Pop rock outfit 5 Seconds of Summer have shed their boy band image and are ready to wow fans with a new album

In an exclusive interview, the members tell us more about their evolution and new sound… 
5 Seconds of Summer. Pic: Andy DeLuca
5 Seconds of Summer. Pic: Andy DeLuca

Hailing from Sydney, the band 5 Seconds of Summer’s meteoric rise to fame has been the stuff of dreams. Sometime in late 2011, a group of high school friends began uploading covers of popular songs to YouTube and playing gigs at local pubs. Based on social media hype alone, the band attracted the attention of record labels, and eventually struck a deal. In 2013, 5SOS accompanied teen pop idols One Direction on a world tour and sice then, there has been no looking back.

With more than four studio albums and chart-topping hits such as She Looks So Perfect, Old Me and Teeth, 5SOS now features frontman Luke Hemmings, lead guitarist Michael Clifford, bassist Calum Hood, and drummer Ashton Irwin. Their upcoming fifth album, titled 5SOS5, takes their pop punk spirit and mixes it with influences like Bruce Springsteen, Tame Impala and Taylor Swift. Songs like Complete Mess and Me Myself & I already have fans going gaga. On the eve of a North American tour, the members open up about the band’s evolution from a having a ‘boy band’ image to discovering a more mature sound, and what we can expect from the album. Excerpts:

We heard this album was born on a trip to Joshua Tree. Tell us more about the writing process.
Luke: Good question. At the end of 2020, we made a decision to go out as a band to Joshua Tree. It was far enough away from where we live in Los Angeles, but close enough that we could drive there. And we went out with the intention of making music and with the intention of hanging out and just seeing what happens. But we started making an album. One of the first songs that we made was Complete Mess, which is the first single. From there, we sort of snowballed and thought, “So okay, now we’re fully making an album.” I think it just was nice to be isolated from everybody, and just be ‘the band.’ The genesis of the album came from being in that place of isolation — just the four of us. I think it changed it in that way, and it was super fun and not stressful which, I think, is reflected in the songs.

The single Complete Mess was the first time you guys wrote and produced a full song. How was that experience?
Michael: It was awesome! It was so different from the way that we’ve made music in the past. And a well-needed creative shift, I think. We were able to really home in on what we wanted to sound like and how we wanted to create music going forward. We tried to make the experience as fun as possible and 
as easy as possible and just really enjoy the process.

And because of that, do you feel the music is a little different than your previous work? 
Luke: Yeah, I think it’s definitely different. I think it has a more identifiable ‘band sound’. I think it just sounds like exactly what the band felt at that time, as opposed to having someone else’s influence in it.

Your earlier work has been compared to bands such as Blink 182 and Green Day. Who were some inspirations with this album, genre wise?
Michael: God, it’s so diverse with the kind of music we were making! We were making the kind of music that felt like it could be played in an arena, but also played on the radio. And also, we still wanted it to have that pop-punk spirit, but we didn’t necessarily want to make pop-punk. So, we had to find a way to create our own version of it in 2022. So, there’s no real genre specifically; there’s influences from here and there, such as artists like Bruce Springsteen. And then we go to the other end of the spectrum and we pulled influences from electronic music so there’s some Tame Impala, but then there’s also modern stuff like Taylor Swift. It’s kind of just everything because we’re big fans of music. And we just wanted to create something that we found fun.

How have you felt your sound has evolved from your previous work to this upcoming album?
Luke: I think we started as a very pop-rock, pop-punk band, and I think it’s evolved so much from there. It went a bit more industrial and electronic, almost like a Depeche Mode kind of style. And then it shifted into a more brighter ‘big string’ sound. Sort of like The Verve and Coldplay. I think it’s really exciting to be in a band that can change genres like that and still try and maintain some sort of common thread throughout it. That’s also why we have been in the band for such a long time. We’ve been trying out new things and not stuck to one box. We worked really hard to be able to do that. We could go back and make a pop-punk album if we wanted to and then make something like Complete Mess. And I’m just so excited to be a part of that.

And how have you guys personally evolved since becoming a band?
Michael: We’ve all grown into the people that we are today because of  the last 10 years we spent together. Because when we started this band, we were kids, and now, we’re adults. We’ve changed as people and as musicians. We’re all different in our respective little worlds that we live in.

What can you guys tell us about the upcoming fifth studio album.  How did you ultimately decide on the name 5SOS5?
Michael: I think the name was pretty obvious, and it was right in front of us. It got to a point where our fans have been calling the album 5SOS5 for so long that it sort of felt blasphemous to call it anything else. The album was already named by that point. Even before we made the album, it already existed, so we let the fans name this one. And they can expect a sh*tload of songs — about 19 songs. We also have a new music video for Me, Myself & I. We shot it in London. I love this video, and I think it’s really simple and effective. We put a lot of love and a lot of thought into these songs. It’s definitely a journey from the start to the end of this album.

How does it feel to be embarking on a tour again? Did you miss being on the road, or was it a welcome break?
Luke: I think a bit of both. It’s incredible to be playing shows again. This tour has some of the best shows that we played in regards to the set we put together for it. But I also think there was definitely some gratitude that we couldn’t do it for a couple of years. So yes, I think it’s a bit of both. 
Now we’re excited about going to Mexico and North America and then Australia.

5SOS5 is slated to release on September 23, 2022 


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