"Grounding" Silverchair's Daniel Johns - Teenage Journalist Hayley Kaufman Gets Some Truth Out of Teenage Rock Star Daniel Johns

By Hayley Kaufman (Addicted to Noise)

[EDITOR'S NOTE: Hayley Kaufman, age 15, accompanied her mother, ATN senior editor Jaan Uhelszki, to one of several interviews Uhelszki conducted with silverchair for ATN's October 1995 cover story. This is Hayley Kaufman's rather illuminating report.]

SAN FRANCISCO -- As I sit at the empty bar in Slim's, a San Francisco club, I watch three teenage boys mocking and playing. Moments later these three young 'uns make a transformation to three talented men, as they take the stage for a sound check. Daniel Johns (the blonde­­definitely star material) throws out a deep booming voice and a hard guitar while Ben Gillies and Chris Joannou back him with "heaps" of skill. I'm impressed.

After being introduced to the band members, we are led down to the dressing room for an interview with 16-year-old Daniel. My first impression is of a good looking blonde with a big head and a big ego.

To my surprise, Big Shot Daniel is one of the sweetest guys I've ever met. His sarcasm and charisma brighten up the interview. His head cocks to the left as his big blue eyes widen with excitement.

His stringy blond hair shields him from the awkward questions and embarrassment. I feel like I've known him forever.

Since we're about the same age, we relate to each other on just about everything. In discussing things like being "grounded," allowances and our social lives, we seemed to have had very similar experiences. I know we totally click when we both confess our dying obsession to dred our hair. He finds it very amusing to embarrass me.

He answers questions while preoccupying himself with sorting the M&M colors. A pile of brown M&Ms sits on the sinking couch.

After he pops a few in his mouth, he's ready to continue. "How did you start writing songs?" my mom asks.

"Ummm, I don't know. Because I was bored?"

"Do you get grounded?" says my mom, which is totally the wrong thing to bring up because right after she says this I can distinctly see a light bulb go off in Daniel's head.

"What has she done terrible?" Daniel says with a devilish grin and a twinkle in his eyes.

"She snuck out and went to a rave," says my mom. By now I am completely red and totally utterly embarrassed.

"Do you know what raves are Daniel?" asks mom.

"They're not those dance parties, are they?" he says in disgust.

"A rave is like....." I stop. I don't think I will exactly score points with mom so I decide to let it slide.

"It's not dance music, is it?" Daniel asks. "I would have grounded you for ages for listening to techno."

"Me too," says my mom, putting her two-cents in­­but in fact she did ground me, for a month!

"I think we should keep embarrassing her," Daniel says. By now I want to die!

My mom asks, "Who gets more girls?"

"Umm, not me, I've never got them" says Daniel (Yeah right! With his great face and hair!) How cute! Daniel's long golden locks flood his face. I think he's embarrassed. Serves him right!

Daniel has a great sense of humor. We get on the subject of hair. Of course every mom has to ask the bit about why us crazy teenagers never get around to washing our hair. Daniel cleverly answers! "I just can't be bothered washing it, because your hair will smell like flowers and that stinks."

After about five minutes of questions my mom pops out another guaranteed embarrassment magnet question. "So Daniel do you drink?"

"Uh uh" (negatively).

"Come on. Hayley do you drink?" I am totally shocked. I know Daniel will, of course, come through with a great answer out of this situation.

"'No' would be the wise answer," he says, as he looks me straight in the eye, widening his like, "there ya go."

I give him this look like "thanks, man!"

Moments later it's dinner time for the little superstars. Outside of the club, we say our good byes. Daniel yells, "Good bye H-A-Y-L-E-Y."

I wave. I think, "what a sweetie!"

After a nourishing dinner we are back at the club for the show. As I scope out the crowd I notice there are mainly older people (no teens). Almost all of them are frat boys and trendy mall rat girls.

Finally, after watching cheesy cartoons (how appropriate), it's time for the show. The crowd goes wild. But not wild enough. I was surprised­­ the crowd is totally inactive.

As I watch silverchair play I can't believe these are the same guys I hung out with earlier in the day. Their stage performance is so sophisticated for their age. I mean it doesn't make sense. Daniel has a quiet speaking voice, but on stage that boy has a deep voice ­­ it's soo good, very dramatic and filled with lots of emotion. Even the music is advanced for their age! The show is great. Now I'm totally impressed.

Afterwards, I think of the silverchair experience as a pleasant one. These talented, witty young lads are sure to make it big ­­ and already have. They are three great guys with big hearts and open minds. And never have I met such a down-to-earth, honest, hilarious person as Daniel. I pray that those qualities are never lost with stardom.