Interview with R5 who are live in Bristol in SeptemberPosted on: 03 Sep 2017
Popular American outfit R5 are a youthful pop-rock band that maybe not many people would have heard of over here in the UK - yet (unless you’re a big fan of Disney Channel favourites ‘Austin & Ally’ and the ‘Teen Beach’ movies) but over in the states the lively, colourful five-some are fiercely popular and are about to embark on a sold-out European tour with the aim of introducing the rest of the world to their pop-party performances and rambunctious fun-filled approach to their music. They'll be stopping off at The Fleece in Bristol on 18th September.
R5 were formed in Los Angeles, California in 2009 and consists of lead vocalist/rhythm guitarist Ross Lynch, Riker Lynch on bass/vocals, Rocky Lynch on lead guitar/vocals, Rydel Lynch on keyboard/vocals and Ellington Ratliff on drums/vocals. You can probably guess from the line-up that the band are made up of siblings and completed by family friend Ellington.
Since releasing their debut album ‘Louder’ they have toured across five continents. Their sophomore album ‘Sometime Last Night’ was released in 2015 and debuted at #6 on the Billboard 200 in the US, and in the top 20 in five other countries. They have also released five EPs, eleven singles, and a live DVD to date.
Ahead of their visit to the UK and more importantly their scheduled appearance at The Fleece in Bristol, 365 Bristol spent some time speaking with drummer and all-round nice guy Ellington Ratliff whilst the band are currently enjoying some down-time in sunny California.
Seeing that R5 have a big teenage following in the UK we handed over the interview reigns to uber-fans Kaci-Leigh and Keane Holbrook to ask some of the questions...Here’s how it went down:
365BRISTOL: Will this be your first time performing in Bristol?
ELLINGTON R5: We’ve never been to Bristol, so we’re really excited. We have no idea what to expect. I’m really pumped because we love to come to new places.
365BRISTOL: How’s the touring been going in other countries?
ELLINGTON R5: It’s been going so well. We hit North America a while ago, then Mexico – Mexico was a blast. The Mexican fans love to party – it was really cool to spend a week there.
365BRISTOL: You have a couple weeks before you hit the UK, is that right?
ELLINGTON R5: Yeah, we have a couple weeks at home concentrating on the new stuff, we shot a music video for ‘Somehow’ but then it’s on to Europe for the tour.
365BRISTOL: When you hit Bristol you’re going to be performing in our legendary music venue The Fleece, who have hosted huge talents on their way up like Oasis, Radiohead, Pulp, Muse...Do you know anything about the venue and what to expect?
ELLINGTON R5: We’re going in blind as a bat – What do I need to know?
365BRISTOL: There’s nowhere to hide in the Fleece, you’re following in the footsteps of some of the biggest bands in the world who have played there early on in their careers. It’s a small place but it’s certainly all about the music and it’s a sell-out so it’s going to be a bit of a sweat box and the fans are gonna be rabid and very close to you.
ELLINGTON R5: It’s really nice for us to change it up and hit these intimate venues, our biggest show to date was Argentina which was over 8,000 people which was insane, but we love to come to places like Bristol and perform in smaller clubs where the fans can get up close and personal and really party with us. I’m really looking forward to it.
365BRISTOL: Being as big as you are in America, is the aim of this tour to try and break into the international market?
ELLINGTON R5: For sure, yeah. We actually hit Europe before, quite early on; we played London and Paris and we were surprised by just how many fans came out for us over there – we were shocked people even knew who we were.
365BRISTOL: You already have a fan-base in the UK, mainly teenagers, is another aim of the tour to maybe try and push your music to a more mature audience?
ELLINGTON R5: We pay attention to what’s current and try to evolve our music as music in general evolves around us. Adults and teenagers can like the same music so we just kinda aim to make good music and stay current and see where that gets us.
365BRISTOL: Does that mean the new stuff may differ from what’s come before? When are you planning on releasing new material?
ELLINGTON R5: We have a collection of songs we’re working on and ideas brewing but we’re not entirely sure in what way this stuff is going to be released just yet. It all comes down to the boring business side of things as to how and when our stuff is released; whether that be singles, EP’s or an album. I suppose it comes down to tactics and deals but we don’t get too much involved in that stuff and just concentrate on the music.
365BRISTOL: Will the European tour include any of this new music or are you going to be playing the older albums?
ELLINGTON R5: We’ll be playing everything off of ‘New Edition’ which is our latest EP and some fan favourites from our first album because that’s what the fans really wanna hear.
365BRISTOL: Talking of fans, I have a couple sat with me who would love to ask you some questions so I’m going to hand you over to Keane and Kaci...
ELLINGTON R5: Cool!
They just about manage to control their nerves and excitement and take over on 365Bristol’s behalf.
365BRISTOL KEANE/KACI: Are you looking forward to coming to Bristol?
ELLINGTON R5: Yeah, the venue sounds tight so we’re looking forward to playing there and exploring the city too because we’ve never been before.
365BRISTOL KEANE/KACI: What’s the craziest thing that has ever happened to the band at a live gig?
ELLINGTON R5: We were performing in Argentina which was one of our biggest gigs ever and Ross got really pumped and ran to the front of the stage but lost his balance and fell into the fans - he got eaten alive! They ripped off his clothes, his jewellery, I thought he was gonna be missing a limb or two because he was in there a while. We had to start over so he could be rescued by security. Ross is a pretty robust and strong dude so he was absolutely fine but that was pretty crazy.
365BRISTOL KACI/KEANE: Has anybody in the band ever got ‘friendly’ with or ‘fancied’ a fan?
ELLINGTON R5: Ha Ha, I love that terminology – the answer is YES. I haven’t, I’m in a relationship but I’ve seen others in the band y’know, really embrace that rock n roll lifestyle and hang with fans backstage and well y’know...
365BRISTOL KACI/KEANE: Do you have any hobbies outside of playing music?
ELLINGTON R5: We all play softball with our friends in a local park – it’s the best American pastime, crack a beer or a coffee and just hang. Some of the others play hockey too.
365BRISTOL KACI/KEANE: Who’s the best at softball?
ELLINGTON R5: We’re all pretty good but probably Ross or Ryker are the best at hitting it accurate and far and hitting those home runs. I aspire to be as good as those guys one day.
365BRISTOL KACI/KEANE: What’s the biggest challenge you guys have faced as a band?
ELLINGTON R5: The biggest challenge musically is probably us trying to transition from Ross being on the Disney channel to people taking us seriously as a rock band. I mean the Disney Channel is quite cool over in the UK and Europe but in America it’s kinda seen as a bit childish and that was a bit of a roadblock for us over here. So when people came to see us we weren’t really what they expected but we kept on trucking and people are now beginning to get what we’re all about.
365BRISTOL KACI/KEANE: Do you have any funny stories from being on tour?
ELLINGTON R5: We were in Chicago this one time and this girl showed up and asked us if we’d ever seen a Blackhawks tattoo (an American Hockey team)... and then all of a sudden she took out her fake eye! It was a rubber eyeball and there was this tattoo on the back of the eyeball. That was pretty shocking but we had a good laugh with her.
365BRISTOL KACI/KEANE: What bands have inspired you to make music?
ELLINGTON R5: We can take inspiration from anywhere I think, but me specifically, and talking of great bands, I love the London band The Arctic Monkeys, especially their early albums. I learned how to drum from listening to Arctic Monkeys albums, trying to play along. Then there’s the White Stripes, I’m a huge Jack White fan.
365BRISTOL KACI/KEANE: As a drummer what is your favourite song to perform live?
ELLINGTON R5: We incorporated a little drum solo at the end of ‘Did you have your fun?’ and I get a rush for that and the crowd always go crazy for it. Red Velvet too, we all love to play that one as a band and we have this little jazz section at the end which rocks and y’know that song kinda evolves with each tour because we just love playing around with that one.
365BRISTOL KACI/KEANE: Who gets most excited when the tours kick off?
ELLINGTON R5: In the beginning we were more like a crazy punk band thrashing and throwing guitars and jumping around, but we’ve mellowed a little but since the beginning but Ryker still gets pumped and channels his inner Fall Out Boy and still throws himself around. So he’s certainly the craziest and gets the most excited still I think.
365BRISTOL KACI/KEANE: Who writes the music/songs?
ELLINGTON R5: It depends on the song. Most of the songs were produced by Rocky, he’d write the music and the rest of the band would work on melody and stuff, I’d go to another room and write some lyrics. It’s pretty evenly split to be honest. Rocky wrote ‘Lay Your Head Down’ in one sitting by himself though. The newer stuff that hasn’t come out yet, we’re kinda working from our own different spaces so we have to work out the best way to put these new songs together.
To wrap up, 365Bristol took over leaving the two uber-fans to catch their breath.
365BRISTOL: Going back to your earlier comment about the transition from Ross being on the Disney Channel to you guys playing harder rock music, do you think Ross taking on darker acting roles like his upcoming lead role in ‘My Friend Dahmer’ will help the band solidify that transition or can individual successes make it a bit of a juggling act.
ELLINGTON R5: I think we’re gonna be able to use his success in the Dahmer film to at least gain more attention as a band. For example, we’d never been featured in Rolling Stone before, but they did a thing on Ross as Dahmer and they talked about us and then they did a small feature on us so I don’t think that would’ve happened without Ross’s success with that movie. I think the industry is beginning to take us a little more seriously and people are beginning to see what we’re all about outside of Ross’s early fame on the Disney Channel. People forget we’ve been performing and making music for years prior to Ross getting on the Disney Channel, we were young, but we always performed well as a band and people are beginning to really see what we’re all about and Ross’s success outside of the band really helps us to get our music out there. We certainly paid our dues.
365BRISTOL: Well we can’t wait to see what you’re all about when you hit The Fleece, 365Bristol will be there but that’s about it for us for now, thanks for taking the time to speak with us and we’ll see you in September.
ELLINGTON R5: It’s been a pleasure, see you then.
Born and bred in Bristol, Paul is a creative, freelance writer who contributes articles and entertainment reviews. Paul is also an established screenwriter making headway in the competitive world of the spec screenplay, a film producer, a movie & music buff, an animal lover, and a father to two kids. "Working as a freelance writer in both print and on-line industries gives me the freedom to work on my narrative spec writing, and there is no better city than vibrant Bristol to encourage and inspire."