add to queue

The Driver Era are Listening to Tove Lo, The Fugees and The Rolling Stones

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The Driver Era. Photos by MK Sadler.

This is “Add to Queue,” our attempt to sort through the cacophony of music floating in the algorithmic atmosphere by consulting the experts themselves. Our favorite musicians tell us about their favorite music—the sad, the happy, the dinner party-y, the songs they want played at their funeral. In this edition, we speak with The Driver Era, the new project from brothers Ross and Rocky Lynch, in honor of their latest single and music video “Heaven Angel.” Below, the duo and former members of pop-rock band R5 share what’s on their playlists—from Tove Lo and Shania Twain to Diplo and Mariah Carey.


FRED SAHAI: Tell me about your latest song, “Heaven Angel.”

ROSS LYNCH: It’s like a wild night. To me, it’s a very hypnotic song.

ROCKY LYNCH: All of our songs have something that sets them apart from our other batch of songs. When I think about “Heaven Angel” the first thing that comes to mind is that it’s a song about how much your emotions can get to you.

ROSS: I feel like it’s almost a song about being mesmerized. It’s like the peak of where you can get emotionally for someone, and being too in your head about it.

SAHAI: What are the advantages to being in a band with a member of your family?

ROSS: We don’t have much experience not being related. We’ve been making music and touring for a long time. We were in our previous band, R5, for 10 years and we’ve been doing The Driver Era for two years. We’ve always been working with family. There are a lot of pros, like familiarity, and being super comfortable with each other. We live together, but that can go south too.

ROCKY: I think it’s also worth mentioning that we’ve spent extensive amounts of time in the studio with non-related people, but we find that it’s a better setting when Ross and I are the ones writing and producing the music.

ROSS: It’s a more honest expression, compared to what you would write in a session with some random Hollywood writers. And that’s what we strive for with The Driver Era, to try and make sure our music comes from an authentic place.

SAHAI: What was the last song you listened to?

ROCKY: Mine was a MIKE song. Before quarantine, we were kind of chilling with him and I was just on Spotify recently checking out the music that he put out. I think most of it was this year.

ROSS: My most recent song that I listened to was driving home last night from a party with my little brother Ryland. He’s addicted to this song called Love Tonight” by SHOUSE. He plays it every single day.

SAHAI: Who would you say were some of the earliest musicians to influence you?

ROSS: Michael Jackson, Prince, INXS, Bruce Springsteen.

ROCKY: Eminem.

ROSS: Dr. Dre. Justin Timberlake… Honestly Madonna, our mom played a lot of Madonna.

ROCKY: You could even throw in Earth, Wind and Fire.

SAHAI: What was your first concert? Do you remember it?

ROSS: I think my first concert was NSYNC. I was really young. I barely remember it.

ROCKY: Was that when Aaron Carter opened for them?

ROSS: Something like that. I just remember somebody wearing cow pants.

ROCKY: I remember falling asleep before NSYNC came on. That’s how young we were. The first concert that I actually remember being at was a jam band called O.A.R. I was about 10 or 11, and it was in Colorado at Red Rocks. It and that had an actual impression on me, I liked the vibe. And that led me to pay a little more attention to music and instrumentation.

SAHAI: How young did you start practicing or performing with your brothers? Was that encouraged by your parents when you were young or did that come later?

ROSS: We’ve been doing it since we were barely walking because our oldest brother, Riker, just instilled this love in us for Elvis, Grease, Michael Jackson and NSYNC. We all looked up to him and he would learn all the dances and teach them to us. And then we would perform it for whoever wanted to watch. Our mom realized “Oh, they like to do this. I’m going to put them in dance class.” So it started out with dancing. My first job actually in Los Angeles was as a dancer. I was about 10 and that’s sort of what made us move to LA. Then we decided that we didn’t want to just be actors. Eventually, we found music the most enticing. We started picking up guitars around 11 or 12 and we’ve been going since.

SAHAI: Do you have a favorite movie soundtrack?

ROSS: I would say Moulin Rouge.

ROCKY: Yeah, that and Phantom of The Opera

ROSS: Across The Universe is good because they just modernized all the Beatles songs. That’s probably my favorite actually.

SAHAI: When you’re hitting the road on tour, what are you playing?

ROSS: We go through phases. There was one year where we were touring Europe and we were really into deep house. We’d just be vibing to Tove Lo. Tove Lo put out this crazy song, “Disco Tits.” We love that song. 

ROCKY: If I was on tour right now, it’d probably be “Rolling Stone” by JMSN. He makes dope music. I’ve been playing that a lot. I’ve been playing “One Mo’Gin” by D’Angelo whenever we do a little late-night cruise in the car.

ROSS: I feel like I’d be listening to rap right now.

ROCKY: There’s this band called Babe Rainbow that has a song called “Something New,” it’s sick.

ROSS: We love Parcels too.

ROCKY: Oh yeah. Parcels are sick.

ROSS: I also love Chloe X Halle. 

driver era

SAHAI: If you were having a house party, what would you be playing? 

ROSS: Probably some Diplo. And that “Love Tonight” song. I would probably go with a house vibe.

ROCKY: Yeah. I feel like there’s a certain point in the night where you might get to more of a hip hop R&B place. Maybe we get to some Steve Lacy vibes where you kind of chill out a little.

SAHAI: Do you have a go-to karaoke song?

ROSS: “Man! I Feel Like A Woman” by Shania Twain.

SAHAI: Do you ever sing in the shower?

ROSS: Yes. But most of the time, I’ll almost like freestyle rap in the shower. I’m just like riffing.

SAHAI: So you’re kind of songwriting in the shower?

ROSS: A little bit of exploring and seeing what my voice can do, where it cracks, where it breaks. Yeah. Literally songwriting in the shower. It’s pretty fun.

SAHAI: If your life was a TV show, what would the theme song be?

ROSS: “Start Me Up” by the Rolling Stones. Let’s go.

ROCKY: I like that.

SAHAI: How do you feel about listening to your own music? Do you do it? 

ROSS: You just opened a can of worms. It’s sometimes the most fun, liberating sensation. And sometimes it’s really tough. I really like it when I write something that comes from a really authentic place, and then you just can’t stop listening to it. You want to play it every time you get in the car. When a song is about to come out, it’s hard to listen to it.

ROCKY: You really have to say goodbye and just move on.

ROSS: Because the songs are never done. You can always do more work. So, there comes a time where you just have to be like, it’s great. And you kind of just have to say bye. But there’s also a point where about a year after you’ve released the song, you go back and listen to it and you’re reminded of how fond you are of it. Because sometimes when you release a song and you say goodbye to it, it’s like, “I don’t want to listen to that anymore. I’ve already listened to it a thousand times.” And then later on you listen to it again and you’re like, “I’m pretty happy with myself. I’m proud of myself for doing that.”

SAHAI: What’s a song you wish you’d written?

ROSS: There’s so many. I feel like this answer will probably constantly change, but for now, I’m going to say “Killing Me Softly With His Song.”

ROCKY: Maybe “Sexual Healing.” Or “Fantasy” by Mariah Carey

Listen to The Driver Era’s “Add To Queue” playlist below, and follow Interview on Spotify for more.