5 Seconds Of Summer's Luke Hemmings on his solo debut album and new EP 'boy'

Interview Luke Hemmings: Summer Boy

Following a lockdown solo debut, 5 Seconds of Summer star Luke Hemmings has taken a period of transition and self-questioning and turned it into his new EP, ‘boy’.

When Luke Hemmings, one fourth of Australian pop-rock powerhouses 5 Seconds of Summer, calls to chat about his lush new EP ‘boy’, he’s in great spirits - and with good reason. It’s his second solo venture following 2021’s ‘When Facing The Things We Turn Away From’, and with a new look of bleached hair and smudged eyeliner, it’s clear Hemmings is thrilled for the opportunity to reinvent himself.

The new image mirrors the energy of the EP. Throughout, ‘boy’’s production twinkles and gleams - just how producer Sammy Witte (also known for his work with Harry Styles, SZA and Halsey) likes it. But the release also delves deeper and darker into Hemmings’ experiences, as he tries to make sense of a life spent constantly moving, touring with a band that, to date, have sold over two million concert tickets worldwide.

“A lot of these songs were written in transit,” he explains. “Some on a plane, some in a hotel room; it was very on the move. It was born from feeling a bit out of place and disenfranchised with your surroundings, and feeling existential about it.” Today he’s calling us from London; usually, he resides in Los Angeles, more than 7,000 miles away from his native New South Wales, Australia.

Hemmings takes the time to be specific in his words, noting that he often feels the need to prepare before interviews to get the explanations of his songs right. He’s thoughtful in talking about his work; eager for the songs to speak for themselves. Where his debut was a product of lockdown experimentation and “emotional necessity”, ‘boy’ is more precise and intentional. It’s spacey and soft, calling back to the likes of My Bloody Valentine and Cocteau Twins.

“The first album for me was pretty… sad?” he suggests. “Pretty hopeless.” Having spent the past decade in a constant cycle of album releases and subsequent tours, his debut found him existentially challenged, forced to face life once he had no choice but to sit still. The album was a reflection of trying to find a sense of home when the concept had eluded him for so long. This new project, however, “sonically and lyrically tows the line of human experience” in all of its nuance rather than just saying, as he puts it bluntly, “oh, this is sad.”

5 Seconds Of Summer's Luke Hemmings on his solo debut album and new EP 'boy' 5 Seconds Of Summer's Luke Hemmings on his solo debut album and new EP 'boy'

“You have a handle on life, and then you get a couple years down the road and you’re like, ‘uhhh, I didn’t know anything at that age.’”

Hemmings drew inspiration for the EP from films such as Paris, Texas and Lost in Translation - so much so that his current locks even pay slight homage to the former’s famous image of a blonde Nastassja Kinski. “I was slightly inspired by it for this…” he grins, pointing at his hair. More importantly, he connected with how both films intertwine loneliness, movement, landscape and the city. ‘boy’ sees the musician exploring the growing pains of his late twenties, with Hemmings casting his gaze onto the places that have shaped him.

“For me, the first album sounds a little bit naive in a way, and I’m sure this will in a few years time too. But for right now, this sums up getting to your late twenties and being like, ‘Oh shit. This feels different, and everything else looks different around me’,” he says. “In my experience, you have a handle on life thus far, and then you get a couple years down the road and you’re like, ‘uhhhh, I didn’t know anything when I was that age’. And I imagine that just keeps happening until you die.” He pauses, and laughs. “Which is unfortunate! But that’s just the human experience. I think that’s why it’s important for me to keep checking in with this project, because it allows growth – personally, not even just creatively.”

The growth between now and when Hemmings first broke into the music scene aged 16 is exponential and, in many ways, his friendship with his 5SOS bandmates has been his saving grace in navigating it all. He’s especially grateful that he’s able to explore music independently without worrying about the future of his band. “We all want the band to last a long time,” he explains. “This might not be the only route to do that, but it’s certainly one of them. We’ve got four people who could each write, sing, produce their own solo albums - which is so amazing. And that’s why, to me, the band is so powerful. We all could do it on our own.

“I think with a band like us - there’s gonna be things you need to do [independently],” he nods. “For me, for the band to be a legacy band, for it to last a long time, this is something I needed to explore.”

“For 5 Seconds of Summer to be a legacy band, for it to last a long time, this is something I needed to explore.”

Far from a solo project not-so-subtly signaling the end of a group, when Hemmings discusses 5 Seconds Of Summer, he’s beaming. “I love writing songs with them, it’s so much fun and I love playing shows with the band. It’s such a big part of my life now that I don't think I'd know who I am without it - in a good way!” he caveats.

“This is not a very good analogy…” he continues, laughing. “But I’m just gonna say it. It’s kinda like The Avengers. Everyone has their side movies - whether it’s music, or just living your life - but everyone still wants to see the main thing, whatever the big Avengers movie is. Is that The Avengers? I dunno what the main one’s called… That was such a dumb thing to say…”

Without the rest of his fellow Avengers, uncertainty has often reared its head whilst working alone. Hemmings’ first album came from questioning if he had the ability to write a song without his bandmates, or if he even had anything to say at all, while ‘boy’ brought with it even more questions. “Did I only have stuff to say ‘cos it was a COVID album and I had all this time?” he posits, to name one. Instead, however, it’s been a real opportunity for growth, augmented by his time spent perfecting the songs in New York City, “watching life go by”. “I was trying to step into those shoes… The anonymity, the surrealism of the place,” he explains.

Squashing his own lingering self-doubt and harnessing the confidence to step out of his comfort zone serves Hemmings well. By digging deep within himself, he’s emerged reborn – in unfamiliar landscapes, seeing the world in new and refreshing ways. As he states simply with a smile: “I feel very lucky.”

‘boy’ is out now via RCA.

Tags: Luke Hemmings, Features, Interviews

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