The Driver Era's New Direction

The Driver Era's New Direction

The Driver Era's New Direction

Ross and Rocky Lynch sat down with VMAN to discuss their new single, "Malibu," and what it's like being in a band with your brother.

Ross and Rocky Lynch sat down with VMAN to discuss their new single, "Malibu," and what it's like being in a band with your brother.

Photography: Samuel Fisher

Text: Ellie Beeck

Ross and Rocky Lynch just want to have a good time, and they want you to have a good time, too. 

The brothers and bandmates are the duo behind The Driver Era, a pop/house/funk/rock band that’s clearly not trying to fit into any music industry molds. For their upcoming third album, aptly named Summer Mixtape, the pair chose to focus on having fun while making music, in order to perfectly (or not so perfectly) curate the sunny, carefree summer vibe they envisioned for their next era.  

Their latest single, “Malibu,” is a groovy dance track that falls more squarely into the house genre, but don’t expect the rest of the album to have that same feel. “Malibu is the only song that sounds like this on the album,” says Rocky. “We don’t even do it on purpose, but it just happens that way when you mess around.” 

Ross and Rocky are no strangers to messing around in the studio. Before they were The Driver Era, they were R5, a pop group consisting of themselves and their other brother, Riker, sister Rydel, and friend Ellington Ratliff. R5 disbanded in 2018, but The Driver Era is still somewhat of a family affair: Ellington, Riker and Rydel have all toured with them as members of the backing band.  

Though many people would get tired of being around their siblings 24/7, Ross and Rocky seem to thrive off each other's boyish energy, joking and bantering in a way only brothers can. With the new album and a 57-date world tour on the horizon, they’ll need that energy as they drive straight ahead in their new musical direction.

The band caught up with VMAN below.

Ross and Rocky Lynch.

VMAN: First off, congrats on the new song. How do you think it fits in with the general vibe of the album? 

Ross Lynch: We were just going for summer vibes. We do a fair bit of partying - we really do like to party and have a good time. So, that's kind of what this new chapter for our music is all about. And it takes many different incarnations. We have some more housey kind of vibes, some more dancey kind of vibes, and then this is kind of like a tropical-house mix. It all falls into that umbrella of fun, party songs. 

Rocky Lynch: “Malibu” is one of those songs too that we've kind of been floating around with different people, friends and other parts of the team, and it was one of the songs where people were all like ‘What the fuck? Malibu!’ So that’s why it’s the next song.  

VMAN: I was thinking when I was listening to it that once it comes out it's going to be a good one to add to my pregame playlist. 

Rocky: Yeah...everyone reading this, add it to your pregame playlists. 

Rocky Lynch.

VMAN: Beyond the vibe of the song, what does your songwriting process look like? Is it always the same? 

Ross: We're pretty spiritual when it comes to the creative process, which usually means that there's no set way or philosophy towards it. It's mostly just us trying to be open to receive what's coming through. And that takes many different forms. Sometimes, it can be a beat, sometimes it can be a melody, sometimes it can be a word.  

VMAN: I try to ask every musician I interview that question because I feel like everyone has such a different writing process. Do you guys have any artists that you listen to that you find kind of seep into your own music? 

Rocky: I feel like it’s always other producers that inspire us. When we’re in the studio, it’s never like ‘wow this artist had this amazing line.’ It’s more like we hear a good song and we ask who produced it. You just get inspired by people who are honing their craft and making good shit.  

Ross: I also feel like the reason our music is so eclectic is because... Like, you heard Rocky just driving up here blasting some dance track. And I'm immediately thinking like, oh, ‘I want to do a song like that.’ So, I feel like we aren’t as inspired by particular people, but we're more inspired by particular vibes. 

VMAN: That makes sense based on what you were saying about letting inspiration kind of hit you as it as it comes. Based on that, how do you think that your sound as a band has evolved through the years? 

Ross: We're always on to something new, and we've always been that way. I don't even know if we have a particular sound. People say that our sound is just us. We sometimes hear people questioning how our music is even cohesive, but it’s probably just because we make it all.  

VMAN: That way it’s all more authentic, too. 

Ross: Yeah. I feel like there's some bands who just do the same thing over and over again, because it's their sound, right? We would get bored doing that.  

Rocky: We're always wanting something new. A new sound, a new type of song, a new groove. 

Ross Lynch.

VMAN: I know you guys are used to it by now, but how does it work out for you to work so closely with family? 

Rocky: I think if you had a different upbringing than we did, it’d be more difficult. Ross and I have known each other for a long time, and I think there's some deeper understanding there. And we worked together before we had much choice, right? Now I'm stuck. 

Ross: That's kind of what I was going to say. There's a certain permanence to our situation where if you're working with someone that's not related to you, you can just go work with someone else. We have such a close bond and we've been working together forever, and we're family, so we have a personal stake in each other's lives. I think the pros outweigh the cons. 

VMAN: Do you ever have to draw a line in the sand and say ‘this is when work ends and now we're just going to be brothers?’ 

Ross: Those lines are pretty blurred in our lives. Oftentimes, we'll be at a family gathering or something we'll just be like, inspired to talk about the next tour or something like that. Or, we'll be in rehearsal and and it'll feel more like family time. 

Ross and Rocky Lynch.

VMAN: Do you guys have any rituals or superstitions before you perform? 

Ross: Take a shot of tequila.  

Rocky: I like to just kind of get the vibe going. We discuss our plans and music, and just have a good time. 

Ross: Yeah, Rocky’s like the DJ backstage.  

Rocky: I don’t get enough credit for, not even the music I play, but for the vibes I’m making. 

Ross: Bro, trust me, people see it. You should have seen Almost Monday [the band's openers] when we were in South America. They loved Rocky’s vibe.  

VMAN: For the upcoming tour, what are you guys most looking forward to about that? 

Ross: I'm looking forward to showcasing some of our musicianship that we've cultivated over the years. I feel like this show, more than any other show we've ever put on, allows us to take certain liberties as musicians that are really tasteful and fun. We have a lot of different textures and grooves in the show, and I'm really excited to showcase all of it. 

"Malibu" by The Driver Era is out now, and Summer Mixtape is coming mid-August. Tickets to their tour, which kicks off on Aug. 1, can be purchased here. Take a look at the "Malibu" lyric video below. 

Styling: Edwin Ortega
Beauty: Nathaniel Dezan


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