“We stopped caring about and thinking ‘that doesn’t sound punk rock’”
For a majority of bands, you’re given a few years and releases to find your sound before making the leap towards recording a debut full-length. However, for Australia’s Trophy Eyes, they were thrown in the deep when it came to releasing ‘Mend, Move On’ in 2014. It arrived just 12 months after forming in Newcastle, New South Wales. And while it opened doors for the quintet; touring throughout the UK, Europe, and North America, Trophy Eyes had creative urges to expand beyond the aggressive pop-punk and melodic hardcore that ‘Mend, Move On’ had to offer.
With their second album, ‘Chemical Miracle’, released last October, Trophy Eyes have unleashed the shackles that tied them down first time round. “Our last album was a punk record because we used to listen to punk music all the time, and we wanted to be a tight-knit punk band that played 200 cap rooms,” explains drummer Callum Cramp. “But when we were writing ‘Chemical Miracle’ about a year ago now, we let it all flow out. Whatever influences or what we were listening to, just came out in the music. We stopped caring about and thinking ‘that doesn’t sound punk rock’ or ‘that doesn’t sound like Trophy Eyes’. We just wrote what we wanted. It’s just a natural representation of us.”
It is no doubt that ‘Chemical Miracle’ sounds like a band at ease with their creativity, and with the confines of genre borders removed. ‘Heaven Sent,’ ‘Breathe You In’ and ‘Daydreamer’ sees John Floreani embrace more melody and pop-sensibility into his vocal delivery. Whereas ‘Miracle’ and ‘Chemical’ displays his unrelenting scream. Although it is a risk for any band to abandon their foundations, Callum tells us that the band’s fanbase have been more than open to their expanded sound.
“Since it’s been out, everything has multiplied. It has gone up in leaps and bounds. The first show we played was Unify after the release of the record, and there were 5,000 people there singing every word. That would have never happened on the last record,” Cramps tells us shortly after his band’s set at Slam Dunk Festival North.
Returning to the UK for the first time in over 18 months, Trophy Eyes find themselves in a pool of Australian bands appearing throughout the weekend. Alongside Ocean Grove, Tonight Alive, and With Confidence, they collective show the strength of the Australian music scene right now. “There’s just a bunch of good music coming out of Australia. I don’t know why it is, but it’s a good thing,” says Callum. “It’s good for us. Bands like Tonight Alive, and before them, Parkway Drive and The Amity Affliction really paved the way for bands to go overseas and get out of Australia.”
With Aussie band’s breaking out left, right and centre, Callum pinpoints various factors for the burgeoning scene back home. Most notably he highlights government-funded, radio station – Triple J. “It used to kind of be like the “weird station.” My dad used to always listen to Triple J and I would always listen to it because of him, my friends would think it was weird [because] you’d never hear the same song ever again. It was just a bunch of weird music, and in the last five years has become the mainstream. It’s become the BBC Radio One of Australia.
“They still play diverse music and they still play artists that deserve to be played. A radio station like Triple J has definitely helped our band, and it gives every band a big chance to be played. So when bands like Ocean Grove released their album, they got featured album of the week where every song from the record would be played for a whole week. The mainstream radio station in Australia kind of dictates who’s on the festivals, and it’s a really diverse radio station.”
“Warped Tour is more about, without sounding too pessimistic, the music isn’t the best part of it. It’s the hanging out.”
Despite their success back home and overseas, Trophy Eyes remain in touch with the underground Australian scene as Cramp recommends a handful of noteworthy Aussie bands; Rumours, Hellions, Luca Brasi (“they’re huge back home,”) Ambleside and Maverick. Yet you get the impression that touring overseas is vital to keeping their momentum going. This summer sees them being part of the Vans Warped Tour for a second albeit this time with more comfortable surroundings.
“This year we’ve got air conditioning, bunk beds and all that shit. Last time it was just rough. We had a driver but we were in a van and it sucked,” Callum reminisces. He continues, “the air conditioner isn’t built to stay on idle mood when you’re in a parking lot, [being] still the whole time, so you have no AC and you just under your tent for 12 hours every day. It’s like groundhog day, you hate yourself.”
While the Vans Warped Tour offers a vast array of talent, for Callum, it’s not just about the music on show. “Warped Tour is more about, without sounding too pessimistic, the music isn’t the best part of it. It’s the hanging out. I’ve heard it a bunch of times be referred to as a ‘punk rock summer camp’ and that is really what it is. You play for 20 minutes or whatever for the day then the rest of it is hanging out or walking around, getting beers or whatever. It’s pretty much just two months of hanging out [with your friends] so that’s what I’m most excited about.”
Looking beyond the Warped Tour, Trophy Eyes will be returning home in August for their largest headline shows to date. “It’s the biggest venues we’ve ever played [800 – 1,200 capacity]. I never thought we’d play those type of venues,” states Callum. “We’re doing it with Trash Boat, The Hard Aches and Rumours. That’s going to be sick. Then we’re going to play some fests and spend a bit of time writing and we’re looking at going back to America for the end of the year.”
With an unconfined set of songs in their arsenal, and on a wave of momentum, as a result of routine touring, Trophy Eyes are breaking out of the pop-punk mould in an admirable fashion with endless possibilities.
’Chemical Miracle’ by Trophy Eyes is out now on Hopeless Records.
View more of Already Heard’s coverage from Slam Dunk Festival 2017 here.
Words by Sêan Reid (@SeanReid86)