State of Mind - Interview with Daniel Johns

(Rock Sound)

William Luff speaks to the angelic Daniel Johns of Australian teenage angst gods silverchair.

Do you believe in aliens?
Definitely. I'm obsessed with alien links to Egypt. It started when I was about 15 and I got really into the Pyramids. It's so amazing. If there's a possibility that something like God created humans then there's definitely a chance that some species of aliens could have come to Earth and done the some thing.

Have you ever had a paranormal experience?
Oh yes. About a year ago I was in my house with a friend and my parents were on holiday. We were watching telly and for some reason I felt I had to check the back door. There was this bright light there and it was so bright it hurt my eyes. Then, it just shot off. We were freaking out. The television switched itself off and then a cup in the kitchen started swaying and wouldn't stop. My dog was hiding under the table and we had so much adrenaline flowing and were so scared that we left the house and took her for a walk. When we got back all my mum's cooking knives were laid out on the floor. That was it, I went over to my friend's house and stayed there until my parents got back.

Who would be your ideal partner for dancing around your ballroom?
Kate Bush. When I was 16 I heard The Dreaming and that's the most amazing album eve

What's your idea of perfect happiness?
Just being comfortable with yourself. I think that anyone who's unhappy is probably not very comfortable with themselves. That's why most people find contentment in middle age. They don't worry anymore about image or how people see them. I have phobias, really bad anxiety problems. I have to take medication whenever I'm going to be in large groups of people. I can sing in front of 50,000 people but as soon as I'm among them I freak out. I'm really claustrophobic as well. I've been caught in six lifts in my life. One time I was in there for 3 hours by myself and it was totally dark and I was just sitting in the corner pressing the alarm button. I was freaking out and sweating. And then I heard this tapping on the roof, and it was like, Thank fuck, about fucking time!

You spend a lot of time barefoot. Why?
It's more natural, it's a good feeling. If I'm just hanging out with friends and wandering around I don't wear shoes at all but if I'm going to a club I will.

Did you have an imaginary childhood friend?
Yeah, for two years Mum and Dad took me to a psychiatrist cos I was a real crazy arse. I used to have fits when I was about two years old and that's when I started to have my friend, Robin. It was really serious. If I sat down for dinner and it was just my family that had plates, I'd cry and throw tantrums 'cos they hadn't made food for Robin. And if Dad went to sit down I'd scream,
"You're going to sit on Robin."And Dad would be like "OK." If he ever bought me chocolates he had to buy one for Robin. I could actually see him. I swear to God, he was so real.

What was the last book you read?
'Everything In This Book Is A Lie But It's Exactly How Things Are'. It's pretty spiritual book about links to aliens and it's really amazing, full of great theories. And I bought a book today about government conspiracies which has a chapter on why they won't legalise cannabis. It's because the cotton industry pays them not to.

Have you ever been attracted to anyone of the opposite sex?
Um…not in a sexual way. I've been extremely interested in the people of the same sex but I don't really go looking for sex. Like, I've never had a groupie shag in my life. I don't believe in taking advantage of people.

What's your favourite film?
'Leaving Las Vegas' is really moving. I like the darkness, it's a really unorthodox way of presenting the film. I like dark things to have an undercurrent of sarcasm and irony, so it's great.

What was the last dream you had?
I was running through a field and all of these people were throwing knives at each other and I was trying to escape and fell into a huge pit. All the blood from the people started flowing into the pit and I was drowning. It was fucking scary. It's possibly linked to my anxiety attacks. I think everything in the subconscious part of the brain has links to things like phobias.

If you could travel back in time where would you go?
I'd go back to Egypt, really fucking early to find out if there were aliens there. I wish there'd been a hidden camera when they built the pyramids because they're just too precise to have been built by men at that time.

Why are you a vegetarian?
I'm actually a vegan, although I love the smell of chicken. When I was 16 I because a vegetarian and six months later I did the full thing and became a vegan. It's not as hard as you'd think 'cos I have simple tastes, just fruit and vegetable and cereal. I take protein tablets to keep me healthy so I very rarely get sick. I don't drink alcohol either because of a stomach ulcer, but I'm definitely not straight-edge. I mean, I'll take certain stimulants if you know what I mean, when I'm at parties but nothing too out of control. A lot of people get drugs and drug addicts mixed up. I'm not hugely into drugs, but it's good to experiment now and again.

What's the most embarrassing situation you've ever been in?
I don't get embarrassed by things that I do. Sometimes I'll say things on stage that are totally irrelevant or stupid just cos I'm off in my own world and afterwards people ask ' What did that mean?', and I'm like, 'I don't know'. But there was a time in Germany and I really needed a piss so I put my guitar down and dashed off and Ben and Chris were on stage for five minutes while I was backstage looking everywhere for a toilet. I had to explain to everyone where I'd gone.

Have you ever been anorexic?
Anorexia is a mental phobia, about distorted views of yourself and I've suffered disorders but not specifically anorexia.

If you could spend one hour with either John Lennon, Kurt Cobain or Beethoven who would you choose?
Beethoven. I've seen John Lennon interviews and Kurt Cobain interviews but I've never seen a Beethoven interview.