The Kids are Alright

By Carl Hammerschmidt (HM Magazine)

Silverchair, the fifteen year olds who have a number one single. What makes them special?

I’m being led through the labyrinth of back corridors at Festival Records, and I’m smiling to myself. On the way to the studio where silverchair are recording the follow up to their remarkably successful Tomorrow EP, I’m thinking how fast things can happen in the music industry when it falls into place. The hyper-paced machinations by which three fifteen year old dudes from ‘Newie’ can be turned , overnight, into what politely gets referred to as a ‘sensation’. They write catchy songs, live they play with more feel than most twice their age can muster and the radio has flogged their stuff to death. Now everyone wants a piece of the action.

As we swing around the corner and into the dark, modern studio Daniel, with his bleached blonde hair hanging over a moth-eaten sloppy joe and Ben, sporting a black Pearl Jam tour shirt, are killing time with little enthusiasm. A mess of CD’s lays on the floor as Daniel, the vocalist/guitarist, listlessly launches a basketball at a hoop on the wall. Ben the drummer, is caught with his hand in the cookie jar of Monte Carlos sitting on the table next to a box of cold, half-eaten chips. They don’t look particular excited to see me as a Soundgarden video on the huge TV screen runs through it’s credits unwatched.

In July these guys, along with bass player Chris, who is in the sound booth, won themselves first place in Youthrock, the AUSMUSIC band competition. Today, the chart reveals their debut EP to be at number one on the national singles listings.

I slide between the velour lounge and table, Daniel and Ben kneel on the floor with their chins resting on the other side. Absently flicking through some surf magazines, it’s obvious they don’t expect this to take very long. When they’re in front of eachother pulling answers is like pulling teeth. Hanging out would be much easier if I wasn’t there.

HM: So, how long have you been together?
Daniel: Two and a half years

HM: And playing gigs?
Ben: Probably about two years
D: (dripping with sarcasm) Oh yeah, and we’re really experienced now

HM: I saw you play at the Zoo in Brisbane the other week, great crowd, great response. Happy with the way you played there?
D: That was a choice gig
B: No way, that was nowhere near our best. That was at the cambridge hotel when we launched our EP in Newcastle There was this hell mosh that was insane.
D: We didn’t make one mistake that night (turns on the sarcasm) God, we were legends that night
(Ben doesn’t like the wise-crack)
B: Did you have a wank onstage that night
D: (trapped, he mutters a half laugh) That’s about the only time we haven’t fucked up

HM: So did you expect your EP to be so popular?
In unison after another pause, “Nah” D: We thought it was going to sell about four or five thousand, y’know. I didn’t know until last night, (points to Ben) I stayed over at his house and he says, “isnt it great how it’s sold twenty six and a half thousand?”

HM: So what do you like to write about?
D: (jumping for the ball) Whatever. (takes a shot, misses, and lays on the profound tone) Stuff that concerns me on the news, maaan.

HM: So what’s the song Tomorrow about? It’s about the Fatboy right?
D: it’s about the Fatboy, yup
HM: Who’s the Fatboy?
D: A fat rich prick. Yeah, and a poor guy takes him to a hotel and he keeps complaining because it’s not up to his standards. So the poor prick tells him that he’s got to wait ‘till tomorrow until he can get out….., and then…., he can fuck off. Yeah
(Ben chuckles in the background)

HM: So why’s he got to wait?
D: Because he’s already paid for it. I didn’t get that off the news by the way. That was off an SBS television show
(Ben explodes into laughter. “Good one mate”)

HM: What about Stoned?
D: it’s hard to explain, and everyone asks us. It’s not anti-drugs and it’s not for drugs, because we’re not a big drug lord band, it’s just about…drugs, you know?
B: (walking to the stereo) Anymore questions?

HM: Your’re not bored are you?
D: Nah, this is better than what we were doing before, watching Metallica on TV. That was low, but we did watch Soundgarden before, that was rather legendary.

Much consternation follows about what should be played, a choice is made but after scratching around for a while Ben can’t work the stereo.

B: “How the fuck do I get this shit happening?”
Daniel shoots another hoop as the engineer walks out of the studio with Chris
Chris: What is it, Hi-Fi shit?
Producer: Technology Ben, technology is your friend harness it m’boy, harness it.

He walks over and patches some leads. You Am I blasts out and everyone jumps. No song stays on longer than 30 seconds. Daniel has made it back to the table, and Chris takes up a seat at the end of the lounge

HM: So why do you think everyone’s so into your songs?
B: Why do we reckon what?

HM: Why have you sold so many records.
C: I wouldn’t have a clue
D: (more mock serious/philosophical sarcasm) People our age like to hear that someone the same age is doing something like this and writing songs and shit.
B: (follows suit) And it gives them inspiration
(Applause all round and general congratulation)
B: Thank you, thank you
D: Did you hear that one in English class? (flicking through the surf mag) it’s also because someone their age….(comes across topless girl) woooowwwwoooooww!….(regains concentration)…, because someone their age is doing something they like.
B: Yeah, they get inspiration to start a band, and they know if they start a band at a young age…., it’s possible to get anywhere (self satisfied) That wraps it up in a nutshell (He jumps up, shoots a basket) I like studio basketball, trying to get a very big score in a very small room.

Wraps it up in a nutshell indeed. I feel the need to get up, the time to take my leave has come, silverchair have a Pearl Jam video to watch, and besides, all those Monte Carlos made me very restless.

[Thanks to Katherine Waddell for the transcript]