The actor/singer also opens up about why you should never say “we need to talk” in a relationship and balancing fame in the age of social media.
James Maslow is opening up about the exciting return of his band Big Time Rush after an eight-year hiatus — and the reunion has been in the works for longer than you may think.
According to the actor/singer, fans finally get to hear the band’s classic hit songs on their upcoming tour, but Maslow says BTR isn’t stopping there — the boys are back and bigger than ever with a few surprises on the way. Big Time Rush’s “Forever” tour will appear live in North and Latin America as well as feature TikTok star Dixie D’Amelio as an opening act.
While promoting his new romantic comedy film “We Need To Talk” with TooFab, Maslow dishes on not only how he’s maintained his relationship with the boys over the years, but also how he navigates his own romantic relationships as well as his fans on social media.
“We Need To Talk” is about a self-absorbed online gaming influencer named Scott (Maslow) who despite communicating with his fans via his persona daily, struggles to talk and maintain the relationships in his personal life. One day when his long-term girlfriend of 10 years says the two “need to talk” as she walks out the door, Scott is sent spiraling as he seeks emotional support, advice and wisdom from his friends online.
My first question for you: Are you a big video game fan? What kind of games have you grown up playing, and what do you currently enjoy playing now?
I mean, I’ve been playing video games since I was a kid. I remember back on like N64 even playing “Mario Kart,” playing “Mortal Kombat” one of the first ones. When I really got into it was when my brother started gaming, and that was a little later when we had Xbox and PlayStation and started doing “Halo,” that was a big one I played all the time. When I was touring last time, about eight years ago, I would sit in the back of the bus and sometimes we’d have like a 16-hour drive. You can only sleep for eight of those, you can read a book for an hour or two. We didn’t have streaming back then — wow I’m aging myself — but I would sit there and play “Zombies” incessantly. I mean for six, eight hours straight. These days I still game, I play “Splitgate” like we have in the video game actually, I still play “Halo: Infinite” and you know “Call of Duty” is a great one to catch up with friends.
Have any of your past partners ever told you that you need to talk? If so, what kind of goes through your head, and how do you personally proceed?
So I have and I say this with experience, just don’t say that to your partner guys. It’s just like anxiety and fear-inducing, even if they’ve done nothing wrong, mind you because I had done pretty much nothing wrong. It could be about the simplest thing but I feel like it’s such a manipulative way to mess with somebody else. If you need to talk just say what it’s about. This is why it was so easy for me to get into [the] character [of] Scott — been there, it’s awful.
As someone who’s kind of in the social media sphere with your music and acting career, did your experience in that field help you develop your character?
Yeah, of course. I understand what it’s like to engage with fans on social media. I understand to some degree that, you know, most people, myself included when we do even press, but especially like getting on social media. It becomes this character in a way. It’s us but it’s almost a heightened sense. At least it used to be a lot more from me. As I have done it more and more and gotten older I really try not to put on a show. I try and be as authentic as possible, but sometimes that is difficult because you’re talking to no one and the same time, millions of people. So it’s a strange thing to do completely related to Scott in that regard, but again, I think one big difference is he never stops putting on a show. He is constantly in character and he’s constantly on and I like to try not to be that way. I like to be as real and authentic myself as possible.
In the movie, your character struggles with dealing with trolls online and balancing his online persona. How do you personally handle the negativity that comes with social media and being an influential person?
What comes with that I hope is some sort of responsibility, not everybody feels the same way as I do. Again, I’m gonna be myself but I’m going to be conscientious of the fact that whatever I say can be influential. So at this point in my life [and] my career I do my best to stay away from anything that’s too divisive, politically, or in terms of religion. I just accept that everybody wants to be a good person, so I stay pretty neutral with a lot of things. But of course, yeah, in terms of dealing with — you say one wrong thing, or even if it’s not wrong to you — I mean, I was just in Israel, and all I did is post “Jerusalem is beautiful” and some other posts. It was nothing political. It was nothing really besides that, and unfortunately, I was met with death threats for the next couple of weeks and emails just for supporting a country that a lot of people don’t support.
The country has been good to me, I am Jewish. I have friends and family there, and I shouldn’t be made to feel ashamed or afraid to post something in that regard, but that does come. So as middle ground as you try and be — and as I try and stay — it’s inevitable that people say awful things and do awful things and you just [have] to do your best to ignore it. As I say, don’t read your own press. I try not to unless the director from this movie sends me a fantastic article, and then I do. It boosts my ego and makes me feel good.
I saw that Kendall had a little cameo in the film, I thought that was a really cool Easter egg! Were there talks of any of the other guys being involved in the project?
I mean, like anything else, whether it’s an invite to a premiere, or it’s an opportunity, like “Hey, I’m gonna be in a movie, I’ve got an idea,” I usually put it in a group text so all three of them could have sent [a clip] in and Kendall jumped on it and said, “That’ll be fun,” and sent it to me right away. I don’t believe Carlos and Logan sent theirs in so they’re not cameo-ing in my movie, but it’s totally fine. We do so much stuff together, I think it worked out well just popping up as Kendall and of course, a lot of fans have taken a liking to that which is awesome. We really try and support each other the four of us in everything we do.
I know that Big Time Rush has recently made a comeback! You guys released your first single in eight years back in 2021, what was that reunion conversation like? Have you guys always stayed in touch?
Well, thank you, we’re very excited. We’re just ramping up and getting going. So anybody who thinks “Oh it’s just a reunion tour” — not at all the idea. We plan on releasing a ton of music, we’ve been writing, recording — we’re looking at a long-term plan here, so we’re so excited to be back together. That did come from keeping in touch, you know the four of us have always kept in touch. I go visit Carlos at his house in Hawaii, because why not? I have some free time. Kendall and Logan actually live like right next to each other in LA. I live in Vegas part-time and with Logan part-time, so we’d always find ways to meet up, at least a couple of us. The conversation believe it or not started — wow I think over two years ago at this point. You know, of course, a pandemic happens and the only silver lining of that is we were ready to release music, we were excited earlier on, say a year and a half ago, but it wouldn’t have been as good. So having that extra time — even though I don’t ever want to do another Zoom writing session if I can help it — having the extra time to do a hundred more of those allowed us to really hone in on our new sound. Now we’re just extremely prepared and excited.
What’s something that you’re looking forward to about being on the road again?
Honestly, one of my favorite things about touring is having a routine. It’s tough when you’re filming because your call time can be 6 a.m. one day, it can be 6 p.m. another day and so you do your best to figure out like, “Okay, when am I going to go work out? When am I going to get food? How do I maintain some semblance of a routine?” And even though you’re in a different city every day when you’re doing a bus tour like we are, there’s no fly dates until we start doing Mexico and Latin American dates.
It’s awesome because you go back to your same bunk, your same suitcase — I’ll have my dog with me for most of it and you can pretty much figure out like, “Hey every day whether I arrive at 6 a.m. or 10 a.m. my first rule of business is going to be getting food from catering and then getting right at the gym and then I can block out — I’m taking half an hour here to read a book,” as silly as it sounds. My life is so all over the place — all four of us — are that [so] having that routine … pretty much every day is kind of awesome.
Are there any specific songs from back in the day that you’re the most excited to perform on stage?
Yes, I can’t give away details but I will say I spent about three hours on conference calls this morning with the boys and our team putting together the setlist and we already started reproducing some of the old music. So you’re going to hear a lot of old songs. We’re going to play some classics. We replay bits and pieces from a lot of albums, but most of them with full production are going to feel fresh.
Can we expect a BTR and a Dixie D’Amelio TikTok since you guys will be on the road together? Is there a specific trend you guys would like to do?
We just started getting into the TikTok game, we made a lot of ridiculous ones in Miami and just posted another one today. You know we’re super down! She’s one of the biggest there is, you know, so we definitely would message her every time we see her like “Hey, teach us how to TikTok,” and she laughs about it because she’s like, “It’s not that hard.”
Like, I get to you that it’s not that hard. You can just post a picture of your face and it gets 10 billion likes — for us we got to be a little more creative and we are a little bit more old school and we’re used to full-blown production and long-form content. So we’re having to adjust the way we do things, we still like to shoot on nicer cameras and get proper shots and edit them. It’s still tough to go straight to the app and do it that way, but we’re not being as precious about it as we were.
Last question: As a fan, could you guys could work on getting “Paralyzed” on Spotify because that’s one of your best songs?
Funny you mention that! Without confirming or denying it being a part of any future tours, it has been brought up and it has been discussed. Maybe it’s even been produced at this point! I don’t know. I don’t know about releasing it, but it’s something a lot of fans asked us to play so we’re seriously considering that and if we did get an opportunity, maybe we cut it and put it out there. We’re not opposed to that.