Photo by Nabil Elderkin
Dixon: Hi Daniel how are you?
Daniel: I'm good thanks, how are you?
I'm super good. Thanks a lot for taking the time to talk to us.
Not a problem man.
Where are you right now, where did I catch you at?
I am sitting at a hotel in Sydney.
Oh good and how has the tour been going for you?
Awesome. We actually haven't really done anything overly extensive yet. We did a short tour of Australia for about 3 weeks and I thin that the next tour we do will be a tour of the states.
I counted about 60 shows so the next 3 months are going to be quite a bit of a ride for you. You guys are going all over the world from the United States, Canada, over to the UK, over to Wales.
Yeah I think we are covering the globe.
Do you have the energy for it? Do you have more energy now than you did when you were a teen?
I don't know if I have more energy now. I definitely have enough energy but when I was a teenager I was probably on medication.
Young Modern is your first album in 5 years and I have been told it is already certified double platinum. First of all congratulations and can you tell us about this album and what it means for you to be able to release this as a representation of where you are today?
I have no idea how it went to double platinum. I'm just really proud of every record and really proud of the songs. In my opinion it's probably the first record that Silverchair has done that it feels like the kind of record that I would really like if someone else made it.
You have called your first album "Naiveté", the second one was about anger, the third one was about depression and the last one was escapism. What would you call this album?
I think the going term is acceptance which we really feel like on this record we have to embrace and accept everything that has happened to us instead of avoiding things or trying not to do things like not trying to be anything we're not and just be ourselves and we really want to give people the chance to hear this record.
So basically having been on top of the world for so long and having sold so many records tell us about the pressure to like you say be true to yourself vs. re-inventing yourself and making incredibly catchy songs like "Young Modern Station" and the pressure to be great?
I don't know, we just really want to be a really good band and we want to keep playing music and keep writing songs. We want to get over to America and we feel like we are playing to prove and I just get this feeling that maybe it's the right time to do something over there with our music.
So let's talk about the art cover and the creative that you elected to use on this, the Kandinsky style art with the clean straight lines and the basic colors. This cover for Young Modern was also employed for the "Reflections of a Sound" video. Can you tell us about your part in the creative process and what that all represents?
The album was always entitled Young Modern kind of from conception but it was a nickname the band had given me when and I just referenced it once in the songs and after I referenced it in the song and I thought it was a really good 2 words and that was the album title. With the artwork we were just looking for something hat was once perceived as modern and could be re-modernized. Like to get some like Mondrian art which is incredibly modern to modernists and then make it look like it has all gone through a computer program and really digitalize it and make it look even more modern.
You've added a third element to it and it is a new take on the style. I think you have succeeded, it looks great.
Yeah thanks man.
So what about the video that you guys have done. How much of the creative process does the band play in the process of the YouTube release of the "Reflections of a Sound" video?
We've never really been the kind of band that sits around and conceptualizes or anything. All I think about is music and I think I just basically look for good people and people who have good treatments and good ideas and I feel I can contribute and I can say it shouldn't be this piece of art it should be this piece of art or stuff like that. But I don't like taking credit for other people's stuff. Basically all I did was come in and say this is how I think we should do it and referenced my favorite artist and my favorite period of art. We are just really excited about the concept and we wanted to get involved that way and we just wanted to reference some really nice pieces of art and some nice art movements and also have fun in the process and not have to do rock performance clips.
I'm sure that people would be interested in knowing where you are drawing inspiration form lyrically when you are creating the lyrics in your songs.
Just life but I don't really know where I draw inspiration from to tell you the truth. I usually try and write music first and I'm usually trying to capture a certain feeling. If I feel a certain way or I see someone or something that looks like they feel a certain way I try to capture it musically. It's like an opportunity to catch tat feeling or emotion. And then when I write lyrics I very rarely sit down and decide what I'm going to write a song about. I just sit down and I just start writing and I try and make everyone think that I really know what I was talking about but actually I have a vague idea and start writing and then after I can usually find exactly what it was that was pouring out of my subconscious.
So it's kind of like a stream of consciousness thing going on or an automatic writing kind of vibe...
Yeah exactly I'm not a lyricist that has an idea and then follows it. I just like the sound of words and I like the idea of painting pictures with words. The most important thing to me is the feeling as opposed to how literal it is.
Has the writing process for you changed? Obviously the music has evolved and changed but has the process of sitting down and perhaps during your Frogstomp days you probably would have written that on an electric guitar, very heavily distorted. Do you sit down at an acoustic guitar or sit down to a piano or say rock up your Logic or Acid (Software)?
It's usually always different. The last record I wrote I did mostly on the piano. This record I really wanted to get back to writing on a guitar and I really wanted to focus on sounding like a band again. So I write most of the stuff on the acoustic guitar and little sections here and there on the road on pianos and little bass lines but the majority this time was written on the acoustic guitar.
How has the relationship with your band mates evolved over the past little while? I mean you guys have been at it for so long, tell us how you stay true to the band and also stay friends while you have been together for so long?
I don't really know why we get on, we just always seem to have got on well. We've definitely have difficulty for me for a while when I was sick and wasn't doing well. We never fought, we never had any fights or arguments or anything but we literally stopped speaking. So it's not smooth sailing the whole way but it feels like we're a lot closer now than we ever were.
Back in the day could you ever project yourself into the future and imagine what you would have been doing at this time and do you think you are doing what you projected back then?
I wouldn't have known what kind of music I was going to be making but I always expected to be still playing music. Even since I was a little kid, 5 or 6 years old, I just assumed I was going to be a songwriter in a band and I never had a plan B. I wouldn't have guessed the music or how we were going to do it but I knew I would be in a band and always knew that I would be writing music.
So we've got a couple of questions that we ask everybody and he first one is which of the following experiences have you had: have you seen the face of God, have you had an alien encounter or have you seen a ghost?
Ah shit. I don't think I've seen the face of God. I actually have seen a ghost. There you go, I forgot that I have but I have.
Was it exciting or scary?
It was pretty scary. I was about 18 and I was standing in a back room and it was dark and all the lights were off in the house and there was one light sitting kind of central in the room and it wasn't like a light bulb or anything it was like a little miniature sun and then a couple little things started shaking and the knives fell off the knife rack and fell on the ground and I ran out of the house and called my nana who was in Queens and said I'm not going back in there, that house is really weird.
Yeah I'm always telling guys don't be that guy. Don't stick around in the house when knives start falling off counters and shit is flying in the air.
No way, I was out of there. I was like a scared cat.
That's a good reaction. And the last question is what would surprise people most to learn about Daniel Johns or Silverchair?
I don't really know what people expect so I don't know what would surprise people. Ben and Chris aren't in a gay relationship.
There you go.
I think a lot of people expect them to be but they are not.
Interview by: Dixon Christie, PunkTV.ca