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5 Seconds Of Summer On How "Loosening The Grip" & A Trip To Joshua Tree Resulted In Their Most Freeing Album Yet, '5SOS5'
5 Seconds Of Summer (L-R: Michael Clifford, Luke Hemmings, Calum Hood, Ashton Irwin)

Photo: Andy DeLuca

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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.

GRAMMYs/Jun 10, 2022 - 02:45 pm

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. 

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Press Play At Home: Watch Luke Hemmings' Warm Performance Of "Baby Blue"

Luke Hemmings

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Press Play At Home: Watch Luke Hemmings' Warm Performance Of "Baby Blue"

Embrace the last moments of summer as 5 Seconds of Summer lead singer Luke Hemmings delivers a warm performance of "Baby Blue," off his 2021 debut solo album, 'When Facing The Things We Turn Away From'

GRAMMYs/Sep 21, 2021 - 08:00 pm

During the COVID-19 lockdown, with so much of our everyday lives upended, many of us had to find new ways to entertain ourselves and process everything that was happening. For artists like 5 Seconds of Summer lead singer Luke Hemmings, songwriting was a natural outlet.

While the Australian pop singer/songwriter didn't originally plan to make his debut solo album during the COVID lockdown, that's exactly what happened. With support from songwriter and producer Sammy Witte, as well as Hemmings' fiancé, songwriter Sierra Deaton, his creative outlet during the pandemic became When Facing The Things We Turn Away From, released in August.

In the latest edition of Press Play At Home, embrace the last moments of summer as Hemmings performs "Baby Blue," one of the album's tracks he co-wrote with Deaton.

After you get swept up in his performance, explore more episodes of Press Play At Home below.

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5 Seconds Of Summer Land Third No. 1 Album With 'Youngblood'

5 Seconds Of Summer

Photo: Michael Tran/FilmMagic

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5 Seconds Of Summer Land Third No. 1 Album With 'Youngblood'

This week's charts extend the young Aussie rockers' unprecedented sales streak

GRAMMYs/Jun 25, 2018 - 10:35 pm

On June 25 preliminary news of toppers for Billboard's June 30 chart rankings placed Australian rockers 5 Seconds Of Summer's third studio album Youngblood at No. 1 on the Billboard 200. The band previously hit No. 1 with their self-titled 2014 album followed by 2015's Sounds Good Feels Good, a record-breaking streak for any band, broken again by their threepeat.

5SOS took to social media to push their LP sales over the top in a successful last minute surge, and they took to social gushing thanks for the accomplishment they shared with their fans. The No. 2 slot was taken by the Carters' Everything Is Love, which might have been hampered by its slightly late release for the chart period and its initial exclusivity on Tidal.

Nasir from Nas came in at No. 5 and Liberation from Christina Aguilera at No. 6. Post Malone was at No. 4. The tragic killing of rapper XXXTentacion propelled his former No. 1 album ? to No. 3 and his album 17 to No. 7. The other three artists rounding out the top 10 album spots were Juice WRLD, Cardi B and Jason Aldean.

5 Seconds Of Summer first became popular posting covers on YouTube in 2011. With Michael Clifford and Luke Hemmings on guitar, Hemmings sings lead vocals, and bassist Calum Hood and drummer Ashton Irwin sing too. Their successful third album arrives just in time to make a mark on summer 2018 that will be truly long-lasting.

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Ariana Grande, Shawn Mendes Lead 2018 iHeartRadio Wango Tango Concert

Shawn Mendes

Photo: Robby Klein/Getty Images

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Ariana Grande, Shawn Mendes Lead 2018 iHeartRadio Wango Tango Concert

With host Ryan Seacrest and an all-star lineup, the annual Los Angeles event is sure to be a hit

GRAMMYs/Apr 23, 2018 - 09:21 pm

Get ready for the 2018 installment of one of the biggest pop music events of the summer: iHeartRadio's Wango Tango concert in Los Angeles.

This year's lineup will include Ariana Grande, Shawn Mendes, Meghan Trainor, 5 Seconds Of Summer, Miguel, Janelle Monaé, Marshmello, NF, and a special appearance by Logic. The annual concert, which launched in 1998, will be held at the brand new Banc of California Stadium in Los Angeles on June 2. Ryan Seacrest has been tapped to host.

If you're not in Los Angeles, not to worry. Wango Tango will be bringing the magic to viewers live via a partnership with AT&T on the company's website and Twitter account. IHeartMedia radio stations nationwide will also broadcast live, and TV network Freeform will host a 90-minute TV special the following day on June 3 at 9 p.m.

"Over the last 20 years, Wango Tango has become a staple in Los Angeles," said John Ivey, President of CHR Programming Strategies for iHeartMedia and KIIS FM, according to Billboard. "We're excited to take this iconic summer kick-off event to a national level as we partner with today’s top artists."

For those who would like to experience the concert live, ticket presales begin April 24 via AXS.

Catching Up On Music News Powered By The Recording Academy Just Got Easier. Have A Google Home Device? "Talk To GRAMMYs"