An Interview With Silverchair

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Emotion Sickness
Silverchair Gets Moody
Recently I spoke by phone to bassistChris Joannou and singer/guitarist Daniel Johns. Have you started doing thewhole press-tour thing again? Joannou: Yeah, we just finisheda record and are promoting it now. We were just on the road for the last threeweeks doing a small town or two with a few shows here and there. More interviewsthan anything else, though. How long has it been sinceyou were in the States? I think your last stop was here in San Francisco? Yeah? It's beena year and a half, maybe two years. What was it like going backto school after being rock stars? It was good for the socialside of things. It was kind of confusing sometimes, trying to lead two completelyseparate things. What was it like makingway more money than your teachers; do people ever give you attitude? No, that was never reallya situation. It was quite cool, the school we went to.I really liked your newalbum. I'm a little younger than you guys. I can relate to your feelinglike a novelty, because people are often just writing about my age. Now you'regetting older, and people stop writing about the novelty and concentrate moreon the art. How do you feel about that? Do you feel that you're under morepressure? I think during the Frogstomptime, when the age thing became an issue to many people, once they came to alive show it wasn't an issue anymore. They understood what we were about. People really do think ofyou as a novelty act. They didn't take you seriously. It's like, "They'rejust kids." But I think you really proved yourselves with the second andthird albums...Do you feel nervous about whether people like you or not? Yeah, you do have a senseof nervousness. You're just kind of curious to find out reactions of people,just intrigued by it all. There seems to be this thingthat people want, you know, "Teenagers washed up by 20." Do you feelthat? In a sense, our whole ideaon this is we want to go out on top, we don't want to be slugging it out10 years down the track and not going anywhere. So how long do youthink you'll be doing this? I don't know. The endcould be 15 years, it could be?who knows? How do you guys deal withgroupies? You get the occasional onethat gets a bit crazy and carries on. Like what? They just get really anxious. Do you ever get girls throwingpanties? I know guys threw underwear. I've never had guysthrowing underwear. I've seen it, in SanFrancisco. Don't you know how many guys are totally into you?And they threw their underwear? Wow. Whew.Matter of fact, you guysare in a book. Guide, by Dennis Cooper. He wrote about Blur, and you'recalled Tinsel Stool in the book. Tinsel Stool? Yeah. But he loves you guys.The book is sexually explicit, I got to warn you. This guy's gay. Oh really. And he kinda has fantasiesabout you guys in the book. Blur's totally into it. In real life they'relike big Dennis Cooper fans. And in the book guys are perving on you. It'sreally funny. Don't get insulted because he totally digs you guys. He'slike a famous underground American writer. Get us a copy of it? Yeah. Anyways, I know DanielJohns makes a lot of gay jokes and things like that.He's just dicking around. Kurt Cobain did that too,makes you feel like it's not a big deal. Yeah. I've got nothingagainst gay guys. It's not a phobia of mine. It's up to the individual. You don't ever worrythat fans or people will get the wrong idea with everything that Daniel says?Like kissing David Helfgott? Even though it was clearly a joke, folks get ideas. Yeah, I mean, people whoare getting Daniel wrong on that, I mean, I don't think they'd reallyget this guy's book then.(The press agent cuts usoff and moves me on to Daniel Johns.)
I've very much relatedto you guys because I got signed to a book deal at about the same age. And Iwould read press and it was like, stop writing about my fucking age. Yeah, it's just somethingthat the media can focus on that they see it as something different, they focuson it and forget about what the whole intention is behind what you're doing. It can make you feel reallyinsecure. Yeah, it definitely does.It did the same thing to me. You forget why you're actually in the industryyou're in, you're constantly told what you're doing, and whyyou're doing it even though they've got the wrong perception. Do you ever get hurt theway you hurl yourself around onstage? Yeah, wherever we'replaying, usually after it's all over I've got small lacerations onmy arm, bruises on my hips and stuff just from throwing guitars into my bodyand throwing myself into amps. I actually enjoy it? It's good fun. Talk to me about your lyrics. The first two albums, lyricallythey're focused on the anger that I felt toward groups and subcultures.The mood of the vocal style was very angry. With this album, although we reallylike the last two albums, I was just sick of the whole traditional angry rockthing and really wanted to focus on doing something unpredictable and differentlyrically and musically? It's not as straightforward this time around,it's a little more obscure. My sexuality has alwaysbeen kind of?I've never set up one way or another. I was sexual waybefore I ever had a chance to make my decision. So I appreciate how you areabout it. Kurt was sort of like that, too. Yeah. It doesn't reallybother me how people perceive me sexually at all. I don't care. It'skind of fun to fuck with people's minds anyway. Quite enjoyable if peoplethink I'm gay or whatever. I don't care. I know that I'm not.I got nothing against people who are gay. I play with it. It's good toconfuse people. Kurt said that he wishedhe was like a male prostitute, he wished he had experienced that. Some people like tryingdifferent things. I don't really wish that. Because it would be a bit tooexposing for my liking... Being a human being, you have the right to do whateveryou want, believe whatever you want. That's the best part about being ina liberated society. You can be whatever you want, say anything you want, aslong as you're not hurting people. Yeah, but what about therole-model thing? There aren't a lot of bands that would feel comfortablesaying that if you want to be gay that's okay. I'm secure enough withmy sexuality anyway. I'm secure enough to fuck around with people. That'sone of the best things about being in a successful band, is the way you havethe power to confuse a lot of different people at one time. How do you deal with thepress? Um, I find it very exposing.I don't like exposing myself to people. I don't like people knowingthings about me. The only things I really let people know about me is the thingsI write about, in terms of personality, in terms of what I feel for other things,I don't really let people know because I don't think they have theright. Do you get into a mood towrite or just decide okay, I'm gonna write now? No, I've definitelygot to be in a certain frame of mind. I only write when I'm dealing withpsychological things? Like when I wrote this album, I was kind of alienatedfrom the rest of the world. I lived in a house for three months and didn'tleave for one day. I just sat in the house for three months and I couldn'tleave the house. I had to get friends to drop groceries and things?. Iwas suffering from a really bad anxiety and depression? I have to be kindof suffering from something in order to write, otherwise I'm out tryingto live a normal life. Interviewer hardass question:Why are you depressed? I'm not depressed allthe time, it just goes in phases. And the phases tend to be pretty large. I'vebeen on antidepressants since I was seven, eight years old. 'Cause I haveto level out my moods, otherwise I'm way too manic. Some days I'llbe really happy and other days I'll be, you know, a total wreck. Which antidepressants areyou on? I'm on them too. (laughter) They're called Arapax.The song "Paint Pastel Princess" is a three-word metaphor for an antidepressant.It's basically about leveling out moods and dealing with depression throughdrugs... I think there are times when you just feel so low you just want toreally batter yourself because you really don't know what else to do. I found when I would burnmyself or cut myself, it gave me some way to identify the pain, you know? Insteadof just this ache inside. Yeah definitely. I agreewith that. The difference between writingand performing?I hate how solitary writing is. But for you?you canbe with 100,000 people when you're performing, and then be totally aloneafter. That was the whole thingwith touring, especially like with me, everyone wanted to know everything aboutme, for two months on the road everyone was treating me like this big rock star,really huge, really grand, and then we'd be thrown back into reality andall of a sudden I'd be getting bashed every day after school and totallybeing ridiculed, and that happened pretty much two years of my life, so thaton and off being treated like a king and then being treated like scum, for twoyears, on and off, fucks with your head quite a lot. You went back to schoolafter Silverchair started doing well. Why? Because I wanted to. Itwas always a good thing to lean back on. It was always good when things gottoo much to have school as an excuse not to tour or start writing any more songs?youcould always just say, oh we're busy... Not so much people in our school,but some days I'd leave school and there were gangs of people waiting incars, and I'd start walking home and then get pounded after school. Youknow, just really bashed. Attacked by gangs of people. How did you protect yourself? I just kind of dealt withit, I never really talked about it until I left school, until the whole thingwas over, because it was too hard to bring up. No one at school even knew, myfamily didn't know. No one knew until after I'd left school and afterI kind of told people in my family, and they were like, Fuck! And they realizedwhy I was dealing with the things I was dealing with. Were people beating youup? Yeah. That happened fortwo years, on and off. I don't know why I endured it. I didn't knowhow to deal with it so I kept ignoring it.

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