“No. The decision we've made to, even just change a lot of our situations, has been really empowering and liberating to the creativity of the group,” Irwin tells the Billboard Pop Shop Podcast (listen below). “And the direction and instinctual kind of feelings on our music that we have are more aligned with the people that we work with now, which is great. So it feels really refreshed and really good."
For the forthcoming album, the group has already teased the set with two singles: the moody and sparse “Easier” and their newest track, the gritty “Teeth.” The former became the act’s ninth hit on the Pop Songs airplay chart back in June. Further, the two tracks have collected nearly 100 million combined on-demand streams in the U.S., according to Nielsen Music.
Are the two singles indicative of what the upcoming album might sound like as a whole?
“I'd say they serve different purposes within the album,” Hood says. “Because we very much create songs as an album -- or thinking of the album as a whole, instead of just individual songs. And I think with 'Teeth' … I knew it was something that we hadn't discovered yet within the band. Which is why I'm so happy that we're releasing it as a single as well. It reminds me of, as weird as it sounds, [fellow Australian band] AC/DC, in terms of the pulse and energy. And for that, it's a really special thing for me because it means that we're almost connecting with the roots of the band, in a modernistic way. I'd say… these two songs are good indicators of what's to come. It's definitely my favorite album we've ever created, for sure.”
Hemmings says that “Teeth” -- which boasts Tom Morello playing guitar throughout the track -- came from a “blur of a month or a month-and-a-half of writing.”
“That's kind of where the album came from -- just kind of every day, going in and trying to beat what we did the day before -- or even beat what we did on our previous albums with Youngblood and so on. ['Teeth'] came about really quickly, actually. It was just a bass line. And then [we] worked on the melody and then the lyrics came after. It was very, very, very simple… It was just one of those ideas that really stuck out and we held on to, and we ran with it on the day.”
Irwin says that moving to Los Angeles -- and observing nightlife in the City of Angels -- has definitely had an impact on their music.
“I think a lot of the new music has been influenced by specific nightlife. How do I word this? I don't know. Just paying attention to energies that draw you and inspire you, and I guess that's why we moved to LA. Like, I wouldn't be sitting in the middle-of-fucking-nowhere Sydney if I was looking for inspiration. And we were looking for things that inspired us, and they were raw. I think there's been some specific musical taste shifts in the group, for sure. Especially since the last record.”
Before the album drops, the band will hit the road with EDM superstar duo The Chainsmokers. The trek begins Sept. 25 in Cincinnati and wraps up Dec. 6 in Vancouver. The tour follows the success of The Chainsmokers' "Who Do You Love" single, featuring 5SOS, which hit No. 10 on Pop Songs earlier this year.
“Well, you gotta picture it like this,” Irwin says about heading out on the road with The Chainsmokers. “You go for a night out. It's Friday night. You're down at the Echoplex or something, I don't know where you'd go." (The Echoplex is a club in Los Angeles with a capacity of 800.)
Billboard interjects: “You’re playing [the 18,000-capacity] Forum in LA, by the way.”
Irwin, laughing, continues, “And I picture it like this -- it's like, you go in, it's 9 p.m., you're in the kind of rock/pop room, but you know there's an EDM party upstairs. But you gotta have a couple beverages before you go upstairs. And then you go see The Chainsmokers after us. That's kind of how we're seeing the natural progression of this evening. It's the narrative at the Echo, but you're in The Forum.”
“So we’re like the Couple Beverages Band,” Hemmings jokes.
“But it's good,” Clifford says, “We've got a set list planned. We're excited. It's gonna be good. Those guys… they're just the greatest people on Earth. So we really enjoy spending time with them, and it's going to be a fun tour.”
“When you get involved with people like The Chainsmokers, you do not know what to expect,” Irwin says. “‘Cause we're not from that world, obviously. But, their work ethic, and the way they've treated us along the way, whilst working with them, has actually been surprisingly really, really adorable in many ways. They're very welcoming and very, very polite in making sure that we're stoked on what's being released and how everything looks and feels because we're kind of crazy about that at this point in our career.”
In addition to the interview with 5 Seconds of Summer, the Pop Shop team discusses chart news about Taylor Swift’s Lover debuting at No. 1 on the Billboard 200 chart and Lizzo capturing her first No. 1 on the Hot 100 with “Truth Hurts.”
The Billboard Pop Shop Podcast is your one-stop shop for all things pop on Billboard's weekly charts. You can always count on a lively discussion about the latest pop news, fun chart stats and stories, new music, and guest interviews with music stars and folks from the world of pop. Casual pop fans and chart junkies can hear Billboard's senior director of charts Keith Caulfield and deputy editor, digital Katie Atkinson every week on the podcast, which can be streamed on Billboard.com or downloaded in Apple Podcasts or your favorite podcast provider. (Click here to listen to the previous edition of the show on Billboard.com.)