Not Bad for a Few Lads from a Coal Town

By Sacha Molitorisz (Sydney Morning Herald)

Frogstompers... Silverchair -- the new album is out soon.

Even among the hype that's normal in popular music, silverchair's story is remarkable. In September 1994, the three Novocastrian teenagers (two aged 14, one 15) released their first single, Tomorrow, and had a runaway success.

It spent six weeks on top of ARIA's national charts and became the fifth most popular Australian single.

Three months later (two years ago, now) silverchair went to the studio and recorded their debut album, frogstomp. The record spent considerably longer in the charts than the nine days it took to record: in December 1995, after selling 210,000 copies, it went triple platinum. It remains popular: in 1996 Frogstomp was Australia's 36th best-selling album.

The follow-up, Freak Show, is on its way. The first single, Freak, went to radio on New Year's Eve and will land in shops on January 13. The album will go on sale worldwide on February 3.

Mr John O'Donnell, director of Murmur Records, who signed silverchair, is suitably chuffed, saying: "I think it's a big leap forward for them. The thing I like is twofold: one is that they've found their own voice and the other is the diversity of the tracks and the songwriting. It's a much more mature statement, still way beyond their years, perhaps more so than ever."

On the release of frogstomp, detractors said the band sounded too much like US grunge acts Nirvana and Pearl Jam.

Now aged 17, singer Daniel Johns, drummer Ben Gillies and bassist Chris Joannou have matured, says John O'Donnell: "They've had such a range of experience, musically as well as personally."

Their local success has been matched by a long list of international achievements.

silverchair has played live on the same bill as The Red Hot Chili Peppers and Everclear; the band has toured through Europe, America, Japan and South America, and is a big moneyspinner overseas for Australia. In April 1996, two journalists from Business Review Weekly estimated that silverchair had earned $6.4 million in 1995.

But the press wasn't all good. A year ago, a lawyer representing an American teenager on trial in Washington said his client had been driven to murder his parents and his brother, aged 5, after listening to silverchair's song Israel's Son. In any case, radio stations are falling over one another to play the new songs.

At midday on New Year's Eve, says O'Donnell, Triple J played Freak twice in succession. Triple M didn't broadcast its midday news until it had played Freak.