TROPHY Eyes had all but decided to disband.
(min cost $8)
Login or signup to continue reading
The trip to Krabi in Thailand last year for pre-production and then on to the steamy metropolis of Bangkok to record album No.4, was supposed to be the final act from the Newcastle band.
Frontman John Floreani had even written the song, Epilogue, as a farewell to fans.
During the pandemic, without an opportunities to tour and with the band separated across various Australian cities, the four members of Floreani (vocals), Jeremy Winchester (bass), Blake Caruso (drums) and Andrew Hallett (guitar) found their lives heading in different directions.
Hallett eventually left the band in February after the album was finished to focus on family commitments and was replaced by Josh Campiao from Sydney post-hardcore band Hellions.
"The band lost track of what it was to be in Trophy Eyes, which was weird," Floreani says.
"We all got deep into our own lives and we decided that maybe this is time to walk away from Trophy Eyes. We all decided to quit.
"That was difficult, but it seemed like the right move. We were all comfortable with that and thought it was a good move and the right thing to do by going out on top."
But when the four got together to learn a batch of new songs, the excitement that had first united the pop-punk band together in 2013 flooded back.
"I'd really forgotten we were a band and we lost that connection and being back in that room working together and our minds connecting together again, it felt like family and really good to be doing that," Floreani says.
"There were occasions with songs like What Hurts The Most that were written in a live setting so we all got together. We knew roughly what the song sounded like and played through a few times and recorded it live as a band."
The sessions resulted in Trophy Eyes' fourth and most ambitious record, Suicide and Sunshine.
The album is a mature encapsulation of the Trophy Eyes sound - combining the more commercial The American Dream (2018) with the metalcore and punk elements of Mend, Move On (2014) and Chemical Miracle (2016).
A common theme throughout is Floreani's "unconventional childhood".
On Runaway Come Home he addresses his complicated relationship with his mother and People Like You delves into his upbringing in the country town of Gulgong.
During the writing process Floreani travelled back to Gulgong to visit old friends and haunts.
"I'm 31 now and I think the older you get the more you think about your childhood," he says. "I'm not sure if that's everybody, but the more it starts to make sense, the more you turn into your parents and the more you look at who your parents were as humans, and not a god.
"When you're a kid you think dad is a mountain and what he says in the ultimate knowledge. The older you get you realise they were just doing what they could.
"You start to judge them on merit, rather than unconditional respect."
As suggested in the title, the topic of suicide weighs heavy. Particularly on, Sean, written in the immediate aftermath of Floreani's friend Sean Kennedy taking his own life in February 2021.
Kennedy, 35, was a well-known figure in the Australian metalcore scene as the bassist for Deez Nuts and I Killed The Prom Queen.
"It was my goal not to write a song for Sean, or one about Sean or some kind of glorifying thing that he was the perfect person," Floreani says.
"I didn't want to write a tribute to him either. I didn't have the words to sum up somebody's life. I didn't wanna take that on.
"So instead I decided to write an honest recount of the day and how it felt and what happened."
Having come close to disbanding, Floreani says there's "definitely" more Trophy Eyes albums to come. But he says the eventual end isn't something to fear.
"We have a new lease on why we're doing this," he says. "The meaning of it all.
"I also think the end of Trophy Eyes isn't necessarily a sad thing, which is something we learned in this thing.
"It's a way to preserve the ethos of the band, to preserve dignity and everybody has such full lives outside of it.
"It's not necessarily a sad thing for us, it's part of the process. Everything must end, but I don't think that's any time soon."
Sign up for our newsletter to stay up to date.