Following the release of their debut album, X, The Driver Era returns today with a sophomore album, Girlfriend, written and recorded throughout the pandemic inside Ross and Rocky Lynch's garage studio. Across two discs and 15 total tracks, the rock-pop effort showcases the brothers' musical growth, from its opener "Heart of Mine" to singles "Heaven Angel," "#1 Fan" and "Leave Me Feeling Confident." Below, PAPER gets a track-by-track breakdown from The Driver Era, who dive into all the references and memories from Girlfriend.
"Heart of Mine"
Ross: I think this song is the perfect start of the album. It kicks it off with some energy and it's an introduction to what you're going to hear throughout the album. It's a song that connects all of the songs together. It's got that groovy guitar lick from Rocky Lynch.
Rocky: "Heart of Mine" is actually the first song from this album that we played live. It was a college show in San Diego before the pandemic. A week later, our tour got cancelled. So really this song was the first taste our fans got to hear of the new album.
"cray z babe e"
Ross: This is a fun one. This is the first time we've ever both sang on the same song as The Driver Era. This song keeps you entertained throughout the entire thing and, surprisingly, this is a lot of people's favorite out of all the tracks.
Rocky: You can probably hear our hip hop references in this track the most. Also, I can definitely see us doing more double lead vocals on future tracks.
"Leave Me Feeling Confident"
Ross: This is the sexiest track on Girlfriend. We have actually had this song for quite some time, and we thought this was the perfect time to let it out into the world.
Rocky: I feel like this is the song that you need to listen to with a nice glass of wine. Something chilled, maybe a rosé. It also has a sick sax solo by our friend Ellington.
Ross: I feel like this is the most dance-like track on the album and the only song on the first half of the album that Rocky has lead vocals on. I can say this as a fan: I love this song.
Rocky: Someone told me this song sounds like Steve Miller Band, which is kind of tight. This song started out by me just jamming on the bass. The majority of the hook is just an iPhone vocal, looped.
Ross: Other than the obvious, this song is also about being your own "#1 Fan." I was thinking about my girlfriend, Jasmine, when writing this song. She's a musician too and we're always hyping each other up.
Rocky: This song is kind of unorthodox, almost like the meaning of the song doesn't match things happening in the production, which was intentional.
Ross: It was so funny how this song came together. I was just playing acoustic guitar by the fire and the song pretty much wrote itself. This song really does shine on some of our unorthodox risk-taking in production, which I feel like really paid off.
Rocky: Production-wise, that song was so fun. I threw in some 808s, which is always a good time. That was a good day in the studio.
"When You Need a Man"
Ross: I think this is the biggest sleeper on the record. I think it's better than people give it credit for, except it's actually our sister's favorite. There's a certain charm to it. This song started from a voice memo from 2018 and we just finished it recently in one day.
Rocky: Wow, I haven't actually listened to that song in a while. That was another good day in the studio.
"Plz don’t come around interlude"
Ross: This is the introduction to the second half of the album. We actually recorded this in my Vancouver apartment, when I was living up there filming Chilling Adventures of Sabrina.
"OMG Plz Don’t Come Around"
Ross: This song was written at our mom's house. It was about our little brother Ryland, who was going through a tough time with a romantic relationship. I remember him on the phone saying, "Please don't come here, don't come to my house."
Rocky: I believe we cut those vocals in Ross' Vancouver apartment, as well.
Ross: I really like this song. It's actually our cousin Gus' favorite The Driver Era song. This song is mesmerizing.
Rocky: I like this song too. It's got different layers. We recently played it for a stripped acoustic performance, which made it sound like an entirely different song. This song is about confusion, honestly.
Ross: We actually wrote this song in maybe the hardest time of my life. I was really lost at the time and a few of my friends called me out on my actions, which we kind of talk about in the song.
Rocky: This song goes so hard live. It's kind of funny because Ross and I, and our friend Ellington, were all going through similar situations in our relationship life. We also felt really creatively charged while writing this one and I think that comes through in the energy the song has.
Ross: A lot of people don't know this, but "Fade" is a major throwback. It was probably the first song we ever wrote for The Driver Era. We wrote this song in one day, which doesn't usually happen for us. It was the first time I didn't wait for someone's validation on the lyrics.
Rocky: This song started in the Porter Ranch house we lived in as R5. I was working on the track and Ross was behind me vibing melodies, and we just kept going. I love the synth in the bridge of this song.
Ross: I love the chorus in this song, it's kind of like a drop.
Rocky: "flashdrive" is also another great synth song. That song was during a time when Ross was in Vancouver and Ryland and I were partying a lot. "flashdrive" definitely reflects that.
"Take Me Away"
Ross: This song is all about my reluctance to leave Vancouver. Although a lot of people on the show thought we were going to go back for another season, I had a really strong feeling we weren't. That was a really sweet time in my life and I have a lot of really fond memories. I honestly think Vancouver is one of the greatest cities in the world.
Rocky: We definitely made at least 80% of this song in Ross' Vancouver apartment. I remember feeling a little lost when making the production for this song — like doubting myself a little bit because it had been a few weeks since I had worked on anything, and a long time since Ross and I had been able to work on anything together. But I remember a feeling of relief after we got started and got in the groove. It felt really nice.
Ross: The perfect end to this record.
Rocky: So many of my songs seem like "relationship struggle" vibes. I think that is where I experience a little more confusion, honestly. "Forever Always" is a bit of a pessimistic view towards a relationship. I wasn't even in a relationship at the time, but it was what I was seeing happening around me.
Photography: Samuel Fisher
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