Caught in the Act

By Brad Haley (Hit Parader)

Daniel Johns was under siege. It was an hour before Silverchair was due to take the stage for that evening's performance, and outside of the group's dressing room, the good-looking, blond guitarist/vocalist was being harassed by a variety of local radio and television personalities all asking for "just a few minutes" of Daniel's precious time. He tried to ward off the media barrage as best he could, even going so far as to use the band's friendly-but-forceful road manager as a buffer between himself and the descending horde of microphone jockeys.

"Daniel will not be conducting any unscheduled interviews at the venue," the road manager said over... and over... and over again, until even the often dim-witted media types began to [give up on landing] that "killer quote" in time for the 11 o'clock news.

Eventually, each and every one of the hyperactive, ever-demanding press corps packed up their equipment and departed, leaving Johns alone with bandmates Ben Gillies and Chris Joannou. That is, of course, if "alone" includes being surrounded by an array of roadies, instrumental techs and sound gurus, each of whom busily buzzed in order to complete their various pre-show respnsibilities. It was time for this plantinum-coated Australian power to get ready another evening's work on their headlining North American tour, and that meant minimizing the distractions as much as possible -- and it also meant trying to accomplish that goal by any means necessary.

"You can't allow yourself to become distracted," Johns said. "Everyone seems to want some of your time. And we always try to be as accomodating as possible. But sometimes it's hard. We want to focus on getting ourselves mentally ready to play the show. That's hard to do when people want to interview you or take your picture. It's hard to say no. We want to be friendly. But sometimes we've just got to place our business first."

Certainly wise words from an 18-year-old rock and roll star who has already crisscrossed the globe no less than three times. Johns and his bandmates have certainly done some heavy-duty growing up since they first burst upon the rock scene in 1995 with the release of their multi-million-selling debut album, frogstomp. Now, as they tour the world in support of their second disc, Freak Show, the boys have earned a most valuable lesson -- that playing rock and roll is indeed a lot of fun... but know that you've always got to mantain your focus on the task at hand.

Immediately before and after each show on their lengthy road jaunt, everyone is quickly ushered out of the band's dressing room so this Thunder From Down Under can focus on their thoughts as well as well as abundant engeries.

"I think we're doing this with a little more mature attitude now," Gillies said. "We know we want to put on the best show we can every night, and that's the only thing that matters."

Apparently such a single-minded strategy has rewarded silverchair with some big dividends this time around. Rather than appearing as the occasionally stiff, often unsure stage performers they were back in 1995, now this power trio exude an unmistakeable confidence and swagger as they stand before their gathered throng of adoring fans. When the band cranks into such instantly familiar tunes as Tomorrow and Israel's Son, Johns not only sways to the heavy rhythms his band creates -- he actually talks to the crowd (albeit briefly) before and after the cheers subside. There's no question that silverchair have learned their rock and roll lessons well. They've quickly grown into one of the tightest, most entertaining stage attractions around, a band capable of turning on audiences from Sydney to San Fransico with their unabashed musical charisma.

"We're really enjoying this tour," Johns said. "It's quite different than the last one was basically because we have a better ideas of what to expect. There aren't as many surprises -- at least while we're on stage."

[Thanks to Tigerlily's silverchair Jungle for the transcript.]