‘It’s a definitive sounding record because it was going to be our last’: Trophy Eyes came back swinging

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‘It’s a definitive sounding record because it was going to be our last’: Trophy Eyes came back swinging

Trophy Eyes
words by kaya martin

John Floreani is surprisingly disarming. 

Sitting upright on the couch, he sneaks a hit of his vape before we get down to business. He’s open about his work in a way that’s characteristically vulnerable and articulate.

He has this gentle, captivating demeanour about him, something a friend of mine who toured with Trophy Eyes back in the day had mentioned: “He spends the whole show telling stories, but you just want to hear more.”

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This past June, Trophy Eyes released their eagerly-awaited fourth album, Suicide and Sunshine. It was supposed to be a swansong – a culmination of their decade-long career and a final hurrah for the fans. But that’s not what ended up happening.

“Going into this record, we were finished with the project. Lockdown was hard. We had kind of given up on Trophy Eyes as it was and we’d all decided that maybe it was time to cut it loose and get on with our lives. Then after sitting and marinating on that for a little while, we decided to do one last record, say thank you and goodbye.”

The band took a flight to Thailand, where they’d recorded their previous three albums.

“When we started writing it, we were like, ‘Oh my God’. It reminded us why we were doing it in the first place and why it was so much fun, why we considered each other family… It was a wake up call.”

If the album feels like an amalgamation of elements from throughout the Trophy Eyes archive, it’s because that’s how it was conceived. One gets the sense they’re now the kind of band to do anything by accident.

There’s something in there for every type of fan – heartfelt lyricism, earworm choruses, pit-ready breakdowns and crushing walls of sound. Floreani’s impressive vocal range is on full display, switching seamlessly between growls reminiscent of the band’s debut, Mend, Move On, and dynamic, crystal-clear melodies like that of their 2020 single Figure Eight.


“We got all of our favourite sounds that we do together and Frankensteined it, you know what I mean? Because we’ve had three very different sounding albums prior to that and a very broad musical journey, so this time we were like, “Let’s get all of them and mush them together, all the best parts.”

In doing so, they created this massive, definitive album with a sense of finality that’s hard to ignore. It also has something to do with the theme. Floreani has an ongoing fixation with the bitter and the sweet, the fleeting moments of joy and pain that make up our nuanced existence. The juxtaposition of light and dark is on blatant display in the title of the album and can be felt throughout its entire 40-minute run time.

“There was a photo that brought the whole concept together,” he tells me. He’s speaking of an image from the Apollo 11 moon landing. 

“The guy still on Apollo took a photo of them coming back from the moon, and in the photo was the shuttle and all of earth, so conceptually that sparked something in me – to think that everybody, every story, every person that’s ever lived and died that we know of it in that photo – all except the man that took that photo.

“I played into this idea of what it’s like to live life outside of everybody else, just a new take on looking at of life outside of your little life – life as the phenomenon, not the experience of the actual thing itself.”

If the Apollo 11 image inspired Floreani to look at life on a macro-scale, then the album’s cover image – a blurred, ambiguous flash of a human face – is quite literally its close-up counterpart. He says its inspiration came from an early 2000s cell phone camera pic he saw on Pinterest.

“It looked like a flash in someone’s evening or in someone’s life, just a random, unimportant memory. That’s kind of what I was going for the record conceptually –  just our lives and how they are, a lot of the time, uninteresting in the grand scheme of things and unimportant, and how so much happens that isn’t documented and goes away forever. I became obsessed with trying to recreate… trying to capture that exact moment.”

In support of Suicide and Sunshine, the band is heading out on a 13-date regional with Dear Seattle, kicking off in Cairns and winding its way back to their hometown of Newcastle. 

“People from country towns know how to let go and have fun a bit better. They don’t take themselves so seriously and that energy comes through in the show. Especially if it’s a smaller room, there’s no stage barrier, it’s in some sweaty corner of a bar somewhere. That’s where we started, so it’s a lot more comfortable for us.”

As for the band’s future, well, it’s still up in the air. In the wake of a career-defining record, how do you move forward?

“I think our plan is to look at that as its own sound and define it more and more as we go on,” says Floreani. “I think it’s just now about rounding off the edges and diving deeper into that sound as if we’ve never written anything before that. Choosing this as our foundational jumping-off point for music for the future. I think from now on, it’s just defining it, getting better songwriting, making better music, writing better lyrics… It’s all about doing it but better next time.”

Trophy Eyes x Dear Seattle Regional Tour

  • Oct 11 – Edge Hill Tavern, Cairns
  • Oct 12 – Dalrymple Tavern, Townsville
  • Oct 13 – Seabreeze Hotel, Mackay
  • Oct 14 – Harvey Road Tavern, Gladstone
  • Oct 19 – Beer Deluxe, Albury
  • Oct 20 – UC Hub, Canberra
  • Oct 21 –Marlin Hotel, Ulladulla
  • Oct 26 – Commercial Hotel, South Morang
  • Oct 27 – Pier Bandroom, Frankston
  • Oct 28 – Volta, Ballarat
  • Oct 29 – Torquay Hotel, Torquay
  • Nov 4 – This That Festival, Sandstone Point (CANCELLED)
  • Nov 11 – This That Festival, Newcastle (CANCELLED)

Grab Trophy Eyes tickets here.