"Models" is the first taste of FTRZ (pronounced Features), but there's more to come. The duo will release The Ocean Park EP on Aug. 24, and they promise it's only the beginning.
"Models" is a feel-good song about some not-so-good times in your lives.
Hanks: Yeah, it's an uplifting song about the kind of checkered past we both share of substance abuse and basically how we've turned our lives around. Next month I'll be sober for three years, Drew a couple months after me. And we both met each other two years ago. It was one of the first things me and Drew wrote together. One day, Drew just came up with this melody, which was the chorus, and he had tucked it away somewhere and we had basically forgotten about it. But I had such a strong reaction when I first heard that melody. I said to him, "That's like a summertime anthem," but we had completely forgotten about it. Then months later I went, "Yo, what about that one thing..." and he pulled it out and we went from there.
Arthur: It's a bio of our life story, recovery and being the people we're supposed to be right now. That's what's all over that song.
Are you comfortable putting that part of your lives out there so openly?
Hanks: It's a big part of the reason why me and Drew became such good friends. We're both sober and we've both gone through 12-step programs, and that's a big part of our lives. We didn't meet each other through that, but we both figured out that we were sober and shared similar stories. We instantly clicked over that. We've been through the ringer with that shit, with drugs and that whole lifestyle, and we got to a point where we needed a drastic change and completely 180'd our lives. We share that history but we also share our current outlook and state of mind, and now we've joined forces.
Arthur: Me and Chet have had similar downfalls with our checkered pasts. I did the Dr. Drew show probably six years ago as my rehab stint on VH1, and Chet's stuff was public because of his dad. Now we both have this positive outlook, and moving forward, we're putting our best selves out there.
Hanks: We didn't want to be responsible for putting that type of (dark) energy out into the world anymore. It feels so much better having a positive message than being reckless and thoughtless like we were.
What was it like after you two were first introduced to each other?
Arthur: I was working on another project called the Cowboy Movement and Chet was focused mainly on his acting but still had music in his heart. We were just were hanging out a lot and started writing songs together. Chet sang harmonies with the Cowboy Movement and were like, "You know what, dude? That was really fun doing that little show. Let's write some more songs together," and then it just kind of started from there. I scratched the other project and put another on hold and concentrated on this.
Hanks: I had originally started doing music in about 2010. It was strictly rap, hip-hop 'cause I'd been such a fan of it my hold life. I graduated in 2013 and came back to L.A. and was pursuing acting again. I had left music alone for a little while, but I got back into it by meeting Drew and also from this role on Empire, which kind of pulled me back into music.
How did FTRZ's musical identity come about?
Hanks: Drew's such a talented songwriter and he had such a unique voice, that's definitely where it came from. I started just as novelty rapping along over what he and our friend Jared (Cieslewicz) were writing. We did a little video of this one song called "Halfway," which we're also recording, and it got such a good reaction and we both agreed it was cool, and that's when we decided to form a group.
So what's ahead for FTRZ?
Arthur: It's a full project now. We're in the process; We've recorded, like, five tracks, but we're about to do three more and start getting stuff out.
Hanks: This summer we're going to be putting out more singles. We just put out "Models" but we already have more songs that are completed that we’re waiting to release, and then we have more songs that we have written that we just have to get in the studio and record. And we've been talking with our manager about doing live performances and trying to get those lined up as soon as possible.
In Chet's other "musical" life, is his Empire character Blake going to be with us next season?
Arthur: It's left in the air. He might have been offed, or he might be alive.
Hanks: [Laughs] You never know what it's going to be. There's always stuff coming down the pipeline. It's up to the powers that be to decide, so I wait for them to tell me.