After two years of turbulent times, it can be difficult to recall the experiences that brought pure joy — whether those moments were with loved ones, experiencing live music, or simply just feeling the summer’s sun on one’s face. The Driver Era records those significant moments that are equal parts freeing and fleeting, the experiences that are formative and intimate. It’s that mindset that was the catalyst to “Summer Mixtape,” The Driver Era’s third studio album.
The band, which consists of brothers Ross and Rocky Lynch, aren’t new to the industry by any means. Since their debut single ‘Preacher Man’ in 2018, they have amassed over 300M streams and garnered over 30M combined followers across social media. With their signature sound and larger-than-life live show, The Driver Era has been praised by the likes of Rolling Stone, Paper, MTV, Consequence of Sound, and many others.
With 2019’s “X,” 2021’s “Girlfriend,” and now “Summer Mixtape,” the band has created a distinct discography that has grown as they have, and can easily be summarized by the brothers in one word: transformative. “When we first started the band, I was filming in Vancouver,” says Ross. “It was the first time I was alone and Rocky was busy in the studio, but everything we made was created in two different places. We grew as people and as musicians, so when we were able to come together, despite being stuck at home, it was like waking up.”
If “Girlfriend” is the album that was penned and produced during a time where Ross and Rocky were solely with their loved ones, “Summer Mixtape” is the record that explores the thread that ties adventure, nightlife, and intimacy together. In “Summer Mixtape,” a cathartic kaleidoscope of sonics, influences, and themes flicker throughout, proving to be a listening experience that differs from the last two records. “We always like to express ourselves in a raw, honest way, but this release goes a little bit harder,” describes Rocky. “With ‘Summer Mixtape,’ these are songs that are a nod to that state you want to be in — having fun and enjoying life with the people you care about.”
The first single “Malibu” embodies the entire record; a sun-soaked track that is meant to be played on the beach with friends. “Malibu is about reminiscing on experiences in the best locations. It’s about getting away. It’s the spontaneous trip you take with someone – maybe you knew them before, or maybe you’re meeting them for the first time.”
While “Malibu” explores the feeling of ‘firsts,’ “Fantasy” is about what comes after — intimacy and understanding. “This song was actually one that was in a folder of unreleased songs we were going through when we were session surfing,” says Rocky. “Ross started singing the chorus and it just clicked” “It’s a song that sounds like it’s about ‘sexy time,’ but more importantly it’s about the deep nature of intimacy and learning about how it can grow,” describes Ross. “Once you’re comfortable and intimate with a certain individual, you think you know everything about them but you’re constantly learning new things about them. It’s a beautiful thing that I’ve learned about monogamy; some think of commitment as confining but I find it to be freeing. ‘Fantasy’ is a song that represents that.”
The brothers see themselves at the mercy of the music. Rather than chasing what’s trending on TikTok or churning out singles that don’t fully reflect who they are, The Driver Era allows themselves to be vessels, allowing whatever sounds & songs that feel good just come naturally through them. “If we catch ourselves messing with a song and it’s leaning towards something we’ve never made before, we feel like we’re servants to it,” Ross explains. “We want everything to sound a little different. We’re growing so our music will, too.”
Outside of internal growth as individuals, Ross and Rocky also found themselves growing within the studio through the recording process of “Summer Mixtape.” For the first time in over a decade as musicians, The Driver Era not only wrote and produced the entire record but used their own mixes as well. “There’s this really magical pocket of rawness and expression and intimacy that should be captured in the studio,” explained Rocky. “When you send it off to someone else, and they make it bigger, it doesn’t have that same essence. There’s this notion that people want perfection but in reality, they want emotion. That’s at the root of our music.”
One track that exemplifies the band’s deft production and unique mixes is “Bronco,” a song that blends together the sonic experimentation the brothers are known for. “I was playing a melody and Ross wrote something to it. ‘Bronco’ was just the title of the session but it has a bigger meaning now,” Rocky says. “Being in a relationship is like riding a horse; it’s a lot of ups and downs.” It’s a sentiment that Ross echoes. “Like every song, we have our own inspirations and muses that keep us sane.”
Their studio albums are only one half of what makes The Driver Era special. From their beginnings as members of the band R5, the duo are veterans when it comes to touring. Known for creating a live show that doubles as a party, the band has sold out shows across the globe — reaching everywhere from Asia to the U.S. to Europe and South America (and everywhere else in between). In addition to being a dynamic and talented musician, Ross is also an acclaimed actor, starring in Netflix’s ‘Chilling Adventures of Sabrina’ in addition to the biopic ‘My Friend Dahmer’ after spending half a decade portraying the fan-favorite Austin Moon in the popular Disney Channel Original Series, ‘Austin & Ally.’
In support of ‘Summer Mixtape’ the band has begun a 60+ date tour that spans across the globe — touching the US, South America, Canada, Japan, Australia, and Europe. As they lean further and further into their career, the brothers are eager to continue looking inward to uncover more facets about themselves as people and musicians. “I feel like we’ve grown more this year than any other time in our lives,” Ross says. “I’m looking forward to seeing how the work we’ve done unfolds further into our future and, of course, our music.”