BACK in 2012, Hunter boys Trophy Eyes had their sights on playing local gigs and recording EPs. But everything changed in April when the aggressive pop punk and melodic hardcore band signed to US label Hopeless Records.
In the few months since, the five-piece has recorded and released their debut album Mend, Move On, are headlining a national tour and are set to play in the UK in early 2015. But it doesn’t end there – they also have their sights on Asia, and the US and its famous Warped Tour.
Ahead of their Newcastle show at Hombre Records on November 18, LIVE caught up with singer John Floreani, who reflected on the band’s fast pace of life over the past two years.
Trophy Eyes formed in 2012, with Floreani moving to Newcastle from Sydney after hearing about the city’s strong music scene and creative undercurrent.
‘‘I’d heard it a few times about Newy that there was art on the street and it was a cool place to be, so I thought this is where I want to be,’’ Floreani said.
‘‘Since I’ve been here it’s just gone nuts, the city is just pumping out so many bands. Especially for the amount of people that are here, to have so many shows is just crazy.’’
He already knew the rest of the boys in Trophy Eyes: Clarence Town and Maitland residents and former bandmates Jeremy Winchester, Andrew Hallett, Kevin Cross and Callum Cramp. Then all it took was a message from Floreani on social media, a jam together and Trophy Eyes was born.
The singer said the Hunter region music scene had ‘‘absolutely’’ been behind the boys from the start.
‘‘A lot of good bands and acts and musicians fall through the cracks if they don’t have a good support network to start with. We were very lucky that the local boys in the band were mates with everyone already, they’d done the band thing and so when they started a new project, which was Trophy Eyes, people picked up on that and followed us,’’ he said.
But as to how the wheels were set in motion for the Hopeless record deal, Floreani still doesn’t quite know how it all happened. It sounds like a blur that took the band from a show in his living room to playing in front of bigger and bigger audiences before eventually landing the five-piece a record deal.
‘‘I don’t know how it came about.We played our first show in my lounge room and because we were moving house we packed as many people in there as we could. It was great. After that, we didn’t have another show booked,’’ Floreani said.
‘‘[But] then we played Cessnock the next week, then we played Chatswood the next week... We’ve never asked to play a show ever, we’ve always been approached. I don’t know how it happened, but it just went crazy.’’
Soon enough, the opportunity for a record deal emerged.
‘‘One day [our manager] Eddie jammed us all into the kitchen at the Annandale Hotel and said, ‘We’re signing to Hopeless’ and we were like, ‘WOAH!’ We freaked out, it was crazy.’’
After back and forth with the label, contracts were signed and Trophy Eyes were welcomed to what Floreani described as a ‘‘chill and family-oriented’’ label. Then the five-piece were off to Thailand to record their debut album with Shane Edwards at Thailand’s Karma Sound Studios. The boys had worked with him before on their EP Everything Goes Away and were keen to do so again for their first long player.
‘‘Shane found our sound to start with, with regards to tones and the feel, he kind of moulded that,’’ the singer said.
‘‘We just went in there and said, ‘We want it to sound like this and this,’ and he just kind of mixed it all up. From then on, he just knew what we wanted.’’
Floreani said the songs on the record were a combination of lyrics and melodies he’d written and group efforts from jams involving all the band. But a common theme through all the songs is growing up and becoming an adult.
“Mend, Move On is made up of the stories and memories that I think defined my life so far and acted as lessons throughout my transition from adolescence to adulthood,’’ he said.
‘‘Those significant moments and events range from nearly driving off a cliff in an old friend’s car to giving the girl of my dreams my sweet grandmother’s earrings for her 21st birthday.
‘‘I’m fortunate to have lived my interesting little life – I wouldn’t change a thing.”
Floreani drew inspiration from ‘‘everyday stuff that everyone goes through’’ for the record, admitting writing the songs provided an outlet to process what was going on inside.
‘‘Once it is written down it’s not really in your head any more. It’s kind of like talking about it, although often [a song is about] something I wouldn’t talk to anyone about anyway, so it’s weird that I end up singing about it,’’ he said.
‘‘It’s therapeutic in a way, it definitely helps. If you haven’t played a show in like a week, you feel it. Especially since our shows are really high energy and emotional, there’s not much better relief than just standing somewhere and really yelling.’’
Just six months on from their Thailand trip, Mend, Move on has been released and the band is heading on the road for an Australian tour this month, with UK tour dates already booked for 2015. But that’s just the start for the Hunter band, they have their sights set on the US and a big tour, perhaps the biggest in their scene: Warped.
‘‘As a band we want Warped more than anything, I want to play it now. When we started, I was begging the other guys in the band, ‘Can we please, please play [Newcastle venue] The Loft?’ and now it is Warped that we all want. We want Warped Tour. UK, South-east Asia, Europe, are all being talked about,’’ Floreani said. ‘‘From here it’s just up I guess.’’
Trophy Eyes play an all-ages show at Newcastle’s Hombre Records on November 18. Tickets at oztix.com.au.