In an honest interview with The Project‘s Carrie Bickmore on Australian TV, Johns discussed the band’s early days, his relationship with ex-wife Natalie Imbruglia and his struggles with mental health over the years.
The Australian three-piece formed in 1992, before releasing their debut album ‘Frogstomp’ when Johns was just 16. They were successful internationally, but struggled with the pressures of fame and media attention throughout their career. Johns’ struggles with depression and anorexia were documented on their acclaimed third album ‘Neon Ballroom’ in 1999, and his recovery and relationship with Imbruglia inspired the more colourful and highly ambitious fourth record ‘Diorama’ in 2002.
They released final album ‘Young Modern’ in 2007 before going on an indefinite hiatus in 2011. They wrote in a statement: “If the band stops being fun and if it’s no longer fulfilling creatively, then we need to stop.”
When asked whether he would consider his relationship with Silverchair and that period of his life “tricky”, Johns commented: “It’s a very accurate appraisal. It’s not that I’m not proud of the work, I’m actually really proud of the work. It’s just that it’s emotionally triggering for me; it still kind of burns.”
Silverchair frontman Daniel Johns opens up to Carrie about his complicated feelings towards the band and why we'll probably never see him perform live again.
The first episode of Spotify's 'Who Is Daniel Johns?' is out today.#TheProjectTV pic.twitter.com/asr5SHXtQs
— The Project (@theprojecttv) October 20, 2021
He went on to explain his thoughts on the possibility of the band reforming, which he previously confirmed wouldn’t happen for “a million bucks or if someone had a gun to his head” – despite claims from drummer Ben Gillies and bassist Chris Joannou that they may just be on a break.
“I was firm that Silverchair were not getting back together and one of the other members kept saying ‘No, we’re just on a break and we’ll be back’,” the former frontman went on. “And I was like, ‘This is really starting to really affect my mental health because I’m saying that’s it. And every time I tried to tell the truth, someone told a lie’. So I said, ‘I wouldn’t get Silverchair back together with a gun to my head or a million bucks.’ Maybe that was too harsh in hindsight.”
Johns also revealed that fans will likely never see him perform live again, despite having new music on the way. “I honestly don’t think you ever will. There’s so much music coming and I’m really proud of it. You don’t need to see it live – just listen.”
Earlier this week, Johns announced the launch of his new podcast, Who is Daniel Johns?. The podcast is produced by Kaitlyn Sawrey and includes chats with Kevin Parker of Tame Impala, Natalie Imbruglia, Smashing Pumpkins frontman Billy Corgan and former Blink-182 member Tom Delonge, among others.
The podcast is Johns’ first major release since DREAMS’ 2018 album ‘No-One Defeats Us’ – made in collaboration with Empire Of The Sun‘s Luke Steele. Prior to that, Johns released his first (and, to date, only) solo record, ‘Talk’, in 2015.
In recent years, more attention has been focused on Johns’ public persona and mental health rather than his music – or lack thereof. In 2019, Johns filed a lawsuit against the Australian newspaper The Sunday Telegraph over an article that alleged he had visited a brothel. The Sunday Telegraph apologised to Johns for the story last year, and Johns received $470,000 in a settlement with the publisher last May.
This comes after Johns shared a vulnerable letter to fans, explaining his absence from releasing music in recent years and offering words of support for those who are struggling.
“The world is in a very strange order at the moment. It’s very confronting and bemusing,” he said. “The reason I’ve not released music is not because of that. Sometimes I need to feel like a human being and feel what other human beings feel without believing that I am important or creative. I am not. I need to create. There is no need for people to see, hear or appreciate it.”
Johns added: “I have been learning that the longer I’m away from people’s opinions the stronger I become. Art is not a way to receive validation. I believe it’s a way to feel connected to whatever this is and not a way to make people feel something for you. I’m not sure what I’m doing? I am sure how I want to do it though.”