Boys will be Boys

By Ron Emmett (Hit Parader)

A crowd of perhaps 15 teenaged girls had gathered outside of silverchair's downtown hotel. Despite the late hour and the rapidly descending evening's chill, the remained tough, standing stoically in the cold clad only in skimpy, highly revealing outfits. Each girl guarded her hard-won turf like a lioness defending her territory, and anyone who tried to shove an inch closer to the curb was quickly, and rather severely dealt with. A few brave souls even attempted to boldly enter into the lobby of the plush establishment -- only to be some what rapidly escorted back outside by a gruff, but somewhat amused security guard. Undeterred, they stood and waited... and waited... and waited. Hour after hour passed, yet the fans remained in place, just hoping to get a glimpse of their of their heroes -- who were soon scheduled to return to their hotel after a long night's worth of rocking and rolling on the concert stage.

Finally at shortly after 1 a.m., a long white limousine pulled up into the hotel's semi-circular driveway. At that hour there was little other traffic running through the neighborhood, and the shining white limo stood out like a beacon of attention when contrasted against the hotel's dark, upper-crust outer facade. Within seconds the car was surrounded by the screaming mob of young women, each of whom seemed to grasping some piece of silverchair paraphernalia upon which they wanted an autograph from Daniel Johns, Ben Gillies, Chris Joannou. As the limo doors swung open and the band members began to emurge, the high pitched shrieks of recognition and admiration emanating from the gathered throng of young admirers was positively deafening -- it almost seemed as if the Beatles themselves had decided to turn back the clock and make an unexpected appearance!

Without missing a beat, the three young members of silverchair nimbly popped out of their streches' back seat and, with the assistance of three burly roadies, rapidly [made] their way through the over-enthusiastic crowd. They smiled, they waved, they signed... but no matter what else they did, they kept on moving! They may still be 17 years old, but these silverboys have quickly learned their important rock and roll lessons! In the two-plus years they've been Big Shots on the rock and roll scene, they've already discovered that once you stop in a crowd you're a gonner -- a veritable prisoner until every photo has been signed and every cheek kissed.

"As long as you keep walking through the crowd you're okay," Johns said with a slightly devilish smile. "Once you stop even for a second, they've got you. We had that happen a few times, especially on our first tour, and it can be kind of scary. I don't know if you ever get used to having that many people get so excited about just seeing you. It's kind of strange, isn't it?"

Strange indeed! As these Australian aces have toured North America for the second time (their first time as headliners), they've discovered that they've become more than merely another successful rock and roll act. To a generation of teenaged music fans they've become nothing short of pint sized cultural icons -- three still wet-behind-the-ears superstars who've proven that anyone, at any age, can make it in the music biz... as long as they've got the sound, the attitude and the look neccessary to reach the top. Quite simply, the incredible, multi-platinum success that silverchair has enjoyed with both their initial disc, frogstomp, and its follow-up, Freak Show, have shown that age and experience need not matter in the rock and roll world. If you've got what it takes -- even if you're a teenager trapped in Newcastle, Australia -- you can become a star!

"I think the fans relate to us," Gillies said, "They look at us as three guys who they could be going to high school with. That's kind of unusual in rock and roll. Most of the people you see have been around a while and are really famous. We're just three guys from Newcastle who happen to make music and show up occasioanlly on MTV."

Modesty aside, the fact is that silverchair are about as far removed from being your conventional American teenagers as one can get. At the tender age of 17, they've already toured the world, recorded two top-selling albums, and grossed an estimated $5 million. Not that bad for three guys who've yet to graduate high school! Still, despite all of their recently found fame and fortune, Chris, Ben, and Daniel have done their best to remain the same happy-go-lucky kids they were when fortune first smiled down upon them back in 1995. They insist that they're not the one's who've changed in recent years -- it's those around them who've taken on a decidedly different attitude.

"It's really kind of strange to have adults treat you so well," Johns said with a slight smile. "None of us were used to that. We're used to the way are parents and teachers treated us -- which was kind of matter-of-factly. We never were the center of attention in school, or at home. We were just a bunch of kids in a band. Now we have everyone reacting to us in a strange way. Even some of the kids at school -- people we've known all our lives -- act like we're something important. I don't know if I really like that."

Like it or not, Johns had better get used to being the center of attention. As silverchair continues to get mobbed by over zealous fans at every stop along their lenghy U.S. tour, it's quite apparent that not only has the group's music set the hearts of young America on fire, but so have the band member's good looks. Johns. in particular, has become the lastest groupie-grope-of-the-month, and while the boyishly handsome, singer/guitarist can't help but smile when informed of his new "heartthrob" status, he's also quick to relate that life on the road with silverchair is still far from the hedonistic pleasure palace that one might expect. In fact, he says, at times things can get downright boring for [him] and his friends.

"It's better than it was last time, when we had our moms along," Johns said. "But it's still kind of quiet at times. We have people watching us almost all of the time, and while we occasionally have the chance to have some fun, it's still not as often as we would like. But we're enjoying ourselves -- we're really taking the chance to notice everything that's happening to us this time. It's really quite amazing."

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