The Driver Era technically just celebrated its second anniversary as a band, but Rocky and Ross Lynch aren’t exactly sophomores when it comes to making music together. The two brothers (as well as their other two siblings) were once a core part of pop-rock band R5 and the lifelong artists have been working together to solve one problem or another since they were kids.

But swapping out their family-friendly pop hooks for a slightly more mature sound and technically, removing three members of the band, weren’t the big shifts for the two youngest Lynch brothers. It was the move away from their Disney-owned record label that brought the most significant change for the duo.

“I feel like the transition really was from Hollywood Records to being independent,” Ross said. “To be honest, our siblings still play in the band and contribute when we play live, while Rocky and I are still in the studio making songs just like we were before The Driver Era. The real transition is going from having a label’s opinion and a label’s money backing our decisions compared to just us doing it however we wanted to.”

Of course, the transition also happened to coincide with Ross beginning a major new step in his acting career — graduating from his Disney Channel role of Austin & Ally’s Austin Moon to play everyone from Jeffrey Dahmer in My Friend Dahmer to Netflix’s favorite conflicted love interest (and occasional emotional punching bag) at Baxter High, Harvey Kinkle in Chilling Adventures of Sabrina.

Although the Lynch family has more experience balancing acting and music careers than just about any other, it doesn’t necessarily make it any easier for the Los Angeles-based brothers to communicate when Netflix summons one of them to Vancouver for filming.

“Every time we get to the situation for Ross going to Vancouver to film, we’re usually like ‘Cool, let’s figure out how to do this from different cities with FaceTime or something,’” Rocky said. “So far, I don’t think it’s worked out as well, but maybe we’re still getting better at it. I’ve gone to Vancouver a decent amount — and we’ve still gotten some decent songs out of it — but it does slow down everything on the music side. It puts a halt on everything from touring, writing, press-related, and even [our] closeness.”

“It definitely hinders the amount of attention we spend on The Driver Era, but I think there are some valuable lessons that we’ve learned about accountability and self-reliance that I think we’ll take throughout the rest of our careers,” Ross said. “Even as long as we’ve been working together, there’s still a grace period when we don’t see each other for a long time. When I’ve been filming in Canada and we haven’t been in contact as much, it’s interesting how it’s not always as smooth when I come back. You always have to grease up the engine to get it going.”

Along with the life and career lessons, the duo has learned while separated, both brothers also agree that some of their songs likely wouldn’t exist if not for the 1,200 miles between them for months on end. Now that they’re putting the finishing touches on the follow-up to last year’s X, The Driver Era can now see how different a track can be when it’s written during a rainy evening in British Columbia rather than a sunny afternoon in Southern California.

“I think a lot of these songs stand on their own from the rest of the songs on the album,” Rocky said. “The first two songs don’t really explain what the rest of the album is, and we kind of like that because it’s a nice surprise. Sonically, you may have a song with entirely processed drums, and then another song where the drums sound more live. One song may have Ross singing, and another song may have me singing. There’s never a perfect blueprint for how we make a song, so it’s always bound to be different than the last stuff we put out.”

“What’s exciting about these songs is that they all have different creation times, in that some of them have been in the process for a year or two and some of them we just started making a few months ago,” Ross added. “We didn’t just sit down and start making the album right here, right now. The songs all came from different points in our lives.”

Check out the exclusive premiere of The Driver Era’s new single, “flashdrive.”