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Hong Kong gigs

5 Seconds of Summer release 'less upbeat' new album Sounds Good Feels Good today

The Australian four-piece, who play Hong Kong in March, say their second album reflects the highs and lows of life on the road

PUBLISHED : Friday, 23 October, 2015, 2:05pm
UPDATED : Friday, 23 October, 2015, 2:05pm

Pop fluff or bona fide rockers? Australian pop-punk sensation 5 Seconds of Summer have gone from YouTube fame to a world tour that calls through Hong Kong on March 10, with a follow-up to their hit debut album out today.

The four young men from Sydney, who reject any comparison to British boy band One Direction, whom they supported on their 2013 world tour, say they are going for a darker, deeper sound on their new album, Sounds Good Feels Good.

“There’s a lot of people that have influenced us. Anyone from Queen, INXS, endless rock bands and classic rock,” says 21-year-old drummer Ashton Irwin. “That was something we really struggled with when we went into the studio because we want to sound like a lot of things,” he says.

Sporting skinny black jeans, black boots and messy hair, the band spoke about their dizzying rise, the mixed reviews they have received and the determination needed for a music career. “If you think you have something special and different that no one else can offer, which is what we thought we had, stick to it, and don’t let anyone touch your baby,” says 19-year-old guitarist and singer Luke Hemmings.

With their shiny, radio-friendly, guitar-laden pop comparable to US punk acts Green Day and Blink-182, the band have sold 3.2 million copies of last year’s debut album.

Their rise since they got together in 2011 has been accompanied by critical acclaim – they were named best international newcomer by rock magazine Kerrang! and new artist of the year by the American Music Awards, and have earned a number of MTV accolades. They also received the dubious distinction of “worst band” at music weekly NME’s annual awards this year.

“We’re doing something maybe that challenges people’s thoughts, and that’s the best thing a band could do, I think,” says Irwin, commenting on the NME ”award”.

The group’s chart-topping debut single last year She Looks So Perfect (with the hook “She looks so perfect standing there, in my American Apparel underwear”) reportedly triggered a spike in the US brand’s sales.

It has since been a whirlwind of touring, packed gigs and TV appearances for the band, who once considered calling themselves Bromance. Their new album has a darker tone than the first, the mood partly reflecting the highs and lows of being on tour, which 19-year-old guitarist Michael Clifford described as sometimes being “like a robot”.

“Now that I’m broken, now that you know it, caught up in a moment, can you see inside?” he sings on the new album’s Jet Black Heart.

“I think our new album is less upbeat … Some of our songs are pretty deep these days,” Hemmings says.

Unlike One Direction, a group put together by music moguls and paraded on a TV talent show, 5 Seconds of Summer, or 5SOS, met in school and were first noticed through videos they posted of themselves playing covers on YouTube.

Comparisons are inevitable given the band have toured with One Direction and are managed by the same company, but fans make a clear distinction. “We don’t see them as a boy band, they play their own instruments,” says 21-year-old Iren Coutiel, one of a group of girls waiting outside the trendy east London office where 5SOS were holding interviews.

The Sounds Live Feels Live tour is being staged to promote the new album. It kicks off in Nagoya on February 16 and, as well as the performance at AsiaWorld-Expo on March 10, also includes dates in Osaka, Tokyo, Taipei, Singapore, Jakarta, Bangkok and Manila.

Tickets to the Hong Kong show, ranging from HK$488 to HK$1,288, go on sale at HK Ticketing and Tom Lee outlets at 10am on Monday.

Agence France-Presse