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Trophy Eyes release new single ‘Bittersweet’, John Floreani shares his biggest influences

"Bittersweet is a song about feeling someone slowly slip away, and the cathartic, long winded conversations said in total silence- sometimes with just a single expression."

It’s been two years since they released The American Dream, but Newcastle four-piece Trophy Eyes are well and truly back. First returning with gritty belter ’27 Club’, it’s their latest single – huge, self-reflective bop ‘Bittersweet’ – that sees Trophy Eyes closing out the year with a bang.

And we’ve got the first listen for you right here.

From storming through festival stages and being greeted by heaving crowds of dedicated fans to 18 months on the touring sidelines, Trophy Eyes are ready to enter a new stage of evolution.

Instead of slowing down, they’ve spent the last two years creating their most experimental music yet. If you thought their last album The American Dream pushed the boundaries of what Trophy Eyes could sound like, think again.

Enter new single ‘Bittersweet’.

Blending new wave rock with their punk and hardcore roots, combined with modern rock and pop sensibilities, ‘Bittersweet’ showcases the catchy, emotive side of vocalist John Floreani’s songwriting, creating a track that is readymade for top-of-your-lungs festival crowd singalongs. When sat next to ’27 Club’, it’s clear the next chapter of Trophy Eyes is going to be bigger and more explosive than any of us can predict.

From their humble dive bar beginnings and their 2014 scuzzy, raw debut Mend, Move On, 2016’s more melodic punk release Chemical Miracle, and their latest album The American Dream – with its huge, sprawling singalongs taking them to places they had surely only dreamt of – Trophy Eyes have well and truly cemented themselves as a band deserving of the accolades, praise, and heaving, dedicated crowds they have become used to.

Now, this new trio of songs – that’s right, there’s still another newie to come – promises to take Trophy Eyes to even greater heights.

To celebrate the latest Trophy Eyes chapter, we sat down with the band’s vocalist and songwriter John Floreani to deep dive into the influences behind ‘Bittersweet’ and get a taste of what we can expect from everything that’s to come from the band in 2022.

Check out ‘Bittersweet’ by Trophy Eyes

The year was 2009. I’d just graduated high school, left town, moved in with my high school sweetheart and started University; a recipe for disaster. Before long my weakness for total obliteration took hold, which drove my partner into the arms of someone more deserving, leaving me a pathetic, quivering teenage mess.

In many ways, this was the defining moment that sent me spiralling into the abyss of self destruction. I moved back home, took a job at a bar which I was paid in accomodation upstairs and as much as I could possibly drink. It wasn’t long before I could barely function and was soon rehabilitated by someone in my family – the story continues from there in Trophy Eye’s earlier work. I was broken, but they say that’s what first love is for. 

‘Bittersweet’ was written in the Northern Beaches of Sydney with one of the greatest minds in modern Australian music, Fletcher Mathews – the genius behind most of what you hear on the radio right now. Trophy Eyes had been writing in an apartment near by in Neutral Bay, and after a very long night of catching up with Fletch, ‘Bittersweet’ was born. It seemed to soak up the energy in the room effortlessly; humidity, sunburn, and the cool gentle breeze that playfully lifted the white curtains off the french doors that opened onto the harbour. It felt good to finally turn something I find humiliating into something fun and carefree. Writing ‘Bittersweet’ was like therapy in that way. 

JOHN FLOREANI ON NEW SINGLE ‘BITTERSWEET’

Trophy Eyes’ John Floreani shares his biggest influences:

Eats Everything – Space Raiders (Charlotte de Witte Remix)

“Techno is a futurism statement. A digital synthetic artscape that is still somehow fundamentally, and irrefutably human. It draws on our most primal desire to belong and unities with transcendental rhythms.

“If you’ve ever been to a warehouse rave, you know exactly what I’m talking about, but to everyone else reading; go to a warehouse rave. I find a lot of inspiration in techno, especially the gritty Eastern European stuff. My vision for Trophy Eyes is similar, almost, in that it’s a forever evolving and growing human story where the fundamentals remain the same – storytelling, emotion, and understanding. The things we gravitate towards as human beings.”

Billie Eilish – Getting Older

“My pop fix. I usually listen to pop for structural references, mixing references, melodies, or to just enjoy some light listening. However, once in a while, there comes a pop record that totally destroys the stereotype that music is vaped and without substance just because it’s incredibly famous.

“Billie Eilish’s Happier Than Ever is a most recent example of that. Strangely enough, the more I listen to this particular track, I can’t help but hear myself in it. To me, it sounds like a Trophy Eyes song I never got to writing. Maybe that’s wishful thinking.”

Bang Saray, Chon Burri, Thailand 

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John Floreani in Thailand | Credit: Jared Leibowitz

“There’s something about this little fishing village that has entirely stolen my heart. A little pocket of paradise. Not a typical paradise mind you, but a hot, gritty, slow moving and never changing microcosm inhabited by real humans and untouched by modern society’s rules.

“It’s as private or as involved as you’d like and apparently the breeding ground of all my best ideas. There’s a romance in the heat and the weight of the air – playing soccer with the locals, or watching the ocean slowly extinguish the sun each night as it paints the evening sky with regal blues and luxurious purples with its dying flutter. The conversations you have with your eyes, the moments you share with only a smile. My favourite place on earth.”

thailand streets by john floreani
Thailand streets | Credit: Jared Leibowitz

Gallows – Black Eyes

“Frank Carter is a hero of mine and ‘Black Eyes’, to me, is the sonic equivalent of barbed wire and broken glass. Gritty rock’n’roll is how I learned to express myself musically from an early age and is one of the integral characteristics of Trophy Eyes. As far as a soundtrack to a bar fight goes, Frank Carter-fronted Gallows do it best.”

Fred again.. – Marea

“Soundscape and general vibe are where I start my writing process usually. A lyric will pop into my head, then it becomes a verse, then I kind of categorise it into what of sonic space it’s going to live in. Fred again.. is a perfect example of where I find things like ambience and mood. Driving bass, palpable emotion, euphoric swells, those kind of heart wrenching chord progressions – it’s all there.”

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Thailand memories | Credit: Jared Leibowitz

Western Sydney

“The art direction of our new singles are inspired by Sydney’s Western Suburbs. Being a rich cultural hotbed and the suburban playground of Australia’s most influential youth, it’s not hard to find something that drives you out there. There’s an electricity in the atmosphere – a creative tension constantly on the cusp of breaking and overflowing. It’s an integral foundation of community in Sydney.

“It’s family, strength in numbers, it’s Australian Hardcore, it’s Aussie rap, fashion, it’s the backbone of the labour force, of Australian sport, it is the Australian dream. You hardly have to turn your head to see The West express itself, it spills out onto every train window, every venue, every bare wall. Coming from Western Sydney myself, there’s nothing more important to me than to try and honour and represent it in some small way.”

Journey – I’ll Be Alright Without You

“All of Trophy Eyes’ big singalong choruses come from ’80s American arena rock. After living in Texas, I became obsessed with this kind of sickening nostalgia for the ’80s and what it must have been like down south – the Pontiac Trans Am with the golden phoenix on the hood, a pack of cigarettes rolled into your sleeve, the dust in air at a local fate; that sort of thing. I mean, I grew up with it in the house constantly, but now I feel like I understand it. Those enormous classic rock anthems are where I get my melodies from now.”

For Those I Love – I Have A Love

“Sometimes, wading through the hundreds of thousands of songs uploaded to streaming services daily, you stumble across something that deeply touches you. Spoken word artists are a particularly good sauce of lyrical inspiration, and For Those I Love is one of the best. This is another song I can hear myself in. The bond between friends, teenage love, nights spent laughing, fighting and loving. It touches me in a very specific way. Gently and Beautifully.”

Trophy Eyes – 27 Club

Trophy Eyes – 27 Club ( Official Music Video )

“’27 Club’ is a self-reflective piece written about my struggle with self loathing, imposter syndrome and general disdain for being alive. The story takes place on the backend of a long string of sleepless nights spent exacting my desire to self medicate in a sort of self punishing fashion. Passed out on my back and choking, I was woken by a friendly paramedic speaking to me as if I were an infant: “Hi john, what did you take tonight?”.

“Even though totally encumbered by inebriation, I was surprised at the clarity of my first thought. It rang true like a church bell: “fuck, I’m awake”. I should have been happy that my life was saved, but instead I was bitter at the universe for preventing something I’ve been too scared to do my entire life from happening naturally. 

“Some years after this particular incident I travelled to Thailand to a dear friend’s studio trying to escape the clutches of crippling self comparison and writer’s block that brought any creativity I’d once enjoyed to a bone dry halt. Sat by the pool, draped in linen, pen on paper, and the humidity binding my beading arm to the glossy varnish of a wooden table, I got to reminiscing. As the night somehow grew hotter and the alcohol began to take effect it was apparent that I’d drank a large hole in what would otherwise be considered my social filter. I was able to finally revisit that moment in my life with terrifying clarity but also enough liquid courage to look it in the eye and call it what it was. It was really one of those songs that writes itself – I mean it was all there, I just had to write it down. Before I knew it, the intense heat of a Bang Saray morning woke me in my bed. I reached, dustily, for my journal to write about my success, but to my surprise, I discovered I’d already paid a visit last night. My entry read “I’ve finally done it.”

“I rewrote ’27 Club’ about three times since its conception in that fishing village in Thailand, obsessed with finding the right sonic vessel to deliver my message. I arrived, finally, on a heavy rock guitar crunch because I felt it best translated the grittiness of the situation, and the foulness of the hatred I’d felt. It was recorded as you know it now by Scott Horscroft at The Grove Studios (DMA’s, Presets, Empire of The Sun) in early 2021.”

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Thailand sunsets | Credit: Jared Leibowitz

Check out the full playlist:

Trophy Eyes’ new single ‘Bittersweet’ is out now.

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