How has touring North America with Seaway, Microwave, Hot Mulligan and Can’t swim? What’s your favourite north american city to play in?
The tour has been really good, we haven’t had a chance to play the new record yet in North America in this setting so this time around the shows have been really good. A lot more people have come out and the reception has been really cool. My favourite city to play in is probably Philly or anywhere along the east coast in the U.S and then Toronto in Canada.
Have you been playing mostly songs on the new record to push it or are you also playing a good amount of songs from Chemical Miracle?
We’re kind of doing both; the majority of this tour has been “The American Dream” focused, because it’s our new record. We are still playing songs from Chemical Miracle as well to get both sounds in there and develop our set a bit, but nothing older than that. It’s kind of hard to blend those sounds together. Chemical miracle was a nice bridge between those records (Mend and Move On & American Dream) but if we played all three I don’t think it would really make sense.
Since noticing the change of sound on the new record, what inspired that? Why have you drifted away from the heavier and faster sound from Mend and Move On?
I think we have always written as honestly as possible. When i was younger and a bit more angsty that sound seemed to suit my life a bit more. As you grow up you put yourself into this world where all your tour with and all you hear is blast beats, breakdowns and people screaming; it gets old and stale. I wanted to push myself as a writer and create something that would be genuine to myself and the rest of the band. We went into the studio with the intention to write our favourite record. I guess that’s what kind of came out. There was no “let’s write a poppier record” or “let’s write a less heavy record” it was more of just writing what we wanted to write. It’s been our best received record so far.
In terms of influence, I was living in Texas for a few years. The south of America is very romantic; the weather, the fireflies, the people, the way of life. I kind of became obsessed with the idea of the middle class American as I got to see a lot of that while i was there. I understood why Bruce Springsteen was always singing about it. I saw that way of life, it became very attractive to me and I kind of fell in love with it. Taking in the influence of my area and habitat at the time It snuck it’s way into the record.
Is the title based around what you were just saying about the middle class life?
It’s more about the “American Dream” that you can come to America and you can work hard and you can prosper and have the life that you want. At the time I was living a life that was less desirable in Australia. I moved to Texas to be with my girlfriend and start fresh with no family, no one who knows who I am, and start clean. That was it, the idea that everyone deserves a second chance; you can achieve that in America. Just the idea that if you work you can do anything.
What bands and genres of music were you into when writing the new record? Do you like music you’re listening to while writing will shape the sound of songs?
I definitely think so, but I don’t think it’s just bands but I think it’s about where you are. If you listen to as far back as “Tupac”, he sounds like the west coast, and “Biggie” sounds like the east. You can hear where people are in their music. That’s why brit pop and punk bands from Britain sound grey, miserable and grainy; that’s what England is like. I feel like it’s more of your “environment” than what you’re listening to at the time. I’ve always listen to classic rock like Queen, Simon and Garfunkel, Bruce Springsteen and all those kind of sounds. Not just that but a lot of opera and classical music as well. I suppose I’ve always been interested in classical music and rock n roll. It definitely came out when we said “let’s write what we want to hear”. The music I was listening to, and have always listened to, definitely influenced that sound.
Would you say when writing the older records you were listening to heavier music, or were you just angry?
I think anybody at that age is pissed off about certain things. At that age, when you're younger, you don’t know how to express yourself or deal with your feelings, because you’re not taught to. Especially as a guy you think “don’t be sad, but you can be mad though because that’s masculine”. Definitely as I’ve grown I’ve figured out ways to deal with my emotions and what my emotions mean and feel, and how to portray them in music and creatively as well. The center of most Trophy Eyes songs is about how much I hate me. Echoing from an aggressive and raw sound that developed into a inward looking and reflective sound, a better way to portray it in the end.
I saw you guys last in Toronto when you played at the Hard Luck on your headlining tour. How crazy is it to come back to Toronto and play a much bigger stage?
It’s a great feeling. There’s not much of a better feeling you can have in music than growth. Often in the music world especially if you’re in your mid 20s the world expects you to have a house, a job, a wife and a kid; kind of conform in a way. It’s a big risk when you’re a teenager to say “I want to write music”. A lot of people look down at you and laugh at you. That kind of progression you can see in front of your eyes is life changing and kind of makes you think “holy shit, I’m doing something for real now”. Not thinking highly of yourself and seeing that happen is humbling.
How do you feel the reaction has been to the new record? Is it difficult as a band to feel like you have to impress everybody with your new music? Is it a lot of pressure to try to impress yourself as well as the audience?
I think business wise, it’s a mix of both. If you want people to buy your records you have to keep in mind that people are going to be listening. If you want to keep doing it you have to keep that in mind, or else I can’t fly here and do this. There is that sense in the back of your head. This time it was easier because we had a clear conscience. There as no deliberate change; it was easy for me. There will always be some hate, although it’s been minimal. I guess the size of the shows we’ve been playing compared to last years is the evidence.
What are the future plans for Trophy Eyes? Do you see yourselves sticking to a similar style that you’ve written the new record in or will you be trying to expand even more?
You always want to experiment and push yourself. If you ever feel like you’ve “done it” I think that’s when you lose and fail on your next one; it can never be good enough. You gotta always push yourself and aspire to be more and your best self. We’re just going in to the next one and do exactly what we did this time. Surely it’ll be different because it’ll be a couple of years and we’ll have travelled more, met more more people and been influenced by different things; so I think the next record will sound like that.
How is the culture different in North America than in Australia? Do you enjoy Canada or the U.S more?
It’s hard to answer that without being political. I just notice in North America it’s very divided and you can feel that when you’re here and when you travel around. There’s a lot of things that are very different here like the amount of guns, the wage, people’s happiness. Australia is very easy going and relaxed. There’s also this thing in Australia called “Tall Poppy Syndrome” where people don’t want you to succeed and any who is too good is normally picked on or shunned. Here in America everyone likes a hero and people who are successful; I feel like that’s why everyone is trying to come here. It seems here that it’s everyone for themselves, in the states. I feel like here in Canada is different and is a lot more like Australia.
Interview and Photos by Matthew Guarrasi