Music

Luke Hemmings Is Just A Boy

Luke Hemmings

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Though he’s been making music for over a decade, playing iconic venues around the world with homegrown pals 5 Seconds of Summer, and has millions of eyes watching what he does next, one thing remains true: Luke Hemmings is just a boy.

The wistful feeling that coming-of-age art elicits can be overwhelming. We openly invite our childhoods to sit cross-legged on our chests, yearning to feel our sternums splinter under the crippling weight of nostalgia.

When I ask Luke about the inspiration for his sophomore EP boy, he says he cut-and-pasted it together from a junk journal of movies, music, and fragmented memories — some his, some borrowed from others — in a way that felt very un-rock and roll.

“It’s easy to fantasise about realities that feel so real that we start to miss them,” he says. “They can get mixed up with real time and real places. That’s kind of how my life feels. My memory’s so bad and so blurry, and I feel like real life is so messy and it’s not clear when you look back.”

Luke recalls writing boy on the road, and bottling the feeling of existential loneliness. His perspective of being in a big city full of people can shift depending on his state of mind — it can either be a peaceful reflection of the human experience, or a garbage wasteland of inferiority and overwhelm. Take your pick.

“There’s a lot of writing [on this record] about feeling a bit lost and alienated even though you’re surrounded by so many people,” he says. “If you’re in a good headspace, it feels so beautiful — like, look how much life there is. But through a lens of, ‘this is all too much; there’s so many people around; everyone has these lives…’ it gets a bit existential. I was leaning more towards the not-so-good lens.”

“[I was] definitely people-watching,” he adds, “so a lot of the songs,  they’re not just about one thing. It’s more like an overall feeling of getting older and feeling like it’s all happening too fast and too slow at the same time.”

The futile guilt of wasted youth is woven through all 24 minutes of boy. We twist ourselves in knots and ask, “What if?” at every stage of our lives. Even if we’re making conscious choices in real-time, regret can creep in just as quickly.

“Whatever this time period was, there was just so much. I was overflowing with emotion and needed to get something out,” Luke says. “It’s definitely not rock and roll, that’s for sure. It feels like the opposite.”

I ask Luke about growing up in Australia and how he’s metamorphosed into the Luke Hemmings of today. After a back-and-forth where we joke that his 2011 YouTube cover of ‘Drop in the Ocean’ “put [Ron Pope] on the map”, he gets a little more earnest, and recalls a time before he felt he had any words to say of his own.

“I was trying to write original songs when I was 14, but they weren’t very good,” he says. “There’s so much life that has been lived in between, and now there’s so much to write about, so much to touch on that I couldn’t do at the time.”

The opening line of the EP is: I sat in the driveway but I can’t go in / The green fence is faded and it’s sinking in. Growing up in the suburbs of Australia myself, my subconscious conjured a Colorbond fence from my childhood that was the humble home to many spiders. Luke joins in my reminiscing, and shares his own connection to that simple green fence.

“No, that’s a really, really keen observation because I definitely had a green fence growing up. I grew up in farmland Western Sydney, [so] there’s a nod to Australia and growing up there,” he says. “I think that’s sort of what I mean about when things can have different meanings. You take little pieces from your life and put them in the songs.”

In this moment — indulging in shared nostalgia for suburban property structures — Luke Hemmings is just a boy from Western Sydney. 

“[That] was in the back of my mind,” he says. “I’m very impressed that you picked up on that. I guess it’s the bogan in us.”

Luke Hemmings’ EP boy is out now. You can find tickets to his debut headline tour, Nostalgia For A Time That Never Existed here.

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Written by Talecia Vescio, your local Aquarius. Find her on Instagram as @taleciavescio if you wanna be friends.