Silverchair Happy with New Album

By Karen Bliss (Jam! Music)

TORONTO -- Over seven hours before Australian rock trio silverchair was scheduled to arrive at MuchMusic for an interview last Friday and personally deliver its brand new video, "Anthem For The Year 2000", from the forthcoming Neon Ballroom album (due March 16), dozens of kids braved the blustery snow conditions to get a good spot outside the station's window.

Meanwhile, silverchair's singer-guitarist, Daniel Johns, drummer Ben Gillies and bassist Chris Joannou were spending the morning doing interviews in a hotel just a few blocks away. If the kids only knew.

Johns, on the other hand, never had the chance (or inclination) to wait outside a TV studio for a glimpse of HIS favourite rock star. He WAS a rock star -- at age 15.

"We're still fans," says Johns, now 19. "We've just never done that. We didn't wait for bands outside television stations. I don't think I'd have stood outside in this weather for a band."

But hundreds would, and did, for silverchair, which has sold over five million albums combined of its 1995 debut Frogstomp and 1997's Freak Show. In Canada, both albums have surpassed double-platinum (200,000). Having graduated from high school at the end of 1997 means that silverchair's upcoming two-and-a-half month tour will be their first as card-carrying adults, but Johns says he's gotten most of his ya-yas out of his system, so not having a chaperone on the road is no big deal. "I can't imagine it being too wild, in comparison to what we've done before," he smiles.

Not that Johns thinks they've mellowed with age. They've just had enough of spitting out of hotel room windows. "That's something you do when you're 14 years old and you think it's fun and you think it's cool.

Now," he says, sarcastically, "we're more into trashing hotel rooms and turning things upside down, and basically doing rock 'n' roll."

The depth of silverchair's Neon Ballroom, produced by Freak Show's Nick Launay, is astounding considering the band members are just 19. From the orchestral "Emotion Sickness", featuring piano virtuoso David Helfgott, to the punk furor of "Satin Sheets", the industrial strength "Spawn Again", and the eerie "Black Tangled Heart", it's an intricate rock album that puts the band's contemporaries to shame.

Johns says it's also the first silverchair album with which he's completely happy.

"By the end of touring for Freak Show, I started getting a little frustrated with myself because with the first album we wrote most of the songs when we were 14 years old, so I kind of excused myself for the things I didn't like on the first album.

"With the second album, although all our songs have been very natural and sincere, after we toured it and heard it a million times, I started feeling like maybe I rushed it and didn't put enough thought into it, because we were still in school and didn't really have time to focus on doing what I wanted to do. So I was getting creatively annoyed because I wasn't doing what I wanted to do."

Although the experimental seeds were planted on Freak Show, which featured strings, sitar and timpani, Johns says he didn't take the ideas as far as he wanted but concedes there's nothing he could have done about it.

"Once I finished school, I really had a vision of what I wanted to do with music and how I wanted to treat it," he says. "So this album to me is really what it was leading to.

"(On) this album, I really did exactly what I wanted to do. I had a vision for it. Creatively, I'm already satisfied with it."