R5’S SECOND FULL-LENGTH ALBUM, “Sometime Last Night,” arrived last July. A new album is notable, but the bigger news is the group came close to releasing an entirely different album as its second
full-length effort.
The group, which is signed to Disney Music Group’s Hollywood Records and includes Ross Lynch, who stars as Austin Moon in the Disney Channel television sitcom, Austin & Ally, actually finished what it thought would be its second album, only to have second thoughts, according to bassist/singer Riker Lynch.
“We were finishing up and it didn’t quite feel right at the time,” Riker said in a recent phone interview. “We were like, just something is missing from it. We were like OK, we’re going to scrap it and start over.”
For a group that was only on its second album, it was a bold decision for the five band members – Ross, Riker, brother Rocky Lynch, sister Rydel Lynch and family friend Ellington Ratliff. They wanted to have a much bigger hand in the songwriting for the second album – something
they didn’t get to do on their two previous Hollywood Records releases.
Both the 2013 EP, “Loud,” and the full-length debut, “Louder” (released later that year), were largely written by Evan “Kidd”
Bogart, Andrew Goldstein and Emanuel Kiriakou. That trio had writing credits on all 11 songs on “Louder” (with members of R5 pitching in on the songwriting on six of the 11 songs). Kiriakou (whose credits
include David Archuleta, Selena Gomez and Hot Chelle Rae) executive produced the album, while Goldstein (whose resume includes writing and producing MKTO, Demi Lovato and Hot Chelle Rae) and Rocky Lynch shared production duties on the album.
This isn’t anything new, of course, since many top 40 and teen pop acts (that’s R5’s target audience) rely heavily on outside writers and producers to create their albums.
Riker said working with professionals like Bogart, Goldstein and Kiriakou was important at that stage of R5’s career.
“With ‘Louder,’ it was like our first album, so ‘Louder’ was an amazing learning experience,” Riker said. “We had to go through that. We had to have that album in order to get to where we are now because we didn’t know anything about recording an album.”
The second album originally had heavy involvement from outside writers and producers as well. But in deciding to shelve that first version of the second album, R5 went to its label and saying they wanted to take the creative lead in starting over on the second album.
The band got the green light, but with the understanding that the bar was being set high for what became the “Sometime Last Night” album.
“We had a meeting and we were like we feel like we just need to start over and do it ourselves, do more (of it) ourselves,” Riker said. “And the reaction was pretty good. It was a good like ‘OK, if you guys are going to do this, the only thing is it has to be as good or better than what you’re competing with’ because we had songs (for the original second album) that were written by Ryan Tedder or other big writers. So it was like if you’re going to write a song on your own, it has to be as good or better than OneRepublic or Maroon 5 or Walk The Moon. You’re competing with these extremely good bands, and you have to be at that level.”
That kind of directive could certainly put pressure on any group, especially one with just one full-length album to its credit. But if the four Riker siblings and Ratliff (that’s where the band name R5 comes from) were feeling any heat, it didn’t show during the writing process, which Riker described as spontaneous and natural.
Looking back, Riker thinks scrapping the first version of the second album was the best decision the group could have made at the time. It allowed R5 to demonstrate its songwriting skills and create an album
in “Sometime Last Night” that better reflects the kind of rocking pop sound the group wants to create.
Songs like the anthemic mid-tempo track “Wild Hearts,” “Let’s Not Be Alone” and “I Know You Got Away” set the tone for “Sometime Last Night” with their bright and catchy vocal hooks, big, danceable beats and cheery energy. Meanwhile, the ballads “Repeating Days” and “Do It
Again,” the Maroon 5-ish blend of funk, pop and soul on “Lightning Strikes” and the bouncy disco-ish “Dark Side” bring some welcome variety to the album.
The writing for “Sometime Last Night” was a genuine team effort for R5. In the group’s pre-Disney/Hollywood Records years, Riker and Rocky generally took the lead in songwriting, with some contributions from Ross. (R5 self-released the EP, “Ready Set Rock,” in 2010). The writing mix, though, changed on “Sometime Last Night.”
While Rocky generally continued to create the basic structures for songs, Ross and Ratliff took on major roles in writing vocal melodies and lyrics. Riker’s involvement was more limited because during this
time he had a rather high-profile outside commitment.
“Ross really stepped it up melodically, (writing) really great melodies and catchy melodies and really interesting lyrics that you wouldn’t think of at the time,” Riker said. “The two of them (Rocky and Ross) working together, with Ellington a lot of the time – I was doing ‘Dancing With The Stars’ – they found something really organic and really natural and really special and tapped into it at the perfect time and crafted some really, really great songs. And I would sort of come in toward the end of the songwriting process and be like
‘OK, this is all great, but this part isn’t good enough. Like we need to make this part better somehow.’ And I would help them in that area. I was sort of like the mediator and I would oversee the final product.”
As Riker mentioned, he was occupied as a contestant on the popular ABC
show “Dancing With The Stars” while “Sometime Last Night” was being written. Riker and his brothers had some dance experience as members of the Rage Boyz Crew dance team on another television dance show, “So You Think You Can Dance,” in 2009. That experience didn’t hurt, as Riker and his partner on “Dancing With The Stars,” professional dancer
Allison Holker, finished second on the show’s May 2015 finale.
Doing the show tested Riker more than he expected going into “Dancing With The Stars.”
“When I started it, I was like all right, I have some dance experience. I’ll be good,” he said. “But it’s so much harder than
anybody even realizes. It’s insane how physical and mentally draining it is. It’s very, very difficult… But at the end of the day, it was so fun. And I love performing, and everybody there was so nice and so fun to be around. It was a great experience. I had a great time.”
Any dancing in public for Riker will now happen spontaneously on stage during R5’s winter tour. Don’t expect New Kids On The Block/Backstreet Boys-styled choreographed dance routines, though, as an R5 concert is first and foremost a rock show. This band’s set will lean heavily on
songs from “Sometime Last Night,” with favorites from “Louder” and the “Loud” EP rounding out the selections.
“The live show for us is very, very important, and we really strive to be the best we possibly can be. I think our live show is really, really strong,” Riker said. “We put on a very energetic show. We really kind of come out going crazy and get everybody to go crazy with us.”

View pictures from their Feb. 10 show at Iron City Bham performance

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