Daniel Johns has opened up about the moment he realised Silverchair wouldn’t last, telling fans about a painful experience during the group’s Big Day Out run in 2002, and the lasting impact it had on his relationship with his colleagues.
In a post shared to his Instagram page over the weekend, Johns explained that during Silverchair’s sets at the Big Day Out, he “started experiencing unbearable pain in my joints” and “struggled to make it through [those] shows”. Johns linked the explanation to a video of the band playing ‘The Greatest View’ at one of the festivals, where Johns said it’s visible that he’s “struggling to move” throughout the performance.
Following the tour, Johns was diagnosed with reactive arthritis. Noting the severity of it, he went on to say that a specialist “advised me to [say] goodbye to my family every night before bed because he thought I might die”. Part of the condition’s onset, he considered, was due to the anxiety spurred by the imminent release of Silverchair’s fourth album, ‘Diorama’, combined with “the toll that my battle with anorexia had previously taken on my immune system”.
Touching on the way his condition impacted Silverchair’s longevity, Johns continued: “At this moment, I realised that much of the Silverchair machine was more of a business than a family. I felt personally responsible for people in our crew who couldn’t work because of my illness. While I was undergoing exhaustive treatment both here and abroad, I learned very quickly who loved me as a human being and who needed me a ‘performer’.
“I really needed a friend back then, instead I had disgruntled colleagues. When my phone did ring it was usually someone asking if I was ready to tour again. Someone in the team even questioned whether I was sick at all and that ‘maybe I just didn’t want to promote the album and I should be forced to tour instead of being ‘mollycoddled’ at home’. Like who the [fuck] wanted ‘Diorama’ to be more successful than I did?”
Johns clarified that he was “not resentful” over the situation, acknowledging that “everyone was under pressure and the band was putting food on many tables”, but noting that especially at the age of 22, “this was too much to put on me”.
Silverchair released ‘Diorama’ shortly after the Big Day Out wrapped up, in March of 2002. The record became another hit for the band, topping the ARIA Charts and eventually earning a triple-Platinum certificate. It garnered widespread critical acclaim, too – albeit except from NME, which gave it one-and-a-half stars at the time.
Johns quashed hopes of a Silverchair reunion last October, telling The Project that his memories with the band were “emotionally triggering” and “still kind of burn”. Despite this, January saw drummer Ben Gillies spark fan speculation about a possible revival, sharing a video of himself in the studio with the hashtag #Silverchair.
Meanwhile, Johns is gearing up to release his second solo album, ‘FutureNever’, on April 22 (postponed from its initial street date of April 1). Announcing the album in a personal letter to his fans, Johns said that “FutureNever is a place where your past, present and future collide – in the FutureNever the quantum of your past experiences become your superpower.”
NME recently featured ‘FutureNever’ on its list of Australian releases to look forward to in 2022, with writer Alex Gallagher saying: “Almost seven years since his last solo record, the reclusive Daniel Johns is ready to return.
“Following the release of an in-depth podcast series, the former Silverchair frontman says he’s ‘[made] peace’ with his past and is ‘not anxious about what comes next’ – welcome news for those who’ve been patiently awaiting a fresh chapter from one of the country’s most legendary songwriters.”