Former Silverchair frontman Daniel Johns has opened up about his experience performing in the band around the time of their fourth studio album, 2002’s Diorama, and the moment he knew the band wouldn’t last.
Late last week, in a post shared to Instagram, Johns dove deep on Diorama, saying it “almost killed [him], quite literally” and touching on the fact the band’s US label and team told them it would be a difficult sell.
“The process of making Diorama was bittersweet. On one hand, I felt closer to creating a career defining album than I ever had and on the other hand there was an immense pressure for me to make a rock record that would slot neatly alongside the US radio rock format of the time which quite frankly sucked.”
In a second Instagram post, alongside a video of the band performing ‘The Greatest View’ live in Australia for the first time at the 2002 Big Day Out, Johns discusses the “unbearable pain” he felt in his joints, struggling to make it through the BDO shows.
“Looking back I think the anxiety of how the record would be received as well as the toll that my battle with anorexia had previously taken on my immune system combined to attack me. I was later diagnosed with reactive arthritis. A specialist advised me to said goodbye to my family every night before bed because he thought I might die.”
Johns goes on to discuss how his health struggles served as a catalyst for him realising that “much of the Silverchair machine” was “more of a business than a family,” saying he felt pressured to provide for the band’s team despite his condition.
“I felt personally responsible for people in our crew who couldn’t work because of my illness. While I was undergoing exhaustive treatment both here and abroad, I learned very quickly who loved me as a human being and who needed me a ‘performer’. I really needed a friend back then, instead I had disgruntled colleagues,” Johns wrote. “When my phone did ring it was usually someone asking if I was ready to tour again.
“Someone in the team even questioned whether I was sick at all and that ‘maybe I just didn’t want to promote the album and I should be forced to tour instead of being ‘mollycoddled’ at home’. Like who the fvck wanted Diorama to be more successful than I did? For years I was advised not to go deep about any of this but someone very wise once told me that ‘the truth is beautiful.’
“I’m not resentful, I understand everyone was under pressure and the band was putting food on many tables but this was too much to put on me. I was 22. After undergoing months of treatment in Los Angeles, I slowly recovered and word of mouth around Diorama would help it become our highest selling album at home. Take that Frogstomp. We played some magical ‘comeback’ shows. I’d gotten my life back but if I’m honest from this point I never really felt Silverchair would last.”
Next month, Johns will release his new album FutureNever – his first solo record since 2015’s Talk. It’s slated to arrive on Friday, 22nd April. The forthcoming album follows Who Is Daniel Johns? last year, a podcast which explored Johns’ rise with Silverchair, his struggles with mental (and physical) health as the band shot to superstar status, and the aftermath of the band’s dissolution.
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