It is not every day that male pop acts bare it all on magazine covers.
English bands Blue and McFly, as well as US rock act Red Hot Chili Peppers, are the more notable names on that list – that is, until Australian pop-rock quartet 5 Seconds of Summer recently followed suit.
Lead vocalist Luke Hemmings, guitarist Michael Clifford, bassist Calum Hood and drummer Ashton Irwin appeared butt-naked on the cover of Rolling Stone magazine in January, with hands strategically placed and with black and red song lyrics and titles scrawled on their skin.
That risque move set tongues wagging. The shocker came at a time when the former YouTube stars are at the peak of their five-year career.
Still, the band, who were in town last Thursday for their debut concert in Singapore at The Star Theatre, would not change a thing about that move.
Hours before their Sounds Live Feels Live tour concert here, Hood, 20, told The New Paper: “Ashton initially came up with the idea.
“There were others, but this was the one that stuck out. Who wouldn’t want to be on the Rolling Stone magazine cover?
“So we made sure it was the best cover anyone has ever seen. I think it was a different way to expose our songs and lyrics, plus it grabbed people’s attention, which was the aim.
“People are less sensitive to nudity these days anyway, so we were cool with doing it,” he added.
Will there be a next time that sees the young four-piece group stripping for the cameras?
“I think you need to pick your moments. With the Rolling Stone, we wanted to do something we have never done before. You want people to talk about it otherwise, what’s the point of doing it?,” said Irwin, 21.
The naughty cover was not the only thing that created a storm online.
The accompanying cover story painted an image of the quartet as wild rock-and-roll stars in their early days, thanks to Hemmings who said in the interview that “when you put four young dudes on a tour bus, playing theatres, then arenas, you’re going to have sex with a lot of girls”.
The 19-year-old also seemingly hinted at the fact that the possibility of having sex with “multiple girls in one night” and “multiple girls at the same time” were “high”.
When asked about the controversy that followed those statements, Irwin said: “You need to remember at the end of the day what was written was an entertainment article and it’s made to entertain you. But it’s also someone’s opinion that was written.”
Hood said: “Given four young guys in a band, you tour the world for five years… a lot will happen. A lot of great things will happen.
“It’s also about personal growth, where you need to build a moral standing, grow as a young man and make decisions that will affect your career positively”.
Hood was singled out in the buzz that followed the article, where he addressed the 2014 Snapchat video that saw him filming himself while looking in the mirror with his private part exposed.
He said then: “It was kind of a blessing, in a way, because nothing that bad could actually happen to me again.”
Addressing the incident, Hood told TNP: “It took me a while to get over it, but I’m pretty chill. I’m usually laid-back, anyway.”
The Rolling Stone controversy might have been a big deal, but three months on it has hardly made a dent in the band’s career.
If anything, the increased attention helped.
Based on their own merit and talent, 5 Seconds of Summer have plenty of reasons to celebrate since they soared to international fame after touring with British boyband One Direction in 2013.
5 Seconds of Summer is the only band to have their first two albums – 5 Seconds of Summer (2014) and Sounds Good Feels Good (2015) – debut at No. 1 in the US.
Their rise has impressed even their own veteran punk rock idols like Sum 41’s Deryck Whibley, All Time Low’s Alex Gaskarth, and Benji and Joel Madden of Good Charlotte, all of whom they worked with on their music.
The band have ambitious aims for their next album.
Irwin said: “The next album will be influenced by culture, now that we have been to Asia. We’ve experienced even more religions and cultures. An important thing to remember is that a band is supposed to be a voice and experience of life, not just music.”
This article was first published on March 7, 2016.
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