Interview with Silverchair at the Bellevue Hotel in Philadelphia
(Oor Magazine, Netherlands)
Yesterday you had a day off. Have you had any time to hang out playing tourist?
Ben: No, we just flew in. We're in America for the fourth time now. We already saw everything the first time. Sometimes we walk around a little, but we don't really care. I think I like L.A. most, but I wouldnt know why.
You’re wearing a Lowlands T-shirt. Did you like it there?
Ben: I'm always mixing up Lowlands and Roskilde. We've seen good concerts at those festivals... Offspring, Page and Plant. At Lowlands we saw Shellac. That was fantastic. Steve Albini is great.
Via Led Zeppelin you became interested in rock 'n' roll.
Ben: Black Sabbath and Led Zeppelin were the first groups we were listening to. That was the only thing we had. Our parents owned those records and we ourselves had no money to buy records. Later we did and then we bought Helmet, Tool, Rollins, Shellac and the Velvet Underground. Those are our favorite groups now.
You mention Rollins and Offspring as your favorites, but I can hardly find any punk in your music.
Ben: I don't think Rollins is punk. Black Flag is, but it is no influence for us. It's a way too modern trend now. Many people decided to play punk at the moment it became a trend and that's not how we want to be. We like bands who played punk when it wasn't cool yet, though. All that trendy thing is crap.
Do you agree when I call you a grunge band?
Ben: No. People who call us grunge mostly know our singles, Tomorrow and Pure Massacre. If they'd know our whole album, they wouldn't call us a grunge band. The same fucking people are always comparing us to Pearl Jam and Nirvana. The album doesn't have a Seattle-grunge sound at all.
Daniel: You also hear jazz, funk, and rap on the rest of the album. Even fusion and classical music. In a couple of months, after the European tour, we'll start with the recordings for a new album. We already have a lot of new songs.
Isn't it hard for you to find the energy for all those concerts? You’re in school too so you must have a very busy agenda, especially for a 16-year-old.
Chris: We dont have an agenda.
Ben: The new school year just started two weeks ago so we are missing a lot now. We have two more years two go. Then we'll only proceed with the band. We don't wanna study further. Studying sucks.
Have your parents come with you again?
Ben: Yeah, only the fathers. If they have to work we tour with the mothers. With the fathers it's fun, but it sucks with the mothers. The mothers are boring. They are there, but we hardly see them, so it's pretty OK. They arrange things sometimes.
Do you like doing interviews, by the way?
Ben: No, we hate doing interviews. Most of the time we don't know what to say. It's depressing and I'm getting awfully tired of it.
[Daniel suddenly discovers that he's sitting next to the light panel. He turns off the lights and puts everyone in the dark, which Chris, Ben and Daniel think is very funny.]
Ben: Do you mind if we go to sleep?
Why, are you bothered by jetlag?
Ben: No, but it's so dark that I'm getting sleepy. I went to bed at 4 o'clock this morning.
Daniel: I couldn't sleep until 6 o'clock. I've been jerking off in my bed for hours.
Ben: I watched the video Speed. That was pretty cool, especially the scene where his head falls off.
Chris: Movies are only cool for when you are bored.
Daniel: Jezus, you are talking stupid. You look like a frog.
Are there any things you do like to watch on television?
Chris: We only have one good music programme in Australia, the rest is crap. They only show mainstream pop and way too much hiphop.
Have you heard Helmet with the House of Pain?
Ben: Who is the House of Pain? I don't like it. Sorry, what was the question?
What do you think of Helmet and the House of Pain with Just Another Victim?
Ben: Oh, that song. Yeah, it's great. I only like it when Page Hamilton of Helmet sings. When the rappers come in halfway it's no fun at all.
You obviously prefer the heavier guitar stuff.
Ben: Yeah we really like thick fat guitar walls. A grotesque and heavy sound -- I go hard on that.
On your last album you sang, "Growing up is like a civil war." Could you explain that to me?
[This question leads to an heavy wrestling party between Ben and Daniel who show each other every corner of the hotel bed.]
Daniel: That song really sucks. We'll never ever play that again. I wrote those lyrics when I was 13. Now I am ashamed of it. Listen to how ridiculous it sounds. [He sings a piece of Cicada in a very exaggerated and pathetic way.] My God, how bad. We should never have put it on the album.
Now that you can afford to jump around on a hotel bed in Philadelphia in the Bellevue Hotel, your personal life is not really to be compared with a civil war.
Daniel: No. I don't know. I've never experienced it as a civil war. It's about the emotions which are part of growing up, but we just think it's a shittty song. The lyrics are terrible. The record company thought we had to put one more song on the album. We just put it on the album then, but I wish we had never have done it.
Ben: Daniel, I could cut your head off for that song.
It's just about how you felt back then. Why should you be ashamed of it now?
Ben: That song just really sucks.
Daniel: Well, I'm not really ashamed of it.
Ben: Well, I am. I am really deeply ashamed. I'll never play that song again. We haven't done it in like, a year and a half. We really hate it intensely.
Are there more songs on the record which you hate that much?
Daniel: Well, we don't really hate Shade, but we don't really love it either. It's too soft. It's not wrong or something to have a rest break on the album, but this song is so weak that it doesn't sound like us. We like the more heavier stuff.
So the next album will be a really hard album without any rest breaks.
Ben: Exactly. The next album will be hard and dark. The sound has to be even more fuller and fatter. We can do that now because we have a much bigger budget. The rhythm section has to come to the fore much more so that it'll really pump. It has to sound like you're listening to a five-piece band. There might be something a little more quiet, but certainly no cheerful songs. Not that we're so ponderous ourselves, but dark and steamy music just sounds a lot better. Maybe we'll put a more cheerful song on the middle of the album to cheer the listener up, but the rest of the songs are meant to go cry with.
During the concerts people can hopefully still party, or do you want them to go home depressed?
Daniel: The people can really jump around and bump into each other. Don't be afraid. Look, this is how it'll go.
[The light goes on again for a short slam-dance demonstration where the bed is used as a trampoline.]
Daniel, your head is purple, do you need some rest?
Daniel: No way, man, are you nuts?
Do you like pogoing yourself?
Ben: Yes, we do. Last week we did a good pogo at Radio Birdman. That’s an Australian underground punk band from the '70s. They’re now doing a reunion tour. We saw them a couple of days ago in Newcastle and it was really great.
The Sex Pistols are coming together again now.
Ben: I think that reunion of the Sex Pistols is going to be a failure. Their front man is dead and he was really a legend. I wouldn't know who's supposed to sing now.
Sid Vicious, the bassist, died, but their singer Johnny Rotten is still alive.
Ben: Oh yeah, Johnny Rotten is the singer. But anyway, I still feel it won't work. It's like Led Zeppelin is going to play again, but without Robert Plant.
Does Newcastle have an active club scene?
Ben: There are only small clubs. For about five hundred people. It’s not as active as Sydney. Mostly local groups play there.
Daniel: We ourselves haven't played in Newcastle for a long time and I don't know if it's ever going to happen. It's not that we don't like Newcastle, but there are a lot of people we don't like. Those types who become punk because they think it's cool. They are posers.
How do you find out if someone's a poser?
Daniel: You can see it. After punk became popular they started to wear punk clothes. Then suddenly they started to like that kind of music.
[The manager comes in to say it's time for the soundcheck. Ben farts heavily, to the displeasure of Daniel, who tries to get the stinking thing out of the room. After much hilarity they're going to sit down one more time. Daniel wants to do the last question in the dark, so he turns out all the lights again.]
What do the teachers at school think of your music?
Daniel: They hate it. They're always whining that we're too busy with our music and that our attendance at school suffers because of it.
They think that what they have to say is more important than your music.
Daniel: Yeah, but that's a load of crap because going to school sucks and is not important. Only the first years are important, because then you learn figures, writing and reading. That's enough. For the rest it's not important. It's not good for anything to know the physical formula for copper. By the way, did you just fart?
[Thanks to Charlotte for the transcript.]