The brother duo sat down with VMAN ahead of their debut album release, out today.
The brother duo sat down with VMAN ahead of their debut album release, out today.
When you're filming in another country, putting out and producing a full-length album is an arduous task. Luckily, Ross Lynch wasn't doing it alone: the actor, who makes up The Driver Era with brother Rocky, relied pretty heavily on his sibling's production/songwriting skills while in Vancouver, filming The Chilling Adventures of Sabrina. The band's single, "Low", which premiered over on vmagazine.com, was the precursor for X: the brothers' full length album, out today.
Below, VMAN caught up with the brothers on their latest show in L.A., how they split up songwriting, and how they keep their eyes on various projects at once.
VMAN: I’d love to hear about how the show went on Saturday. Any particular highlights?
Ross Lynch: Oh, yeah! So essentially, we played in L.A., our guest list was literally over 100 people easily.
Rocky Lynch: More like 150.
Ross: We basically had to tell some of our friends, “Look, we can’t give out any more tickets. The room is going to frickin’ overflow at this point.” So, the show went great! After, we go to this place called Rocks, which is where—spontaneously, I have no idea why—the entire club started chanting, “Rocky,” out of nowhere. “Rocky, Rocky, Rocky!”
Rocky: It was pretty hype.
Ross: I had a little video of it and everything. It was so cool. But listen, I also think one of the reasons they started chanting that was because a lot of people in the club were at our show. It was like our after-after party. I loved every minute of it.
Rocky: Yeah, that show was one of my favorite shows to date. I don’t know why. There was a lot of buildup to it and I think the fact that we’re putting an album out just kind of made it feel important. When we look back on our favorite five or ten shows, I think that will be one of them.
VMAN: For sure. So, let’s talk about the album. This is your guys’ first full-length album, right? You guys have only put out singles before now.
Rocky: Yeah, definitely! As The Driver Era, this will be our first full-length album. It’s very exciting.
Ross: It comes out next week. We’re really excited about it. Honestly, Rocky and I have been talking extensively about really making sure that we’re putting a lot of effort into future releases even after this one. We’re really excited about it.
Rocky: Well, yeah, it’s exciting because we’re already starting on the next album. I’m going up to Vancouver in the next couple weeks. There are already songs. We basically already have the next album. We just need to finish it.
VMAN: So, you’re already a step ahead?
Ross: Yeah, we’re ready. We’re also shooting a couple more music videos, as well, for this album. So, that will all be dope.
VMAN: Why now? What about now feels like the perfect time to put out an album for The Driver Era?
Ross: Rocky and I are perfectionists. So, it’s really hard for us to finalize our creations, because we’re really perfectionists about them and we want them to be the absolute best that they can always be. So typically, what happens with a mindset like that, is that we’re slower in our creative process. So, when it comes time for a release, it’s basically our team saying, “Guys, we gotta get this out. We gotta do this.” And then we basically hunker down and finalize it and make the decisions that we need to make so the record can come out. But obviously there’s a lot of positive things happening right now. A lot of our songs are getting good attention. “Low” had a radio run already, and we’re going to go back into radio. We’re getting really great reactions and our streams are riding up. I’m also working on a Netflix show simultaneously. Everything that’s happening right now, all the momentum that’s building up for the Driver Era has been really good for us. We’re really just trying to stay on top of it and release more frequently.
VMAN: Ross, I’m actually super interested in hearing how you balance working on set for “Chilling Adventures [of Sabrina]” while also producing an album. How do you guys navigate production and what does that process kind of look like?
Ross: It’s really crazy. Honestly, I feel like I’m still figuring out the best way to navigate my circumstances as far as sharing time between acting and music even though I’ve been doing it for 10 years. But these circumstances are different than anything I’ve faced before because I’m living permanently in Vancouver, whereas Rocky is in California. We typically create separately, actually. Rocky created “Low” the last time I was in Vancouver—wrote, produced, sang, everything. He did the whole song by himself and that’s basically a good example of what we do when we’re apart. It’s pretty hard. We haven’t found a great way to collaborate long distance.
Rocky: I think that it’s easier to do the things that are a little more business oriented that don’t involve the finishing of the songs. It’s easier to do an interview, or figure out track listing, more post-production stuff [when we’re not together]. And that’s kind of the phase we’re in right now, so it’s working really well, but for us to kind of buckle down and finish music, we need to be in the same room.
Ross: Rocky and I are very emotionally invested in the music that we make. We want our music to mean something and to make you feel something. That’s our first and most important goal and in order to do that effectively, you have to be on the same page and you have to be looking at each other eye to eye.
VMAN: Would you guys say that you split everything evenly or does one of you have more of a tendency to handle the lyrics while the other handles melodies? How do you guys navigate the vision?
Rocky: I would say it definitely depends on the song and on the day and what we’re feeling, but our standard setup for us—I’m usually doing something computer oriented whether it’s like drum sounds or somewhat more engineer-based, while Ross is kind of focusing more on the basic song structure and feel. I feel like that’s sometimes how the early part of the song starts and then we’ll get to a point where, say we don’t have a pre-melody or second verse lyrics and we’ll both, like we said, kind of buckle down and craft that part out if the song needs it. Or there are songs where I did the entire production and the whole time I’m doing that, Ross is writing and doing all the lyrics.
Ross: And Rocky said this the other day: We’re both pretty malleable, so say there’s a part of the song that needs to be filled out with either production detail or lyric or melody, whatever it is, if the song is lacking something, I feel like were both pretty good about filling whatever that song lacks. But we do have our natural roles.
VMAN: I’m interested in hearing if either of you have specific songs on the album that you are particularly in love with right at this moment?
Ross: It’s hard to say because all these songs that are on the record were written and produced by me and Rocky, so they all hold a special place in our hearts. But whenever this question is asked, it’s typically the newest song or the last-written one that we’re most in love with at that time. So, if I had to say a few songs, I would probably say “Welcome to the End of Your Life,” “Scared of Heights” and “Low” are my three favorite songs on the album at the time.
Rocky: I’d probably have to say that I agree with those three songs.
Ross: The 10 songs on the record are a lot of the same songs that we were playing live and the three songs that we just mentioned are the ones that really reacted with the crowd. People really relate to them which is beautiful and lovely.
VMAN: Do you guys have a specific point in the process of creating and putting out music that you really, really love?
Ross: For me, it’s the inception of the song, when it feels like it’s coming through you. It almost feels other worldly, kind of orgasmic if you will—I’m not even joking. And then, obviously being on stage. But the inception of the song—when you surrender to whatever it is that you’re going through at the moment and it goes through you. There’s nothing quite like it.
Rocky: I would definitely agree with both of those. Everything Ross just mentioned are almost like extreme natural highs. That’s what it feels like. I think there’s another moment—I’m sure Ross feels this, as well—where right after the song inception has already happened, maybe you’re at say 35-40 percent way through the song, you kind of have a rough production, maybe a little demo vocal in there, you don’t even have a second verse and you have that bumping in the studio—that’s feels good.
Ross: That feels so good.
VMAN: Is there anything else that you guys would like to add about the album or in general?
Ross: Whenever an interviewer asks us this, I always like to spread something that’s positive and just good to share. I’m trying to think of one that I’ve not said before... Okay, this is the quote for the day. You have to do the thing that you love first for yourself in order to give it to everyone, so focus on yourself first. It sounds kind of weird and counter-intuitive to be selfish, but love yourself first and love what you do and that will translate into the world.
Rocky: I’m with that. I love that.
Click through the slideshow below to see VMAN-Exclusive photos of the brothers before their most recent gig in LA.