Silverchair

Silent Uproar: Hey, Chris.

Chris Joannou: Hey, how are you doing?

SU: Pretty good.

SU: I'm sure you don't know remember this now, but we talked to you about five years ago.

Chris: Really?

SU: Yeah. We did an interview back in July 2002 for Diorama.

Chris: Face to face or over the phone?

SU: It was on the phone. So, it's great to talk to you again.

Chris: Cool, man.

SU: Back in 2002, you guys were on a bit of a hiatus, as Daniel was trying to heal from his arthritis. Looking back, do you feel like that period hurt the success of that record at all?

Chris: It's just one of those things that just couldn't be helped. It's hard to tell. I guess, a lot of people probably didn't get a chance to hear it because they didn't get the opportunity to get out and play a lot of shows and promote it as much as they probably could have. That's just how it goes sometimes. Now that Young Modern has been released, there are a lot of people who are going back and discovering it, which is pretty cool.

SU: There's been a lot of talk about your move to release this album yourselves or at least to start working on this album yourselves -- instead of working with a major to start with. What lead to that decision?

Chris: We did have the opportunity to release Diorama ourselves and we didn't have a deal at the time either. It just seemed to make sense. We wanted to make the records we really wanted to make. The record companies are just doing their job by putting their two cents in, but it's definitely worthwhile to make an album and basically make no compromises, really. In the end, we've to come out with an album that we all love very much.

SU: Is the choice of label a big deal to you guys since you already funded it yourselves at that point or did you just need somebody to help with the marketing and distribution?

Chris: Definitely. Once you got started, it's still very important to find the right people that are actually passionate about working that part of the album for you. I think that's always very important.

SU: In terms of the production on the album, it seems like you pulled together everybody from your past that you worked with: Nick, David and Van Dyke Parks, all kind of doing their own thing.

Chris: Yeah, it worked out that way. There's no one that we worked with on this record that we hadn't worked with before, which is really cool. There's no need to work through and try to strike up a friendship with someone. We already had that built with the two people we were working with. It's a really cool process.

SU: Do each of those people bring something different to the process or do they all kind of have songs that they worked on specifically?

Chris: Yeah, Nick for example. He really made the last record with Tambalane. He's really good at capturing that live performance in the studio and that's really something we were looking for on this album. It was definitely one of the things we felt Nick could bring to the table.

SU: Having had your hand in some production work of your own now, I know that you produced a couple of bands. Did you have any production in this album at all?

Chris: No. Not this time around.

SU: Do you have any other production gigs lined up? Any other bands you are working with?

Chris: Not as of yet. We're kind of focusing on promoting this album and we're constantly touring at the moment. Possibly, later on down the track when we get some free time and time off, I'll definitely delve into some more producing with other people for sure. I really enjoyed it.

SU: I think I asked you last time, if Silverchair ended, what would you want to do? That's one of the things you mentioned as something you would want to do more of in the future.

Chris: Yeah, absolutely.

SU: I know you guys have played a lot of festivals in your career. How was the Rock in Rio festival in Brazil, with 250,000 people attendance?

Chris: Yeah. That was by far one of the most amazing experiences ever. People ask you to describe that sometimes and words can't describe it. I remember walking out onstage for the first song -- we started out with the old song. I was pretty much numb to everything for at least the first ten minutes, because it was just hard to fathom that many people in one area standing in front of you.

You could see all the way to the back and they're just like ants. South Americans are passionate about their music and are very passionate people in general. They just go berserk. It's unreal.

SU: You guys recently just played in Lollapalooza here in the US last month?

Chris: That was awesome and probably one of the best shows of the tour for us. A huge festival in a massive park in the middle of a beautiful city like that, you can't really go wrong.

SU: Are you familiar with Tenacious D?

Chris: Yeah. Yeah.

SU: Have you heard that those guys say that Silverchair currently holds The Pick of Destiny?

Chris: We certainly do. [laughs] That's what they say.

SU: Is that just a nod to you guys or is there some history behind that?

Chris: I don't know. I just woke up one morning and had a text message from a friend to check out a magazine where it said that we were all in The Pick of Destiny. I think, that's something that we worked very hard for over the last few years and we are honored to be holding The Pick of Destiny.

SU: Absolutely.

Chris: We're not sure who we are going to pass it on to yet, though. [laughs]

SU: Obviously since your last release, the band has matured musically as well as, I'm sure, personally. Do you think this kind of noticeable change is due to the fact that you were away for four or five years or is it just a natural progression?

Chris: I think so. A lot of it too is like the time before when Diorama didn't really get the exposure that we felt that it deserved. I think, definitely on that album, though, there is a huge difference in Dan's songwriting. If we were to go back and really put the pieces together and listen to them one by one, it would seem like a steady progression.

Especially in the States, because we were absent from there for quite a few years, to come straight out with Young Modern after all these years -- a lot of people hadn't heard previous stuff. It does seem like a pretty big jump, but to us, it just seems like a natural progression.

SU: I think to me the most noticeable difference is that Diorama seemed really complex at the time.

Chris: Yeah.

SU: Not that it took away from the songs, but just that there was a lot packed in there.

Chris: Yeah, there was a lot going on. The string arrangements and all that sort of stuff were monstrous.

SU: Right, and with the new album, it feels like there's still a lot of complexity there. But, it's a more comfortable level of complexity.

Chris: Absolutely. It seems as though it's been simplified, but it really hasn't. It's hard to explain. At the core of this album what we were really trying to achieve at first, before we started adding anything, was in the recording process.

Basically me, Ben, Dan and Paul set up in a room and we kept all the original instrumentation -- bass, drums, keys and rhythm guitars were all kept in -- so we really wanted to start with a real live kind of feel.

SU: Right.

Chris: And then everything just branches off the top, with Van Dyke's arrangements and extra guitar parts and keys things like that.

SU: In terms of the album art, it's obviously inspired by the artist Mondrian. Is that based off the title of "modern" or is it more to that kind of influence?

Chris: No, our management company came up with the rough concept, and then a guy that we know here in Sydney worked it up to that point. We had plenty of other ways we were going to go down as well, but that one just seemed completely apt for what we were going for. It just seemed to work the best.

SU: It just seems to fit.

Chris: Yeah, absolutely.

SU: There again, it's kind of that complexity, yet just kind of comfortable complexities. Well, obviously you guys have been successful with each album you've released. Has the acclaim surrounding Young Modern and just kind of being out there on the road again made you want to record another record sooner -- or does it just kind of come when it's ready?

Chris: It'll definitely come when it's ready, but we've been talking about definitely wanting a longer break between this one and the next one. We'll probably be touring for the next six to twelve months at least, anyway -- I don't know how long. It took us two years from start to finish with Young Modern. Hopefully, there'll be another one out in a couple of years.

SU: And it always seems almost rude to being asking about the next album when you just put one out. But, usually the way it works is you have been working on it for a couple of years, so a lot of times the song ideas for new stuff are already there by the time the thing finally gets out.

Chris: Yeah, no, we haven't even played any new stuff yet.

SU: Will there be any more US touring, other than these rescheduled dates in November?

Chris: Yeah, absolutely. I think we're planning on kind of hanging in the States from early November to just before Christmas or something. We're not a hundred percent sure exactly where we're going, but we're definitely going to be there for another four weeks before Christmas. I guess, check our tour page for the accurate dates. That's what we do. We seem to find more info on there than we do in here. [laughs]

SU: Hey, whatever works. Well, how did the Across the Great Divide Tour -- I guess, you actually started that a day or two ago -- how did that whole tour come about?

Chris: Yeah, that came about, I guess, years ago, talking with Powderfinger -- you know, it'd be fun to tour with each other. I guess, it took a while. The stars weren't really lined up. They had a record out and we didn't, or we had a record out and they didn't. It kind of worked out perfect this year; we both put records out at the same time. Yeah, it just seemed like a different way of touring Australia. I mean, we both could have gone out and done our own thing, but it kind of makes it a bit more special for the people. It gives us the chance to go to a lot of other places we probably couldn't have gone. We're doing a lot of regional shows in Australia, which is really cool.

SU: Right. How do you compare touring, I mean, from what I understand, touring in Australia versus touring in Europe versus touring in the US are three very different things in terms of just population density and all that kind of things. How does that compare?

Chris: I guess, the States, for one, is such a big country and spread out so far. And also, in America, and especially in Europe also, you can get on the bus after a gig and just drive four hours, and pull up and do another show the next day, where in Australia, you can't really. I guess, the population thing -- the towns are pretty small in between. I guess also, too, one thing in Europe is the culture. You can cross the nearest border in just one long day drive, and the culture and all that sort of stuff dramatically changes. You go to bed one night in an English speaking country, and you wake up the next morning, and you're in some foreign country where no one understands a word you're saying.

SU: Why do you think that bands like your tourmates Powderfinger and one of my favorite Australian bands, Regurgitator, why do you think they've never really made it in the US or had a high level of success in the U.S.?

Chris: I'm not sure, to be honest. I mean, I don't know. I haven't got an answer for that. I guess, it's one of those things that's really left for the people. If you knew how to do it, I guess everyone would be doing it. I guess, it's just left up to the people.

SU: Right. I guess it's just always seemed strange to be, because they're both, I feel, great bands.

Chris: Yeah, Regurgitator is one of my all-time favorite Aussie bands for sure.

SU: I guess, it's more of a question of why do you think you guys have been able to have success not only in Australia, but really across the world. People can relate to the music and are impressed by the music all over the world.

Chris: Yeah, I don't know. Well, one thing we've always been pretty conscious about, every album's been really quite different. I think, the main reason is we'd probably just get bored if we kept repeating ourselves, but we've really pushed ourselves on each album, especially Dan with his songwriting, to keep pushing the boundaries with ourselves. And also, with the listeners as well, I think a lot of people underestimate the listeners, in them wanting a bit of a challenge within the music as well, with new things to listen to. So, yeah, I don't know exactly the reason why, but we're definitely enjoying the response so far in America. It's been really overwhelming, actually, to be out of the picture for that long, and then for the album to be doing what it's doing.

SU: Right. I think, it just shows the quality of what you guys are making. It's definitely a testament to the quality of the music.

Chris: Cheers!

SU: I think, I read something about the tour kind of offsetting your carbon footprint?

Chris: Yeah, I guess they worked it out, with all the generators and everything, that we're contributing to the earth's pollution, and there's a wind farm over in western Australia that we bought some carbon credits at. We work out what we're going to put out and they regenerate it with wind power and put it back into the grid for us.

SU: That's great, that's awesome. Obviously, you guys have a hand in doing that, in setting that up. Is that something you feel passionate about?

Chris: I think, it's almost like, anything you can do for the environment these days, to me, it's starting to become second nature. You know, I don't know, it's almost like doing those kind of things aren't becoming such a big deal anymore, because it is becoming second nature. Wherever you can do anything for the environment you should, whether it's just at home, recycling whatever you can recycle, to turning light switches off, to buying carbon credits on tours that are going to suck a lot of power out of the grid. I think, just on certain levels, it just becomes second nature.

SU: Which is great. It's becoming an responsibility to do things like that.

Chris: Yeah, we're all responsible for it.

SU: The last thing I'll ask you - I asked you five years ago what's next for the band, and then you were just kind of focused on getting back on the road, once Daniel got well. So, now that you're on the road, probably more then you'd like to be, and got another successful album out, what do you think is next for the band?

Chris: Well, we know we've got a bit more touring to do next year. There's talk of heading back to the States again to do another tour and get to a lot of places we didn't get to on this first time around. And through Europe also. And then start focusing on another record. I guess, we'll have a little break in between, but we're all really enjoying playing live again, which is really good. I think we were all a little bit tired and over it for a while there, I think. I guess we're enjoying it more so now than we have in a long time. I don't know, I guess we'll just keep on trucking on.

Sep 10 2007