August 20, 2015


5SOS' Michael Clifford Talks Mental Health: Why You Should Listen

Chelsea Lauren/Getty Images
Chelsea Lauren/Getty Images

5 Seconds of Summer, to their die-hard 5SOSFam fanbase, are loved for all aspects of their being. Their unique breed of power pop-punk is the driving factor, but the source of much of their success is found in their personality. They're young, attractive boys who don't take themselves too seriously—ideas of punk as escapism live within them, which means most of their interviews hinge upon humor. They're here for a good time, and they hope you are, too. 

It also means they're the kind of band that gets flooded with heavy sentiments from young people: "You saved my life" and the like. It's a lot, especially for a mostly-teenage band from Down Under, but also a strangely relatable one. If they're close in age to so many of their fans, it means they're going through the same shit at the same time.

That became apparent last night when 5SOS took the stage at the Palace in Auburn Hills, Mich., the metropolitan Detroit date of their mostly sold-out arena world tour, Rock Out With Your Socks Out. At one point in the performance, guitarist Michael Clifford grabbed his mic and said, "I was fixing some problems with my mental health. I just saw a therapist real quick on the break we had. Anyways, I'm going to shut up now. We're gonna play another song if it's okay?"

You can watch it below.

He stopped before getting into any real detail, but the very notion that he, too, is plagued by some level of mental health issues feels universal; the fact that he had the confidence to admit to it feels powerful. The majority of 5 Seconds of Summer's fans are young girls entering a point in adolescence where they've begun developing their music taste along with the personality characteristics that will define their identities in adulthood. When the going gets tough, this shows them they're not alone. 

This inspired a No. 1 worldwide Twitter trend, #WeLoveYouMichael, with fans all over the world showing their support for the guy; no stigmas or negativity here. Clifford's few words of limited context inspired a global conversation. And it certainly gives more meaning to the verse in their latest single, "She's Kinda Hot," that goes: "Sometimes I’m feeling like I’m going insane / My neighbor told me that I got bad brains / But I'm alright though."

Clifford's few words of limited context inspired a global conversation.

A few other mainstream pop acts who have opened up like this—say, the incredible activism of Demi Lovato—did so after their struggles. Which was a good thing: In no way would Demi or her fans have benefited from her elucidating adolescent alcohol abuse while it was occurring. (In fact, it probably would've had the adverse effect.) It was after Demi started seeking treatment, after she was diagnosed with bipolar disorder, that she became the force she is today. Her fans, and the pop world, are better because of it. 

Michael's statement arrives earlier in his development and has real resonance despite its still being vague. It's enough to show that's he's working through stuff—not that he's "fixed." There's real strength in that vulnerability.