SILVERCHAIR is Australia’s most successful contemporary rock band. The group has had more top twenty hits during the last five years than any other artist and they have sold over six million albums worldwide.
The members of Silverchair 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. In the group’s early days they were called Innocent Criminals and their repertoire consisted mainly of Led Zeppelin, Deep Purple and Black Sabbath songs they had learned from their Dads’ old record collections.
The trio played many shows around the Hunter Valley region in their early teens. They got their big break in mid-1994 when they won a national demo competition called “Pick Me” which was conducted by SBS TV show “Nomad” and youth radio station Triple J. The group’s entry was a song called “Tomorrow” which quickly landed them a recording contract.
The band changed its name to Silverchair and in August 1994 they released “Tomorrow”. The song eventually spent six weeks at number 1 on the Australian singles charts and 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 edgy alternative rock. A number 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 early in 1997. A more adventurous piece of work than “frogstomp” this disc yielded three top ten singles in Australia – “Freak”, “Abuse Me” and “Cemetery”. “Freak Show” went gold in the United States and 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 were able to spend much more time creating their most recent release, the critically lauded breakthrough, “Neon Ballroom”. 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 which 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, “Neon Ballroom” was universally acclaimed as a huge creative leap for Johns and his bandmates when it was released in early 1999.
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 once and for all that this young group is not just a fad; they are genuinely talented musicians who are here to stay.
The band toured Europe and the U.S. throughout 1999 including appearances on leading festivals such as Reading and Bizarrefest and tours with bands like Red Hot Chili Peppers and Blink 182. After all this touring the band announced that they would be taking a 12 month break to recharge their batteries.
Having fulfilled their three album deal with Sony Music Australia the group was pursued by labels for much of this year off. At the end of 2000 they announced that they had signed new recording agreements with Atlantic Records for North and South America and their own indie label, Eleven: a music company in Australasia and Asia. As a result of these new deals their former label rush released a compilation album without the band’s involvement late last year.
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 career – 250,000 people at Rock In Rio.
In June 2001 the band entered a studio in Sydney with producer David Bottrill (Tool, Peter Gabriel, King Crimson) to start work on their fourth album, “Diorama”. This time Daniel Johns formally assumed the role of co-Producer. 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”.
Silverchair fans got their first taste of “Diorama” when a single called “The Greatest View” was released in Australia in January 2002 to coincide with the band’s appearance on that country’s Big Day Out Tour. The track displayed a fresh new sound showing yet another creative leap for the band Ð now rock veterans at the age of 22!
The enhanced melodic sensibility and newfound vocal confidence of “The Greatest View” attracted unprecedented radio support in Australia on all formats and drove the single to number 1 on the alternative charts and number 3 on the mainstream singles chart.
“Diorama” was released in Australia and New Zealand on March 31, 2002. It will hit stores internationally in early July. “The Greatest View” will be the first single off the album in all countries.
According to Daniel Johns, “Diorama” will show a brighter side of the band than previous works, both musically and lyrically. It sees the talented singer/songwriter spreading his wings to create a multifaceted work befitting the disc’s title which means “a world within a world”.
“Our other albums have all been pretty black”, explains Daniel Johns. “This time around I wanted to try painting with lots of colours”.