Trophy Eyes

Later this week, Newcastle’s Trophy Eyes will drop their second album, ‘Chemical Miracle’ via Hopeless Records. Much like their EP and their debut album, ‘Mend, Move On’, the band maintains their melodic hardcore and pop-punk combination on LP #2. But this time round, they’ve focused on a far more uplifting, major sound but with their emotional and rather dark lyrical content still intact. So these songs will be stuck in your head for ages, all the while making you feel all sorts of things. Speaking to me over the phone from Canada, I ask vocalist John Floreani about their new record, what it was like touring with Anti-Flag, being considered a “depressing” band, and on that cute as fuck pug from the ‘Chlorine’ music video, because I ask the hard questions, goddamnit!

With the title ‘Chemical Miracle’, does that maybe relate to you or someone else’s abuse of drug use – prescription or otherwise – or perhaps a more emotional, mental reference to a chemical imbalance in someone’s anatomy?

Chemical Miracle is how I look at life. It’s a way to sum it up for me. The album itself is a philosophical look at your average 25-year-old males life and his trials and tribulations. To put life in an umbrella term, everything in life is made up of a chemical, and it is all a miracle, as we don’t really know why we’re here.

When looking at back at the EP and the last album, this new one has such a weird juxtaposition, I find. With these songs, there’s these grand uplifting melodies and instrumentals but also the very personal and quite dark lyrical content. That’s more a statement than a question, I’m not sure if that’s intentional or not.

A lot of the content on the album begins with me at home with a melody and a lyric idea, as I like to get as much of the song skeleton all out at once. I’ll write the song as it comes, and there was no real intention of ours to write these major songs and then write depressing lyrics for them. It is due to a lot of  my musical references, which have been Coldplay and The Killers lately. So it’s that major scale, uplifting musical accompaniment and me singing about some morbid shit just going hand in hand.

Cool man, as I was curious to know your thoughts on that. On the morbid content present in your lyrics, do you think that having something like the video for ‘Breathe You In’ with you just staring blankly at the camera presents the band as a “depressing” band? As corny as that sounds [laughs].

You know, not so much. The lyrics do usually have a counterpoint or a conclusion or a silver lining. I wouldn’t want to pigeonhole ourselves as a band like that, but we can’t really get past that, especially with Breathe You In, which is a sad song lyrically. We’re not gonna shy away from that but that was part of the joke in that clip, to stay straight faced while on those rides.

I definitely don’t think we capitalize on this sadness, as our live shows aren’t us crying or moping around. It’s all us jumping off things and there are smiles all around when we play. But there is that vibe, for sure, and there are some heavy topics in the lyrics as I don’t ever like to sing or scream about things that I’m not passionate about. I feel like I’d be lying or faking it.

Likewise, with ‘Breathe You In’, you’ve mentioned that this song was about your touring life and being away from your partner, and with the lyrical content of ‘Heaven Sent’, I’m just wondering if you’re both still together now?

Oh no, we’re still a couple now. With Heaven Sent, if you put that on a timeline, that is about when I was younger and when I would…sleep around a lot, being a shitty person and leading girls on. I’m not proud of that at all now and that song is me reflecting on who I was only a couple years ago and thinking ‘Why the fuck was I doing that?’ But Breathe You In is more recent and was about my times overseas, namely on our last tour in the UK. So they’re totally different times in my life, but she and I are still together now and we’re very happy.

Ah, glad to hear it! Also, I appreciate the honesty about Heaven Sent, as I find a lot of people don’t like to open up about their sexual promiscuity. Now, on touring, I found it really interesting that you ‘ve supported Anti-flag and The Amity Affliction in the past year, tours that I wouldn’t have first thought the band would be a part of. 

Yeah, for sure, but our aim has been to broaden our fan base since we started. Our philosophy was to play every show we get given and to just keep working. If one person out of one hundred in a room likes us then that’s our job done. Sure, it would be nice to play our own headline shows or to people who already know us. But it’s more exciting to play to people who don’t know who you are or who wouldn’t expect you to be there. That’s the reason for us to play music, to share a life moment with different audiences and ourselves.

Cool, and as a big Anti-Flag myself, I can only imagine the old-school punks being annoyed at your sets, thinking ‘These guys aren’t real punk’ or ‘They don’t have any ‘Oi’ moments in their music, what the fuck?’ 

[Laughs] to be honest, that Anti-Flag tour was difficult. It took a big part of our set to make people accept us and nod their heads in approval. It was a lot of work to win over people so we just played our music fast, jump around and just be Trophy Eyes. That tour was a successful tour, and we made a lot of good friends too. Our TM [tour manager] right now was actually Red City Radio’s sound guy, who were also on that tour, so we’ve made some life-long fans and friends since.

Right on, man. I wanted to talk about the artwork. I dig the aesthetic of it and with its colours and the major scale songs, I find it has a strong Summer vibe. Was that the intention to have it come out halfway through Spring, as us Australians head into Summer? 

I’m sure that was a part of it, but so much goes to choosing a release date. You’ve always gotta see who’s releasing what and when, and wondering if you’ll be heard, so a lot would have gone into us picking October 14th. Also, releasing something later in the year does tend to cut into more family time for the band, and as you said, the seasons are changing so it was some wishful thinking that this may be a summer anthem for 2016.

Well, with songs like ‘Chlorine’, I’d say that it’s a real summer anthem for sure. Also, just a weird question about that song’s video… whose pug was that in the film clip?

Oh, so in Newton where we were shooting, this random guy walked past with his pug. I suggested that maybe we go see if we can get it in the music video and when I asked the guy, we had to come up with something quick about what the pug would do. So I ran and grabbed some butter from a nearby cafe and smeared it on the washing machine door for the dog to lick it off and we got the shot. Which did look cool in the music video.

It’s a good shot, and it works well as a thumbnail too; people come for the dog, hopefully, stay for the music.

[Laughs] yep, that was exactly our intention for the clip.

We’ll leave it there, John, thanks for speaking with me today. Also, I really liked Mend, Move On at the time but it didn’t stick with me for as long as I’d hoped but this record is really doing it for me and I have a feeling I’ll have this on repeat, guess we’ll find out in my review!

Oh, thank you very much, man, I appreciate it!

‘Chemical Miracle’ is out October 14th via Hopeless Records. It’s dope, make sure you check it out when it drops.

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