But there will also be some new songs people have never heard before, some of which will be in the second season and some on the album only.

Melissa Parker (Smashing Interviews Magazine): Does anyone in the band assist in the writing or are there primarily assigned songwriters for the show?

James Maslow: We have songwriters, but as a band we’ve written a song together. I write individually and I know a couple of the other guys do as well. For example, the song, “Oh Yeah,” which will be on he album, we co-wrote with Kevin Rudolf and I’m very proud of the song.

Melissa Parker (Smashing Interviews Magazine): The first one-hour special was filmed in Times Square.

Big Time Rush

Big Time Rush - L to R: Carlos Pena, Jr., Kendall Schmidt, James Maslow, Logan Henderson (Stewart Shining/Viacom)

James Maslow: Yeah, we filmed part of it in Times Square as a live concert then they cut back and forth with the actual episode, which was very cool. Normally a half hour show takes a week and that hour show took three weeks to film. But, I was told that 12 ½ million people watched it over that weekend. To me that’s crazy. All of us are very proud of that show.

Melissa Parker (Smashing Interviews Magazine): What’s next for the guys in season two?

James Maslow: Let me put it this way, the first season we had long days. This season we’ve exceeded our longest week every week so far (laughs). What that means is that we’re having bigger episodes.

We had an entire carnival flown in for just one day of shooting, so there will be more gags, a lot more locations, some amazing guest stars, and more music. Almost in every single episode you’ll see part of a music video or an original song.

Melissa Parker (Smashing Interviews Magazine): Sounds good. Who do you listen to, James?

James Maslow: My iPod is crazy with all types of music on it. I enjoy listening to Jack Johnson on a regular basis because it’s very laid back music. I’m a big fan of John Mayer. I grew up listening to some great vocalists like Donny Hathaway, Stevie Wonder, and Luther Vandross. I still turn on those songs because they’re amazing.

Melissa Parker (Smashing Interviews Magazine): You guys must have a huge female following. Are you recognized everywhere you go?

James Maslow: In Los Angeles it’s not that bad. Every time I go out I’m recognized and I’ll stop and take a picture, but most people are cool. Even some of the younger kids act crazy when you walk. It’s pretty cool to know you can make a kid’s day by saying “hi” and taking a picture.

When we go to New York we can’t walk out of our hotel because it’s crazy. We get followed in cars and we have fans who sleep out in front of the hotel which to me is crazy. I tell them, “Hey, go home and get some sleep. We’ll be here tomorrow!” But they don’t really listen because they’ll hang out all day just to get a picture. As crazy as that is, I’ve got to say it’s pretty cool to have people enjoy what I do.

Melissa Parker (Smashing Interviews Magazine): Is it harder now for you to have a social life and date when you may not know if a girl is only interested in the fame and fortune?

James Maslow: Yeah, that’s definitely a precarious situation that I suppose will be going on for a long time. But, harder than that is finding the time to date. Right now we’re shooting a single camera so it’s 14-16 hours a day five days a week. On the weekends and hiatus we’re touring and recording music so it leaves very little time for dating.

Melissa Parker (Smashing Interviews Magazine): Will you be touring on your next hiatus?

James Maslow: Yeah, even this weekend we’re going to Las Vegas and playing a concert at Henderson Pavilion. We just played a concert last week in New York in Herald Square. In October we’re going to do a 16-city tour, a campaign we’re doing with Walgreens to go to middle schools. We’re going to go in between filming, fly to the city, and play a little concert. It’ll be our first mini concert, so to speak.

Melissa Parker (Smashing Interviews Magazine): James, do you have any spare time to enjoy life?

James Maslow: I am pretty lucky to be doing what I love, but on occasion I get to squeeze in going to the gym and staying active. That’s a really big part of my life and very relaxing to me. Other than that, when I can see a movie I’ll try to squeeze that in, but unfortunately that’s not a priority.

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