5SOS on being un-rock'n'roll: Why throw TV out of window when you can watch SpongeBob?
The Aussie guys who supported One Direction on two world tours say "the most rock and roll thing about us is how we sound"
Hello girls! Ashton, Calum, Luke and Michael
Ushered backstage past hordes of screaming girls to meet the world’s hottest new pop-punks, I’m not sure what to expect.
After all, I’m in the Best Buy Theatre in New York’s Times Square, scene of hardcore gigs by hard-living acts like the Black Crowes and Twisted Sister.
As I enter the darkened dressing room where the boys from 5 Seconds of Summer are chilling, I am immediately offered... er, a bottle of water. And glancing across to see what they’re up to on the sofa I find them totally absorbed in... building stuff out of Lego Candy.
In fact the Aussie guys – 5SOS to their friends – who supported One Direction on two world tours may well be the most un-rock’n’roll band in the world.
Guitarist Michael Clifford, 18, explains their pre-show rituals: “We brush our teeth, listen to some music – either heavy metal or some savage R’n’B.
"We like to jump around to get all pumped up. We don’t really have after-parties either. We’re so busy, we barely get time to sleep.
"We nap whenever we can – we’re always tired. We like go-karting a lot too.”
Bass player Calum Hood, 18, says their “rider” requests (dressing room food and drink) are “Red Bull, water and chocolate milk – we asked for a fresh puppy on the rider, but we never got it.”
Singer Luke Hemmings, 17, nods and adds: “You should never drink before you go on stage. That’s a very bad idea if you want to give your all to your fans. Maybe when we’re 50, on the reunion tour.”
They even like cuddly toys! Brandishing a stuffed bear, drummer Ashton Irwin, 19, tells me: “Our fans give us koala bear toys to remind us of home – and Vegemite too. They know what we need.”
You won’t see 5SOS trashing hotel rooms either. Michael reasons: “What’s the point of throwing a TV out the window if SpongeBob Squarepants could be on and we could be watching it? Or Geordie Shore? What a waste.
“I think it’s disrespectful to trash hotel rooms. The most rock and roll thing about us is how we sound.”
That sound has already seen the boys – who unlike 1D all play instruments – win a coveted Kerrang award for Best International Newcomers.
Their self-titled debut album hit No 1 on iTunes in 69 different countries and is set to top the UK album charts this weekend. Singles You Look So Perfect and Don’t Stop went to Nos 1 and 2 respectively.
The foursome met at the fee-paying Norwest Christian College school in Sydney. Religion isn’t something they shout (or sing) about but Calum says: “Faith is always important”.
Discovered after posting performance videos on YouTube, they were championed by One Direction’s Louis Tomlinson, who helped them win the support slot on 1D’s 2013 Take Me Home world tour, exposing them to millions of teenage hormones.
It went so well that they were asked back for this year’s Where We Are stadium tour.
Now with their own huge fanbase, they are ready to take centre stage.
Despite their youthful good looks and teenage girl following, 5SOS say they’re not a manufactured boyband and they take inspiration from US punk rockers like Blink 182 and Green Day.
Luke explains: “Our influences are more rock acts and it’s special that we’ve got that bond from school. Being put together wouldn’t have worked for us.”
Michael adds: “Because we’re such good friends we keep ourselves grounded. There’s no diva behaviour... yet.”
They’ve apparently taken their meteoric rise to fame in their stride, coping as well as they can with life on the road, though Michael had never even been on a plane before they started touring.
“I used to be so scared of flying,” he says. “The first time was two years ago with these guys. They tried to mess with me telling me the aircraft was going to go upside down!”
The lads video-call and text their families back home in Australia as often as they can, and say they really haven’t got time for girlfriends, despite rumours that Ashton was hooking up with Harry Styles’ sister Gemma.
They were pictured hanging out but he says they’re “just friends.” Michael insists: “We’re not that cool where we’re from – girls don’t really like us back home.”
Hmmm... that seems unlikely given their popularity with the opposite sex everywhere else in the world.
Luke says: “We get bras and underwear thrown on stage and even plastic boobs. Sometimes they knock on our hotel room doors and there’s definitely queues outside our hotels.”
Although the guys are keener on girls who make music, they would have no qualms about hooking up with fans.
Calum says: “I like girls in bands. A girl that’s a musician is just such a turn-on. Creative people who are songwriters. But I’d get with a fan – if a girl was hot and liked our music then that would be a bonus.”
Calum insists stories of them dabbling with new dating app Tinder are a hoax.
He says: “We were joking about Tinder. I’d be open to using it. It sounds lovely – but if it’s based on looks I don’t think I’d get many people.”
And what about the risque pictures that emerged of the lads showing off their bare bums?
Calum tells me: “Photos of my butt are a normal day in the house of 5SOS. I was just making a cup of tea after waking up. We’re all used to seeing each other in various states of dress – we’re not shy.
"I’ve spent my whole life with the band so we’re cool.”
They’re on their best diplomatic behaviour when we talk about the group whose success they hope to emulate. After all 1D were very publicly manufactured on The X Factor in exactly the way 5SOS say wouldn’t have worked for them.
Luke says: “They make it look easy to be world-famous pop stars. And it must be hard for them because everyone knows who they are and they’re the biggest band in the world.
"It’s a very tough gig to have everyone in your business 24/7, and I think they handle it incredibly well.”
Ashton adds: “They haven’t given us any advice verbally. But just watching the way they act in public and with their crew shows us a lot. They are under immense pressure so it must be hard.”
5SOS won’t be drawn on the controversy that erupted when 1D’s Louis and Zayn Malik were seen on video talking about lighting what looked like a joint.
Michael tells me: “We haven’t spoken to the boys about their private life. But as far as Five Seconds of Summer are concerned we’re not into drugs at all.”
Parents everywhere, relax – it looks like you’re safe with these boys on your daughter’s bedroom walls.
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