Daniel Johns opens up about car crash and rehab stint, feud with Silverchair bandmates

The ‘FutureNever’ artist recently opened an art exhibit chronicling his three-decade-long career thus far

Daniel Johns has spoken candidly about the car accident he was involved in earlier this year – as well as his subsequent stay in rehab, with the crash stemming from the singer’s struggles with mental health issues – and the tensions that linger between himself and his former bandmates in Silverchair.

Back in March – just weeks before the release of his latest solo album, ‘FutureNever’ – Johns revealed that he’d entered rehab after being charged with high-range drink-driving, having collided with a vehicle in the Hunter region of New South Wales. He plead guilty to the charge, and was subsequently ordered to complete 10 months of an intensive corrections sentence.

Earlier this week, Johns appeared on Australian current affairs program The Project, where he explained to host Carrie Bickmore that while he was working on ‘FutureNever’, he “pretty much had a full-on nervous breakdown”.

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He said of the situation: “I got in a car, and I was barely even aware what I was trying to do. I just wanted to escape. It was the equivalent of just like running into the forests. Everything was too much. I was in a really quiet environment, a really peaceful environment, and I was trying to run away. I didn’t realise that all the noise was in my head, so there was nowhere to run, there was nowhere to hide.”

Johns went on to say that he “remember[s] every detail” of the crash itself, continuing: “I remember being lost. I remember being petrified. I remember being in the dark. I remember the colours – I even remember thinking, ‘This is how I’m gonna die.’ But I wasn’t suicidal…

“It was only when the penny dropped, that I was putting other people in danger, that I went, ‘What the fuck?’ Because I like chaos – that feels me as an artist. I like chaos, I love it, but I hate it when I can’t get out.”

Johns stressed that nobody was hurt in the collision; he found that to be shocking in itself, but noted that he was “so grateful” because “if someone had been hurt, I think I probably would have killed myself”. The singer also mentioned that he “tried to reach out” and “make amends” with the other person involved in the crash.

Touching on his subsequent visit to rehab, Johns clarified that he “didn’t go to rehab for alcohol”, but rather because he noticed his sanity deteriorating in the midst of his nervous breakdown.

He explained: “I was like, ‘I need help, my brain is crazy.’ Like, I couldn’t tell what was real… I couldn’t even hear music correctly – and for me music is the truth, so if I can’t hear music correctly, if I can’t hear sound accurately, I lose my compass of what is real.

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“I haven’t written a note of music since I got back, and I don’t know if that’s a nail in the coffin… I don’t know what that is, but I can’t even play music at the moment because I’m so scared that it will start again.”

Watch the full interview below:

Last month, Johns revealed that in the process of making ‘FutureNever’, he attempted to reconnect with former Silverchair drummer Ben Gillies and bassist Chris Joannou, inviting them to perform on a song for the record. They rejected the offer, though, and according to Johns in his interview with The Project, they’d be unlikely to support his solo project at all because of their “bitterness and jealousy” towards the former frontman.

“One of the guys in particular had taken a real shining to kicking me while I was down when I was in rehab,” Johns revealed. “saying that I was exploiting mental health to sell records, or something along those lines. I was just like, ‘Dude, if this is exploiting mental health to sell records, then it is the most genius marketing plan ever, because I’ve been doing it since I was 17.’ So that is conceptual – that’s like some Andy Kaufmann shit.”

When asked if he would “like a relationship now” with his ex-bandmates, Johns said bluntly: “Not at the moment. They’ve not shown me any respect, so… And I always say ‘they’ – me and Chris have a very passive relationship, there’s no issue as far as [that friendship goes]. Ben, for some reason, has a real issue with me being successful without him, and that’s sad, because I wish him all the best, honestly. But unfortunately, he doesn’t want me to branch out.”

Johns’ appearance on The Project came in support of his newly launched interactive art exhibition, Past, Present & FutureNever, which made its debut in Melbourne last week. Described as an “event experience”, the installation – which will run until October 9 at the Rialto tower in Melbourne’s CBD – chronicles Johns’ career from his beginnings in Silverchair circa 1992, right up to the release of ‘FutureNever’. See more info about the exhibit here.

In a four-star review of ‘FutureNever’, NME’s Andrew Trendell praised the album for the way it “shows off [Johns’] range”, writing: “While there’s a lot of Daniel Johns at his best here, this isn’t ‘The Best Of Daniel Johns’. There’s rock bravado throughout, but you won’t get a whiff of ‘Frogstomp’. Styles and eras clash, but ‘Neon Ballroom’ it ain’t. There is, however, a vulnerability, curiosity and adventure that makes ‘FutureNever’ unmistakably Johns. That kid who once asked you to wait for tomorrow is living in it today.”

For help and advice on mental health:

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