The man maketh the music

silverchair recording Diorama in 2001

My tastes in music have dramatically changed over the last five years, to the extent that I can barely recognise my CD collection at home in Penang.

However, there is one band I am starting to like again – silverchair, the Australian wonderboys who released the album Frogstomp at age 14 and became the Nirvana Down Under overnight.

The band’s baby-faced, blonde and blue-eyed frontman, Daniel Johns, became the poster boy for every girl, while hits like Tomorrow and Pure Massacre anchored the band as saviours of Australia’s rock music scene.

From the ages of 11 to 18 I was completely obsessed with silverchair and Daniel Johns. This resulted in my entire youth being wasted on teenybopper magazines, rock music magazines, fan club merchandise and thousands of hours trawling the internet for photos and gossip.

It felt like I grew up with the band, from memorising the lyrics of the heavy and angry Freak Show at age 11, to wallowing in the anorexic depression of Neon Ballroom at age 13 (Johns was suffering from anorexia at the time of producing the album), finally stopping at Diorama at age 16 – I recall not even liking this one.

An older silverchair during Young Modern days in 2007

Finally, Young Modern was released in 2007 and the gift from my elder sister was left sitting at home unplayed. I was studying abroad in the UK and began to embrace British indie, electro-pop and ambience.

I’d almost completely forgotten about silverchair – also Daniel Johns marrying Natalie Imbruglia in 2003 meant I went into boycott mode (because I was so in love with him of course). They divorced in 2008. Also, Johns cut his hair, grew a ‘tache and looked more and more like Adolf Hitler (ack!)

But things have changed again. I have rediscovered my love for silverchair’s music, particularly from the Young Modern album. The rhythms are simple, mature and incomparable to any other band I’ve heard. I dare say this is their best album to date, and there’s no denying that Johns is a musical genius.

I have also learnt to differentiate the man from the music. Though the man maketh the music, a true fan should always be about the music.


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