Silverchair: Rinks, Rigs, Reef and Road

(Revolver, Sydney, N.S.W.)

At the tender age of 18 Newcastle men, silverchair, are already veterans of the world stage. With two massive albums (frogstomp and Freak Show) and countless international tours behind them Daniel, Chris and Ben have taken rock to places beyond that of any '90s act from these shores. Three years on the road has left them no less unaffected, yet sees them at the pinnacle of commercial success that includes a huge U.S. following attracted with enviable ease. That said, they represent many of the traditions of Oz music with their gutsy brand of loud, raucous rock 'n' roll. Revolver played 20 questions with bass player Chris Joannou in time for the imminent and long overdue Australian tour.

Where have you just come back from?

"Well, we've been home for nearly a month now, I'd say. We came from the States. Europe and the States."

You go down pretty well in the U.S., don't you? Playing big stadiums?

"Yeah, we did a tour a while ago where we were doing like, ice hockey rinks and stuff. They are the best gigs. Like to 5,000, just rocks out."

Can you get a good sound in an ice hockey rink?

"Yeah, they rock. Used to do a lot of sheds as well."

What are we up to, single number four, The Door?

"Yeah, it's bgetting a bit long in the tooth, but..."

Why, because it's a year since its release?

"Yeah. But it'll be great to finish up with a national tour of Australia this Christmas. We've been everywhere else but Australia. We're all really looking forward to it."

The ARIAs were quite good too, with the mosh pit going off down the front.

"Yeah, it was kinda strange because you'd see all these people jumping around up the front and then you'd look five metres back and there was just guys in suits and stuff."

Now I know you like Led Zep. But if you were stuck on a desert island with two musicians from any time who would they be?

"Um, now I've forgotten his name, the bass player out of Free (Andy Fraser). What a rockin' guy. And um, I don't know," he says thoughtfully.

You're all 18 now. You've actually got the IDs and look out, huh?

"Danger," he jokes.

Do you think things have evolved over the past few years, apart from getting bigger?

"The music's still really solid. Well, we've been having heaps of fun with it. That's all you can really do."

Do you think the sound's evolved at all?

"Yeah I think it has. I don't think it's changed radically. There's a few litt,e different changes so far. I think it's just matured as we've gotten older."

Well, as world veterans at 18, where do you suppose you'll be at 28?

"Who knows? Could be all shrivelled up."

And you've had all your hair chopped off.

"Yeah, everyone except for Daniel, he's got dreads now. I've had mine gone for over a year now. I just got sick of it, it was getting in the way. Wake up and it'd be stuck to your head."

I wondered if you've added to your bass rig over the years.

"I've just added more," he laughs like Nigel Tuffnel from Spinal Tap. "It's six 4 by 10s and three SVT2 Pros. Big bottoms!"

And are you running EMGs (active pickups) in your bass?

"Actually, I am now, in the Spector, yeah. its a very good sound, I love it."

Now we all know the 'chair have been doing big things, but one of memories of breaking hugeness was seeing you on Letterman, what was that like?

"That was bloody freezing. In his studio he has it really cold, I don't know why. He must get really hot. It was kinda strange because we came on, played one song, he shook our hands and that was it."

What about most memorable gigs? You've played some massive shows in New York. Any standouts?

"Umm, Manila was one. It was crazy. It was just with a couple of local acts. People jumping up and down, the floor was falling out. People kicking doors in and running in. Unreal!"

Do you notice a difference between the American and European crowds?

"Yeah, when they're people by themselves they're different but once you get them into a gig and get them jumping around they all look the same."

Do you think our Aussie bands have something unique about them, more down to earth, different musically?

"Yeah, I s'pose the topics that Aussie bands write about are a little different than what, say, American bands'd write about. It's just the lifestyle we were brought up in."

And you're touring with Magic Dirt?

"We've done quite a few shows with the Dirt before. They're good fun."

Do you get mobbed in the streets here?

"Nah, it's good. Nice and quiet. Plenty of privacy."

We're not as sick about stars here as in some places, eh?

"You're not wrong."

Any music you're listening to at the moment?

"Um, I don't mind the new Reef stuff. We've done a few festivals with them in Europe. Great guys, excellent songs."

Heard any good Aussie talent lately?

"Actually, what we've been doing is we've been getting some demo tapes from the rural areas and they were gonna be like another act on the tour... so we've heard some wacky things," he laughs. "Some real hard stuff, everything. Some of them are gonna be based with us, yeah."

Are your families used to the idea of you being megastars?

"I don't know about megastars. But going away all the time, yeah."

And seasoned travellers to boot?

"Oh yeah, it's good to follow the summer around."

What can we expect from the live show?

"Well, it's going to be the first time we've ever carried our own production around Australia, so we're gonna have all the gear. It should be good."