Sunday, September 16, 2007

Silverchair: Not That Grunge Band You Once Knew

This is a very cool interview. I found it on

Monday August 20, 2007 @ 03:00 PM
By: Staff

by Shehzaad Jiwani

It's been a while since Silverchair have been on the scene, so ChartAttack recently caught up with band leader Daniel Johns to talk about what they've been up to and why it took so long to release their latest record, Young Modern.

ChartAttack: It's been five years since you put out Diorama. What have you guys been doing this whole time?
Daniel Johns: We've all been doing separate stuff. I've been writing with a lot of people, producing different stuff, working on The Dissociatives. Ben [Gillies] did a side-project, Chris [Joannou] did some production work. After I did all that work, I started writing this new material, and we did this tsunami benefit show after the tsunami, and that was the first time we played together for a few years. I had about 52 new songs written, and we really enjoyed playing together, so that was when I said to the guys, "I'm ready to do another Silverchair record," and they really wanted to. It's taken a long time, but to us, it wasn't long at all. We were all working and trying to learn new things, staying inspired.

What was it like getting back together after so much time apart?
It was pretty instantaneous, right from the first rehearsal we had. It just felt really natural. That's why we decided to do another record, it felt really natural playing together. I didn't feel that we had to pick up any momentum, it just felt like we picked up where we left off. There were a few moments where we're like, "Fuck, how did that one go?" and you're trying to remember. The vibe and the energy in the room was really positive, and everyone was excited. There were a few moments where I forgot words or chords and a few things… [laughs]

You're usually pegged as a control freak during the songwriting process. What do the other members contribute to the songs?
The other guys don't write, they're happy to let me do the songwriting and I'm happy to do it. They definitely add an element that can't be achieved without them. Whenever I write a song, I demo things or whatever, and it always sounds so much better with Chris and Ben adding their thing — it sounds like a rock 'n' roll band. They're still my best friends and we still get on really well. I'm happy to have guys behind me to make my songs sound better. It's not unusual for a band to have a chief songwriter or whatever. I like to follow one path and have a strict vision. I don't want to be in a band where I bring in a song and people go, "I don't like the way that sounds, I think this should go here…" Shut up! Stay out of it! [laughs]

Diorama seemed to float under the radar here in North America. How was it received back in Australia?
It's weird, it's the biggest record we've ever had in Australia. Our hardcore fans heard it, but as far as the mainstream perception is concerned, Diorama didn't really happen. A lot of people think Neon Ballroom was our last record. I consider our first two records to be by a high school band. I don't even see it as the same band anymore. It's just the same name. I find it to be quite natural, not even that unusual. Most musicians are embarrassed about their first bands, their high school bands or whatever, because they're silly young kids, and it's the same with us except we were phenomenally successful. [laughs] Everyone has this perception of us as being teenage grunge sensations from down under.

It's strange that you've already made such a significant artistic progression at your age, when most bands would be making these progressions well into their thirties.
It's a blessing and a curse at the same time. I do feel that it's more of a positive thing that we've got such a heads up on people. We started when we were 12 years old, and now we're on our fifth record, my sixth as a recording artist. A lot of bands coming out that are older than us are on their first record. I do feel privileged to have the opportunity to have been in the industry and to learn so much so young. At the same time, you always wonder, what would have happened if the first record we put out was Neon Ballroom? What would the perception be? It's definitely one of those things where you can only speculate. My perception is that there's a slight element of sentimentality with Silverchair. People have seen us grow up, but people still see us as a teenage kid playing grunge music. But I definitely see it as a positive thing. There's people that have seen us grow up and progress, so the fact that people still care, I feel very privileged.

Each album seems to be vastly different from the last. Where do you find new influences for each record?
The influences come from just being a fan of music. I want to always try something new and not back myself into a corner. That just comes from liking different kinds of music. That's why every album sounds completely different. I don't want to get into that sort of situation where you do one thing, and people expect a certain thing from you, then they're disappointed when you don't do it. I feel like we're one of the few bands left that are trying to avoid having an identity, as opposed to most bands trying to find "their sound." I don't ever want to have a "sound."

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