Back in 1995, Silverchair won a considerable amount of fame with the album Frogstomp and the single “Tomorrow,” an angst-y grunge song that echoed the Seattle Invasion from a few years prior. Daniel Johns, lead singer/guitarist for the Australian trio and only 14 at the time, has often said that he regretted becoming successful at such a young age, noting that even master artists don’t exactly look back fondly on their preadolescent creations.
“We got some good reviews then but also some really scathing ones, which is really rough when you’re 14 and pay attention to that stuff,” Johns says. “I felt like a fraud after that first record and felt I needed to justify my success.”
Following the release of Young Modern and in the midst of their first North American tour in five years, the Silverchair of today bears little resemblance to that of old. Two high-water marks on the new record are “If You Keep Losing Sleep,” a carnival-like kaleidoscope of a song that features hammering, Beatlesque piano beats, orchestral supplements, Manzarek-like synths and Johns warbling like David Bowie, and “Those Thieving Birds Part 1/Strange Behaviour/Those Thieving Birds Part 2,” a trifecta that opens as a harmonized dreamscape sprinkled with fairy dust, then accelerates into a head-bobbing, conventional rocker before coasting back down again.
“I like all the songs, but those two are my favorite,” Johns says. “You could do songs like that as long as you also do songs like [current single] ‘Straight Lines,’ which kind of draws you in, and becomes an invitation to listen to the other stuff.”
Johns admitted that when the tour started he was worried that there wouldn’t be enough people left in the U.S. who cared about Silverchair, but he has since been surprised at the mixture of old and new fans they’ve come across at shows.
“We play a lot of Diorama [Silverchair’s 2003 release] stuff and Young Modern stuff,” Johns says. “We only do maybe one to three songs from the first two albums. We sometimes play ‘Israel’s Son’ just because it’s fun to just get loud from time to time.”