It's a collection of infectious and irresistible arena-ready pop anthems that see the group pushing their signature sound forward by leaps and bounds. You can hear it loud and clear on the record's title track, which will stay stuck in your head for days as all great tunes should. It's easy to float away to the music once Elevatestarts…
With the album dropping November 21, 2011, James Maslow and Carlos Pena, Jr. of Big Time Rush spoke to ARTISTdirect.com editor and Dolor author Rick Florino about Elevate, the story behind "Music Sounds Better Than U," Mission Impossible and so much more.
James Maslow: The only unified vision is we no longer had to write songs for the TV show. So, the boys and I had the past year to go out and really put our own feeling and vibe into each song. We probably wrote 40 or 50 songs and narrowed it down to these 12—eight of which are our songs. It really came together. Making it flow came with the process of whittling those 50 down to 12 that worked with each other. All of them were really created individually though.
Carlos Pena, Jr.: What has always been unique about Big Time Rush is our albums aren't one type song all the way through. With us, there's a melting pot of different sounds. From the beginning, we were trying to figure out our sound. The truth is, we're just four different voices feeling so many different things. I feel like Elevate shows a diversity that people are genuinely going to dig. It hasn't been there in a long time.
James Maslow: We like to consider our music very appropriate for the iPod generation, which really is our generation. You don't have to have one type of sound for an artist or an album. You can have a lot of diversity, which definitely makes sense when you have four different singers.
What's the story behind "Music Sounds Better With U"?
James Maslow: The music was originally presented to us by Ryan Tedder of OneRepublic. It was something he was working on. We wanted to expand beyond just the younger fans we have and move up to people our age as well. We wanted to be appropriate for the parents who still listen to the music. They may have heard the sound before. We went to Denver to write with Ryan a little bit, and we wrote the bridge on the song. Mann came about because we wanted the whole thing to be fresh. Snoop Dogg was on our last single and then The New Boyz. For this, we wanted to essentially do it our own, but Mann is in the same position as we are. He's a new artist, and we thought it'd be great to have that sound. He did such an amazing job, and we went with it.
Where did "Elevate" come from?
James Maslow: That's a song I wrote for the album. I worked on it with Damon Sharpe, who's a good friend of ours. We were sitting in the studio having one day. I was like, "Well, what do we write about?" He actually came up with the concept. He asked, "Do you have a title track?" I said, "No". He was like, "Dude, that's it!" We just ran with it and had a lot of fun. That song is now in the movie coming out, Big Time Movie. It's also the title song that represents the album. It's very positive, and there's a very fun message. Of course, it has this idea of elevating everything—elevating your life, elevating your style, etc. That's the whole concept of this album from the artwork to the songs.
Carlos Pena, Jr: It's funny because it ended up being our motto. Everybody's like, "They've really elevated!" All of these fans are tweeting, "I'm listening to this record right now and I'm elevating!" It's just become the next generation of Big Time Rush. We've really stepped it up and elevated. The sky's the limit. Reach for the stars and take it one step at a time and elevate a little higher.
If you were to compare Elevate to a movie or a combination of movies, what would you compare it to?
James Maslow: It'd definitely be something a little more mature than the last album. A couple of the songs speak a little more to the mainstream. So, I'd say maybe a box office movie. The first album was written more for the TV show. Elevate was written for us and for radio. How about Mission Impossible? We didn't know if this whole thing was going work at the beginning, and the first album surprised everybody. I don't know if it was we were reaching and hoping for, but until it happened nobody expected it. I'll go with Mission Impossible, the first one because that's the best one [Laughs].
Who are you listening to right now?
Carlos Pena, Jr: There are so many great artists out there. Adele is killing it. A lot of artists aren't putting out songs that are passion-driven. Back in the day, Stevie Wonder and Sam Cooke were all writing songs because they were passion-driven. I can tell Adele, Justin Timberlake, and Bruno Mars are doing it because they love it. That inspires me, and it inspires all of us to continue to write. We have all of these kids looking up to us. We're not dumbing things down. We're working songs that will help them expand musically. I'm really excited for the world to see what we come up with. It's good, fun music. It's too much about money and fame now. If you have that passion, you write a song, and put it out there, then people will see that. Every time Adele sings, that girl means it.
What's next for you?
James Maslow: We're going to be singing a lot of Jingle Ball shows. Then we're taking a couple of weeks for the holidays. I know all of us are planning snowboarding trips of some sort during the break. Then, we're going back to rehearsal for our tour. We're really excited.