Inspiration for the weekend…
My social media presence, in general, is pretty lackluster. I’ve never really been sure how to, or been comfortable with sharing myself as a person. I’ve been perfectly OK with putting “products” out there, but products take time, and in the interim it leads to a lot of empty space and half hearted posts, just hoping to take up space.
So, in the spirit of sharing I’m going to start posting every Friday about something that inspired or inspires me. Be it music, or movies, comedy, moments in life… Anything really. What it won’t be is me using long winded exposition to assume an answer to a question that nobody’s asking. I’m not posting things to inspire, I’m posting about things that have inspired.
With that short introduction out of the way, let’s get started. This week I’m going to post about one of, if not my biggest, musical inspiration, a little known, and currently defunct band from Australia called “Silverchair”, and more specifically it’s lead singer and main songwriter, Daniel Johns.
Most people know them for their first album, “Frogstomp”, released in 1995, which was basically “Grunge Light”. It was an album written by teenagers (14 & 15 to be exact), during the peak of the “grunge” phase in the mid 90’s. It’s by far their biggest selling album, and the song “Tomorrow” from that album still gets regular play on the radio.
I haven’t listened to that album in years, and that’s OK. As my tastes expanded I outgrew this album. It was important to me when I was in my early teens, and seeing as it was written by a bunch of angry teenagers, it only makes sense that I left it behind along with my angry teenage self.
Their second album, “Freak Show” is more angry teenage music written by angry teenagers. Less grungy and more nu-metaly. Again, it was something that meant something to me as an angry teenager, but it didn’t carry on into adulthood.
I think they felt the same, seeing as they last played their “big hit” in 1999 (and haven’t since) and only regularly played 1 or 2 songs off of either album.
So, what’s the point? Why am I talking about albums that don’t really hold a special place for me?
Because after that they went on to release 3 albums that to this day continue to inspire me.
So, now that we’ve gotten all the extraneous stuff out of the way, I guess I should explain why these albums in particular mean so much to me.
Fearlessness. There’s a lot of reasons I like… No. Why I love these albums, but this is the most important one. This is one you’ll probably see come up again and again as well. Since this is the first though I can attempt to wax eloquent without sounding like a broken record.
When I think about artists that inspire me, the ones that tend to stick with me are the ones that pushed themselves to be uncomfortable in their art. What do I mean by that? I mean the drive to not just walk, but run from the status quo. The need to move on from what you’ve done and see what you can do, that’s what inspires me. Each of these albums are drastically different from each other, to the point that I could tell you each one was a different band and there’s a good chance you would walk away believing me. I think that’s really fucking cool.
More importantly, each album was something that didn’t necessarily grab me right away. I had to intently listen to each of them multiple times before it all started to make sense. They didn’t sound like anything I would have most likely given a chance, but because the name “Silverchair” was attached to it I felt obligated to give it a chance. In the end this had the profound effect of opening me up to different types of music, to not only be OK with, but being driven to step outside my comfort zone.
Silverchair rewired my brain to not only accept, but to crave change.
Neon Ballroom – A dark, twisted, beautiful and discordant album. The manic piano arrangement on the opening track, played by David Helfgott is a fitting metaphor for the entire album. It’s a painfully dark, beautiful and manic album.
Diorama – The light on the other side of Neon Ballroom. Where Neon Ballroom was almost exclusively focused on darkness, this album was a complete 180. Purposefully avoiding much of the minor key emotions of the previous album, becoming even more grand and in some ways, camp in its orchestral arrangements. This album, for me, was much more difficult to understand than Neon Ballroom. I’ve always been drawn to “darker” music, and this defied those expectations, because while it had moments of darkness it was all rooted in something more positive. If you haven’t figured it out simply by the word count alone, this album probably did the most to subvert and change my expectations when it comes to music and art in general.
Young Modern – Sub-Sonic Pop, as Daniel Johns put it, with purpose and integrity (as I put it). There are no hints on this album of what Silverchair used to be, and in that sense it’s fitting that their last album is the most drastic departure.
Each album, especially the last two, could be considered a grand attempt at commercial suicide. To satisfy ones creativity, regardless of where it leads and who’s expectations it defies is the epitome of integrity.
There have been other projects from Daniel Johns “The Dissociative”, “I Can’t Believe It’s Not Rock”, solo records and recently a new band called “Dreams”, and they all share the same disregard of the status quo and that the last 3 Silverchair records shared.
I can only hope that in my own creative life that I can strive to be so daring.