“Everything’s kind of on pause,” Ross Lynch conveys. Having to postpone a world tour due to a global pandemic, while necessary, isn’t the most promising of situations for a band to find themselves in. As they self-isolate from their home in the Golden State of California, Lynch brothers Ross and Rocky – better known as The Driver Era – are making the most of the slow-down.
“It’s kind of a good mental break, I think, for me,” Ross mulls. “We can take our time right now, which is kind of nice, rather than the rush rush of the entertainment industry.” The way they portray it, it does sound like something of a dream. “Right now, we’re posted up in our back yard,” Rocky describes. “We’ve been playing chess to occupy ourselves, making music whenever we feel inspired…”
New music recently arrived from the duo in the form of two new songs: the ever-so-relevantly titled new single ‘OMG Plz Don’t Come Around’ (not, as it turns out, written about self-isolation, but about seeing their younger brother in a toxic relationship) and its buoyant counterpart ‘flashdrive’. “We tend to take too long with deadlines,” Rocky laughs. “Because we’re way far behind, we wanted to try put out a song or two before the tour started.”
The tour might be postponed for the uncertain future, but despite the set back in their plans, the duo remain in remarkably high spirits. “Even though the tour got postponed, I’m happy that there’s something coming out while everyone’s at home,” Rocky enthuses – and that’s not all they’ve got hidden up their sleeves. “We are going to wrap up an album here,” he teases. “That’s the plan.”
Working to finish a new record not even a year after the release of their debut, the duo might poke fun at their tendency to be behind schedule, but there’s no hiding that right now their creativity is thriving. “Writing is kind of an ongoing process,” Rocky explains. “We’re continuously starting new little ideas, and at the same time, there are songs that are 75% of the way that we’re wrapping up as well.” He shares a laugh with his brother, saying “it kind of feels like we’ve been writing for seven years straight.” “Maybe even longer!” Ross adds, with a cackle.
As they banter back and forth, it becomes increasingly more apparent that the pair are in their element. Having played in family band R5 since 2009 before forming The Driver Era together just over two years ago, they’ve certainly got the chops. Performing music – and working in the industry that surrounds that – is something that the pair couldn’t be prouder to have grown into.
“We get the question a lot,” Rocky pauses, adding a deeper timbre to his voice, “‘yo, how do you guys feel touring the world instead of going to school or college?'” He laughs, before adopting his usual intonation and quickly continuing, “we’d always be like, honestly, that was our college.” Touring around the world, experiencing different places, encountering different cultures, and engaging with different audiences certainly doesn’t sound like a bad way to learn.
“We have literally almost eleven years of doing a lot of that,” Rocky expresses. “At times, it does feel like we kind of know what we’re doing. You do kind of have to have a little bit of that.” “You have to treat yourself like a pro,” Ross agrees. “Now we’re actually controlling a lot of decision making,” Rocky continues. “I think that was only able to happen because we have so many years in this business.” “Oh my god, dude, we’re killing it!” Ross proclaims to his brother, the two sharing a gleeful laugh at everything they’ve managed to accomplish.
It’s an experience that reflects not only in their approach to the industry, but in their approach to writing music too. “When we first started making music there were a lot more sessions, and a lot of other co-producers and other writers,” Rocky recalls. “As you start out, you’re kind of learning.” When it comes to writing music now, the brothers’ process is much more organic. “Sometimes Rocky will just write a song. Sometimes I’ll just write a song,” Ross details. “Other times we’ll be sitting in our back yard with an acoustic guitar, just singing.”
It’s a picturesque scene they paint, one they bring to life with such energy and enthusiasm in conversation it’s hard not to feel like you’re sat right there with them. This love for their creativity – and every stage of its creation – is what pushed the duo to work on what looks set to be their most characteristically them record to date. “This next album will actually be the first album we put out where we write and produce the entire thing, just us,” Rocky beams, proudly. “We’re stoked about that.”
Asked what we can expect to hear from the new release, the duo’s description is characteristically vivid. “It’s almost as if each song is a memory of a time in our past,” Ross describes. “It’s cool. Rocky’s singing a lot of songs and I’m singing a lot of songs, so you get these different perspectives and different stories from times that we’ve experienced.” When the record will be finished is uncertain (the duo, again, poke fun at themselves for taking too long with deadlines), but for now, the brothers are simply making the most of their creative process.
“There’s a funny situation that does occur right when we sign off on a song,” Rocky contemplates. “Right when it’s kind of out of your hands to change or edit or add to, there is that feeling of ‘was there anything else I wanted to do with it?’ Sometimes that can distract you from the reality of what the song actually is, and how the song’s going to be. When you get in that headspace, you kind of forget to listen to the song as a first listener.”
That first listen experience, hearing a song with fresh ears, is something that’s vital to The Driver Era’s sound. “There’s usually a fair bit of grunt work we have to put in to clean up songs before they’re polished and crisp,” Ross portrays. “It’s like chipping at marble or doing a sculpture, almost.”
“A lot of the time, we’ll go for a drive,” Rocky explains. “We’ll have maybe two or three demos we’re working on, we go for a drive, we listen to them, and we’ll be like ‘yo, that kind of feels done.'” His brother is quick to agree. “Rocky and I will kind of look at each other and be like ‘oh yeah, that’s almost there, it’s right there.'” “Whenever we do remember that and click play, for an entirely fresh listen,” Rocky continues, “it is actually very satisfying. That’s when you feel like you came through.”
Taken from the May issue of Dork, out now – order your copy below.
Words: Jessica Goodman