Newcastle’s Trophy Eyes are a long way from home. After a run of sold out dates with their Aussie bros The Amity Affliction, the punk fivesome are currently touring the length and breadth of the USA – once again with Amity – to gee up buzz for the release of their sophomore album Chemical Miracle.
Right now, frontman John Floreani is sitting in the back of a tour van, parked in some random Florida carpark and sneaking a cheeky durry when Music Feeds call to check in.
Music Feeds: Mate you guys have been spending a lot of time with Amity – are you sick of each other yet?
John Floreani: Na [laughs] not really. We’re with them very briefly, we’re always kinda doing our own thing. And Amity’s always super busy as well so there’s not heaps of time to hang. But we get to hang a little bit – we got to hang quite a bit on Warped Tour and the Australian tour. But this tour, it’s quite different. We’re playing a few shows, like one-offs with Hundredth while Amity are playing, like, radio festivals and things. But we’re not sick of them, they’re awesome guys, I especially get along well with Joel [Birch, vocals], we’re kind of the same guy [laughs].
MF: What’s it like being over there in the middle of all the election mayhem right now?
JF: You know what, I’ve seen a little bit of it. I saw some posters about Trump, it’s pretty crazy. I think Jeremy – the bass player – was bailed up yesterday in Atlanta, Georgia, and they were like ‘You gonna vote for Trump?!’ and he was like, ‘I’m not a citizen, I’m sorry’ and they were like ‘Oh… are you gonna vote for Trump?’ And they full, like, hounded him about it… It’s kinda scary.
MF: So when you guys come back home you’re heading to UNIFY Gathering for the 2nd year in a row… what made you decide to come back for seconds?
JF: Aw, it’s the best. It’s the best environment, you know? There’s no ATMs there, you just go there and you camp and you party and, it’s like, no one cares about the money – it’s not a festival for the money, it’s not for the pay cheque. It’s just for good music and kids who enjoy good music. It’s awesome. And the fact that kids travel – people travel from so far away – there’s people from Perth, there’s people from Northern Queensland, the Northern Territory, like – it’s crazy! People come from all over Australia just to see these bands. And the vibe is awesome – we played with a lot of friends last year as well, like Columbus, Neck Deep, Hellions, Hands Like Houses – it’s just like a big bro-fest, we had so much fun. So this year it was a no-brainer. They asked ‘Do you guys wanna play?’ and we said ‘Yes!’
MF: I was lucky enough to be there last year and there seemed to be real kind of family vibe with all the bands. Did you guys get up to much mischief backstage?
JF: Yeah well I got there quite early and we had like a case of warm beer – the cold beer on our rider didn’t come through til the next day – so we started off with warm beer. And there were just drinks all night – it got out of control. I remember doing an interview with Lindsay McDougall from Frenzal Rhomb and I was soooo drunk trying to talk to him, like I had a shirt covered in beer and I was just like ‘What am I doing? What am I doing here?’ It was out of control. And then the next day – like, everybody partied all night, pretty much everybody I saw was trashed, absolutely trashed. Which was cool, lots of industry people were just, like, wasted as well which was really funny to see them out of their shell and celebrating.
MF: So are you gonna do anything differently this time around? Either onstage or off?
JF: This time, I’ll definitely be taking it easy, I’ll be bringing a lot of sunscreen. I feel like the sun had a lot to do with my state that first day [laughs]. Yeah that was a heavy day. But this time we’ll be playing our new album which’ll be super super fun, we’re all super excited to play that – we’ve been playing these last few songs for, like, nearly three years I think so we’re super ready to play some new content and just hang out in general. But yeah, definitely this time – sunscreen, ear plugs and bug repellent, I got eaten alive by mosquitoes [last time]. But this time I’ll be prepared.
MF: OK so let’s talk about the new album Chemical Miracle. A lot of your songs seem to have a bit more of a – dare I say it – pop sensibility this time around. Was that something you guys wanted to do or did it just sort of happen by accident?
JF: There was no intent. There was no, like, “Let’s go and write a pop album”. But that kind of pop sensibility’s sort of there and we totally embrace it. We’re super stoked with what happened. I guess just us touring for the last couple of years and just growing up – being all over the world and travelling – we just grew up a little bit and realised “Hey, we don’t have to pigeonhole our sound and write this punk or this melodic hardcore or whatever anyone else is calling us”. That was never our intention anyway, we never wanted to make a pop-punk record, we never wanted to be called “melodic hardcore”, we were just writing a mashup of things we listened to. And I guess this time we listened to a hell of a lot more poppy stuff? I mean, even our first song [Chlorine] – we were all listening to The Killers, Queen, things like that.
We listen to a lot of – like – Justin Bieber and I’m personally a huge fan of Nicki Minaj and things like that. So those, like, pop chords and choruses and structures and stuff – I guess it just came to us because of what we were listening to. You know? There was never an intent to be like [puts on a voice] “Alright let’s get poppy” [laughs] It was more just like “Let’s write songs that we wanna write”.
MF: But then you’ve got these songs like Chlorine, which is catchy AF, but then the subject matter still seems pretty heavy. Can you tell us a bit more about what some of the songs on the record are all about?
JF: Well Chlorine is about – it sounds super heavy and I guess it is, in a way, but – it’s not portrayed as gloomy or anything like that, it’s just – I guess – a philosophical reflection on what happened and what it meant to me.
So I was swimming when I was a kid, in primary school, and I jumped into the wrong end of the swimming pool, and I couldn’t really swim. I went under, I guess I started drowning. And this kid jumped in and, like, saved me. He went to my same school and he was a couple of years above me, but you know, we never really spoke after that, and we were never really friends at all, I would never call him a friend of mine, I guess, just out of respect, I really didn’t know him.
And I haven’t lived at home since I was about 17 years old, so I got news from my mother that he had killed himself. He hung himself in his room because of a relationship problem or something like that. So I tried really hard not to put the idea in people’s minds that I was a friend of his, out of respect for his family and his friends and that whole situation. But at the same time, I guess [Chlorine is] a reflection of “Wow I can’t believe that kid saved me and he ended it all like that”, you know? Why him and not me that day? I guess it’s just a thought, but that’s what the whole album’s about.
It’s just, like, a different way of thinking, you know? After the last few years and growing up and looking back at my life and constantly reflecting and looking at my life in different ways. It’s what all those songs are about, and I guess it’s what all Trophy Eyes is about, it’s just like those specific moments and why they’re important to me and how they changed my life… Because I didn’t wanna get up onstage and sing about fuckin’ pizza and all that other bullshit… especially if I was like screaming, you know what I mean? Imagine someone getting up there and screaming about partying, like Attila or something like that! That stuff makes me cringe. So I at least wanted to make it important and something that – if I was going to be portraying that amount of passion –I wanted it to be real and honest. And I hope that Chlorine portrays that. I hope that people can understand that was important to me.
MF: So what’s the plan for Trophy Eyes beyond UNIFY 2017?
JF: We’re just gonna keep going, we’re gonna keep playing shows, keep travelling, keep trying to get everywhere. When we started, my goal was to play [Sydney’s] The Annandale Hotel and we played that, then we played [London’s] Electric Ballroom, we played fuckin’ Warped Tour and stuff like that, so we’ve blown our goals out of the water. I dunno, I guess there’s always new goals and new shows to play and places to go, but we’ll be over in America quite a bit more, hopefully Europe a few more times and Australia a whole bunch, and hopefully this time we get to do Asia as well. I think that’s in the works right now, I’m pretty sure that’s being talked about, we really wanna get to Japan and a lot of South East Asia, hopefully that’ll all happen.
Trophy Eyes’ new album Chemical Miracle is due out on Friday, 14th October.