The pop-rock group released their debut in 2013, which peaked at No. 24 on the Billboard 200 albums chart, and have steadily released new music since then. Now, the two brothers are gearing up to embark on a new project: The Driver Era.
Their first single, “Preacher Man,” drops on Friday, and Billboard got to chat with the brothers about their newest endeavor, what fans can expect from this new era and what it means to them. Check out the interview below.
What inspired the video for “Preacher Man”?
Ross: It all kinda came really quickly, I guess. When you're supposed supply a song with visuals, you want it to make sense but you don’t want it ot be on the nose. It was all kinda like a seamless process of how we got to that final product. It just kinda happened. Time goes, and we find ourselves here today.
Rocky: Honestly, it’s all been happening really fast. Up until this moment, we were kinda at a standstill. We were kinda just brainstorming thinking how we wanted to approach the driver era, and everything just happened basically yesterday. I’m kinda like caught off guard a little, so I don’t know what to think of it yet, but it seems like people are liking it.
How did you go from R5 to this? Was is something you have always wanted to do?
Ross: it was a combination of ideas but also just the idea that we knew we needed to change something. That idea has been around for a long time, it wasn’t like a sporadic thing. This is something that was on our plates for a really long time, and we’ve been considering it for a long time, and this was the best time for us to go through with it.
Rocky: We’ve been consistently trying new things and new ideas on how we want to approach music. This just happened to be the next step. In 20 years from now, we could be doing things totally differently. The future is undecided, always.
Ross: I just wanna be able to create whatever we wanna create, whenever we can. And whatever is the best outlet for that creation, that’s what we should ultimately do. And for recent creations, the best outlet wasn’t necessarily R5, it was The Driver Era. Our goal, as any artist should be, is to try and push the boundaries of not only ourselves, but of the music, and also excite people. As an artist, you want to entertain people. The reason we started the Driver Era is just cause our creative endeavors sort of demanded it.
What do your siblings and the rest of R5 think of The Driver Era?
Ross: Everyone’s really into it, actually. Everyone is super supportive. We’ve always had a family dynamic, it’s always been love and support. A big part of that is the fact that Rocky and I live together, and we’re in the studio every single day. We’re writing songs and working hard on this craft that we’ve honed in an and wanna continue to hone in on and perfect, which is songwriting and anything sonically really.
Ultimately, because Rocky and I are so heavily involved in the creation process, which is what a band is supposed to do, it feels organic and natural right now for it to be the main focus of The Driver Era. However, we’ve all been playing music together for 10+ years. We’ve created such a bond that’s really electric on stage. I think that was the main appeal of R5, and that’s why a lot of people like us to this day. That’s how we sustained all of the energy we created 5 years ago. And we don’t wanna tarnish that at all. We’re currently brainstorming ways on how to involve that same energy and dynamic into The Driver Era.
Where does the name come from?
Ross: There are a lot of cool side stories to The Driver Era. There’s a lot of little inspirations here and there from different things we like. Really where the name came from was just a conversation that Rock and I were having about the future and stuff. We’re always talking about anything future-leaning. Our biggest idols are people like Steve Jobs and Elon Musk, and people that are constantly trying to push the envelope. We were just talking about all of the technological advances, and really exciting stuff like Space X. I think somewhere along the way, The Driver Era was mentioned in the conversation, and it just kinda had a ring to it. It felt nice. We decided it should be the band name.
Who would be your musical influences for The Driver Era?
Ross: It’s hard to say. When you get into the studio, and you’re going at it, making a lot of music, we don’t really reference a lot of artists. We just go in and make what sounds good to us, and try to write a good song, before we even establish any vibes or reference. We’re not totally influences by anyone, you try to keep your blinders on so you can create something authentic to you that’s not been done before. Although, that’s pretty much impossible. But that’s your attempt. And when we look back on our music, we’ll be like “oh, that kinda sounds like Calvin Harris,” since maybe we had been listening to him and that just naturally found its way into our music. Calvin Harris is a good example, Pharrell is a good example, even pop artists like Dua Lipa. We’re into a wide spectrum of music.
That’s one of the reasons for The Driver Era, just to have a new outlet of being more diverse. Everyone our age listens to songs from all genres. I was at my cousin’s house just last night, these kids are 12 and 13, listening to “Rockstar” by Post Malone-- the completely explicit version. They're singing along. It was so eye opening to me. Sure, we can sit and listen to country music, then at night we can listen to Rap Caviar. I think our goal for The Driver Era is to really expand out pallet and go out and try those things. I think Rocky and I are capable of that. We actually have some rap songs we need to finish. We started some rap songs and honestly, they’re good. Not saying we’re going to be a rap band!
Are you going to tour with this project?
Ross: In the past, we’ve been a heavily touring band, all around the world. I’m confident that that fan base we created and shared all those memories with is going to come along for The Driver Era. We’ll see that happens. We’ve got a lot of music coming up, there might be a tour, I still have a lot of acting stuff coming up. That’s another exciting thing-- there's so many possibilities. Anything can happen.