Silverchair Goes Orchestral "Neon Ballroom"

By J.R. Griffin (Launch)

Silverchair's new album, Neon Ballroom, is the band's most thought-out and time-consuming piece of work. Filled with heavy doses of orchestration, piano, and string arrangements, it took the band two months to record as opposed to its usual two weeks. The album's first single, however, Anthem For The Year 2000, is a pure fist-pumping rock anthem that came to the band's 19-year-old singer/ guitarist Daniel Johns in a dream.

"It's always been my dream to play Wembley Stadium [in London]," says Johns. "In the dream we're playing a show to a packed house and the PA blows up and the crowd just starts clapping and cheering and shoving their fists in the air. I woke up with that image in my head and said, 'I want to write a stadium rock song. I want the crowd to do that.' I wrote the song in like five minutes.

"It's a great link between the last two albums and this album," he continues. "It's a really good step into the new material. If we would have released anything else [from this album] first it would have been too dramatic of a change."

Criticized for being too derivative by clinging to the riffs of Nirvana, Pearl Jam, and Black Sabbath, silverchair is branching out in new ways with Neon Ballroom, adding choirs and keyboards to various tracks. The band even enlisted the help of famed Australian pianist David Helfgott -- whose life story came to the big screen in the 1996 film Shine -- and the Sydney Symphony Orchestra for the epic track Emotion Sickness.

"Having strings in rock songs isn't particularly original," says Johns. "But when I wrote these songs, I had these parts in mind. So I wrote the songs for the strings and piano parts as opposed to adding them on later as filler. This is an orchestral album."

While a majority of the album is made up of the slower, more personal and poetic side of silverchair -- Johns used poetry he wrote last year while living alone as a springboard for most of the songs -- there still is heavy riffing and other rock trademarks intermixed throughout the album.

"We're a rock band," says Johns. "When people were calling us a rock band that sounded like Black Sabbath or Nirvana they thought they were insulting us, but we never claimed to be anything different. Now we've grown up a bit and wanted to try something new. And it's exciting. But I think we're still basically a rock band."