Seconds of Summer's Ashton Irwin, Luke Hemmings, Michael Clifford and Calum Hood in Sydney today. Picture:Justin Lloyd
Seconds of Summer's Ashton Irwin, Luke Hemmings, Michael Clifford and Calum Hood in Sydney today. Picture:Justin Lloyd

How Aussie stars 5SOS are dealing with self-isolation

Calum Hood hasn't left his Los Angeles home for eight days.

Neither have his 5 Seconds of Summer bandmates Luke Hemmings, Michael Clifford and Ashton Irwin, who shared with their fans midweek he was "starting to get sick". (Management said there is no evidence he has COVID-19 but is feeling unwell.)

Like thousands of musicians around the globe, the Australian pop rock chartslayers have remained connected to their millions of fans via social media as they counted down to the release of their fourth album titled CALM over the past week.

5SOS are struggling in self-isolation.
5SOS are struggling in self-isolation.

The title was given to them by the 5SOSFam fanbase who have used the acronym of their initials for the past nine years since the four teenagers formed their band in Sydney's western suburbs with dreams of world domination.

"It's definitely a crazy time. I never thought I would live to see a pandemic like this," Hood said.

"But it has redefined the way we approach our album release because we can't be together or around large groups of people.

"So we are doing things like videos on how the music was actually created and countdowns and things we couldn't have done if we'd had to be in 100 places at once."

FAN ARMY

And indeed, they would have been doing the rounds of hundreds of radio stations, meet-and-greets and fan launches for the rollout of CALM if COVID-19 hadn't completely altered our society.

5SOS arrived just as young music fans assembled themselves to form social media armies of millions to promote their favourite pop idols.

The digital native artists commanding the pop zeitgeist from the mid to late 2000s - One Direction, Lady Gaga, Beyonce, Taylor Swift, Ariana Grande, Rihanna, Selena Gomez and Katy Perry - were propelled to the top of the charts and streaming playlists on the wave of the fans' DIY online marketing.

5 Seconds of Summer arrived just as young music fans assembled themselves to form social media armies of millions to promote their favourite pop idols. Picture: Justin Lloyd
5 Seconds of Summer arrived just as young music fans assembled themselves to form social media armies of millions to promote their favourite pop idols. Picture: Justin Lloyd

Such is the devotion of the 5SOSFam, whose loyalty has been stoked with regular poptastic singles from the 2014 breakthrough hit She Looks So Perfect to the 2018 monster smash Youngblood, that their heroes are one of the biggest bands in the world.

Their first three records - the self-titled debut, 2015's Sounds Good Feels Good and Youngblood - have all reached No. 1 in Australia and the US. They are the first homegrown act to achieve three chart-toppers on the American Billboard Top 200. The single Youngblood joined the 1,000,000,000 List compiled by Australian songwriters' body APRA just as 5SOS returned to Australia in February to perform at the historic Fire Fight Australia concert for bushfire relief.

Their songs and videos combined have generated more than seven billion streams, close to 10 million album sales and more than two million concert tickets in six years.

"I know it sounds cliche but I'm thinking about everyone's health and safety and the music comes second," Hood says as the stream count on CALM's singles Easier, Teeth, No Shame and Old Me tick over into the hundreds of millions ahead of the record release today.

"Our fanbase have always backed the music. They will follow you through the depths of hell and that's something I love about them."

BOYS TO MEN

The four members of 5SOS see their CALM album as a musical snapshot of their arrival as young adults after landing in the midst of hysteria-fuelled teen fandom when they found success as 15 and 16-year-olds.

5SOS have gone from strength to strength. Picture: Supplied
5SOS have gone from strength to strength. Picture: Supplied

They renegotiated their recording deal last year, signing with Interscope Records - the American label home of Gaga, Gomez, Billie Eilish, U2, the Rolling Stones and Tame Impala - and completed their fourth record with a team of trusted collaborators without undue interference.

The CALM album credits are further evidence of their arrival in the music big leagues in the US, with their good mate and in-demand hitmaker Andrew Watt enlisting U2's The Edge and Rage Against The Machine's Tom Morello to add their talents to the recordings.

"Coming off the back of our third record, there was a sense of freedom about our ability to write a body of work we could be proud of as we're growing into early adulthood," the 24-year-old Hood said. "We really look up to bands like INXS and Midnight Oil who always stayed true to their roots."

CELEBRITY VS OLD ME

 

When they relocated to the US after spending the fledgling years of their career between Sydney and London, 5SOS were inducted into the Hollywood celebrity circuit where they got the call-ups to the gatherings of the rich and famous, from Taylor Swift's birthday shindigs to house parties with The Weeknd and Nick Jonas.

Their most recent single Old Me celebrates the band members sticking to their guns to realise their ambitions but also references the questionable lifestyle choices made by young pop stars with too much opportunity: "Pictures in my phone with people I don't know, Woke up in the mornin', how the hell'd I make it home," Hemmings sings in the chorus.

Hood credits his "working middle-class parents who had a hard upbringing" for his preference now for a simpler life when not in pop star mode, even as he remains grateful for the privilege of his success.

"The older you get, the more grateful you are for all of the opportunities, even if you didn't deal with some in the best of ways," he said.

"I am definitely the opposite of the guy who is meant to be in those (Hollywood party) situations. But I don't yearn to be living a different life; for me, and particularly now in the pandemic, it's about the simplicities of life and a big thing for me now is spirituality."

KEEP CALM

In the wake of the shutdown, the 5SOS team has proven prescient with a plan formulated before the COVID-19 crisis took hold to link with Foxtel for their 5SOS Take O[V]er of the [V] music channel from 6am to midnight today to promote the album release.

The 18 hours of programming will feature the band members taking fans behind the scenes of their videos from the 2012 single Out Of My Limit to the sweet clip for Old Me which was filmed in Sydney during their recent visit and features teen lookalikes acting out scenes from their early days.

The final scene was filmed as the band walked onto the stage to perform at the Fire Fight concert to 75,000 people.

"This is definitely up there," bassist Hood said after that big moment at ANZ Stadium.

"It's probably the most significant because this is a place we have been wanting to play since we started and the day has come."

CALM is out now.

Originally published as How Aussie stars 5SOS are dealing with self-isolation


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