Photo: Andy DeLuca
5 Seconds Of Summer On How "Loosening The Grip" & A Trip To Joshua Tree Resulted In Their Most Freeing Album Yet, '5SOS5'
With a tour and a new album on the horizon, 5 Seconds of Summer are back to their busy lifestyle. But according to the pop-rock foursome, the band has never been more free.
Last year, 5 Seconds of Summer commemorated 10 years as a band with a nostalgic — and aptly titled — single called "2011." In its opening line, the group's bassist/vocalist Calum Hood declares, "I miss the days when we were young and not too wise/ Only doin' what felt right."
Though the rest of the song is just as yearning, the first verse is actually rather ironic. Sure, the 5SOS guys are older and wiser — but in terms of how they approached their latest album, "only doin' what felt right" pretty much sums it up.
"We didn't use as many references, like, 'It should sound like this song or this band,'" guitarist/vocalist Michael Clifford says. "It was more about, like, 'What does the song make you want to feel?' This album was freeing for us, so we wanted the music to reflect that."
The finished product is 5SOS5, 5 Seconds of Summer's fifth album, due Sept. 23. Clifford co-produced the project, marking the first time one of the 5SOS members has taken a seat behind the board. In the eyes of Clifford and his bandmates (Hood, lead singer Luke Hemmings and drummer Ashton Irwin), that's only one of the many things that made 5SOS5 special.
Before the album arrives, 5 Seconds of Summer will spend June and July touring North America, kicking off in Vancouver on June 11. Fans can expect plenty of new music — the pop-rock group hasn't had a chance to tour their previous album, 2020's CALM — and, judging by their excitement, an elevated energy from the band.
Hood, Clifford, Hemmings and Irwin gave GRAMMY.com a look into the 5SOS5 process, which involved a trip to the famed Joshua Tree, a "subconscious playlist," and a freedom that was reminiscent of their 2011 beginnings.
Obviously there was a global pandemic happening while you were making this album, but how did this process differ from previous albums?
Irwin: The motivation for this record began with liberation of the band's creative identity, and really confronting it with a bit more maturity and experience after making four albums — and just really getting a grip on how we wanted to communicate musically and creatively with the world.
A lot of our records in the past have been built really quickly, but this album had time to be reworked and rethought, and had time to go through a true process on all different levels. So everybody was working on progressing in their own corner in starring in their role, to say the least. Someone who really f<em></em>*ing starred their role on this record was Michael. He became an amazing producer in this process.
Clifford: We were kind of betting on each other and listening to each other musically, and understanding where we were all at. We're all so different in our individual music tastes, and we're so different as musicians, that coming together and creating this amalgamation of all of our favorite stuff together was magical.
Have you been wanting to write songs just the four of you and have one of you produce it?
Irwin: It's not even based in the egotistical [mindset] of, "I want to write this all myself." It was more like, "When are we ready to be aware of what we do enough to have taken the lessons from our mentors and the talented people we've worked with and see if we know how to teach [ourselves]?"
This was the album where everybody had acquired their skill sets, and they were thriving. It felt like we had enough bravery in our artistry to push it further — to see if we could create more self-awareness as a band and explore the depths of who we are as a band.
We kind of see that being the reason why people would follow our band 11 years in. We're still pushing, we're changing, and ultimately, I hope we're remaining interesting.
From a fan perspective, it felt like your 2018 album Youngblood kind of began the realization process of what you could do musically, 2020's CALM was an expansion of that, and 5SOS5 — at least from what you've released so far — feels like you're 100 percent comfortable in who you are as musicians. Do you agree with that?
Irwin: Yeah, I mean, it's just letting go and letting the band become what it wants to become. Loosening the grip on it all. It's really identifying what true success is to us. And true success to the band is further swimming out into the ocean of unknown, but accepting it as creative freedom.
We just continue pushing, and we trust each other, and those are the successes to us. It gives us a livelihood that is transferred in our live shows as well. Overall, this process has made us more confident in what the band is, but it's also put gas in the tank for us to go another 10 years.
You've said that this album process felt like the making of the first album. Why is that?
Hemmings: It felt the most like the first album process, in its simplest form, because it was fun. Which sounds really lame. [Laughs.]
We were exploring new stuff, and it was a bit more childlike, I suppose. It just felt like we weren't trying so hard. And the first album felt like that as well. Trying out new sounds, and not exactly knowing what was going to happen when we went in the studio. Whereas... on Youngblood, it was a bit more industrial, and a bit darker, and on the fourth album, we were like, "we want to expand on that." And this album, we sort of stumbled across things, and from there, we were like, "Oh, that works. Let's continue that."
Throughout album process, you went to Joshua Tree, a place where several artists have gone for inspiration. So I have to know, is it really as creatively inspiring as it's cracked up to be?
Irwin: I'm gonna say it: It's a vortex!
There's a crazy vibe there. And I don't know if it's just because the ringing in your ears stops from the city, and you can just be like, "Oh my God, there's a sky!" It's more the creative philosophy that you need to create space in your mind, and space in your environment, for there to be new ideas, new feelings and new observations of self to come through clearly.
It's also about not having anywhere else to be. The intense focus is what creates the awesome work. So when there isn't somewhere to be, someone else to see, other distractions, the band works really well. We just play with the music — and we can do it for 15 hours a day. We get obsessed with it. So isolation as a concept works better for the band.
Clifford: We all were staying in the same house together, and we were waking up with no pressure on what to do on that day. There were days that we didn't even go into the studio. We were just like, "You know what, it's more important to us that we hang out right now and enjoy each other's company."
Even though that sounds so lame, it was a really important part of the process, just hanging out, watching some s<em></em>*ty movies together. That's why it felt like the first album — it was, like Luke said, childlike. And there was absolutely no pressure.
Did you have a house in Joshua Tree? I'm imagining a glamping setup for 5SOS.
Irwin: I'll be honest with you, we don't really glamp.
Clifford: I'm not much of a glamper.
Irwin: Just to keep it real.
So what was the setup then?
Irwin: We rented studio houses. We don't really like to waste time, and when we book a studio, we like to work. We see a studio as a gift, still. We grew up in Western Sydney, and even the idea and feeling of getting to go to a nice studio is still awesome. Every studio is different, and every studio, for the band, creates a different kind of energy and sound.
Has there been a song that made you think, "Man, we've really figured out our sound and who 5 Seconds of Summer is"?
Irwin: From my perspective, it was "Complete Mess." And even songs like [5SOS album cut] "Carousel." They contain ingredients that have taken a decade to unfold and become present.
It's also in the mix process — the identity, and the heart of the band. It's how we heard music growing up, how we perceived a good song, or a good mix. We remain very connected to our childlike sense of what we thought was a good song, and the band subconsciously has a playlist of every song that we love. We all know the songs that each other loves, and they're the core DNA songs that we create from. And that's why it's a special band, because we do share a consciousness, and we share an energetic journey.
What kind of songs are on that playlist?
Irwin: They're interesting songs. We grew up young Aussies in Western Sydney — it's working class, it's biker gangs, it's high crime, it's hard work, it's hot sun. And it's rock and roll and it's pop. You're digesting Crowded House, AC/DC, Foo Fighters, Cold Chisel, iconic Aussie punk bands like the Living End. But then you're also living in the Australian dream — Australians just want to go to LA, really, and be American. It's f<em></em><em>ing weird. [Laughs*.]
What Aussies didn't have was a scene. We had a hardcore scene, with bands like Karnivool or Parkway Drive, but we did not have a pop-punk scene. So a lot of the songs we know together are coming out of that early 2000s pop-punk scene that was happening in America. The way those young bands would cultivate a fan base impacted us so heavily in creating the culture of our group and how we would communicate with the world.
There's dozens of songs, but it's more an era and a feeling of music that is mapped in our brains, naturally, by where we lived.
Speaking of your pop-punk roots — I recently revisited your "Voodoo Doll (One Mic, One Take)" video from 2014, and you guys have spiky hair and no tattoos. I couldn't help thinking, "I wonder if they revisit stuff like this to kind of be reminded of the growth that they've had." Or if you guys avoid it because it just makes you cringe.
Hood: I think it's awesome. It's cool that we're able to recollect a lot of the timeline of our band and personal lives, for better or for worse.
Irwin: When I watch videos like that, I just go, "Damn, those guys did their best." I see 18-hour work days, I see young guys, clueless, doing their best with their natural talent and their natural thing they've got together. I see some guys just trying to work it out. I don't judge them, really. Without those guys in the "Voodoo Doll" video, I wouldn't be s<em></em>*. Those guys were brave.
Hemmings: As you get a bit older, and you've been in this industry for a while, you sort of look back with a bit more empathy on yourself. As opposed to, like," Oh, why did I do that? Or why was this not like this?" You look back with a bit more pride.
Irwin: We're still committed to this path. We understand that it's a gift to play every show, to release any song, have any music video — to do it in general. We always try to [keep] gratitude in the middle.
GRAMMY SoundChecks With Gavin DeGraw
On Aug. 28 Nashville Chapter GRAMMY U members took part in GRAMMY SoundChecks with Gavin DeGraw. Approximately 30 students gathered at music venue City Hall and watched DeGraw play through some of the singles from earlier in his career along with "Cheated On Me" from his latest self-titled album.
In between songs, DeGraw conducted a question-and-answer session and inquired about the talents and goals of the students in attendance. He gave inside tips to the musicians present on how to make it in the industry and made sure that every question was answered before moving onto the next song.
Juan Gabriel named 2009 Latin Recording Academy Person Of The Year
Annual star-studded gala slated for Nov. 4 in Las Vegas during 10th Annual Latin GRAMMY Week celebration
Internationally renowned singer/songwriter/performer Juan Gabriel will be celebrated as the 2009 Latin Recording Academy Person of the Year, it was announced today by The Latin Recording Academy. Juan Gabriel, chosen for his professional accomplishments as well as his commitment to philanthropic efforts, will be recognized at a star-studded concert and black tie dinner on Nov. 4 at the
The "Celebration with Juan Gabriel" gala will be one of the most prestigious events held during Latin GRAMMY week, a celebration that culminates with the 10th Annual Latin GRAMMY Awards ceremony. The milestone telecast will be held at
"As we celebrate this momentous decade of the Latin GRAMMYs, The Latin Recording Academy and its Board of Trustees take great pride in recognizing Juan Gabriel as an extraordinary entertainer who never has forgotten his roots, while at the same time having a global impact," said Latin Recording Academy President Gabriel Abaroa. "His influence on the music and culture of our era has been tremendous, and we welcome this opportunity to pay a fitting tribute to a voice that strongly resonates within our community."
Over the course of his 30-year career, Juan Gabriel has sold more than 100 million albums and has performed to sold-out audiences throughout the world. He has produced more than 100 albums for more than 50 artists including Paul Anka, Lola Beltran, Rocío Dúrcal, and Lucha Villa among many others. Additionally, Juan Gabriel has written more than 1,500 songs, which have been covered by such artists as Marc Anthony, Raúl Di Blasio, Ana Gabriel, Angelica María, Lucia Mendez, Estela Nuñez, and Son Del Son. In 1986, Los Angeles Mayor Tom Bradley declared Oct. 5 "The Day of Juan Gabriel." The '90s saw his induction into Billboard's Latin Music Hall of Fame and he joined La Opinion's Tributo Nacional Lifetime Achievement Award recipients list.
At the age of 13, Juan Gabriel was already writing his own songs and in 1971 recorded his first hit, "No Tengo Dinero," which landed him a recording contract with RCA. Over the next 14 years, he established himself as Mexico's leading singer/songwriter, composing in diverse styles such as rancheras, ballads, pop, disco, and mariachi, which resulted in an incredible list of hits ("Hasta Que Te Conocí," "Siempre En Mi Mente," "Querida," "Inocente Pobre Amigo," "Abrázame Muy Fuerte," "Amor Eterno," "El Noa Noa," and "Insensible") not only for himself but for many leading Latin artists. In 1990, Juan Gabriel became the only non-classical singer/songwriter to perform at the Palacio de Bellas Artes in
After a hiatus from recording, Juan Gabriel released such albums as Gracias Por Esperar, Juntos Otra Vez, Abrázame Muy Fuerte, Los Gabriel…Para Ti, Juan Gabriel Con La Banda…El Recodo, and El Mexico Que Se Nos Fue, which were all certified gold and/or platinum by the RIAA. In 1996, to commemorate his 25th anniversary in the music industry, BMG released a retrospective set of CDs entitled 25 Aniversario, Solos, Duetos, y Versiones Especiales, comprised appropriately of 25 discs.
In addition to his numerous accolades and career successes, Juan Gabriel has been a compassionate and generous philanthropist. He has donated all proceeds from approximately 10 performances a year to his favorite children's foster homes, and proceeds from fan photo-ops go to support Mexican orphans. In 1987, he founded Semjase, an orphanage for approximately 120 children, which also serves as a music school with music, recreation and video game rooms. Today, he continues to personally fund the school he opened more than 22 years ago.
Juan Gabriel will have the distinction of becoming the 10th Latin Recording Academy Person of the Year honoree, and joins a list of artists such as Gloria Estefan, Gilberto Gil, Juan Luis Guerra, Julio Iglesias, Ricky Martin, and Carlos Santana among others who have been recognized.
For information on purchasing tickets or tables to The Latin Recording Academy Person of the Year tribute to Juan Gabriel, please contact The Latin Recording Academy ticketing office at 310.314.8281 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
Photo: The Recording Academy
Set List Bonus: Bumbershoot 2013
Welcome to The Set List. Here you'll find the latest concert recaps for many of your favorite, or maybe not so favorite, artists. Our bloggers will do their best to provide you with every detail of the show, from which songs were on the set list to what the artist was wearing to which out-of-control fan made a scene. Hey, it'll be like you were there. And if you like what you read, we'll even let you know where you can catch the artist on tour. Feel free to drop us a comment and let us know your concert experience. Oh, and rock on.
By Alexa Zaske
This past Labor Day weekend meant one thing for many folks in Seattle: Bumbershoot, a three-decade-old music and arts event that consumed the area surrounding the Space Needle from Aug. 31–Sept. 2. Amid attendees wandering around dressed as zombies and participating in festival-planned flash mobs to Michael Jackson's "Thriller," this year the focus was on music from the Pacific Northwest region — from the soulful sounds of Allen Stone and legendary female rockers Heart, to the highly-awaited return of Death Cab For Cutie performing their 2003 hit album Transatlanticism in its entirety.
The festival started off on day one with performances by synth-pop group the Flavr Blue, hip-hop artist Grynch, rapper Nacho Picasso, psychedelic pop group Beat Connection, lively rapper/writer George Watsky, hip-hop group the Physics, and (my personal favorite), punk/dance band !!! (Chk Chk Chk). Also performing on day one was Seattle folk singer/songwriter Kris Orlowski, who was accompanied by the Passenger String Quartet. As always, Orlowski's songs were catchy and endearing yet brilliant and honest.
Day one came to a scorching finale with a full set from GRAMMY-nominated rock group Heart. Kicking off with their Top 20 hit "Barracuda," the set spanned three decades of songs, including "Heartless," "Magic Man" and "What About Love?" It became a gathering of Seattle rock greats when, during Heart's final song, Pearl Jam guitarist Mike McCready joined for 1976's "Crazy On You."
Day two got off to an early start with performances from eccentric Seattle group Kithkin and Seattle ladies Mary Lambert and Shelby Earl, who were accompanied by the band Le Wrens. My highlight of the day was the Grizzled Mighty — a duo with a bigger sound than most family sized bands. Drummer Whitney Petty, whose stage presence and skills make for an exciting performance, was balanced out by the easy listening of guitarist and lead singer Ryan Granger.
Then the long-awaited moment finally fell upon Seattle when, after wrapping a long-awaited tour with the Postal Service, singer/songwriter Ben Gibbard returned to Seattle to represent another great success of the Pacific Northwest — Death Cab For Cutie. The band celebrated the 10-year anniversary of their album Transatlanticism by performing it from front to back. While a majority of attendees opted to watch the set from an air-conditioned arena, some of us recognized the uniqueness of this experience and enjoyed the entire set lying in the grass where the entire performance was streamed.
Monday was the day for soul and folk. Local blues/R&B group Hot Bodies In Motion have been making their way through the Seattle scene with songs such as "Old Habits," "That Darkness" and "The Pulse." Their set was lively and enticing to people who have seen them multiple times or never at all.
My other highlights of the festival included the Maldives, who delivered a fun performance with the perfect amount of satirical humor and folk. They represent the increasing number of Pacific Northwest bands who consist of many members playing different sounds while still managing to stay cohesive and simple. I embraced the return of folk/pop duo Ivan & Alyosha with open arms and later closed my festival experience with local favorite Stone.
For music fans in Seattle and beyond, the annual Bumbershoot festival is a must-attend.
(Alexa Zaske is the Chapter Assistant for The Recording Academy Pacific Northwest Chapter. She's a music enthusiast and obsessed with the local Seattle scene.)
Neil Portnow and Jimmy Jam
Photo: Michael Kovac/Getty Images
Neil Portnow Addresses Diversity & Inclusion, Looks Ahead During Speech At 2019 GRAMMYs
Jimmy Jam helps celebrate the outgoing President/CEO of the Recording Academy on the 61st GRAMMY Awards
As Neil Portnow's tenure as Recording Academy President/CEO draws to its end, five-time GRAMMY winner Jimmy Jam paid tribute to his friend and walked us through a brief overview of some of the Academy's major recent achievements, including the invaluable work of MusiCares, the GRAMMY Museum, Advocacy and more.
Portnow delivered a brief speech, acknowledging the need to continue to focus on issues of diversity and inclusion in the music industry. He also seized the golden opportunity to say the words he's always wanted to say on the GRAMMY stage, saying, "I'd like to thank the Academy," showing his gratitude and respect for the staff, elected leaders and music community he's worked with during his career at the Recording Academy. "We can be so proud of what we’ve all accomplished together," Portnow added.
"As I finish out my term leading this great organization, my heart and soul are filled with gratitude, pride, for the opportunity and unequal experience," he continued. "Please know that my commitment to all the good that we do will carry on as we turn the page on the next chapter of the storied history of this phenomenal institution."