A Conversation with R5’s Ross Lynch
Mike Ragogna: Hey Ross, how’s it going?
Ross Lynch: I’m good, just on tour, living it up! [laughs]
MR: So the Lynch gang is touring behind its new #1 album, Sometime Last Night. Is being in a band with your family awesome?
RL: Totally! Sometimes that can get a tiny bit annoying but for the most part, it’s all really good. We all get along really well.
MR: That’s got to affect the creativity in a good way.
RL: Oh, absolutely! We get to the point much quicker than anyone else really could because we know each other so well. Sometimes you go into a writing session and you kind of have to break the ice and get to know each other first, but when we’re writing together it’s just so seamless and so smooth, we just get to the product that we want much quicker. And we’re just really good friends, we’ve known each other our whole lives.
MR: R5 released two albums and some singles and EPs. When you get together to create music, is there an intention for an end result or is it just creating with no expectations?
RL: It’s a little bit of both. I say that we get together and make the music and what comes from that are the records and whatnot, but our path has kind of changed recently. For a while we were going to other people and writing with them and seeing what came from that, but now we’re kind of doing our own thing where we’re doing it all in-house. We’re producing it, we’re writing it, it’s all just us. We’re getting to a point where we’re going, “Okay, maybe a year from now, we’ll be doing this,” and so on.
MR: Between the two albums, do you feel the music took a creative jump?
RL: That’s actually how we all feel, it’s been a massive jump from the last record and that’s mostly because we’ve just been around more, we’ve learned so much from the music industry and we’ve learned so much about music and the music we like, we’ve traveled the world and throughout all of these experiences we’ve just developed a different taste in music. Louder was our first record, as well, so taking all that into consideration you get Sometime Last Night.
MR: So what is the actual creative process like and how has it evolved?
RL: The creative process has evolved from night to day, it seems like. Before, it was a bit more up in the air, we didn’t necessarily know what we were doing. Now I feel like we actually have a handle on what we do, we get the track going, we get the song composed and ready and then we put the melody on top of it and the lyrics on top of that in a three-step process that works really smoothly for us. We’re now doing that all the time, we have a studio on tour that we work with, we love creating and we just keep going.
MR: How do you know what what material gets eliminated? Are you guys self-sufficient with a process like that?
RL: I think we have become self-sufficient. The funny thing about this record, actually, is that we didn’t have enough material for it. We had a whole record done, mastered, complete, and we decided to scrap it all and start from ground zero. When we went back in we started writing all these songs on our own because all the prior songs that we had didn’t feel quite genuine or real to us, they didn’t relate to our personal lives, you could say. So we went back and we basically wrote Sometime Last Night, and in the process of writing the songs we would write one song and say, “Okay, this song is better than this song, so that song has to go and this song will take that song’s slot.” So basically once we got rid of all the old songs with new songs we had Sometime Last Night and we released that.
MR: What happens to the other material?
RL: They become bonus tracks.
MR: Ross, what is R5’s goal? And while writing and recording, what are you looking at for inspiration or a paradigm to follow?
RL: Interesting question! When we were writing the record, we didn’t have much in mind in terms of where it was going to go, we were just writing it because it sounded good and that’s what wee liked to hear when we were writing it. But when we think about our trajectory and where we want to go as a band we definitely want to reach a more mature fanbase, we want to reach a broader fanbase and just over all we want to make music that we want to listen to. I guess when you relate us to other artists we would love to get into the old school classics. We love to listen to The Beatles and Zeppelin and Michael Jackson and Bruce Springsteen. Obviously, we don’t relate to any of those bands at the moment because they’re all massively huge classics, but that’s the kind of music that we love.
MR: How are you developing yourselves musically? Are you taking classes? Do you have any mentors assisting and guiding you?
RL: Well, we had a lot of mentors when we first started. We had people like Eman [Kiriakou] and Evan Bogart who have had multiple hits and we’ve even worked with people like Savan [Kotecha] who has almost every top ten on radio right now. So we’ve worked with all of these guys before and we’ve learned all of their tricks and secrets. Now that we’ve taken all of that into consideration, we take our own instincts as well and just continue to write. I feel like that’s the best way to learn the majority of things nowadays. Even with guitar, music theory, all of these things, we’re more efficient on our own. We learn a lot by just doing.
MR: And it seems like the reward for that is a number one album on Billboard. How did you guys feel when that announcement came in?
RL: Oh, it felt incredible! Even when one of our publicity people told us, “You guys are looking at top ten, top five on Billboard.” Even when we heard that unofficially we were like, “Holy crap, that’s crazy!” Then it turned out to be number one on the pop chart and number seven overall and that’s just incredible, especially because Louder debuted at twenty-four.
MR: Will you be consciously trying to keep that momentum up or will it be business as usual, just keep creating and see what comes up next?
RL: A little bit of both. We’ll continue to create but there is a bit of angst behind us, we want to make something that can match Sometime Last Night and potentially be better and obviously show the growth of us as human beings and evolve even further. There’s a tiny bit of both of that, but right now we’re on tour and we have to focus on what’s happening in front of us.
MR: When you look at the difference between the music you play as Austin Moon on Austin & Ally and the R5 material, they’re pretty different. Is it a lot of work to try to maintain credibility across both?
RL: Yeah, I’ve actually put a lot of effort into keeping both entities separate. I kind of always wanted R5 to be my route out. A lot of Disney stars have sort of been scarred with the Disney image. But for me, it’s been a wonderful transition, everything’s gone great. Austin and Ally is actually now coming to an end, so I’m moving on to other acting gigs and trying to keep them separate but together. I definitely want to do more acting, but it gets hard with scheduling because the band wants to tour the majority of the year and doing a movie would take six to eight weeks to do. It just gets a little difficult with the scheduling but I would love to continue acting. I love acting as much as I love music.
MR: I saw your schedule, I don’t know how you’re going to keep that up, good luck with that.
RL: Yeah, thank you.
MR: What advice do you have for emerging artists?
RL: Enjoy the time that is given to you. Say you’re put into a certain situation with someone who has been very successful at doing what you want to do, appreciate that time and just observe everything. Try to pick up any sort of small detail that they do and you might not and just let that work for you. Also, if you are interested in doing something, just do it. Spend all your time trying to master it, try to get it under your belt and then maybe with a little luck you’ll be in the situation to showcase your talent.
MR: Ten years from now, where is Ross Lynch and where is R5?
RL: Ten years from now? Hopefully, R5 is releasing our tenth record, hopefully it’ll start massive numbers, I would love to be touring in arenas but also doing clubs on the side because clubs are much more fun to play, and then I hope Rocky and Ratliff and I could even be writing for other artists, almost like Max Martin, just because we like to do that. Then as far as acting I would love to be doing all sorts of interesting roles. This is really, really hard to achieve, but the best actors are the ones who can choose their roles and just choose whatever they want to play. Like James Franco. He does comedies, he does dramas, he does indies, he does all sorts of different stuff. I think that would be the best place to be as an actor because you have creative freedom.
MR: By the way, my son and I have watched you on Austin & Ally and I personally believe you’re one of the most relaxed, natural performers I’ve ever seen on the Disney channel. All the best for you, your family and all your futures.
RL: Thank you so much!
Transcribed by Galen Hawthorne