H. O. L. Y. Crap! Just when you thought Ocean Grove couldn’t evolve more than they …
Over the course of five years, a lot can change. Love can come and go, bands can form and dissipate and, for some bloody unknown reason, low-rise jeans can make a sartorial comeback.
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For John Floreani, five years has meant a lot of personal growth, touring and Texas living. Since dropping his Terrace EP under the Little Brother moniker in 2014, he has done a lot and seen the world. Sin is the story of the life he has lead.
Hysteria caught up with Floreani to chat about the making of the record.
You’ve described Sin as an authentic, deep knee jerk reaction to the shallow lyrical themes of modern pop, could you elaborate on that a little more?
A lot of the time pop music is frowned upon and seen as shallow and usually, I think that’s pretty deserved. I wanted to write some pop music that meant something.
Are there any artists that you’re really loving at the moment, that you think are flying the flag for good, authentic pop?
Billie Eilish is pretty cool. I don’t know though, I guess it depends on what you consider pop. Pop is really just popular music but I guess it’s its own thing. You know who is also really cool? Shit, I forget his name, that Scottish guy.
That’s the one! He writes some really cool shit. But anyway, I took a lot of influence from old 80’s pop. That’s kind of what I listen to most nowadays. That’s where I feel like a lot of the good pop exists, it comes from the ’80s where it was born.
We know it’s a bit of a cliché question but how do you manage balancing this project and Trophy Eyes?
I always have, I just do this when I’m not doing Trophy Eyes stuff. If I’m out touring and a song comes up that I think will be good for my solo shit … it just happens. Both projects exist in harmony and it’s really easy to manage because the guys are really chill about it as well. Trophy Eyes takes the lead in my priority but whenever I’ve got five minutes, or have something spare that the band doesn’t want, I put it aside for this. It’s never really been hard, I’ve kind of been doing them for the exact same amount of time.
One thing that’s always stuck out to us about your solo work is how it shows us this different side of you. It’s got to be great to have this as an outlet for your own sound, where you’re not really answering to anyone, right?
Yeah, it’s great, I think that’s partially the reason why I do it. I don’t have to answer to anybody, I can write what I want. It’s also kind of scary though, because if you put things out there and people say that they’re shit, it’s just all you [laughs]. I do it to have a free, unbridled creative outlet though.
I’ve learnt a lot about myself from my early to late twenties. I’ve grown up quite a bit and a lot has changed, but I guess I’m still the same old John. I’m doing the same thing, just with a different mindset.
[ John Floreani ]
We’d love to know if there was a reason why you dropped the Little Brother moniker.
Well, there’s actually a hip hop duo called Little Brother and we didn’t want a cease and desist halfway through this project. We were thinking of another cool name, but eventually, we just said fuck it, let’s go with John. I’m getting older now, so thinking of all these cool names … I’m too old for that shit.
So, it seems like a bit has changed for you personally, just comparing the lyrics off of this record to Terrace. Can you share with us how the John of then compares to the John of now?
It was five years ago, a hell of a long time. I’ve done a lot and seen a lot of the world; I was single for a while and now I’m in a relationship. I’ve learnt a lot about myself from my early to late twenties. I’ve grown up quite a bit and a lot has changed, but I guess I’m still the same old John. I’m doing the same thing, just with a different mindset.
Did you have much of a blueprint for what you wanted Sin to sound like or did you just take it as it came?
That’s a good question. It was just a bit of a whatever thing, I had total freedom. You get a couple of people saying “oh I can’t believe you sold out”, but it’s always just been about me writing songs, and releasing them under my side project if I like them. There was no blueprint though. If you can imagine writing, and you do two songs a week in the space of five years and you keep every song you write … they’re not all going to sound the same. Some of them are weird as hell; some of them are fun, some of them are dark and some of them are just fucking progressive jazz. There’s all types of genres and all types of things, but we just had those eight and I chucked them onto a record.
Do you think those other songs will ever see the light of day?
Maybe. They’re always changing too; I might have a song that’s three years old but I’ll keep revisiting it. One day it might not make sense to put it out but then I’ll rediscover it and change the chorus and suddenly it’ll be amazing to me and relevant again. There are songs that have found their way to Trophy Eyes records if they haven’t been used for this project.
Your time living in Texas undoubtedly influenced your last record with Trophy Eyes, how much did this influence your solo work?
These projects are just about my life, the things I do, what I see and how I’ve lived. They’re just stories about me, I lived in Texas for a little while and it was my whole life. Shy of playing some shows overseas here and there, I was there for the better part of two years. It’s hugely influenced my music because that’s just what my music is, it’s me. It influenced The American Dream and it definitely influenced Sin, not thematically but sonically.
We definitely felt the Americana influence.
The track Ugly Love definitely came from some Bowie and old 80’s synthy shit. Texas is really big on that stuff; you can’t go anywhere without hearing it somewhere. The place where I was especially felt like it was locked in the ’80s. It definitely rubbed off on me.
Sin was recorded and mixed by Shane Edwards. You’ve also worked with him with your band, so what does he bring to the table that keeps you going back?
Well, he’s always learning which is great. I’ve never wanted to work with somebody that knows everything already because if you want something that they don’t, you’re fucked. Shane is kind of like us, we’ve grown up with him. Whatever we want, he learns and can do. Also, aside from the fact that he’s a brilliant engineer and producer, he’s one of my best friends. He’s one of my oldest friends now too, I’ve known him for nearly seven years and he knows what I want. He knows how to get the best out of me. If I’m sitting in a room with him and say “I need this to be less crunchy” or “I need this to be slimier”, he’ll somehow know exactly what I mean. He knows me inside and out, he’s my musical counterpart. For me, it was a necessity to work with him.
Last one from us! What’s one interesting bit of trivia you can give us about the making of Sin?
Well, I made it in Thailand at Karma Studios. My girlfriend Bianca was there with me and one night we went out to this Thai music festival and had a few drinks. We got back to the studio and like two days later I woke up covered in sweat and felt really sick. Apparently, I caught myself some kind of fever from the water or something. Poor old Bianca sat by my bed for a few days and kind of just dabbed me with a wet cloth and nursed me back to life.
That’s love man.