R5 Move Toward Darker Sounds on ‘New Addictions': Interview
R5 have been entertaining fans all over the world with their blend of pop and rock since 2009. And while we’ve enjoyed their fun and carefree tunes, the Lynch siblings — Ross, Riker, Rocky and Rydel Lynch — and their good friend, drummer Ellington Ratliff, have all grown up — and so has their sound.
New Addictions is the first of many new projects that showcases their darker, more mature music. Ross and Riker had a chance to chat with PopCrush to talk about how they’ve evolved as a band, favorite tour moments and how they’ve kept their music careers fun.
You’ve been on tour the past month or so. How’s that been going?
Ross Lynch: Oh man, it’s been amazing. It came so quickly. I don’t know why, but every time R5 tries to do something, we always try to do it last-minute. But every tour that we’ve ever done, every album that we’ve ever released, has always been like, “Hey guys, we’ve got a week left. Let’s finish it and go.” So same thing with the tour. It came up really suddenly. But once we are on the bus, it was such a familiar feeling, and I really just felt kind of back at home…it’s been really good.
R5’s music lends itself to live performance. So what’s the best part of touring, and what’s the hardest part of touring for you guys?
Ross: We love performing and we love playing music live. I even love soundcheck. I just like to play. It’s so much fun to me. After-show parties are really fun — we’ll just kind of hangout with fans or friends that we know in the city. We’ll stay up until, like, 4 AM. That’s another thing about touring: your internal clock and sleeping schedule is so turned around…Riker, what’s a really bad part of touring?
Riker Lynch: Some showers. Some venues have some really nasty looking showers.
I didn’t even realize venues had showers to begin with, so that’s new information for me.
Ross: It’s not all the time. Sometimes, like our last tour, we were in amphitheaters. And we had a our own room, which is really nice. Yes, sometimes you don’t always get [a] shower.
Onto New Addictions, it’s pretty different from Sometime Last Night and your previous work. It’s clearly still in the pop realm, but this one has a lot more grit and is darker in a good way. What inspired this new direction?
Ross: First, let me start off by saying there’s a lot more where that’s coming from — a lot more darker content, I mean. But it had been a while since we had been in the studio. We had just arrived at this place where we felt comfortable and other people felt comfortable with us writing and producing all of the music. [It] actually took us a while to get to our first record, Louder. We didn’t really do anything on it. We pretty much just recorded it. [Then] we’re like, “OK, cool. Let’s try this out.” [We were] being students and were trying to learn and do what was right, too.
As time went on, we realized that’s not the band that we had aspired to be. We had a lot more ambition. Rocky [Lynch] had been already producing since he was twelve, but that’s when we really went into the high gears and started writing and introducing songs [every day]. And Sometime Last Night was really the first body of work that we did as the writer [and] producer team. And some of those songs like “Repeating Days” and “Dark Side,” those [were] really some of the first songs that we ever wrote by ourselves. And then we did that whole tour. And then by the time we got done with that tour, I was doing movies and stuff like that. So there’s just a lot of time in between these records. And also, we were listening to darker things, and we’re listening to a lot of rap, hip-hop and R&B genre stuff.
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What is this song at your single “If” about?
Ross: Well, you know, it’s up for interpretation. Whatever the listener wants to sing about. I am more than down for them to take it into their imagination. For me and for the guys writing it with me, Rocky and Ellington, it’s kind of about someone that you don’t know; someone that you’ve never met before. And obviously you somewhat have this attraction to each other, and you’re wondering what life could be like together. It’s like your modern-day romance song.
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You guys also covered “Need You Tonight,” which I’ve heard a lot of a bunch of different covers, but I would say this is probably my favorite one. You guys still keep the essence of it, but you bring it to 2017. So why did you guys decide on that song to cover and include it on this record?
Ross: We’ve always been huge INXS fans, it’s one of the biggest reasons we’re a band today. I personally love Michael Hutchence, one of my favorites ever. It was the 30th anniversary of Kick when we released our EP, so we really wanted to do a cover. That was that was a perfect song for us to do. We covered one of their songs when we last toured Australia: “New Sensation,” and I forget who it was in the band, but one of the band members reached out to us like, “Hey, great job. It’s awesome…” We were like, “Oh yeah, we’ll definitely cover something and put it on a record.” And this just happened to work out.
It looks like R5 has been in the studio lately. What’s been the most memorable moment in the studio?
Ross: So there so we will be, working all day. We’ll literally wake up at like 8 AM, sometimes earlier, sometimes 7 or 6:30, we’ll drink our coffee and go in the studio. We will work all day. I mean we love work…and trying to make cool sounds. And then after that long day of work, we’ll stop at maybe 6 or 7 PM. Occasionally, most of the time, there’ll be a group of people that come over…me and Rocky will take people into the studio, and just say, “What do you think of this song?” And we play songs for them left and right, just to see people’s reactions. We did this like all time. It was so much fun. Meanwhile, you know, everyone’s having a great time. We’re all drinking, dancing — so it’s a really fun atmosphere in the first place…I don’t know if we’ve ever had such positive reactions than we’ve had on this EP.
You released New Addictions recently, but you’ve been in the studio. So are you guys already working on new material?
Ross: Yeah, we’re working on new stuff right now. It’s a little hard because we’re on tour while promoting New Addictions. There’s not a lot of free time. But we actually were just in a studio in Boston, and we recorded a whole song, which actually might be our next single. But we’ll see.
You all have your own projects. How do you balance? You mentioned it before with space in between records, so how do you guys balance R5 with all the projects that you guys are going on?
Ross: In the past, it’s been very much R5 all the time, until there’s another project that’s either very promising, where it’s something that I just kind of have to do — it’s a passion project or it’s just R5. That’s kind of how that works, and it needs to be something that is substantial and actually worth taking the time to do. Otherwise, it’s just going to be all R5 pretty much.
Any other news fans like we all should know coming from R5 for in the coming months?
Ross:Yeah, there’s a lot exciting stuff. Like I said we’re at full speed right now. We’re going to do this whole North American tour, and then go to Europe. And we’re going to go to South America. We’re going to do a whole tour [there]. We’re probably going to go to Japan and Australia to do a whole tour. We got new music coming out hopefully in September. Movies are coming out. All sorts of exciting stuff happening.
You have a really packed schedule, but you guys also look like you’re really having fun with it. So it doesn’t feel so much like it’s work.
Ross: Oh yeah, absolutely! This whole thing which we’ve built is completely based on enjoyment and we really are enjoying ourselves.
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