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20 Questions With Luke Hemmings: Why the 5 Seconds of Summer Leader ‘Needed To Make’ His Solo Debut

Adopting songwriting into his daily routine, Hemmings untangled his thoughts and repurposed them as When Facing The Things We Turn Away From, his debut solo album out Friday (Aug. 13). Used to sharing the songwriting stage with three other people, the album offered Hemmings an opportunity to craft a musical identity outside of 5SOS through a fully introspective project with his own influences. It also put all of the surrounding pressures on him, even if the scrutiny was coming from his own self. 

Ahead of the release of When Facing The Things We Turn Away From, Hemmings answered Billboard’s 20 questions about his relationship with songwriting, overcoming self-imposed pressures and creating an ethereal, over-emotional album as a bookmark in this chapter of his life.

1. What’s the first piece of music that you bought and what was the format? 

I bought a CD of Good Charlotte’s The Young and the Hopeless, I believe.

2. How did your parents shape your music taste?

I grew up with a lot of Australian rock music. My dad loves AC/DC and INXS was a big one. My mom was more on the softer musical end of the spectrum, so Crowded House and stuff like that. Definitely all of my rock influences are very Australian typical. I listened to so much Pink Floyd the last couple of years, especially [during lockdown], and was very influenced by them, particularly Dark Side of the Moon. I remember when I was a kid, I [asked my dad], “Did you listen to Pink Floyd as a kid?” and he was like, “Oh no, they’re too psychedelic.” I think it’s so funny because this album is super influenced by them but he was never into them. 

3. What was the first concert that you saw that made you want to be on stage, too?

We didn’t get that many shows in Sydney. I saw AC/DC with my dad and I also saw Good Charlotte –– you know, pop-punk will never die. It sounds so lame, but Good Charlotte was the first band I came across as a kid where I was like, “Oh, there’s people with guitars on stage, I could give that a go.”

4. How did moving away from home as a teenager shape who you are?

When you start a band like we did — we started with pretty pop-punk roots –– the whole plan is to get out of the whole town and to make something of yourself. I think as I’ve gotten older, especially since I haven’t seen my family in a long time now, I think I appreciate them more and more. I was very lucky to be a part of going to so many different countries and cities and seeing so many different cultures and people, living that lifestyle at such a young age. I feel like it’s becoming more of a cliche thing now, but I can just encourage anyone who has the means to do any sort of travel. It made me much more compassionate and [informed] about other people’s cultures. Everything is so different everywhere, but everyone is kind of the same in such a weird, balanced way. 

5. What’s at the top of your professional bucket list? 

I mean, I’d take anything right now. I’d play a show. I’d want to play the Sydney Opera House. 

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