5 Seconds of Summer – The Evolution Continues

The Story of 5SOS, Roland, and BOSS

5 Seconds of Summer on stage with the Waza Amps during the 5SOS3 tour. Photo: Andy Deluca

I’ll be the first to admit that when I first heard of 5 Seconds of Summer it was because of my niece Kayla. At the time, she was starting to get the hang of playing guitar and she said, “There’s this cool band called 5 Seconds of Summer, you should check them out.” I said, “Okay, but didn’t they open for One Direction?” She proudly said, “Yes,” and played a few songs.

My initial reaction was this is really good radio-friendly Pop-Punk. A few months later she asked for help in learning some parts of one of their songs from their debut album 5 Seconds of Summer. We started going through the parts and I was forced to pay closer attention. While listening, I thought to myself, “Wow, these are well-crafted songs….those guitars sound great, the vocal arrangements are on point, and the rhythm section is seriously good.”

As soon as Kayla started learning guitar I was feeding her a steady diet of Zeppelin, Hendrix, Pink Floyd, U2, Nirvana, and more, to show her the groups she “should be” drawing influence on. She humored me, listened and had some positive comments but like my first listening of 5SOS not much came out of it. Then I realized, “Why on earth would she want to emulate my “rock gods”?” She has found her own for her generation and they deserved the recognition.

Rock Out With Your Socks Out

My first in-person encounter with 5SOS was in September 2015, and I was determined to find out who they were as musicians. Studio albums are one thing but playing live is a completely different animal. At that time, I had failed to appreciate that 5SOS was a band that was essentially born on the road opening up for One Direction in 2013 and 2014. Now 5SOS and 1D don’t exactly have the same sound, and opening for one of the biggest groups of 2013/2014 has an upside and a downside. On the upside, you get to perform your music and expose your band to a massive audience, but the downside is the fans came to see One Direction, not 5 Seconds of Summer. Therefore, you have to work harder than the headliner to capture the audience.

We had made arrangements to go to meet the 5SOS technical crew at the show in Hartford, Connecticut, on the final run of their first headlining tour Rock Out With Your Socks Out, which covered three continents and 69 cities. The pre-show period of any live concert is already a hive of controlled chaos hours before the band takes the stage. A team of hard-working people are loading in equipment, placing stage pieces, setting lights, rigging line arrays, conducting sound checks, dealing with the inevitable and daily “uh oh” moments, plus getting all the instruments set and show ready. Don’t forget, this is all what you can see from the seats at the venue, there is just as much going on backstage too.

After sound check the stage was empty and doors hadn’t opened yet, so that was the perfect time to meet with the crew to understand how everything on stage is used.  During this brief downtime, Ashton Irwin (Drums/Vocals) had taken it upon himself to come over and introduce himself and thank us for coming. Ashton didn’t have to do that, in fact he probably gave up his one break he had all day to do it, but he did, which made an impression on me.

Ashton went on to explain how he was using a V-DRUMS Portable TD-4KP as a warm-up kit and a SPD-SX Sampling Pad on stage. One of Michael Clifford’s (Guitar/Vocals) first pedals was a BOSS DD-20 Giga Delay, plus Luke Hemmings (Guitar/Vocals), Calum Hood (Bass/Vocals), and Michael were already using BOSS TU-3 Chromatic Tuners on stage. The first single from the band’s forthcoming second album Sounds Good Feels Good had just been released and the video for “She’s Kinda Hot” was released a month later.

The video for “She’s Kinda Hot” features Ashton playing the SPD-SX with custom stickers. In addition, it is clear the band’s sound had evolved and pushed forward from the first album.

So there I was, standing in the audience like a good forty-something musician, arms crossed with that “impress me” look on my face. The lights went down, 5 Seconds of Summer took the stage and the venue went exploded with energy. 5SOS can put on a show and they didn’t rely on gimmicks or hide behind production. It was clear to me that they were not only talented musicians but performers too, I was truly impressed, these guys could play.

Sounds Good Feels Good

Just like their debut album, John Feldmann produced their second Sounds Good Feels Good, but the songs featured a deeper musicianship and darker tone than the first album. The evolution of their sound had started and “Jet Black Heart” is a great example of the new direction the band was taking.

Sounds Good Feels Good, like its predecessor 5 Seconds of Summer, debuted at number one on the Billboard charts, making 5SOS the first band (non-vocal) to have their first two albums debut at number one.

Sounds Live Feel Live

To accompany the success of Sounds Good Feels Good and the three singles released from the album, 5SOS announced another world tour, Sounds Live Feel Live which covered 4 continents and 101 shows.

The relationship between Roland/BOSS and 5 Seconds of Summer had deepened since the initial meet up the previous year. The band was in rehearsals and all the pieces for the tour were coming together. Ashton was going out with a new hybrid drum kit that was half acoustic and half Roland V-Drums. The V-Drums components were the SPD-SX, KT-10 Kick Trigger, TM-2, and V-Pads.

For the tour, Michael and Luke had both selected the Waza Amplifiers and Cabinets, which was very exciting for both us and them (more on that later). Calum was running a BOSS only pedal board which included a BB-1X Bass Driver. In addition, all three were using the BOSS ES-8 Switchers. Finally, Michael had led the decision to have the RD-800 on stage. “Carry On” was the opening song and the first notes heard would be the RD-800.

The Waza Amp Story

As the guitarists in “The World’s Hottest Band” (Rolling Stone, Dec. 2015), Michael and Luke could have chosen any amp they wanted but they decided to go with the BOSS Wazas based on tone. This decision is another example of the band putting their vision and sound ahead of “playing it safe.” They loved the tone control and “Waza Brown Sound” that Waza system brought to the stage.

BOSS had only just announced the Waza Amps a few months before so the factory was still ramping up production. The plan was for the first units from the factory in Japan were to be hand-delivered by the BOSS team to the first show of the tour in Nagoya. As you can imagine, a band embarking on a world tour with empty flight cases and trusting that your gear will be ready once you fly halfway across the world is not exactly the norm and requires some significant trust.

Meanwhile in Hamamatsu, Japan, the BOSS team, including Yoshi Ikegami President of BOSS, were diligently hand assembling each amp and cabinet.

On the day of the first show in Nagoya, Yoshi Ikegami and the BOSS team loaded up the vans with Waza Amps and Cabinets and headed out to Century Hall in Nagoya. The 5SOS team had finished assembling the stage and were getting ready to start sound check when Ikegami-san arrived with the Waza Amps and Cabinets. They unloaded the vans, rolled the Wazas on stage and fired up. The show and more importantly the tour could now go on!


Evolution is a key to life and this is no different when it comes to music. Given the success 5SOS had achieved, you would think that they had found “the formula” to producing hit after hit. Instead of sticking to their Pop/Punk roots that had garnered them worldwide success, the Australian quartet ripped up their “playbook” and took an entire year to craft their new album. The result is another step forward in their sonic evolution.

“Want You Back” is the first single from the forthcoming third album Youngblood. The audio-only video is already over 10 million views and the music video was released at the end of March. Check out the video above and you’ll see the Waza cabs.

Want You Back – Acoustic

5 Seconds of Summer have been performing acoustic versions of “Want You Back” at radio stations across North America and Europe. The reception to the stripped down version has been incredibly positive and on April 6 they released videos for both an acoustic and remix version of “Want You Back.”

The acoustic performances of Want You Back also feature Roland & BOSS products. Calum, Luke and Michael are using TU-3 tuners and Ashton is using an SPD::ONE Kick. The SPD::ONE Kick is a single-trigger pad loaded with kick drums sounds that can be mounted on a drum kit and hit with drumstick. In addition, the SPD::ONE Kick can be placed on the floor and used as a pedal to allow the percussionist to trigger the sounds with their feet. Ashton is using the yellow SPD::ONE Kick as a trigger pedal and you can see him using it in the SirriusXM performance below.


5SOS III tour – Photo: Andy Deluca

Now that the 5SOS III tour has started, additional new songs from the upcoming album have been heard by the masses. The sound and direction are more mature and another step forward in the band’s continual evolution.

Luke, Michael, Calum, and Ashton didn’t stop with changing their approach to making music, they also changed things up in regards to touring.

The 5SOS III tour is a four-month tour across Europe, North America, Asia, and Australia, focusing on intimate venues. They could have easily kicked off another worldwide headlining arena tour but instead decided to “flip the script” and go small when everyone expected them to go big. This approach ensures the best fan experience for their new songs. Performing in smaller venues impacts the amount of equipment used as everything has to be efficient and just as importantly, need to be able to fit on stages that vary in size from night to night.

Here’s a rundown of what Roland & BOSS products 5 Seconds of Summer are taking out on the 5SOS III tour.

Ashton Irwin – Percussion/Vocals

Ashton plays a Gretsch drumkit with DW hardware. The Roland SPD-SX-SE is used to trigger samples and loops. In addition to playing the SPD-SX-SE directly, Ashton utilizes the RT-30K, RT-30HR and RT-30H drum triggers on the Kick and Snare. The drum triggers allow Ashton to either completely replace his acoustic drum sounds with samples on the SPD-SX-SE or he can augment the existing acoustic tone with sounds from the SPD-SX-SE. For example, a kick drum might require extra punch or low end for a single song, the triggers allow an additional sound to be played every time he hits the kick drum, toms or snare.

Michael Clifford – Guitar/Vocals, Luke Hemmings – Guitar/Vocals

Michael and Luke both use the BOSS Waza Amp Cabinets to get their tones on stage. Each of the stacks feature 2 Waza Amp 412 Cabinets which are closed back with four custom 12-inch speakers for a maximum input of 320 watts. Given that each stack can handle up to 640 watts for a total of 1280 watts coming off stage, we are not sure if they will need a PA!

To ensure their guitars are in tune, BOSS TU-3w Chromatic Tuners are used by both Luke and Michael. The TU-3w has the same tuning functions as the TU-3 but includes more refined internal circuity.

Calum Hood – Bass/Vocals/Synth

Calum is utilizing BOSS pedals to sculpt his bass tone. The CEB-3 Bass Chorus is used to fatten up his sound, the ODB-3 Bass Driver is used to add distortion, the BOSS GEB-7 EQ is used to shape the bass sound and the BB-1x Bass Driver adds a rounder and warmer distortion and depth to his bass tone.  Finally, everything is kept in tune using the BOSS TU-3w Chromatic Tuner.

On the previous tour, Michael and Luke also performed keys using the RD-800 however for this tour Calum has taken on the keys duties. The Roland SYSTEM-8 is used for deep bass tones and you can hear Calum play the INTEGRA-7 SuperNATURAL Sound Module piano sound (via MIDI) on the intro to “Want You Back” when they perform live. The SYSTEM-8 is a PLUG-OUT synthesizer which means not only does it generate incredible sounds using the four onboard oscillators (including a sub oscillator), waveforms and LFOs it also can load PLUG OUT iconic ACB synths like the JUNO-106, JUPITER-8, and more which means you can customize the SYSTEM-8 in anyway you want! You can even use any of these synths and many more in your favorite DAW by subscribing to the Roland Cloud.

On June 22nd the third album Youngblood will be released and is available for pre-order now. The title track is available now to anyone who pre-orders the album. Check out the live video of “Youngblood” to see all of the Roland and BOSS gear in action from the 5SOS III tour.

To support the album release, the first three-month leg of the Meet You There Tour has been announced, which will cover the US and Canada starting in August 2018. Roland and BOSS are looking forward to being part of this next chapter.

5 Seconds of Summer – http://www.5sos.com/

Andy Deluca – Instagram: @andydeluca Twitter: @shmandeluca