In an ironic twist of fate, Australian pop-rock group 5 Seconds of Summer (5SOS) is set to release their fourth record, CALM, during a time where the world seems anything but.
The group rose to fame posting YouTube videos in 2011; their home-recorded cover songs generating millions of views. After an online shout-out from One Direction member Louis Tomlinson in 2012, 5SOS had officially reached the masses.
Today, as the entire world is socially distancing in an effort to flatten the Coronavirus curve, the online realm is becoming further weaved into our reality with live streams and video chats becoming everyday use. On the flip side, paranoia, anxiety, and toilet paper stock-prices have spiked with our universal isolation.
“I think it’s just so important that you keep your loved ones close.” – Michael Clifford (5SOS)
“I’ve been feeling really anxious lately about my parents back home,” says 24-year-old guitarist Michael Clifford, while sitting in his colourfully lit entertainment room. “I know how at-risk they are right now. The whole world doesn’t really know what’s going on. I think everyone’s sort of taking it day by day, just seeing what is going to happen next.”
Clifford’s home has turned into a “little community” for him and his housemates; including his fiance, Crystal Leigh, 5SOS photographer and creative director, Andy Deluca, and Clifford’s three puppies, South, Moose and the recently fostered, as-of-yet unofficially named, “Tom Hanks.”
“We’re all really conscious and aware of how important it is to stay inside. I think that the most important thing right now is just to make sure that the people who are at risk of getting really sick are safe. That’s especially important for me right now.”
On the bright side for Clifford, social distancing will give most people time to check out 5 Second of Summer’s new record when it drops on March 27. “CALM” being an acronym for all four members of the band — Callum, Ashton, Luke, and Michael — the record is a culmination of who they’ve become as individuals, nearly a decade after they splashed onto the scene.
“It was really important for us to get across the different individuality of each artist in the band,” says Clifford. “Four individuals on our fourth record. It’s not the same type of stuff that we released in the past. Our band has grown so much since we first started and I feel like we fit into a more modern music landscape right now. Every song kind of sounds different, every song is pulled from a different inspiration.”
Starting their career beaming down with anthemic arena pop-rock, 5SOS are now staring directly into the sun with a sugar coated sunglass sporting radio pop and the hooks are devastatingly catchy. “Red Desert” opens the record with a choir of angelic boy-band vocals. Guitars accentuating electronically produced beats. Their new single, “Old Me,” is a downtempo take on this new style, while “Wildflower” brings the party straight to your living room for that weekend dance party while quarantined. It’s a sound that Clifford not only expects his fanbase will enjoy but will help 5SOS reach a new, larger audience.
Clifford will be spending the day of his album launch at home, staying safe, waiting for this all to blow over. He will use the time to spend with family and reflect. He offers his deepest thoughts from this experience thus far.
“I think it’s just so important that you keep your loved ones close,” he says. “For me, living at home with my parents. I never should have taken that for granted. Now, all of a sudden, I’m literally not allowed to fly home to see them. It’s kind of put me in this position of helplessness. But, you know, obviously, my parents are going to be fine. They’re really healthy and they’re going to be safe. Just never take anything for granted. Really.”