Silverchair - The Golden Year

(Hit Parader)

Daniel Johns could be any one of a million teenagers on the planet. His face is usually hidden behind a blast of blond hair, he likes to hit the waves with his friends, he's counting the days until he finishes high school, he's a bit shy on the telephone and he likes to rock: hard.

But that's where the similarity between Johns and most of his contemporaries comes to a sudden, crashing stop. Johns is the lead singer and main songwriter with silverchair, a band whose shock success over the past few months has made Australian musical history.

silverchair's album frogstomp pre-sold a million copies in the U.S. and entered the American national top 10 at No. 9 on the Billboard chart this week. A Sony spokesperson estimates band members each would have accrued at least $2 million already from sales.

Earlier this month, the band performed to 10,000 fans outside the 1995 MTV Music Awards on New York's Avenue of the Americas.

frogstomp was the first debut home-grown album to enter the Australian charts at No.1 and the single Tomorrow is now among the top 5 Australian songs of all time. The band has been nominated for 8 ARIA (Australian Record Industry Association) Awards, including best album, single, group, new talent and Australian song of the year.

If fame can be measured in success, it also can be measured in backlash. Nirvana singer Kurt Cobain's widow, Courtney Love, has verbally attacked Johns while on stage in Australia, claiming he looks like Cobain but sounds like Pearl Jam singer Eddie Vedder.

Some critics have also been harsh, labelling the band "Silver High-chair", "Nirvana in Pyjamas" and "Not Soundgarden but Kindergarten". But the Internet was humming loud with cyberchatter about these three guys, long before frogstomp's U.S. release -- not bad for a group of 15-year-olds who, on a whim only one year ago, sent a demo tape to a TV show that promised recording time and a video. As one of 800 entries, they didn't even expect a callback. But silverchair, which also features drummer Ben Gillies and bassist Chris Joannou, was on its way. Largely because of one song on the demo, Tomorrow, a bidding war erupted for the band before the video even ailed. The winner turned out to be Murmur, a new Australian label distributed by Sony.

The excitement caught the ear of David Massey, vice-president of A&R (artists and repertoire) for Sony/Epic in the U.S.

"I went down to Australia to see them and signed them on the spot for the American label," he says.

silverchair returns to the U.S. to support top American band Red Hot Chili Peppers on an 18-date concert tour from November 13 but Johns wants to take it all in stride.

"We're going to just hang around and keep writing songs," Johns says. "Once we don't like it anymore and we're not having fun, we'll stop. There's no use doing it if you hate it."