THE STORY SO FAR …
Silverchair are one of the most acclaimed and successful Australian bands of all time. They have won more ARIA Awards than any other artist and they have enjoyed more #1 albums than any other band in Australian music history. They have sold more than six million albums around the world.
The group’s members were all born in 1979 in the Newcastle surf suburb of Merewether. Singer/guitarist Daniel Johns and drummer Ben Gillies started making music together at primary school and schoolmate Chris Joannou later joined on bass. They got their big break in mid-1994 when they won a national demo competition conducted by SBS TV show “Nomad” and Triple J.
The band changed its name from Innocent Criminals to Silverchair and in August 1994 they released their winning demo – a track called “Tomorrow”. The song eventually spent six weeks at #1 on the Australian singles charts and 20 weeks in the top 10. In 1995 it became the most played song of the year on U.S. modern rock radio.
Silverchair’s debut album frogstomp, recorded in just nine days in early 1995, was a raw sounding slab of alternative rock. A #1 hit in Australia and New Zealand the disc went on to become the first Australian album since INXS to hit the U.S. top 10, selling more than 2.5 million copies throughout the world. As frogstomp and “Tomorrow” propelled Silverchair to music superstardom through 1996 the group juggled memorable performances on the roof of Radio City Music Hall and tours with Red Hot Chili Peppers alongside full time schooling commitments back home in Newcastle.
The trio also found time that year to record their sophomore album Freak Show which was released in February, 1997. A more adventurous piece of work than frogstomp this disc yielded three top ten singles in Australia - “Freak”, “Abuse Me” and “Cemetery”. Global sales eventually exceeded 1.5 million copies in spite of the fact that the band had to juggle world tours while trying to finish their final year of high school.
After finally graduating from school the band was able to spend much more time creating their critically lauded breakthrough, “Neon Ballroom” which was released in March 1999. The group’s songwriter, Daniel Johns had been battling personal demons as he attempted to adjust to Silverchair’s sudden success and he poured these experiences into his new batch of songs. Determined to shake the constant musical comparisons that had previously dogged his band, Johns created a truly original sounding album. Fusing heavy rock with orchestral flourishes and synthetic touches with powerfully emotional lyrics, the dark and haunting Neon Ballroom was universally acclaimed as a huge creative leap for Johns and his bandmates.
Silverchair toured extensively in support of the album, propelling it to even stronger worldwide sales than they had achieved with Freak Show. In Europe and South America it became the group’s most successful album to date due to the Comet Award winning “Ana’s Song” - a track about Daniel Johns’ battles with an eating disorder. Elsewhere, distinctive tracks like “Emotion Sickness” and the aching “Miss You Love” established the group’s staying power once and for all.
The band toured Europe and the U.S. throughout 1999 including appearances on leading festivals such as Reading and Bizarrefest. After all this touring Silverchair announced that they would be taking a 12 month break during 2000 to recharge their batteries.
Having fulfilled their initial recording contract the group was pursued by labels for much of this year off. At the end of 2000 they announced that they had signed new deals and as a result their former label released two compilation albums over the following years without the band’s involvement.
Silverchair’s one and only gig in 2000 was a sold out appearance at Australia’s Falls Festival on New Years Eve. It was followed on January 21, 2001 by the biggest show of their lives - 250,000 people at Rock In Rio - a performance that the band describes as the highlight of their career to date.
In June 2001 the band started work on their fourth album, Diorama. This time Daniel Johns set out to explore even more new musical territory. A range of other musicians were drawn in to contribute to the disc, most notably the legendary Beach Boys and U2 collaborator, Van Dyke Parks who contributed orchestral arrangements to three tracks including a lush epic called “Luv Your Life”. Also helping out again were Neon Ballroom sidemen, Paul Mac and Jim Moginie.
The album saw Johns embracing melody and combining it with brighter lyrics than most of his previous works. It was a huge creative leap, which also saw the band exploring a vast array of instrumentation and musical styles.
Diorama means “a world within a world”. It was a particularly apt name as this evocative work lifts you out of the everyday and carries you into a world of its own. According to Rolling Stone magazine in its four and a half star review, the album was “one of the boldest musical statements ever made by an Australian rock band”.
Diorama entered the Australian charts at #1 in April. It yielded the top 10 singles “The Greatest View” and “Without You” and the top 20 hit “Luv Your Life” as well as the airplay favourites “After All These Years” and “Across The Night”.
The album’s international performance was unfortunately impeded by the band’s inability to tour or do promotional appearances due to Daniel Johns’ ill health. The singer/guitarist spent 2002 battling a severely debilitating case of reactive arthritis from which he is now completely recovered. Nevertheless, even without any of the usual promotional support the album reached #12 in Germany and the top 40 of numerous other countries including Holland, Sweden and Brazil. However, the group’s inability to tour in support of the release still made the middle of 2002 a very frustrating period.
This all began to change in October 2002 when the band’s work on Diorama won them six ARIA Awards (Australia’s Grammys) including “Best Group” and “Best Rock Album”. In a last minute surprise the trio returned to the stage to deliver a searing performance of “The Greatest View” which catapulted their album back into the national top 10.
Within another two months the disc had sold over 250,000 copies in Australia making it the fastest selling album of the band’s career in their homeland. It went on to be certified five times platinum. In spite of the musical challenges presented by the album and the band’s inability to tour or promote it, in Australia at least Diorama still managed to attract the biggest audience of any Silverchair release.
From March to June of 2003 Silverchair finally got to play the album live. Their “Across The Night” tour sold out around their homeland in minutes and was the largest of their career. The band also played multiple sold out shows in South America, the U.S, Canada and the U.K..
This remarkable tour capped a roller coaster year for Silverchair – a year which in many ways traced the journey of Diorama itself – from bleak times into a much happier new dawn. The event was captured in a multiplatinum CD/DVD set called “Live From Faraway Stables” that was released in late 2003.
The band then went on an indefinite hiatus. Daniel Johns collaborated with Paul Mac to create an acclaimed gold selling album as The Dissociatives and the group toured Australia and the UK. Chris Joannou was nominated for an ARIA award for his production work with The Mess Hall while under the banner of Tambalane Ben Gillies recently recorded an album with some friends that showed his longstanding love of James Brown style funk. Throughout this time the group repeatedly refuted media reports that they had split up – pointing out that they were just taking an open ended break and that they would make music together again when the time was right.
That time finally came when Silverchair and their management helped pull together the unforgettable Waveaid benefit concert at the Sydney Cricket Ground on January 29, 2005. The event drew a sold out crowd of 55,000 people and saw a ‘who’s who’ of Australian music raise over $2,500,000 for the victims of the Asian tsunami. The undeniable spark that the band felt together in the rehearsal room and onstage at that extraordinary show rekindled their desire to start making another album together later that year.
And so the decision was made to regroup but to “remove all the pressure” that had surrounded the band since the explosive reaction to their first album. Not only did that involve an unhurried and quite secretive creative approach, it also meant the band taking the highly unusual step of choosing to fund the entire album themselves so as to avoid a repeat of the creative clashes that occurred with their US label during the recording of Diorama. The focus was on the three guys recapturing the “sense of endless possibilities” that they had when they first started out.
The album that eventuated – Young Modern - melded elements from each of the band’s previous works while somehow seeming more cohesive than anything they’ve done since their debut. This time around Daniel shared the producer role with Nick Launay who had helmed earlier ‘chair albums Freak Show and Neon Ballroom. Diorama producer, David Bottrill was brought in as mixer. Paul Mac was again on hand for keyboard duties as he was with the group’s two previous albums and legendary Beach Boys collaborator Van Dyke Parks reprised his Diorama role penning orchestrations for three songs. In keeping with the free spirited nature of the process his sections were recorded in Prague … as you do when you’re seeking 80 piece orchestras.
Young Modern landed in March 2007. The first single lifted from the album – the slow burning epic “Straight Lines” enjoyed phenomenal airplay. It spent four weeks at #1 in Australia. It was a top 10 airplay hit in the U.S. and a top 5 video on music channel VH1.
Upon its local release Young Modern went straight to #1 making this the fifth consecutive album in the bands history to top the charts. It cemented Silverchair’s rightful place in Australian music history eclipsing the achievements of Cold Chisel, Midnight Oil and Powderfinger who each enjoyed four Australian #1’s while ACDC, INXS and Crowded House have had three.
The album also delivered the top 20 hits “If You Keep Losing Sleep” and the glorious sweetness of “Reflections Of A Sound”. Silverchair toured the album in North America and Europe selling out major venues and blitzing major festivals including Lollapalooza.
In the spring of 2007 Silverchair teamed up with Powderfinger for an epic tour called “Across The Great Divide”. The event weaved its way around Australia and New Zealand for over two months hitting over 25 towns and drawing over 250,000 people. It climaxed at the ARIA Awards where Young Modern scooped the pool – winning six categories including “Album of the Year”. The haul saw them move past John Farnham’s tally of 18 career wins at the ARIA’s .
Silverchair’s music has evolved hugely since their teenage years and they’ve grown into critical darlings – a feat that seemed highly unlikely back in the mid-‘90s.
To top it all, Silverchair were the only artist other than U2, Radiohead and The Beatles to have three of their albums make the top 100 most popular Australian CD’s of all time in a big ABC TV poll (Diorama came in just behind Midnight Oil’s classic 10…1 as the most popular Aussie album on the list).
The band capped their amazing 2007 with Young Modern with a mainstage appearance on the national Big Day Out tour in 2008 and a well-earned break then followed.
Daniel spent some months writing in New York and in the Spring of 2009 and over the Summer of 2010 the band were back in the studio working on the very early stages of album #6.
The sounds emerging from the studio walls are far removed and again very different to anything the band has done in the past.
So that’s the story so far but the challenge of living up to this amazing history is not one that Daniel Johns finds daunting.
“It took me a long time to realize that the sound Ben, Chris and I make when we play my songs is something special,” says the Silverchair frontman. “Lots of bands are only just hitting their stride at our age so while we’ve already been through a lot together, hopefully there’s lots more good stuff that’s still to come.”
In May 2010 Silverchair, without a new record ,played its first shows for 2.5 years,headlining the Australian regional touring festival Groovin The Moo to over 70,000 payers.The festival sold out everywhere and established itself in 5 states.This band has a greatest hits set like no other and typically Silverchair blew everyone away premiering 2 new songs.
As of February 2011 there are no plans to tour anywhere in the world and there won't be any performances planned at all, until the album #6 is completed. Stay tuned for further live show news when it happens...
May 25th 2011 - Silverchair today announced an indefinite hiatus - the band will be in hibernation until further notice.
with Van Dyke Parks 8 March 2013 Adelaide Festival - Thebarton Theatre
Parks’ set will feature a special guest appearance by Daniel Johns – the collaborator he nicknamed Young Modern – for a uniquely eclectic and daring musical adventure.
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