BLUNT checks in with the lit­tle Novo­cas­tri­ans that could.


In the weeks lead­ing up to Un­fun, Trophy Eyes had been on the road with Welsh pop- punkers Neck Deep; it was the big­gest tour they had em­barked on at that stage, barely a year old as a band.

“I don’t think we were ready at all man,” ad­mits John Flore­ani. “We just lucked out and toured with Neck Deep when they were com­ing over and, I dunno, it was so lucky for us. We did the tour with them and I’m sure they went back and talked about us, that’s the only thing I can think, you know? Maybe they put in a good word?

“We were play­ing at Un­fun, the first one, and Ed­die [ Deal], our man­ager, took us into the kitchen at the An­nan­dale Ho­tel and told us, ‘ Hope­less wants to sign you guys’ and we all just screamed like school­girls and went nuts. I bit my hand, just like, ‘ Oh shit!’ I’d nearly lost my voice, the night be­fore we’d missed our show be­cause the van broke down so I’d just gone out and got­ten wasted in­stead and then to­tally lost my voice and heard the good news and just went berserk. I think it was our best live show ever – there was that much en­ergy.”

After the tour with Neck Deep, join­ing them on the Hope­less Records roster was the next stage of their steady rise. The band formed in late 2012: gui­tarists An­drew “Pokket” Hal­lett and Kevin Cross, bassist Jeremy Winch­ester and drum­mer Callum Cramp – all friends from school and sur­rounds in New­cas­tle – were al­ready jam­ming be­fore Flore­ani ar­rived.

“At the time I think Cal, the drum­mer, was go­ing to be singing and they were look­ing for another drum­mer, but Cal could drum,” Flore­ani un­der­stat­edly ex­plains. “I’d moved from Syd­ney and was look­ing for a band and found them. We prac­tised a lit­tle bit and did some New Found Glory cov­ers and they asked me to come back. We started writ­ing and we tried to get real tight be­fore we played our first few shows.”

First dip­ping into the lo­cal mu­sic scene when he was liv­ing in Syd­ney’s Hills Dis­trict, Flore­ani moved home briefly to a small town in the cen­tral west be­fore set­ting his sights on New­cas­tle.

“I moved there be­cause I knew a lot of peo­ple talk about New­cas­tle hav­ing a mu­sic scene and a lot of art stuff, so I made the move and when I got there it was ac­tu­ally, it was quite dead. There wasn’t a lot of bands about, and it was just not what I ex­pected re­ally. But since be­ing here I’ve seen the scene pick up and kids come out and there’s new bands start­ing ev­ery cou­ple of days, it’s just awe­some to see so much cre­ative ac­tiv­ity. In the end I sup­pose it’s been a lucky move.”

Given the tra­jec­tory of the band since their first show in Flore­ani’s first Novo­cas­trian lounge room, lucky could be an un­der­state­ment. By April

2013 they’d re­leased their de­but EP, Ev­ery­thing Goes Away, recorded at Elec­tric Sun Stu­dios with Shane Ed­wards, who has worked with the likes of North­lane, House VS Hur­ri­cane and He­roes For Hire. Fronted by Flore­ani’s grav­elly pop- punk vo­cals and hal­cyon- era Tak­ing Back Sun­day- es­que mini au­to­bi­ogra­phies, the mu­sic sits some­where be­tween the afore­men­tioned bands – hy­per­ac­tive en­ergy, wideeyed pop, and the ag­gres­sion of a hard­core band.

When the time came to record their de­but al­bum, Mend, Move On, the move to Hope­less opened a whole slew of op­por­tu­ni­ties for the band, not least of which was to record with Ed­wards again, but this time at his new base: Karma Stu­dios in Thai­land.

“Back when we started the whole goal was, ‘ Let’s play a show and meet peo­ple, let’s drive around’ and that was awe­some, that’s still the dream, the di­rec­tion, but I think with Hope­less that just takes it to a whole new level, and the pos­si­bil­i­ties have changed; there’s more op­por­tu­nity now and that’s re­ally ex­cit­ing. It doesn’t seem so out of reach or like such a fairy tale now, it just seems like maybe, by chance if we do a few things right… I dunno, it doesn’t seem so far- fetched now which is awe­some, it’s cool to have that op­por­tu­nity.”

The first taste of Mend, Move On came in the form of “In Re­turn”, an an­themic apol­ogy from Flore­ani to his mother, a pub­lic re­assess­ment of the cer­tainty of youth and how it can af­fect those around you. Much of what Flore­ani writes on Mend, Move On cov­ers sim­i­lar ter­ri­tory as he puts past ex­pe­ri­ences un­der ruth­less in­ves­ti­ga­tion.

“A lot of the time when I’m writ­ing it’s hard be­cause I don’t want to up­set the peo­ple it’s about and I don’t want to…” Flore­ani pauses, pick­ing his words. “A lot of the songs are about how I’ve been a bur­den on them and I feel some­times that it could be some kind of pub­lic­ity that they don’t want, and it then be­comes a ques­tion of whether I’m do­ing them another hard­ship, am I air­ing their closet out too? But in the end it’s im­por­tant to be true to the story be­cause then it feels like I’ve, not hon­oured it, but done it jus­tice in a way.

“I showed my mum ‘ In Re­turn’ and she loves it man, it’s a good way to show her it’s a big deal for me. Mum’s a sweet­heart, if I ever do some­thing cool she cries, when­ever some­thing goes well she gets re­ally emo­tional, and I’d be fuck­ing nowhere if it wasn’t for mum so it’s good to give mum some­thing. I can’t pay her back for the bil­lions of dol­lars she would have spent on me and the kids and all that but it’s just nice to give her some­thing.”

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