Silverchair's Grunge Grad

By Mike Ross (Edmonton Sun)

Ask any internationally successful rock band what they're looking forward and you'll get answers like "going on tour in (some exotic country)" or "working with (some famous producer)" or even "playing in (insert name of your home town here)."

They may even deign to elaborate with more than a few mumbled words. Not silverchair. For the members of this Australian grunge sensation, the most anticipated event is graduating high school. While North American kids glumly trudge back to classes on Tuesday, the Land from Down Under is bracing itself for summer vacation.

"We've got about a month to go and then we're finished. It's excellent -- couldn't be anything better," says weary bassist Chris Joannou, on the phone from Berlin, where silverchair was opening for Bush last week. One of 12 edgy bands on the Edgefest tour, silverchair plays the Commonwealth Stadium today at 3:25 p.m.

The teenage rock musicians, who have a tutor and parental chaperones on the road with them, don't really need high school diplomas, do they? silverchair sold more than three million copies of frogstomp, a debut album which effectively combined several Seattle-era bands in one potent package. The follow-up album, Freak Show, isn't faring quite as well, but these Australian boy-rockers are still a band in great demand. With TV appearances, awards shows, opening slots, soundtrack albums and an endless parade of live concerts, the band's been booked solid for the last two years.

So why bother with high school? "Just to say we finished it, really," says Joannou. "Why go for this long and drop out? Just to see an end result is a good feeling."

That was about it for our interview. Joannou was asked all sorts of questions -- like whether there are other Aussie high school bands following in silverchair's wake or about the band's work on an upcoming Clash tribute album - but he just didn't seem interested.

Interviews are another one of those time-consuming chores internationally successful rock bands have to put up with. You can't blame the guy for treating them like a two-hour math class.

After graduation day, silverchair embarks on tours of Europe and Australia before taking a much-deserved vacation. The only plan Joannou has made is to "go to the beach and hang out and be idiots.

"We'll just take it as it comes," he says. "Nothing's really set. We prefer it to be casual. It's much better. The last two years has been so planned that it's kind of good just to have nothing on."