October 22, 2014 12:00 PM

DRUMS and VOCALS

WHENEVER THE 5SOS GUYS ARE LOOKING FOR fun, Ashton Irwin, 20, is their man. The drummer is always up to party, dish out food tips (sample: “get lots of ketchup” with breakfast burritos) and get into all sorts of goofiness, like throwing his pants at bandmates and staging impromptu dance-offs. “I’m in it for the comedy,” he says. But really, it’s music that is his true destiny. “My uncle is a drummer in a death-metal band, and my stepdad played drums in a punk-rock band,” Ashton tells PEOPLE. “I spent my childhood hanging out with drunk people at the pub on weekends. That probably explains why I’m a little weird.” Weird works well in rock and roll, though, and after watching drummer and total nonconformist Tré Cool in Green Day’s Bullet in a Bible DVD, Ashton picked up his own drumsticks. He also formed a jazz-funk band with classmates at Richmond High School, just 20 minutes from where Luke, Calum and Michael went to school. “Things can change if you believe and chase what you love,” he says. But his journey wasn’t easy. His father, an American, left the family when Ashton was just 2, and as a youth in Richmond, New South Wales, he often felt like a misfit. “A 14-year-old kid was teasing me at the airport ’cause I was air drumming, and I felt like I was at school all over again,” he said recently. So he often speaks up for anyone being bullied—including his sister Lauren, 13. “Can’t believe people pick on my sister at school,” he tweeted earlier this year. “One day they will realize individuality is a beautiful thing. I love you, Lauren, be tough.” His own strength shines onstage. “He’s confident, he’s out there,” his mum, Anne Marie, has said, adding that he hasn’t lost his sensitive side: “He texts me every day…like, ‘Love ya Mumma.'” Whenever he’s home, he’s hanging out with his family, playing soccer and watching movies like Despicable Me with brother Harry, 9. “I enjoy every moment,” he has said. But the road always beckons. “I need music to be me,” says Ashton, who’s still blown away by 5SOS stardom. “I dreamt about it ever since I was a kid and will forever be grateful for everything.”

6 FUN FACTS ABOUT ASHTON

1 He believes in Sasquatch.

“Watched a documentary on Big Foot,” he says. “The Foot is real.”

2 He has an odd taste in mammals.

“My favorite animal is probably the platypus.”

3 He has an “emergency bandanna collection.”

It’s for shows, but “sometimes I do miss the emo fringe, I’m not gonna lie,” he says.

4 “I love coffee so damn much,” he says.

He got a brewing machine last Christmas. “Opening my own café it looks like, who’s coming?”

5 Pringles are his comfort food.

“I ate a whole can,” he confessed recently.

6 He’s the band chef.

“My new book Survival Cooking with Ashton Irwin will help you survive in a house of teenage males who can only boil/microwave things,” he says. His specialties: barbecuing, and broccoli and rice dinners.

WHY HE’S SO PERFECT!

• He craves romance.

“I can’t wait to feel real love again,” Ashton recently posted on Twitter. (Though he never revealed who the “real love” was!) His next post? “I’m never tweeting anything like that again, the band just came and beat me up.”

• He’s the fittest 5SOS-er.

Luke calls “Irwie” his “muscular best frand.”

• He has a sensitive side.

“Sometimes,” he admits, “I wanna tweet things that are just a little too deep and personal.”

• Negativity is a turnoff.

“People are obsessed with finding bad traits in someone,” he says. “Why don’t we find the good in people?”

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