Q&A: Riker Lynch of R5

If you have not heard of R5, get ready, because the band is about to blow up the charts with its new album, “Sometime Last Night.”

The band consists of siblings Riker, Rocky, Rydel and Ross Lynch and family friend Ellington Ratliff. After two years of hard work, the quintet is poised for a breakthrough with its sophomore album. R5 is promoting it with the Sometime Last Night Tour, which will stop by the Mizner Park Amphitheater on July 8.

If you think you might have heard of them before, do not be surprised. Riker just came in second place on season 20 of “Dancing With The Stars” and was previously a Warbler alongside Darren Criss on “Glee.” Ross has also pursued an acting career with his starring roles on Disney Channel’s “Austin & Ally” and in the network’s original films “Teen Beach Movie” and “Teen Beach 2.”

Boca Raton was fortunate to talk with Riker about the new album, touring and the whirlwind fame that he is experiencing.

Boca Magazine: So, I want to start off by saying I love your new album.

Riker Lynch: Thank you very much.

BM: I listened to it last night and it was excellent.

RL: Thanks! So you listened to “Sometime Last Night” sometime last night?

BM: Yeah I did. I noticed that the release date had been pushed back, so what are you excited for fans to hear now that it is coming out?

RL: I’m really excited. The whole album in general, I’m excited for the fans to hear. I think it has a really cool theme, which happened really naturally. I always love something spontaneous and something that doesn’t take a lot of thought. You know, it just kind of came to us and all the songs kind of fit in the “Sometime Last Night” category. They all happened sometime last night. I’m just excited for them to hear the whole thing as an album.

I think a lot of acts or artists or bands in the pop world […] don’t really appreciate a full album, and because we are a band, we’re not like a boy band or a single artist. I think we’ve constructed a full album rather than just bunch of singles. I like that. I think it’s missed out sometimes. Sometimes people have their huge, amazing one song and the rest of the album is [not as interesting] as the single. I think all the songs on our album speak for themselves, and they all go together really well. I think the album stands on its own. I think no matter where you’ve heard of R5, or even if you don’t know us or aren’t a fan yet, I think if you give the album a chance, you’ll love it.

BM: That’s great. I saw that your band wrote most of the tracks on the album.

RL: We did.

BM: What were your inspirations while writing the songs?

RL: Around the time we were writing the album, we had a band house, just the five of us, in California. Los Angeles. And we were kind of just going out each night and making memories, having fun, some bad decisions, some good decisions, and we would come back the next day and we would just sort of write it all out and write what would happen. Even from being on tour, we had so many memories and so many fun stories that we also brought into the album. One song in particular, “Did You Have Your Fun?,” happened in Tokyo, actually. And it was sort of all just real-life experiences, and we would write about it, and that’s really all it was. It was a fun time making it.

BM: So, for the couple of songs you did not write, what was it about the songs and the songwriters that really spoke to you?

RL: I think the biggest one being “Let’s Not Be Alone Tonight.” It was just such a big chorus. It sort of just stuck out. We had an album before “Sometime Last Night” that  […] just didn’t quite feel right. But, “Smile” and “Let’s Not Be Alone Tonight” sort of just stuck out to us, so we kept [the songs], and it’s those choruses I think that really are a big thing. My favorite part of “Let’s Not Be Alone Tonight” is the bridge. It’s so cool—the melody and the lyrics. The lyrics of “Let’s Not Be Alone Tonight” are so simple, but interestingly deep at the same time. I don’t really know how to explain it.

BM: “Let’s Not Be Alone Tonight” has been getting a lot of airplay lately, which is great for your band.

RL: Yeah, thank you. We’ve had a lot of radio support on that one, which is great.

BM: You worked with a great producer on this album, Matt Wallace. What made him the right choice for you?

RL: While we were in our garage studio in California at our house making all these demos and writing our songs, we had something very, very authentic to us and something organic. Instantly when we would play these demos for friends or management or the label, it was like there was something there. We didn’t want to take it to a producer who was just going to do his own thing and not do anything that we had already created. So we knew [Wallace] was going to work for us and not change it, but just make it better. Obviously we’re big fans of him from Maroon 5 and OAR. It just felt like he was the right guy for the job, because we had something really special in the garage, and he just worked with us.

BM: Your tour starts July 7. What are you looking forward to about the tour?

RL: Honestly, I’m really excited about the tour bus. It’s just so nice to have that always there, and you don’t have to get on a different plane and check your bags with the whole security process every day. When you’re on the bus, you’re just on the bus. It’s so relaxing and nice. I’m also genuinely excited to get onstage and see everybody’s faces. We haven’t toured since last year at all, except for radio festivals, and we have this brand-new album that I think is amazing. I’m so proud of it. I get to get out onstage and perform with my best friends, which is what I love to do more than anything in the world. With this new album, I couldn’t be more excited.

BM: What is it like working and being on the road all the time with your family?

RL: There’s never a dull moment. There’s always something. We’re always laughing about something or talking about something. We do literally everything together. Even on our days off, we’re like, “Hey, do you guys want to go see a movie?” We’re always hanging out. It’s always fun. We have our moments, obviously, with bickering or whatever, but it’s no big deal. It’s always resolved fairly quickly and we have a great time.

BM: On your tour, are there any songs that you’re really excited for the fans to hear?

RL: I’m pretty freaking stoked for “Did You Have Your Fun?” We just played it during a sound check today, and I think it’s just going to go off. I’m so excited. It’s just going to be a rocking rock song. Also, “Wild Hearts” I think is going to be great live. We have some really cool stuff happening with “I Know You Got Away,” just cool different change-ups if you will. It should be fun.

BM: When you are on tour, is there a certain band member who is the jokester?

RL: Yeah, I think everyone kind of has that role every once in a while. I definitely come up with a couple pranks. I’d say if you have to pick one, either Rocky or Ellington. There’s never a dull moment with those guys. But Ross is funny too, and Rydel makes us laugh, so it’s a whole thing. We’re all kind of jokesters.

BM: Well, you just recently took a turn on “Dancing With The Stars,” and congratulations on your second-place finish.

RL: Thank you. Thank you.

BM: Between that and Ross’ “Teen Beach 2” just being released, how do you think the publicity is going to help your album? Your names are so well-known now.

RL: We’re very fortunate to have those gigs and be in the position that we’re in to have extra eyeballs on us. I guess it just makes R5 more known. Every little bit helps. I hope people liked me enough on “Dancing With The Stars” to want to buy the album.

BM: It was interesting on “Dancing With The Stars,” because your cousins are professional dancers Julianne and Derek Hough. How was it having your cousin be your judge on the show?

RL: We didn’t really talk about it or think about it when I was on the show. [Filming] was the only time I ever saw her. It was almost like she wasn’t my cousin and she was just a judge until we had to do the Judge’s Choice dance. [The producers] played up the cousin thing. Hanging out with Derek was cool. It was fun having kind of a sibling rivalry there. But, it was overall just fun to hang out with them. I don’t get to see them very often, because I’m so busy and they’re so busy as well. It was cool to kind of catch up for a bit.

BM: And you started out on “Glee.” You were one of the Warblers a couple of years ago.

RL: Yes I was!

BM: Going from “Glee” to “Dancing With The Stars” to being rock stars, how have you dealt with the stardom?

RL: I think [you should] just never get used to it. I have four other bandmates who are definitely going to keep me grounded and keep me sane. [I] never get used to people screaming for you or showing up at the airport or asking for pictures. I’m always surprised and thankful that it happens, because tomorrow it could just not be there. You never want to expect it. That’s a better way to say it. I never want to expect it, and I’m always thankful for it.

BM: Do you have any advice for potential rockers who listen to your album and want to get into the music industry?

RL: Just start playing an instrument. That’s a really large part of it. We played so many shows of cover songs and a couple of originals before we were even good. It takes a while. There’s a saying that you need to have 10,000 hours before you actually officially master something. So, just start playing and hone in on your craft. Don’t just do it because it’s fun. I mean do it because it’s fun, but do it because it’s something that you love. Whatever you love more than anything in the world, I say do that.

BM: How old were you when you first started playing an instrument?

RL: I took a couple piano lessons when I was little, probably when I was 6 or 7. I took lessons for a couple years. But then I stopped that, and when I was 16 or 17, I got a bass for my birthday. I asked for it because Rocky started teaching himself how to play guitar and he showed me some videos of Fall Out Boy and I was like, “That is the coolest thing I’ve ever seen. I want to do that.” So, I asked for a bass and I got a bass.

BM: So Fall Out Boy was a pretty big inspiration for you?

RL: Yeah, a huge inspiration. Fall Out Boy and then the first rock concert that Rocky and I ever saw together. We were at Red Rocks, Colo., and we saw OAR, and this was before either of us could really play instruments, but I think watching something like that at that venue made something click in our brains that was like, “That’s something we could do.” The rest is history, as they say.

BM: You will be traveling to some really cool places on tour. You’re going all around the U.S. and over to Europe. What is the biggest difference in performing overseas?

RL: I’d say the biggest difference is when we do meet-and-greets in countries where they don’t speak English. We try to learn a couple words to try and get by and do our best. As soon as we’re onstage, no matter what country we’re in and what language they speak, they sing every word to our songs.

BM: That’s what people talk about when they say music is an international language. Everybody understands music.

RL: Yeah, exactly. It’s so true. Everywhere, no matter what religion or where you live or where you’re from, everybody has music around [him or her] in one way or another.

You can purchase R5’s new album on July 10 and check them out when they visit Mizner Park Amphitheater on July 8. Tickets range from $21.50-$71.50. Call 561/393-7984 or visit myboca.us/pages/mizneramphi or ticketmaster.com.

This article first appeared on Boca Magazine on July 1, 2015 and can be found here.

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