Fans may be screaming for his band wherever they go, but 5 Seconds of Summer’s singer-guitarist Luke Hemmings still remembers what it feels like to be star-struck. He was 11 years old and gazing in awe at US rockers Good Charlotte when they played his hometown Sydney, Australia. It was his first gig, and it made him want to be in a band.
“They’re four dudes from a small town who stuck to their guns and became huge. That’s what stuck with me the most,” Hemmings recalls. Fast-forward eight years, and he’s an international star himself, with singer-guitarist Michael Clifford, singer-bassist Calum Hood and drummer Ashton Irwin. He’s performed on the very same stage where he first saw his heroes, and Good Charlotte’s Joel and Benji Madden have even penned songs for them.
Their two albums, 5 Seconds of Summer and Sounds Good Feels Good, were chart-topping commercial successes, producing hits like Amnesia, She Looks So Perfect and Hey Everybody!
Their secret? “We stuck to our guns,” says Hemmings, now 19 and touring Asia.He chatted with Young Post ahead of 5SOS’ first HK show.
We saw 5SOS dressing up as Star Wars characters to interview the cast of Star Wars: The Force Awakens! How did that happen?
Yeah. I just started watching the whole series again. As a young person I love Star Wars. We just got offered the opportunity. I think it’s just, like, a thing where it’s like, a big movie that came out and we’re, like, a band in the spotlight. So you know it was a cool thing that we could do!
When was the first time you watched Star Wars?
I think I was eight, and my mum got me a lightsaber toy afterwards, I’ve always liked Luke Skywalker because he’s got the same name as me. He reminds me of myself. Just a dude from nowhere and wanted to be a jedi and he did it. He’s cool.
Kind of like you guys then; he had a dream and made it happen. Did you ever expect to be where you are now?
No, of course not. When we started going on tour in Sydney we never expected we’d be able to play at all these places around the world. We were very confident in ourselves and knew we had something special, but I don’t think we knew how big we could make it. It blows my mind.
Tell us about a tough period you guys went through
Probably when we were starting our first album. We didn’t have any fans at that point. We weren’t signed to a record label for a long time. We didn’t really know if it was gonna work, but we stuck to our guns. I thought, this is all I have. I’m not good at anything else.
So, this is it for me, this is kind of all or nothing. Being in a band is also great. you kind of egg each other on and make each other realise what you’re doing it for. I feel like I’d struggle as a solo artist.
What’s been your biggest challenge recently?
Probably just being away from home a lot. Not really having a life. Just travelling every day, and working. There’s gotta be some struggle that comes with it. But I had a great time the other day.
I was in Venice (a neighbourhood in Los Angeles, in the US), and I went surfing. And then I drank coffee, and ate great food. It was with (5SOS producer) John Feldmann. I think it’s really important to do things outside the regular things you do. Being outside of tour buses and hotels really opens my eyes to the world.
Feldmann’s your friend and mentor, too. What’s the biggest thing you learned from him?
To love music and to love it for the right reasons. He doesn’t do it for money, he doesn’t do it ’cause he has to. He just basically loves music, and he loves what he does. Not everyone has that in the music world. It can definitely turn from a passion into a job pretty easily. You gotta do things to stay passionate.
For example, to keep my performances fresh, I try to look at the individual faces in the crowd. Every crowd reacts differently and you look at people that aren’t having a good a time as other people, and you try to make them have a good time. Performing can get a bit repetitive, so you gotta take a look at who you’re playing to.
Has becoming famous made you more wary in making friends?
Definitely. You have to really pick and choose your people. You know I think you learn how to do that as you go through this kind of thing. You also don’t relate to anyone at home as much anymore.
If you go back and try to do things with them, you really gotta make an effort. I just go back and be a normal dude, because people who you’re friends with for the right reasons just stay with you.
5 Seconds of Summer will perform at AsiaWorld-Expo this Thursday.