Q&A, Ben Gillies

By Elissa Blake (Rolling Stone)

"People don't ask us about our age anymore. It's such a good feeling, I guess you could call us young men now, we're not boys anymore," says Ben Gillies on the eve of silverchair's first extensive tour of Australia. In 1997 silverchair produced a huge, swinging sophomore album, they finished high school and toured America and Europe for the eighth time. Freak Show has already sold 3.5 million copies around the world.

How would you describe your year?
Lots of hard work. Keeping up with school and touring isn't real easy.

What was your scariest moment during the HSC exams?
There were no scary moments, just the feeling of relief when we walked out of our last exam.

Do you think you passed?
I really don't know, I hope so.

What has been the touring highlight of the year?
Probably meeting Henry Rollins and the Rollins band. We got to hang out with them And they were really cool. It was the first time we had the opportunity to see them live... they were amazing.

How did you meet Marilyn Manson?
After the show in Germany, we were waiting in the band room and Marilyn Manson walks in and says, "Come on boys, we're going for a drink." We were drinking some weird drink like a Fireball or something. It was scotch with a bit of coke and some other spirit and we had shots of it. That was pretty cool. They were surprisingly down to earth, cool guys. If you saw them on stage you'd think they were psychos that go around killing chickens.

What's the dumbest question you've ever been asked?
A girl [reporter] asked me the other day if I was a millionaire. I said no, but you know how you always think of something to say afterwards when someone asks you stupid shit like that? Well I was going to say, "How much do you make?" If she told me, I'd say, "Sucked in, I'm not going to tell you how much I make."

Why are you doing a hiphop version of Freak in your live show?
We wanted to do something really different in our set, that no-one would expect. We've been toying with the idea of doing the Freak remix for a while now. It seems to be going down really well.

Which song do you most like performing and why?
Spawn [from the Spawn soundtrack] and No Association [from Freak Show]. These would have to be our heaviest songs and they are very intense live. When I play those songs I get a lot of adrenaline which makes me play harder... It's great!

What's with the new mohawk?
The mohawk is only for the tour. As soon as I get home it's coming off but I do like the mohawk. It could become a thing I do every tour.

What happened on the David Letterman show?
Nothing exciting. We went to the TV studio, set up, soundchecked, sat and waited, played. We didn't really get to meet Mr Letterman either. He just came up and asked us if Newcastle was in Queensland, near Brisbane.

Are you misbehaving on tour now that the band's parents no longer travel with you?
No, our parents were really cool on tour. They let us get away with basically everything. So now they don't come, there is really no difference.

Drinking too much?
We don't really drink on tour. Sometimes for special occasions we'll go out and have a big night. The big drinkers are our crew! And Daniel doesn't drink at all.

Smashing too many scooters? What happened with the scooter?
How did you find out about that? When we were in Townsville we had a day off so we decided to go to Magnetic Island for the day. We hired some mopeds (scooters) and went burning around the island. While burning up one hill that had some gravel, I lost control of my front wheel and then it was all over, I went arse over tit. The bike was wrecked.

Which country has the freakiest fans and why?
The Philippines. They were mad! They kicked in doors, they broke a $10,000 orchestra pit hydraulic system, they would come backstage willy nilly. They were crazy!

What does it feel like when you're on stage?
It's a great feeling. You get a natural high and lots of adrenaline depending on the song you're playing.

Who do you want to kill on the tour bus?
Welchy. He's our old on-the-road tutor. Now he's head of security. He keeps putting his food scraps everywhere and he eats all the time.

Have you ever felt like a freak?
The closest I've been to feeling like a freak is when people stare at my mohawk.

Which band t-shirt do you treasure the most?
None really. If I had a Tool shirt I would probably treasure that.

Which band t-shirt would you like to own?
Any band that I'm a fan of, I would like to own their shirt.