Glass meets Luke Hemmings – lead singer of Five Seconds of Summer

Young blood – Glass meets Luke Hemmings, lead singer of Five Seconds of Summer, someone who isn’t afraid of breaking with convention

IT’S BEEN over eight years since Five Seconds of Summer first shook up the pop music world, but the quartet doesn’t plan on slowing down anytime soon. With their fourth studio album on the way, the hunger for the band’s unique punk-inspired take on the conventional pop sound is growing, and its lead singer Luke Hemmings isn’t even close to finished with the band’s ambitious reign of its constantly evolving sub-genre.

Luke Hemmings. Photograph: Neil Gavin

Born in Sydney, Australia, 23-year-old Hemmings first caught people’s attention as an artist when he began uploading musical covers to YouTube in 2011 with fellow band members Michael Clifford and Calum Hood. Telling me about their start as musicians, Hemmings isn’t afraid to express his slight dismay looking back, “Honestly, we didn’t put much time into them. We just wanted to put something out. It was just kind of messy, we just would be like on an iPhone with a guitar player and singing, I guess. Michael was the one with a guitar and he was the one with the iPhone, so we were just recording them on that. We would just do one take, and be like ‘OK that’s cool’. It wasn’t until Ashton the drummer in the band would direct us more that we realised this would be way better if we put more effort in.”

However, Hemmings does note that he thinks the chemistry between them as a band was what sprang them into the public eye, and less than two years later the band signed a contract with Sony/ATV publishing. Their first single Unplugged reached number three on the iTunes chart in Australia, despite having no real promotion or media marketing aside from Facebook and Twitter – an impressive feat.

Describing these first years to me, the musician tells me about his constant drive to improve and evolve, “I feel like for us we strive to be better all the time. I think that’s very important for a band, especially for an item in this landscape, where everything is evolving and changing. I was stoked when we played to 50 people at our first couple of gigs. Your idea of a ‘made it’ moment kind of changes, which is fortunate, otherwise you’ll never progress.”


Luke Hemmings. Photograph: Neil Gavin

This willingness to grow as a band is what has kept 5SOS going in their almost decade-long career. With the recent release of their single Teeth, part of their forthcoming album, the band moves towards a more industrial-pop sound, while keeping in tune with their signature mix of punk, rock and pop influences.

When asked how he would describe his sound, Hemmings laughs, “Oh jeez! We started as a four-piece pop rock band and I think every album is different but I would still think we are a pop rock band. We have really honed in on making unique important parts that really mix up each song. I really don’t know how I’d describe it, but something like that!”

Refusing to be put in a box, Hemmings’ song-writing capability and blatant dismissal of what defines pop has put him on the map as one of the least conventional stars on the scene. The album, nameless so far and set to be released next year, marks a new age for 5SOS and their sound, with Hemmings telling me, “I think it’s just an ever-evolving thing for us. What we thought was a kind of staple sound of Young Blood in that whole album campaign and we kind of just went in with that mindset and tried to make it really coherent.”

The musician goes on to reveal his creative process for writing and producing the new album, and the problems that come with it: “Everything goes side by side. Every time we try to write an album we try to evolve it lyrically and melodically and see what we can do as a rock band in a rock space. It’s a difficult thing to do and it’s a hard thing to do to get that balance.”

Luke Hemmings. Photograph: Neil Gavin

Aside from music, Hemmings also stands out for his unique approach to boy band style. Not one to follow the crowd, the star takes a hands-on approach to fashion, even talking to me about how he dyed his own socks pink with food colouring before a show, laughing “It was actually not glamorous at all! I was doing it myself in the dressing room.”

Telling me his fashion mantra, “Make do with what you can!” he lists his biggest fashion influences, showing a special adoration for seventies glam rock. “I love the new age stuff, like leather pants with the big chains and stuff, but it kind of depends on what albums I’m in on. I kind of work in to it, you listen to it, like David Bowie and what he was wearing. It does vary and it’s kind of ever expanding, but those are a few of them.”


Luke Hemmings. Photograph: Neil Gavin

Last year, Hemmings performed with his band for 24 Hours of Reality: Protect Our Planet, Protect Ourselves, a project which brings together activists, scientists, celebrities and performers to explore the climate change crisis and its ever-growing impact on the planet. The star is quick to tell me he stands firmly behind the ethos of the event. “I think it’s fantastic. I think as an artist you have a certain responsibility to stand behind the things you feel are important,” he says.

Later, he also tells me that music can play an important role in the movement. “You know we always do a very simple thing like make music, but people love it and it makes people happy and that’s awesome, but we can also use that to promote a great cause and that ticks all the boxes. It was amazing to be a part of that.”

Although only 23, Hemmings has been an influential figure in pop since 2011, stepping into the limelight at 16, telling me, “The first album was a difficult time,” due to his early start in music. However, when asked if he would give himself any advice or change anything from the start of his career, Hemmings insists he has no regrets: “On one hand maybe I would give advice, but I sometimes think that everything happens the way it was supposed to happen. I don’t think I would change anything or give advice. Obviously there are things that were done wrong and things that I could have done better and things I wouldn’t do a second time around, but I think that’s just how it’s supposed to be. I think it was a very natural way of doing things. It was a fun time, you know. I don’t think I would go back and make a change.”

Luke Hemmings. Photograph: Neil Gavin

Looking towards the future, Hemmings shows an interest in experimenting more with the production side of music, not surprising considering his flair for song-writing. “I think I have personally started writing for other people and kind of getting more on the studio side, to guide and collaborate with other artists and stuff like that,” he says.

However, the musician assures me that fans don’t have to worry about 5SOS separating anytime soon: “I think for us as a band we’ve been together for 10 years as Five Seconds of Summer, which has been a while! I think we will have a few special things coming up, our live shows are getting better every time we do them. I think we have a lot coming out and a lot of stuff to do and I think we’re going to be around for a little bit longer. I think this band has always done our best to stay relevant in a pop space but also trying to serve our fans.”

by Emma Hart

Photographer: Neil Gavin
Stylist: Julian Antetomaso
Hair: Campbell Ritchie at Art Department NYC using Baxter of California
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Photography assistant: Matt Perino

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