The Driver Era is truly one of the most forward thinking, innovative bands on the scene right now. From the release of their debut album, X, last year to going on their second world tour this year, brothers Rocky and Ross Lynch have had quite the notable journey thus far. Every aspect of their career is looked at as a passion project. Having creative freedom, breaking boundaries, and working together as writers, producers, and performers has made The Driver Era one of the duo’s most beloved endeavors to date. (Prior to creating music as TDE, both Rocky and Ross were part of their pop rock family band, R5, which took both Disney Channel and the world by storm during the early to mid-2010s, partially thanks to Ross’ thriving acting career, playing everything from teen-pop-sensation Austin Moon on Austin & Ally to serial killer Jeffrey Dahmer in the remarkable My Friend Dahmer.)
The creativity between these brothers never takes a day off, because upon mentioning that I was calling them out of New York during this period of quarantine and social distancing, they started talking straight away about how wild being in the Big Apple would be during this time. “It’s weird being in Times Square and not seeing a soul. It’s an absolute ghost town,” I had replied, which the pair were stunned by, but then immediately began plotting the ways in which the newly-desolate, iconic NYC destination could be used for a “sick, single shot music video.” (And if you’ve seen even just one of their music videos, you know that they could pull off creating something stellar out of nothing more than the backdrop of Times Square.)
Now I know that The Driver Era World Tour is being postponed for the time being, but what were you most looking forward to about getting on the road again for this massive lineup of shows?
Rocky: One of the things about the tour being postponed that I am a fan of is that we’ll have more music out now. Initially we were going to hit most of the U.S. dates without having a new album out, but now, because of the coronavirus, we’ll have a new album out prior to going on tour, which is a lot more fun for us and a lot more rewarding – for us and the fans.
Ross: For me, it’s just nice to go and spend time in the music side of my life, because otherwise I’ll be back up in Vancouver filming [Netflix’s] The Chilling Adventures of Sabrina. It’s nice for me to be able to go play some music with the fam, go travel around, and see some new places. Just the whole experience is something to really look forward to.
That’s very true, and even more well deserved. What’s really exciting, though, is the fact that you’re going to have more songs to bring to life on stage. What are your favorite songs currently, though, to perform? I feel like “A Kiss” and “Scared of Heights” are absolutely essential to hear live.
Ross: For sure, for sure!
Rocky: Yo, honestly… “Scared of Heights” has gone off almost every time we’ve played it. That song was a similar situation where it wasn’t out when we were playing on the road, but people just reacted to it, because it does have that–
Ross: It has a rowdy nature to it.
Rocky: Yeah, exactly. It has that vibe.
Ross: Another song that I like for the same reason is “Welcome to the End of Your Life.” For whatever reason, whatever time we play it, I get into a different mindset. Well, not a different mindset, but it just feels different than everything else in the catalog. It has a certain attitude that is really nice to fall into when we play it live. A lot of the other songs are kind of fun to run around the stage and get everybody pumped with, but “Welcome to the End of Your Life” is like the song that is for me, almost. It’s a song for us to just sit there and play and just really get into personally, rather than put it on display… if that makes sense.
Oh, it absolutely does! I have always thought that it gives off very at-home, early-Weezer vibes.
Ross: For sure.
Rocky: Yeah, I like that!
You’ve got two new tracks on the way, though, that I don’t think fans have even heard a snippet of yet, “flashdrive” and “OMG Plz Don’t Come Around.” Let me tell you, they’re both so sick. I’m such a fan of these songs.
Rocky: Thank you, thank you! That’s what we want to hear.
Ross: That’s so sick that you got a little preview of what’s to come out. Not a lot of people have heard it yet.
It’s so good, truly. I was hoping you could tell me a bit about the meaning behind “OMG Plz Don’t Come Around,” because as per Ross’ very recent Instagram post, it actually isn’t about coronavirus!
Rocky: Yo, we were laughing that this song is coming out at this time with that title, because we did not plan that at all. It’s hilarious.
Ross: Yeah, it’s sick. The song was really inspired by our little brother. He was going through kind of a bad relationship, a toxic relationship of sorts. It was around the time that Rocky and I were living in my mom’s house with our little brother, because we were in between houses. We had set up our whole studio in their dining room where they had this piano and that is just exactly where the song originated from. At that time our little brother was having a hard time in a relationship and we saw that firsthand.
Wow, that’s as close to home as you can get. The lyrics really do tell quite the rollercoaster of a story, one that I think a lot of people can relate to.
Ross: Definitely. You need to get your heart broken to know what love is.
Absolutely. Also, the outro? Phenomenal.
Rocky: Hell yeah! That one’s great. There are so many different parts to that song.
Speaking of, the layering of beats, instrumentation, and vocals are superb on both songs. When it came to the production of these songs, and your catalog of music in general, what comes first? The creation of the sound element or the lyrics?
Ross: A lot of the time, the lyrics come last for us. It can come in any way, and sometimes will have a whole song written on an acoustic guitar and then we’ll transfer it into the computer. But a lot of the time we find a vibe – or a feeling, as we like to call it – and then we try to explain what the feeling is with the lyrics.
Rocky: I think the better of our songs, the majority of the time happen simultaneously. I think we’ll end up tying the lyrics in toward the end, maybe like second verse type stuff, but it all goes along with the feeling we’re working with or creating.
What are your thoughts on genre? I’m asking this because even with just these two new songs, you seemed to take influence from so many different corners of the industry. Do you find the idea of being boxed into a genre to be stifling? Or does it make you want to challenge what people, critics, and even algorithms think of you?
Ross: I don’t think we really think about genre when we’re making music. We’re really just doing that: making music. We do definitely like that people question our genre. We do like that we are molding genres. It’s cool. We don’t necessarily think about it, though.
Rocky: The idea of genre is definitely going to go extinct soon, though. So many people are starting to create their own music and put it up online. You only need a laptop now. With that accessibility, new songs keep evolving alongside new sounds, because you no longer need a major label deal to tell you that you’re going to make strictly rock music. Genres are continuing to be blurred by, specifically us, and I think many other artists will keep on doing that in the future.
That’s a great way to look at it. Do you think that the Internet has played a part in the way genres are looked at and the way the music industry is now structured? Because in the early days, like you said, major labels needed to sell CDs and you needed to be categorized for that to work out in your favor. Do you think the Internet and streaming has challenged that?
Rocky: Definitely. I think that’s a similar idea. It’s so successful now to put out music online and it’s so easy to make a playlist of people’s songs you like, and also just go to their Instagram and discover more. So many people are being fed differently artists’ music, which the Internet, for sure, has been an influence of.
Ross: I do think that it goes both ways. People still like to categorize. You know what I mean? They just do. I think the Internet has helped that, for sure, but I think there is another side to it where there are still heavy niches within the Internet, as well.
Right, just like Rocky said with specific playlists that both you and streaming services curate based on a sound and its listeners.
Ross: Exactly right. For sure.
Now here’s a question I often ask people who are in a band, or honestly just doing any kind of work, alongside their sibling. Do you think that the way you write and record music would be different if you two weren’t brothers? Don’t get me wrong, your chemistry as brothers and within your family as a whole is phenomenal, but as an only child, I can’t exactly imagine what that’s like..
Ross: I think it would probably just be different because we do have a large amount of influence on each other, like even in just our work process and how we operate the computer. If Rocky hadn’t been there to kind of learn all of it and then me learn from watching him do all of it, I probably would have learned it a completely different way. Therefore, we probably would have created a completely different sound. I definitely think we have an influence on each other overall, for sure, and I think even more so that our sound will be different if weren’t brothers.
It’s clear that you two feed off each others’ energy.
Rocky: For sure.
Ross: Honestly, I don’t know if I would ever want to be a solo artist. I think that would be a little boring.
It’s been working out well for you guys for so long now, and having watched you evolve over the years, I, personally, would advise to not change a thing about what you’re doing.
Rocky: [Laughs] Got it, thank you.
I was just thinking about what a whirlwind two years it has been since your debut single “Preacher Man” dropped. Did these two years go as fast for you as they did for me, a fan? Because it feels like that song just came out, but in reality you have been churning out banger after banger every few months for two whole years.
Rocky: Thank you!
Ross: [Laughs] Honestly, yeah. It feels super fast, especially considering that every time we get off tour, there is a 10 month window where we can’t…. Well, it’s not like we can’t, but we haven’t been as productive, because of my shooting schedule. It does feel really fast, and I am actually pretty proud of us for being able to put out as many songs as we have, like you mentioned, regardless of people in our inner circle wanting us to release even more things. I feel like we have done a pretty good job these past two years. What about you, Rocky? Do you think it went by fast?
Rocky: I think it depends on your perspective, because you can sit down and look at the last two years and go “Holy shit, a lot has happened.” So much has happened that it’s actually absurd. We have had multiple siblings engaged and married, basically. We lost a drummer. We put out possibly two albums. Ross has done two TV shows. We have possibly done two world tours. That’s a lot of stuff, but at the same time, it’s like…. Whoa, “Preacher Man” did come out two years ago and it does still feel like yesterday, but for me, it’s always perspective.
I heard that you guys have an album planned to drop late summer. Anything you can fill me in on? Even just a little bit?
Ross: [Laughs] Well, the goal is to have another 10 song album out. To be honest with you, we haven’t even settled on a name or a cover, yet.
Rocky: We have a couple dumb names.
Ross: We do have a few dumb names, but there is no cover art planned or anything. Honestly, nothing is really concrete on our end yet, but we have a lot of really cool ideas and a lot of really great songs for this album that are more of the “Hopefully you haven’t heard another one like them or even another song from us that sounds like this” sort of style. I’m really excited for it.
“flashdrive” AND “OMG Plz Don’t Come Around” ARE AVAILABLE ON ALL STREAMING SERVICES NOW!
LOOK OUT FOR THE DRIVER ERA WORLD TOUR’S RESCHEDULED DATES ON thedriverera.com!