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Interview:
5 Seconds of Summer is headed in one direction -- up
 

By GARY GRAFF
Digital First Media, @GraffonMusic

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5 Seconds of Summer has spent the past couple of years opening for One Direction.

Now it's starting to breath down the headliner's neck.

The Australian quartet's self-titled debut album bowed at No. 1 on the Billboard 200 this summer thanks to hits such as "She Looks So Perfect," "Don't Stop" and "Amnesia." That success is bringing stadium-sized 1D fans out just a little earlier to the shows, and following its forebear's strategy (the groups share the same management) 5 Seconds of Summer has already put its 2015 arena tour dates on sale.

And while 5 Seconds' teen members certainly appreciate the audience the association has built -- starting when 1D's Louis Tomlinson posted a link to the video for the song "Gotta Get Out" -- it's also created a bit of a conundrum for the group, whose harder rocking roots and sensibilities run somewhat counter to the manufactured pop ethos of their patrons.

"It's always been a hard place for us," says guitarist Michael Clifford, 17. "When we first got offered to do the tour with One Direction last year, we were like,'Do we want to be seen as another One Direction?' or whatever. But then we kind of thought that if on the same show you see us play and then see them play and you see two completely different acts, it makes for really dynamic tour. We do more of a rock show and theirs is like an amazing pop performance.

"But, you know, we don't really mind what people think of us as long as they know we write our own stuff and we all play our own instruments. Everyone calls everyone a boy band these days, I think. You just can't escape that."

5 Seconds came together three years ago, with schoolmates Clifford, frontman Luke Hemmings and bassist Callum Hood influenced by bands such as blink-182, Green Day and All Time Low, among others. Hemmings began posting performances of his favorite songs on YouTube -- including Birmingham Groves High School grad Mike Posner's "Please Don't Go" and before long, Clifford says, "I was like, 'Hey man, do you want to start a band?' " Clifford knew drummer Ashton Irwin through mutual friends and the group played a first show that was "just awful," but before long the quartet built "a little, small following" that grew as it signed a publishing deal and released an "Unplugged" EP in June of 2012 that hit No. 3 on the iTunes chart in Australia and also did well in Sweden and New Zealand.

The group released three more EPs, with "She Looks So Perfect" hitting No. 2 on the Billboard 200 and No. 1 in Canada. The American Apparel-championing title track (and video), meanwhile, gave the group a foothold on mainstream pop radio -- much to Clifford's surprise

"When we first wrote it I actually didn't like the song at all," the guitarist says with a laugh. "I liked the writing process, but I was like, 'I just don't like this song.' But when we got the final version back I was like, 'OK, I DO like that song.' "

There's more songs where that came from, too. Clifford estimates that 5 Seconds "wrote about 100 songs" for its debut album and now has a more than sufficient head start for its next effort. That won't be coming any time soon, though; right now the group is just enjoying the success of "5 Seconds to Summer" and working to maintain its forward momentum.

"It's amazing," Clifford crows. "When you start a band you kind of just do it for fun, and you can never expect stuff that's going to happen. So when it does happen, it's just amazing.

"When we started I always just assumed that the U.S. was out of reach, and it's nice to know there are people here who like us and want to hear the music. That's incredible."

One Direction, 5 Seconds of Summer

7 p.m. Saturday and Sunday, Aug. 16-17

Ford Field, 2000 Brush St., Detroit

Tickets are $43-$103

Call 877-212-8898 or visit www.detroitlions.com/ford-field/

Note: 5 Seconds of Summer returns Aug. 19, 2015 to headline the Palace of Auburn Hills. Tickets, priced $29.50-$69.50, are on sale now. Call 248-377-0100 or visit www.palacenet.com.


Web Site: www.palacenet.com

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