Your Round, Contemplating Solutions for World Peace with Silverchair

By Robin Doreian / photo by John McMurtrie (Metal Hammer)

Photo by John McMurtrie/Metal HammerAs Aussie trio silverchair aren't legally old enough to order or down a pint, this is the first under-age, alcohol-free "Your Round." Hence we find ourselves at the Hard Rock Cafe amidst a health-inducing selection of soft drinks, milkshakes and fruit juices. Vocalist Daniel Johns is feeling like shit, having contracted the flu, but the sight of Jimmy Page's twin neck Gibson guitar and an overdose of orange juice almost makes him smile. Meanwhile Ben Gillies asks the band's manager if he can buy John Bonham's snare drum for him. Although they have a couple of million album sales under their belts, not even silverchair can afford that!

ROUND 1 TOPIC: How old were you when you started playing?
DANIEL JOHNS: "I think I was 12 when I got my first guitar. For the first year I taught myself and then I had a year's worth of classical lessons. The first song I learnt was probably one by Elvis Presley, but the first good one I learned was Paranoid by Black Sabbath. They are my favourite band ever! We've got our metal roots!"
BEN GILLIES: "I started playing when I was about eight years old and bought my first drum kit for $75. It wasn't too bad and I went on to sell it for $380, so I got a pretty good deal. I got some lessons for a few years and learned all the technical stuff. When we started getting into Led Zeppelin, I used to try to copy the simpler John Bonham parts on their records.
CHRIS JOANNOU: "I pretty much started when I joined the band. I used to go around to this guy's house and he'd teach me stuff."

ROUND 2 TOPIC: How do you feel about more than fulfilling a rock 'n' roll dream?
BEN: "It's pretty well a dream come true for us. When we first started playing, we thought it would be heaps good if we could put an album out and travel around and play, but when it started happening it was pretty wild and we really liked it."

ROUND 3 TOPIC: Is the music business as glamorous as you imagined it to be?
DANIEL: "You don't realize how much bullshit goes on until you are actually in it. There are people who are only in it for the money and there are total wankers who spread rumors and shit, but it makes all that bullshit worthwhile when you play a gig at the end of the day."

What sort of stuff has been written about you?
CHRIS: "That I've had a heroin addiction."
DANIEL: "I've got AIDS, I'm dead, I'm gay, I've got a heroin addiction. I think that's about it."

How do you react when you read this stuff about yourselves?
DANIEL: You just laugh, as it makes a bigger issue out of everything if you pay attention to it."
BEN: "I remember in an interview Daniel said something about there being a lot of dickheads in out home city, and then some stupid people from another paper rewrote the story, making out like we hate our hometown when we actually love our hometown."

ROUND 4 TOPIC: Do you get recognized in the street?
DANIEL: "Not really."
BEN: "Sometimes you get people coming up asking for autographs, but we don't really go out very much."

What about in America?
DANIEL: We don't usually go out as we are in a hotel or at gigs, but you do expect to be recognized at gigs."

What do kids ask you?
BEN: "They just ask what we've been doing. There's not really much you can say. It's kinda limited. The girls usually go 'Hi, how are you?' and if they're nice, we'll give them a kiss."

Do you get propositioned?
BEN: "What do you mean?"

Do girls ask you to sleep with them?
BEN: "No, not enough! We don't get it at all actually, that's the problem. (laughs) Just kidding."

ROUND 5 TOPIC: You get a lot of stage divers at your gigs, which bands would you stage dive to?
DANIEL: "Everyone. We used to play all ages gigs in Newcastle when we started. These were benefit gigs and after we'd played, there would be all these young bands playing for causes like Surfrider Foundation. The majority of the bands were hardcore bands and we were the closest thing to metal there. Once we finished, we'd go down and jump around and stage dive about ten times per gig."

Have you ever landed on your head?
CHRIS: Yeah, I did once."
BEN: That was ages ago. I staged dived at our gig in L.A. and fell over in the mosh. It was pretty funny."

ROUND 6 TOPIC: Why are the songs on Freak Show so dark?
BEN: "We like playing darker music more than happy music. Happy music isn't very intense, doesn't make you very hyped up and makes you smile and jump around like a fairy. Darker music makes you turn into a hardcore motherfucker!"

ROUND 7 TOPIC: How does it make you feel when you get compared to Nirvana all the time?
BEN: "Who?"
DANIEL: "Who's that?"
BEN: "Some guy said to me that we sounded like Nirvana and wound up in the hospital. Just kidding, but we don't like it very much. We don't hate Nirvana, but it just gets a bit boring after a while."
DANIEL: "It's the stupidest thing, because if you read reviews and people say we sound a bit like Black Sabbath, it doesn't bother us, because it's true. Black Sabbath are an influence, and we take things from them and we learn a lot from them, and the same goes for Zeppelin. But when we are compared to Nirvana, it really fucking pisses me off, because none of us even own Nirvana records. They were a good band, but we are not fans, and it's really annoying when people assume that because we are from this generation, we must listen to this music."

Today's Bar TabROUND 8 TOPIC: Are things going to change for you when you hit 18?
CHRIS: "I don't think so, it might a little bit. We might be a bit more relaxed, because we won't have to deal with the school side of things."
BEN: "Our parents won't be coming on tour with us, we will be doing it like every other band."

Will you hit the piss?
BEN: "I don't think we'll go into a drinking frenzy, but at least we'll be able to drink legally."

What's the most expensive thing you've bought with all the dosh you've made?
BEN: "I've really only bought one thing and that was a car -- a Holden Commodore."
DANIEL: "A Toyota Liteace minivan. It's the best. It's poo brown and heaps good. The chicks love it."
CHRIS: "I've got a 1964 Holden."

What is the decapitated woolen doll that sits at the foot of Ben's drum kit?
DANIEL: "Her name is Jessie. She comes everywhere with us. She's our mascot."
CHRIS: "Yeah, we found her at a gig, with her head cut off."

[Thanks to Amanda and Haylee.]