"If we'd told ourselves two years ago where we'd be now, we wouldn't have believed it..." - hmv.com talks to 5 Seconds Of Summer, Part II
In part two of our exclusive interview with 5 Seconds Of Summer, we talk about making sure they maintain their rock n'roll roots, working with super producers and why they all worship All Time Low...
Did you have to fight to keep guitars front and centre and to sound like a rock band?
Ashton: "We found producers that let us do that. One person who we particularly enjoyed working with us was John Feldmann, who's someone we really look up to. He understood us completely. If producers didn't then we didn’t waste our time with them."
Michael: "We talked to lots of people and we narrowed it down to the right few. When we started no-one was sure what we wanted to sound like other than us, it took a while to find the right producers."
Ashton: "We got to work with some incredible people, you can hear Third Eye Blind playing in the background as we do talk to you and we got to work with Howard Benson who did most of their stuff, he was incredible. The opportunities we've got have been crazy good."
How did you find working with John Feldmann? He's known for working bands very hard…
Luke: "It was weird, one of Michael's friends introduced us to John before we were even signed."
Michael: "He came to one of our first rehearsals before we went on tour with One Direction, he sat through and watched and at the end he was like 'Yeah, this will work, let's do something'. Then one of us said that we loved All Time Low and he whipped out his phone and showed us their number and was like 'I'll call them up'. He knows everyone, he's the coolest guy."
Luke: "He doesn't work us hard, but he does put in long hours. He really bonded with us though, he's become one of the band's closest friends. He's an amazing dude."
His CV is pretty much the best of pop-punk isn't it?
Ashton: "He's very smart, he knows how to keep his pop mentality, he doesn’t try and cram in heavy breakdowns, he's very diverse."
Michael: "He's worked with so many people, even people like Hilary Duff, and then he helped on The Used's 'Taste Of Ink', so much stuff."
Luke: "We want to be a pop rock band. We want to be part of both sides."
Ashton: "Yeah, much as we are a rock band, we want to be a rock band you'll hear on the radio."
Where there any records you particularly looked to for inspiration? You've talked about taking inspiration from the likes of Blink-182, All Time Low and Green Day, all of whom have got diverse back catalogues, Dookie and American Idiot don't sound the same…
Ashton: "Our collective influences make up the sound of the band. He (points at Calum) is super into R'n'B, I look up to guys like Tre Cool (Green Day drummer) in my drumming. Most of all, I think we look up to All Time Low, they've got this perfect mix of pop and rock."
Michael: "Their album Nothing Personal is one of the greatest albums of all time. It's a perfect mix of pop, pop-punk and rock."
Ashton: "Playing live is so important to us. I remember seeing Coldplay win this award for Best Live Act years ago and thinking that would be a real achievement, to win an award for being the live band around."
So when you write songs, do you always think about how you're going to play them live?
Luke: "When we chose producers, that was a big part of who we chose. We're always thinking with a song 'How can we make this sound massive live?'"
Michael: "Usually live our songs are a bit more bare, stripped back to drums, guitars, bass and vocals with such a little bit of track in there. But we can play without it, we've played arenas without it."
Luke: "When you write songs you've got to think about how it'll sound live, bands like us have to, it's such a big part of what we do. You've got to make a crowd jump."
Calum: "You don't want people to be under whelmed, you want them to walk away and say 'That was better live than on the recording'."
During the making of the album you've supported One Direction across the world and played some enormous shows, has that had an effect on how the album's sounds?
Ashton: "I think it really developed our sound, playing in arenas like that made us such a better live band."
Luke: "You think about everything, 'How can I make this guitar riff or this drum hit sound absolutely huge in an arena?'.
Michael: "Even in how you move, you have to exaggerate everything you do, so people at the back of these huge rooms can feel the same energy as the people at the back."
You're about to go back on tour with them again too…
Calum: "Yeah, stadiums, we can't wait for that, it's such a good opportunity."
Ashton: "First time we'd played with them we'd done, maybe 20 shows, and suddenly we were playing arenas and in front of thousands of people. We literally went from playing to 12 people in pubs to that."
Can you describe what it was like stepping on a stage like that for the first time?
Michael: "It was intense man, so many people. So nerve-wracking."
Calum: "I don't think I moved from one spot that whole show, I was just frozen there."
Ashton: "I looked up at one point, to see 18,000 people, all of whom seemed to be into it, it was crazy."
Michael: "If we'd told ourselves two years ago where we'd be now, we wouldn't have believed it, so much has happened."
Their new single 'She Looks So Perfect' is out now in hmv stores and in our download store. Check it out here.