When Facing the Things We Turn Away From

When Facing the Things We Turn Away From

“The process for this album genuinely happened by accident,” Luke Hemmings says about his first album as a solo artist. “When the world shut down last year, I had a lot of time to reflect on my youth and the person I had been, who I’ve become and who I wanted to be. It just so happens that the best way for me to face those things and process my thoughts is by writing songs.” The Sydney-born, LA-based singer-songwriter may only be 25, but he’s already been in the game for a decade, having founded 5 Seconds of Summer in 2011. The pop-rock group, which is fronted by Hemmings, shot to global fame in the years that followed—and with that came years of constant touring and momentum that didn’t really let up at all until the pandemic hit. It marked the first time in years that Hemmings was able to stay in one place for an extended period of time, and it allowed him to focus on himself, his past, and his solo career. “I’m in a constant pursuit of bettering myself and always trying to become a better artist, songwriter, musician, and human,” he says. “A huge goal was to have the sonics of the album reflect the feeling of the emotions that I was immersed in when writing.” Below, Hemmings delves deep into the meaning and making of every track on When Facing the Things We Turn Away From. “Starting Line” “The lyric and sonic of ‘Starting Line’ are a reflection on 10 years of your life passing you by in what felt like forever, but also in the blink of an eye. It’s about forgetting pieces of your life—not from vices, but from sheer volume and speed. I’ve had to figure out how to fill all the gaps for myself in a positive way. I love the way this song builds and the emotion it evokes. It is a perfect first step to the rest of the album.” “Saigon” “This song was inspired by a trip to Vietnam that I took with my fiancée and both of our mothers. This entire album was written in the moments of stillness that quarantine forced, and I spent those months facing the things I turned away from—the good, the bad, my regrets, needing to get help. Through all those times, I kept thinking about how euphoric that trip was, and how I wanted to keep chasing those highs I felt. I reflected on the sad truth that sometimes we can’t appreciate the best moments of our life until they’ve passed us by and are out of reach.” “Motion” “‘Motion’ is about having a sense of distrust with the way you perceive your own thoughts and the way the world moves around you. If I’m completely honest, this was the first time in my life that I was scared and motivated enough to seek professional help with my mental health. I couldn’t trust my own thoughts and the voices in my head, and the way this song feels brings me back to those moments.” “Place in Me” “This is the only song on the album that’s the same, overall, as the first demo. There were no changes or tweaks afterwards on the production or writing. I think that's what makes this a captivating piece of music. It’s about letting someone down, and was supposed to sound as if it were a voicemail on someone's answering machine.” “Baby Blue” “‘Baby Blue’ was sonically inspired by listening to artists like George Harrison. It’s about escapism; it’s the knee-jerk reflex of running away to your bedroom as a child, but as you get older, it just turns into vices and finding different ways to escape reality. The ‘wonderland’ that’s referenced in the chorus is whatever place you go to in your head, by whatever means, and how tempting it is to want to run away and stay there forever.” “Repeat” “‘If life’s a game of inches, how'd you get miles away?’ was the first lyric written for this song. I was listening to a lot of Neil Young at the time and wanted to write a song that I felt would make him proud. ‘Repeat’ is about the endless feeling of chasing something so long, or living a certain way for so long, only to wind up back at the beginning—unrecognizable to yourself.” “Mum” “This song is essentially a letter to my mum. I think as you get older, you tend to appreciate family more and more. I’ve grown up a lot and have never appreciated my family more than in these two years that I haven’t gotten to see them. One of my favorite musical moments on the whole album is at the end of this song—I love how it makes me feel. The wall of guitars and synths and the soft outro vocal balance each other really beautifully to me.” “Slip Away” “‘Slip Away’ is about that feeling right before bed where every bad decision and bad thing you have ever done swirls around your mind. The constant ache of expecting loved ones to be out the door as soon as they see who you actually are. It was written in a cabin in the middle of the woods, and it certainly feels like that to me when I listen to it. Sometimes in my moments of extreme happiness, I feel like I am undeserving of them, almost like an impostor.” “Diamonds” “It’s the most honest I’ve ever been in a song. To be frank, I didn't think that I was going to make it to 25. For many different reasons. It’s about being a young individual and going through such a whirlwind of an experience and being unable to handle it in a lot of ways.” “A Beautiful Dream” “It was the last song written for the album, and it was written at home. This song comes from the word ‘zenosyne,’ which is the feeling that as you get older, time moves quicker. I hadn't seen my family in Australia for almost two years—I still haven't seen them—and this was inspired by reliving memories from a child. It has a voicemail from my mum hidden among the music. I find it difficult to remember anything in general, so I suppose it's about not wanting my most precious memories to fade away.” “Bloodline” “‘Bloodline’ took the longest to write out of all the songs and is an extremely special song to me. It’s about struggling with addiction and making choices in your life but looking back and wondering, ‘Is this genetic? Am I destined to be this person and struggle with these things, or can I fight the bloodline and remember the things that help keep myself grounded and become the person I know I can be?’ It's also the only song on the album to be recorded on just one instrument and one vocal.” “Comedown” “‘Comedown’ was written mostly at the piano at home until it underwent many production versions to get to the place it is in now. It was one of those ones that I felt I didn't write, but was given to me. I was inspired by the idea of doing the same thing over and over and expecting to get a different result, and constantly living in such a negative loop of actions and emotions. ‘Let it come down on me’ means allowing yourself to feel it all, the good and the bad and everything in between.”

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