In his new cover story for the May 2022 issue of NME Australia, Daniel Johns opened up about the lasting legacy of Silverchair, why they’ll never reform in public, and how although he once strived to break free from the band’s signature style, he’s “stopped running away” from songs that might recall their old sound.
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Johns fronted Silverchair from 1992 until 2011, when the band were put into an “indefinite hibernation”. Johns was just 12 years old when he formed Silverchair with drummer Ben Gillies and bassist Chris Joannou (at the time calling themselves The Innocent Criminals), signed a three-album deal with Sony at 15 (in 1994), and launched to international fame with debut album ‘Frogstomp’ just a year later.
Johns reflected on his and former bandmates’ youth in the new NME interview – his first since returning home from rehab, where he entered last month after a drink-driving incident – telling writer R.S. He that he’s often struck by how “fucking young” he was in Silverchair’s prime.
“Even in the ‘Young Modern’ era I was 28/29,” he said, “which is pretty damn young for an ‘industry veteran.’”
Johns went on to confess that he dreams “all the fucking time” about the alternate paths he could have taken, but expressed that he’s ultimately come to terms with his career having blossomed the way it did.
He said: “I often see guys my age, surfing at the beach with their tradie vans, playing with their kids at the park, and I’d be lying if I didn’t occasionally wonder what my life would be if the band didn’t take off, but it’s not like I’m jealous or anything. I understand that the path I took was probably determined by some sort of fate and I’m grateful for the experiences good and bad. It’s certainly been an interesting life so far.”
As for the potential of a Silverchair reunion – somethings Johns has long sworn against doing – the former frontman confirmed that, despite a teaser from Gillies back in January, the band have no plans to hit the stage again. “I have some incredible memories of playing live,” he told NME, “but like an athlete that no longer feels their body can handle the rigours of game day, my mind can no longer handle the live touring world.
“Sometimes the YouTube algorithm feeds me a Silverchair gig from back in the day and I’ll find myself quietly impressed… until I fuck up a note and then I turn it off.”
The new interview came off the back of Johns’ second solo album, ‘FutureNever’, which landed back in April via BMG. He explained to NME that recording the new album offered a chance to reckon with the burden of being known primarily as Silverchair’s ex-frontman.
“For years, I felt I had to ‘prove myself’ outside of Silverchair,” he admitted, before musing: “To me, that is completely absurd in retrospect. If you read the credits to the Silverchair albums, it’s all there – I already proved myself in that band.”
A product of that reckoning process was the more guitar-centric sound explored on ‘FutureNever’. As Johns explained: “I’ve stopped running away from the ‘Silverchair-type sounds’ that I actively avoided on [2015 solo debut] ‘Talk’. Of course I sound a bit like Silverchair, I played a reasonably significant role in that band’s success!”
Elsewhere in the chat, Johns praised a fellow Australian artist who rapidly rose to fame at a young age – The Kid LAROI – saying he could tell the hip-hop star would “blow up” when he first heard his music, and expressing hope that those around him are giving him the support he needs.