By Bernadette Harris (The Owl Mag)


For a band that didn't know if they would ever perform together again, it's fairly amazing that Silverchair has landed on top this year with a new album, and the most wins at the ARIA awards in Australia's history.

Silverchair, internationally known before they had graduated from high school, returned to San Francisco Sunday to play at The Independent. Fans had lined up to enter the venue since mid-afternoon. During a set that included a healthy range of music from throughout their 15-year career, women screamed - at least one pair of panties were hurled on stage - and men threw up their fists.

According to bassist Chris Joannou, Silverchair has found new life.

By the end of their 2002 tour for Diorama, which was heavily hampered by lead singer Daniel John's struggles with reactive arthritis, Joannou, Johns and drummer Ben Gillies decided they were ready for a break.

"It was a pretty confronting thing to watch Daniel go through, the pain, and for a very long period of time as well. It was really strange watching someone going around able, and then the next thing you know, really quickly, hobbling around with so much pain in his joints and everything." When Johns was sick, the first concern of the band was their friend's health, not the future of the band.

Having toured extensively since the guys were all 15, on top of Johns' public struggle with anorexia throughout the 90s, Silverchair was simply burnt out.

"I think it was just one of those things," said Joannou. "We were just ready to take a break for a while. We didn't really talk about it, it just kind of happened... We were just ready to leave the pressures of Silverchair behind for a while, and just do something different."

The guys scattered, unsure of if they would ever perform again as Silverchair. Johns spent a lot time in London, as well as recording with Paul Mac for a side project called The Dissociatives. Gillies performed with Tambalane, a band that reached national success in Australia, yet split after their first tour. Joannou fell into producing with a friend of his, working with Aussie group The Mess Hall, a project he was nominated for the ARIA Award for Producer of the Year.

So when Silverchair came back together in January of 2005 for Wave Aid, a fundraising concert to benefit victims of the Indian Ocean earthquake in 2004, the guys expected a one-off. Yet the moment they got together, they couldn't let the moment slip by.

"After (the concert) we were talking everyday about doing another record, and 'that was awesome,' and it snowballed from there really naturally," said Joannou.

They played a few show in Australia, enough to get money in the bank to fund the album they would record themselves. Silverchair wanted to make Young Modern completely on their terms.

The guys spent their time creating the album in a rented house in the middle of nowhere. Though they had spoken during the hiatus, the time they spent playing music all day, swimming in a billabong (Australian for watering hole, who knew?) and looking up at the stars at night, the new time together was a mini-reunion.

"Making this record was one of our most enjoyable experiences," said Joannou.

The July-released Young Modern, recorded at Seedy Underbelly in L.A. (another departure for Silverchair who had to date only recorded in Australia) is an entirely different kind of album for them. The album has drawn numerous accolades from critics, who have generally given the thumbs up to the new maturity heard in the song construction, and has a glam sort of polish to it.

Joannou describes the recording as more organic than Silverchair's previous efforts, and without the demands of a studio, "All you're doing is focusing on what album you want at the end. There's no outside opinions where they're looking at other ways of making a record or direction for it or whatever. No compromises... just make the record you want to make."

From San Francisco, the band is moving to perform a host of Midwest dates. Silverchair hasn't performed in the middle of the U.S. since 1998, so they are looking forward to bringing the live show to their fans. According to Joannou, Silverchair is really excited about Young Modern and awed by their recent ARIA Award sweep in October.

"Things are going pretty good for us at the moment."