Hailing from Los Angeles, The Drives is a trio who have been making waves across the rock scene with their music in recent years. Comprised of singer/guitarist Andrew Levin, producer/songwriter Casey Chen, and drummer Geo Botelho, the trio started garnering buzz with their single “Keep Warm,” which was featured on Spotify Playlist Fresh Finds, KCRW, and reached #3 on Hypem’s Popular Chart. Since then, their works have been aired in local radios and even used for a Pizza Hut commercial.
Levin and Chen met back when they were playing in rival bands in high school in Orange County. They started The Drives in early 2017 and ended up recruiting Geo later that year. The three of them live together in Highland Park, Los Angeles where they’ve spent this year songsmithing in quarantine. We had the chance to chat with the trio in regards to their origins, music, 2020, future plans, survival skills on a desert island, and more.
Andrew and Casey, you guys first met as rival bands. What were your first impressions of each other?
Andrew: Casey was the new kid at our high school freshmen year and he was this crazy confident kid who was really good at skating and played music so we got along great instantly. I realized pretty quick that Casey was an insane musician so I knew I wanted to start some kind of project with him eventually.
Casey: We got along great as friends who skated together but I didn’t think we were ever going to be that tight or hang out in smaller groups. Then he told some story at a friend’s house that made me laugh so hard I almost peed my pants. So I was like, okay this kid is dope.
Geo you were the final addition to the band. What was your first impression of Andrew and Casey?
Geo: The first time I met Casey in Boston he was dressed as a sexy kitten on halloween. So that was good. We became friends after that years before the band started. Andrew and I had never met before we moved in together with Casey in LA. When I first met him I was so confident that I wouldn’t like him, but of course I was wrong, and we became good friends within a week. Casey and Andrew were just two of my good friends who were starting this band from the house so I was just in the band at some point and I don’t even remember talking about it. But the music was great and they needed a bass player so it all worked out.
Why did you choose “The Drives” as your band name? What were some alternative names?
Andrew: I came up with the band name the Drives and it was agreed on very quickly. I honestly don’t think there were any other names we were playing with at the time. We had all played in so many bands so had so many shitty band name experiences. We knew we wanted something simple and I think when the Drives came to me it just felt good.
If you were to describe your sound in one word, what would it be and why?
For someone who is new to The Drives, what three tracks should we present to get that person hooked?
Andrew: Tell Me, OCD, Keep Warm.
Andrew, you opened up about your own experiences with OCD in one of your recent singles. Can you share more about your journey with it? What advice would you give to people who are struggling with it?
Andrew: Oh boy. Well I have been dealing with OCD most of my life. I would say the best advice I could give would be to talk to people. Talk to your family, a counselor, or therapist, or psychologist. OCD can be a scary thing to talk about. I know I was very embarrassed about it so I hid it from everyone, which only made it worse. I think if I would have talked about it earlier in my life I would have had a lot easier time dealing with it in my adult life. It’s still tough regardless, but it is a lot better when you have people to talk to about it.
Looking back at 2020, what were some pros and cons that you guys faced as a band this year?
Andrew: I mean the cons are definitely pretty endless, especially for people who were hit the hardest by everything this year. We got pretty lucky in that we all live together so we just got to stay in a make music all the time. So for us as a band, the cons were not being able to play live. But one pro is that a bunch of people are listening to us and discovering us online which is great. And the other pro is that we have been able to write and produce a bunch of new music during quarantine.
What are your plans for 2021?
Andrew: OH MY GOD. We are so excited for 2021. The first half of the year we are planning on releasing a ton of new music and then by summer we’re hoping to be able to start playing shows again, which we are all dying to do.
If you guys get stranded on a desert island, who’s the first member to die? Who do you think will survive? And most importantly, who do you think will turn to cannibalism?
The Drives: For sure Casey will die first, without coffee, he might be dead in a matter of hours. I think Andrew could potentially survive a long time unless Geo eats him first. I think the cannibalism would start pretty early. I assume there would be a conversation before Casey dies where he would give us permission to eat him. Then it would be a matter of time before Geo began hunting Andrew.
The world ends tomorrow and you decide to throw an apocalyptic party tonight. What song will you choose as the opener? And which one as the closing one before we all die in flames?
Andrew: That’s a good one. I don’t know if we could agree on an opener and closer as a band. We would probably end up arguing the whole time until the party ended. We would probably go with “Anthem Part Two” by Blink-182 as the opener to get the party started with some energy and because Blink was one of the first bands we all liked when we were growing up. Then, I think we would choose “Mr. Brightside” as the closer, sorry if we are basic.
The technical term for the cause of death for Casey is Caffeine Deficiency Syndrome.