Heffron Drive's Kendall Schmidt talks about his new band, their debut album and Big Time Rush
Earlier today (September 15), Kendall Schmidt of Heffron Drive sat down for an interview with Pressparty on his day off to talk about his band's breakthrough debut album, 'Happy Mistakes', the boyband stigma, and his experience of being a member of Big Time Rush.
You've just released Heffron Drive's debut studio album, 'Happy Mistakes'. What was the creative process like where songwriting was concerned for this project?
That is correct, last Tuesday! Well, I guess I was involved in pretty much everything. It was a little bit tricky from the beginning because I had a lot of songs that didn't really go together. As much as I was thinking I could put a CD out of just singles, I wanted it to be a full album that you could listen to and that would make sense - as a whole. It took a while to get that to where I wanted it to be, but after that I wrote every song and produced a couple. Very cool!
Did you work with co-writers or a creative team on the record?
I actually was lucky enough to work with some of the best. I worked with Toby Gad, who wrote John Legend's 'All Of Me', yeah, I got to work with all kinds of really talented people.
Were you aware of themes and lyrical content when writing this album when it came to your existing Big Time Rush fan base? Were you conscious of making sure you were creating music that would still appeal to them?
Of course, I didn't want to make anything that would have been too drastic and I'm not interested in making music that has a negative message at all. I really just wanted it to be adult themes, but lyrically I write mostly love songs and it's hard to make a love song that explicit.
You're on an independent label now, is it a hugely different experience from the way you worked in your previous band?
It's totally 100% different. I was involved in literally every single step of this and all the final decisions have to go through me. The album was released through Tollbooth Records, which is a record company that I started, so basically I'm my own investor in this project. There was a lot more control, but at the same time I was at the mercy of the schedule I'd set for myself. It was vastly different than my past experience.
You grew up acting, do you think you might make a return to that in the future?
I've been doing it my whole life and it's the only job I've sort of ever really known. I guess it would depend on the parts and the timing, really!
Are you still in close contact with the rest of the Big Time Rush guys?
I actually just texted Logan, it was his birthday yesterday. Yeah, when I'm not on the road... lately it's been a lot of travelling, but we all try to get together. We're really very close friends.
You're on tour at the moment - how is it all going?
It's wonderful. It's a bit of a day off today, so I'm going golfing with a few of the crew guys. It's a pretty interesting spread as far as crowd goes, but overall I'd say it's vastly older. I'm actually heading to New York next, then I have a show in Poughkeepsie... I think we start heading back west after that.
Every night there are usually around 50 or 60 people outside and I try to stop and meet everyone... selfies are quite efficient!
What do you miss most about being on the road and do you bring any home comforts with you?
Um, I guess just my routine. That's the only thing I can really think of. Everything I use every day, my toiletries... if I don't bring it though, it's not really a big deal!
What are you listening to at the moment?
I've gotta be honest, and I know it sounds crazy, but I've just been listening to 'Happy Mistakes' a lot. You know, just recently the album was finished and it went up on iTunes, so I've been playing the shows and it's the only thing I've only really been thinking about. Oh, I actually just downloaded '21 Hits from the 90s' or something like that... a compilation album. TLC is on there... 'Chasing Waterfalls' is on there!
Do you have a favourite song from your band's debut album?
I'm slightly partial to the ones I produced at home just because they're a really personal representation of my musical tastes. Some of those... 'Nicotine' and 'Happy Mistakes'.
What's next for you after the tour?
I'm going to start writing again in October. I'll be doing that - I'm actually working on some possible holiday stuff, but that's not totally wrapped up yet. I'm debating what songs I'm going to do for the holiday thing, but I'll let you know when that's likely to be released. So yeah, writing for Heffron Drive... that's my first priority.
Songwriting isn't a particularly easy thing to do, but I guess I've come to the conclusion that you just write until you feel the ideas aren't fresh anymore and then stop for a while. It's OK to not finish a song, you know? I have an absurd amount of unfinished songs. You always want to start fresh, obviously, but there are songs I half finished a while ago that I'll probably come back to.
Watch footage from Heffron Drive's fall tour here:
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