Having only released their debut single at the beginning of 2018, The Driver Era’s existence has been short thus far - but that’s not to say that the pair, Ross and Rocky Lynch, are strangers to the music scene.
As former members of R5 - the five-piece band who released two albums, five EPs, and a live DVD before going on hiatus - the Lynch brothers are exploring and experimenting with their musical identities with The Driver Era. Their latest single ‘Low’ sees Rocky front-and-centre, as the sole writer, producer, and featured vocalist on the song which he wrote about feeling in a low situation.
Coup De Main spoke with Rocky Lynch about the latest single ‘Low’, as well as representing mental health in music, and learning to produce…
I started [music] when I was twelve, and at that age I didn’t really have much knowledge on myself or on how emotional human beings actually are. Now I’m dealing more with how to put my current feelings and understanding of life into the music, no matter how I’m feeling... and kind of just keep on working through it and let the music speak.
COUP DE MAIN: Congrats on the release of ‘Low’. What was running through your mind while writing the song?
THE DRIVER ERA - ROCKY LYNCH: <laughs> Thank you, first off. To be honest, when I wrote that song I was - obviously by the title, it’s called ‘Low' - kind of in a situation where you just wake up and you’re like, “Damn, why a I in such a funk? What’s going on?” No matter how good stuff is going you still kind of get in those moments. So that was kind of one of those moments for me. When I finished the track I wasn’t necessarily still in that low state of mind, I was actually kind of happy and a lot of good things were happening. So, the ending result of the track kind of has an uplifting feeling while the lyrics are questioning a little more of sadness and, “What is life?”
CDM: It’s cool that the whole process was cathartic for you. It’s important for mental health to be shown really realistically in music, but sometimes it isn’t, so it’s awesome that you're putting that out there.
ROCKY: Exactly. Honestly, that’s kind of what I’ve been realising more and more as I’ve been writing and producing and being any form of a creative - it’s a very emotional journey. It’s so strange. I didn’t quite realise that until this year. Because I had been writing and producing growing up... I started when I was twelve, and at that age I didn’t really have much knowledge on myself or on how emotional human beings actually are. Now I’m dealing more with how to put my current feelings and understanding of life into the music, no matter how I’m feeling - because, obviously the product tends to be better when I am very excited and things are happening and I’m just feeling good for whatever reason, or maybe something else in life is making me feel that way. But I’m learning to not let that affect me and kind of just keep on working through it and let the music speak for it.
CDM: When you have a platform and a large fanbase like you guys do, it must be nice for your fans to hear that, and also know that they’re not alone in going through that kind of stuff as well.
ROCKY: Straight up! Honestly, straight up. I feel like our fanbase hasn’t been offered that quite yet. All the days with R5 there was obviously a lot of your traditional sessions where there’s songs that A&Rs and the label feel super strongly about, where other people wrote most of the song. When you’re signed to a big kind of label and all that’s happening and they’re stoked on something, you kind of get talked into different things. So I feel like this fandom hasn’t been offered this authentic, “Hey, this is how we really feel, this is what’s happening currently.” Maybe tomorrow I won’t feel this way, but here is the most honest representation of my current self at that time.
CDM: You’re the sole writer and producer on the song, which is rad.
ROCKY: <laughs> Thank you.
CDM: What was it about the song that made you want to fully write and produce it?
ROCKY: With a lot of The Driver Era stuff it’s just been Ross [Lynch] and I producing it, but he happens to be in Vancouver right now filming ‘The Chilling Adventures Of Sabrina’ which just came out on Netflix - so I’ve kind of just been limited to myself as the only creative in the studio. When him and I are writing together I tend to still come up with melodies and lyrics, I still do that side of things, but I don’t focus on it as much when I have Ross, because he is that guy. He tends to do that more and I tend to focus on production, engineering, mixing and that sort of thing. But I’m the only dude in the room, so the way I’ve been writing recently is kind of whatever is coming out of me, whatever comes first. I’m not really focusing on what it is, whether it’s a beat or lyrics or melody, and with this specific song it was kind of a little bit of both all at once, and that’s how ‘Low’ came about. I had an entirely finished product and I played it for Ross and he was like, “Yo, I’m not singing this song, you’ve gotta sing this song”, and two weeks later we put it out.
CDM: How have you found working on music while Ross is busy filming 'The Chilling Adventures Of Sabrina'?
ROCKY: We’ve done a little bit, like a couple of tracks we’ll send back and forth to each other, but it’s more, “Hey, look what I’ve been doing recently, here’s some ideas I’ve been messing around with.” The times that we did try and sit down and work together, nothing really came out of it that we felt very passionate or strongly about. I think one of the main reasons is simply because of the distance. Him and I are very close and him living in Vancouver slightly affected that. Not necessarily in a good or bad way - actually, I would say in a good way because him and I are a little stronger as individuals now, but at the same time we do need to kind of refigure out how we write together now, because there has been so much time apart that he’s been kind of just writing stuff by himself and sometimes he’ll write with other cast-mates, and I’ve just been kind of writing by myself and then I’ve been producing other artists. So at one point I do think we’ll kind of sit down and be like, “All right bro, what’s going on here? Let’s figure this out.” But we haven’t had that moment yet.
CDM: Cool! Which of his cast-mates has he been writing with?
ROCKY: Her name’s Jaz [Sinclair]. Those two kind of hang out a lot and they’re in LA right now, and we’ve actually just been hanging out in the studio, us three. I’ll throw a beat on and we’ll kind of just start making tunes. A lot of the time we’ll write where we’re hanging out and throw down ideas, but we’re not taking too much of it seriously. That’s kind of just what we’re doing, it’s just a hang-out session.
CDM: You mentioned that you’ve been producing for quite a long time. Did you teach yourself music production?
ROCKY: Yeah, I basically taught myself. Even though in a way I taught myself, I still learned from other producers just by being in sessions with them, or watching videos, or reading things. I didn’t go to any sort of school or anything like that. I’ve honestly just been gaining experience over the years of doing it, and if you look back two or three years, I don’t think I necessarily could’ve sat down and produced an entire song by myself, but now that I’ve gained this experience from just learning from different people, I can do that now and I enjoy doing that. I don’t have to necessarily limit my options to someone else’s sound palette that they normally like to focus on. I can just do whatever. It’s awesome. It’s free, you know what I mean? It’s an open canvas at all moments, I love it.
CDM: Music production is always such an evolving thing. How do you approach it compared to songwriting? Or do you have a similar method?
ROCKY: To be honest, they are kind of similar methods, because my way of production is that I basically keep messing around with something until I feel it, and it’s the same thing with melodies. I don’t necessarily just go, “All right, here’s the melody.” The melody kind of just happens and I’m like, “Oh, okay I feel that, that’s doing something for me.” It’s the same way with production, if it’s drum sounds or a bass line, or something that’s shaping the sound of it. A lot of times, I’m not like, “Oh cool, I wanna get this sound right here for this specific part.” I will do that for sure, but most of the time it’s just me kind of on autopilot.
CDM: You recently released a remix of Sage Charmaine’s song ‘Cherries’. Do you enjoy remixing songs?
ROCKY: Yeah actually, remixes are like a hobby in a way. It’s a way to just take a song that I thought was dope and throw my spin on it. Also, with remixes a lot of the time I’ll just start them on planes and I don’t necessarily need to be in a studio and have a vocal mic and stuff, because I’m working more with the sounds they already have in the song and then adding my own. So I have a little more freedom to kind of do that wherever, which I like a lot. With remixes, if a friend just says like, “Hey, wanna remix this track?” I’m like, “Sure, why not?” And then we remix it and put it out, and onto the next.
CDM: What can people expect from The Driver Era debut album? Is there much you can tell us about it at the moment?
ROCKY: I’m assuming, yes, we will put one out at some point next year. As of now, what it could sound like or where we are at with it, is entirely up in the air. There’s a couple of songs that we are playing at festivals that I would assume would be on the album. But we started those songs at the beginning of the year and the idea was to put those out, but with scheduling and all that’s happening with Ross and the show, you kind of just have to work with what you get. So for now we are kind of just trying to figure that out.
CDM: The Driver Era are signed to their own record label which you guys created, right? What made you want to have that level of control with this project?
ROCKY: Well, we initially made the label when we were signed to Hollywood [Records], so that we could have a different name, to try and help with that association. Because a lot of people, to be honest, would go, “Oh you’re signed to Hollywood Records? Ohhhhh.” You know? Those were the R5 days, so I initially was like, “Hey, why don’t we make a sub-label and sign the band to the sub-label?” And that was at a time when we were signed to Hollywood Records. We’ve currently parted with Hollywood Records, so now we are independent and so is the label that we basically started, if you wanna say that. We do distribute the music through that label name, but it is entirely independent, yes.
CDM: Would you ever want to sign any artists to the label?
ROCKY: In the big picture of things there’s always been, “Oh yeah let’s start a label, let’s sign artists.” We could do everything in-house, we could produce, we could do all that stuff. So yeah, I feel like, long-term goals, that would be very fun and very productive. Because I love music, and so does Ross and so do our close friends and family. But as of now there hasn’t been any of that, but in the future, that would be sick.
CDM: How have the live Driver Era shows been so far? Are you planning a tour for next year?
ROCKY: Yes! Honestly, there will most likely be a tour for next year. We’ve been talking to a couple different co-headline options that are very intriguing. The shows this year have been very fun. We’ve been playing a couple of different festivals, we played Made In America and that was with artists who we think are tight. We played in Seattle and in Miami. They’ve been great so far.
CDM: If R.O.C.K.Y. was an acronym, what would each letter stand for?
ROCKY: Oohhh, dang! Real. OG. Cool. Keep. Yaself!
The Driver Era’s latest single ‘Low’ is out now - click here to purchase, or listen to it below...