There’s no denying brothers Ross and Rocky Lynch are easy on the eyes. But during a recent conversation with the former R5 band members, they remind me of just how good looking they are. “At every photoshoot we do, they want us to get naked!” Ross says. Rocky chimes in, reporting that his brother has been asked to don a “banana hammock” (read: a men’s sling-like undergarment) in the past, which he has declined.
Despite the forwardness of certain photographers, the duo’s following arguably skews young. From their days in R5, which consisted of Ross and Rocky, plus their siblings Rydel and Riker and drummer Ellington Ratliff, to Ross’s beginnings as the star of Disney Channel’s Austin & Ally, the brothers have generally projected a squeaky-clean image. But that’s all changing as a result of their latest musical act—and years of both creative and aesthetic maturation.
In 2017, Ross ditched his Disney garb for a pair of serial killer glasses for his breakout performance as a young Jeffrey Dahmer in the film My Friend Dahmer. Following that transformational role, Ross again changed up his look, recently dyeing his signature blonde locks for his upcoming role as the brunette-haired Harvey Kinkle in Netflix’s reboot of Sabrina the Teenage Witch. In turn, Rocky swapped his brunette shade for platinum blonde, restoring equilibrium to the duo’s contrasting hair color scheme in time for the debut of their new musical project, The Driver Era.
Until their recent hiatus, Ross and Rocky performed side-by-side in the pop rock band R5 for nearly a decade. Towards the end of the band’s run, Rocky says he and Ross were taking the lead when it came to writing and producing. “The rest of the band knew this needed to happen,” Rocky says. “It’s a rare situation you find yourself in where people are willing to give up because there is a better scenario,” Ross adds.
That blessing from the remaining members of R5 paved the path for The Driver Era. “I like mine and Rocky’s tastes more than most people’s. Because we’re so like-minded, we come to conclusions a lot quicker,” Ross says of working directly with his brother.
“Preacher Man,” the duo’s first single, perfectly showcases their edgy harmonization. “Songs have a life of their own. If this wasn’t the right song, it wouldn’t have made it to this point,” Rocky explains. Meanwhile, Ross calls the song “a slow burner,” or a song that will continue to evolve over the next few months.
And while he has yet to rock a banana hammock, Ross bared nearly everything in the sultry music video for “Preacher Man.” “You know what? I really did [have fun],” Ross says. And as for his female co-star? She reached out to Ross via Instagram after his “cheeky” post promoting the video. Ross goes onto explain—much to Rocky’s surprise.
“What? See! I don’t hear about these things because we don’t live together! Now I’m learning about shit during interviews. Tell us more!” Rocky exclaims. I join Rocky in encouraging Ross to share the details but he offers us vague details about the exchange, leading me to believe he hasn’t gone to the dark side completely.
While the video for “Preacher Man”—drenched in neon lights, offering a psychedelic aesthetic—may represent a new level of artistry, Rocky says achieving their creative goals has proven to be challenging at times. “The biggest problem we run into creatively is–,” Rocky says before his brother finishes his sentence with, “Suits?” In the same breath, Rocky agrees and says, “If we try and do something a little outside the box with a song, video or merchandise, there’s always someone who isn’t going to think it will sell.”
Rocky adds a few moments later that as frustrating as the “suits” can be, having a range of people with different priorities can be healthy to finding a balance. “Yeah, you gotta keep it good for the Duck Dynasty viewers,” Ross jokes. After several minutes of Duck Dynasty-focused banter ranging from Ross bing-watching on the tour bus to me admitting I wouldn’t mind being known as “the girl from Duck Dynasty,” Ross and I manage to convince Rocky to update his Instagram bio to read: “Duck Dynasty Season 9.”
Most recently, Rocky posted a sneak preview of their newest song, “Afterglow” on Instagram. Of the song’s inspiration, Rocky tells me that while the pair were in Cabo for New Year’s Eve, he shared a moment with a girl that was made up of sunsets, piggy-back rides and rum. “It’s about being in the moment,” Ross chimes in. “There have been multiple times where I’m on an island or in a foreign place and it feels romantic and there’s a girl and she’s quite pretty and lovely to be around and how do you not fall in love in that scenario?”
But, Ross adds, those moments of rockstar romance are punctuated by the odd fan encounter, as in another encounter he had in Cabo that “went south real quick.” As the professional interviewer I am, I prod him to spill the dirt. “She was crazy! Super aggressive,” he says. I can’t help myself but inquire aloud, “Sexually?” to which Ross says, “I thought it would lead to that but I was misled. She was calling me by my character’s names that I played in the past and not in a fun manner. It took me way too long to figure out that she was not a nice person.”
The encounter, Ross says, ended with him finding his way back to his hotel at around 7AM—a nearly identical parallel to the first few lines of “Preacher Man” in which Ross belts, “I’ve been stumbling through the door after 6AM.” With “Preacher Man” out now and “Afterglow” officially teased, the brothers tells me that they’re kind of “over” EPs and would ideally like to release a full-length album. But with their busy schedules, they’re focused on promoting “Preacher Man” and potentially playing upcoming live shows scheduled around Sabrina, which films until December.
Although fans may have to wait for a live show from The Driver Era–and probably can’t count on seeing Ross in a banana hammock–he says to expect some sort of spectacle soon. “[Performing] is what we’re best at. We like to go outside the box so it’s bound to have something new and original.” In the meantime, watch the official video for “Preacher Man” below.