Sweat, blood & music: A conversation with Big Time Rush’s Kendall Schmidt

Big Time Rush lead singer Kendall Schmidt is looking forward to working with his other band, Heffron Drive, this fall. (Photo by Micah Smith)

Big Time Rush lead singer Kendall Schmidt is looking forward to working with his other band, Heffron Drive, this fall. (Photo by Micah Smith)

For Kendall Schmidt, music is a rush … whether it’s the Big Time kind or not.

Kendall, lead singer of Big Time Rush, actually had another band before joining the group that would become a worldwide phenomenon.

In 2008, he formed a band called Heffron Drive with guitarist Dustin Belt. Their music created some buzz, but when Kendall was offered a Big Time opportunity, he took it. Dustin eventually joined up as BTR’s touring guitarist, which allowed the guys to keep Heffron Drive alive.

Now, as BTR’s schedule lightens up a bit this fall, Kendall and Dustin are set to revive their band in their own big-time way. (Check their Facebook and Twitter for details as they’re available.)

As he preps for a busy fall of recording and performing with both bands, Kendall answered some questions about the music industry and fame . Check out our conversation below.

— Tim O’Shei, LSY founder

As you think about your life and career today, what is something that you never would have expected?

Kendall: How fast everything can change. When I was 16 years old, I was recording YouTube videos of covers in my room. A few years later, I’m performing around the world. I never realized how much and how fast things can change.

With all the demands of Big Time Rush, how did you and Dustin manage to keep Heffron Drive alive?

Kendall: It was tough at first because BTR wasn’t touring and we weren’t sure to what extent there would be a tour, but as soon as I heard that we would be getting a band together for a tour, I called the producers up and got Dustin an audition for the guitarist position. He got the part and Dustin has been BTR’s guitarist ever since.

What are the biggest misconceptions people have about your life as a musician?

Kendall: Generally, people only see the glamorous side of the business because, well, who wants to see the sweat and blood that goes into making entertainment? I think people think that an artist’s life is all fancy parties and fun. Obviously there is some of that, but it also takes long hours, hard work, and persistence.

How do you balance the need to handle business and the need to be creative?

Kendall: That has been a very interesting tug of war. As an artist, I definitely spend most of my time on the creative side so incorporating business hasn’t been as easy, but I’m balancing the two much better today.

If any of us were to get inside your creative process, what would we find most surprising?

Kendall: Probably how frustrating it can be to find the right sound or lyric for a song you’re writing. Sometimes it comes to you real easy, but other times, not so much.

Kendall Schmidt's official Nickelodeon photo from the Big Time Rush TV show. (Photo by Sam Jones/ courtesy of Nickelodeon)

Kendall Schmidt’s official Nickelodeon photo from the Big Time Rush TV show.
(Photo by Sam Jones/ courtesy of Nickelodeon)

What is something about this business that no one ever knows until they’re in it?

Kendall: The feeling you get when you’re on stage and people are singing with you; that’s definitely something special.

What have you learned about handling the spotlight that comes with this job?

Kendall: I’ve learned that you have to make time to do your own thing away from the spotlight. We all need our own time on occasion.

Has there been a time when you wanted to give up? What happened?

Kendall: There was a moment in the very early stages of BTR where I was unsure if I could be the performer they needed because I never learned to dance before BTR. I was really nervous about my dance moves, but I practiced, practiced, and practiced until I learned to dance. Now, I love dancing.

What are the most important steps to take for a person who wants to achieve the goal of becoming a professional performer?

Kendall: The most important step is to take action. Many people think and talk about becoming a performer, but if you really want to become one, you have to do it. Learn about performing in all its intricacies, acquire skills, and practice!  You don’t have to be in Hollywood to acquire the knowledge, experience, and the skills you’ll need to be a professional performer, however, when your understanding has been honed, you’ll probably want to get yourself to the entertainment capitals.

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