Former “Big Time Rush” star talks about his upcoming performance in Oceanside, his newly released singles and his ties to San Diego.
James Maslow is ready for the big time — but he’s not in as big of a rush as one may think.
The pop singer and actor grew up in La Jolla, where he began to hone his craft early at the Coronado School of the Arts with a major in musical theater.
“I spent the eighth grade all the way through my high school career training, and because of the teachers, the kids, the environment [and] the schools in San Diego that I went to, I realized that I wanted to entertain for a living.”
He got his big break in 2009 with Big Time Rush, a popular Nickelodeon TV series and boy band of the same name comprised of three other male singers: Kendall Schmidt, Logan Henderson and Carlos Pena Jr.
“[Big Time Rush] was an incredible experience and an incredible way to start,” Maslow said. “I’ve always looked at that as my really big first lead in a series as a paid education. In lieu of going to college and paying to get an education, I got paid to learn to do exactly what I’ve been training to and always wanted to continue to do — act and sing and tour.”
After four seasons and three studio albums, Big Time Rush disbanded. But that didn’t slow Maslow down. In 2014, he waltzed into fourth place on Dancing with the Stars, starred in 2016’s drama/thriller Seeds of Yesterday on Lifetime, released his debut solo album How I Like It in 2017, and participated in the first season of Celebrity Big Brother last year, among other projects.
And 2019 may be his biggest year yet. So far, the actor and singer — who just turned 29 years old last week — is the host of The CW’s talent show The Big Stage, is slated to star in four upcoming films and has released two new songs.
Maslow, who now lives in Venice, will be coming back to San Diego this weekend to participate in the Nissan Super Girl Surf Pro, the largest women’s surf competition in the world. Activities, vendors and live entertainment will accompany the waves, including musical performances from the likes of Astra Kelly, Natasha Bedingfield and Maslow.
A surfer himself, Maslow is looking forward to returning to the local shores to showcase his pipes on the Radio Disney Stage while admiring the athletic talent around him.
“I’m psyched to watch the surf competition and then getting to play music on top of that — I’m really excited.”
Of the performance, Maslow said he plans to play his new 2019 singles Delirious and Love U Sober, along with hits off of his first album. He’ll also throw in some retro and contemporary covers, as well as a BTR (Big Time Rush) medley of some of his favorite jams from the former music group.
The festival gives Maslow an excuse to make the trip down to his hometown, a place he doesn’t visit as often as he would like due to the constraints of his Los Angeles-based career. When he is in town, Maslow crashes with his childhood friends in downtown La Jolla and can often be found hanging out around Prospect Street — at places like at his favorite “hole in the wall” café.
“I know so many of the restaurant owners and coffee shop owners (in the neighborhood). Speaking of coffee shops, the Coffee Cup is one of the greatest breakfast spots on planet earth ... So that’s always usually my first go-to in the mornings.”
Despite his current Los Angeles backdrop, Maslow doesn’t have San Diego far from his mind. In fact, his 10-year plan includes a bit of real estate in America’s Finest City.
“I want to get a house, on the beach, in my hometown. That’s kinda one of my biggest material motivators of my career,” Maslow said.
Until then, Maslow plans to “hunker down, keep working, make a couple more bucks” — and remember to enjoy the ride ahead of him for the next decade. While he currently doesn’t have a tour scheduled, Maslow said that his Sunday show in Oceanside will kick off more performances in the future. And though details are airtight, he confirmed another music project is in the works with Eugene Ugorski — his producer and best friend of 15 years — which he described as “some of the most fun we’ve ever had.”
“I love what I do so I want to just focus on enjoying life — and the more that I do that, the more I find that my art becomes better anyway,” Maslow said.
James Maslow at Nissan Super Girl Surf Pro
When: 4:15-4:45 p.m., Sunday, July 28
Where: Junior Seau Pier Amphitheatre at the Oceanside Pier, 200 North The Strand, Oceanside