Interview by Natalie K.
December 11, 2007
Estrella: Can you please state your name and what you do in the band?
Ben: My name is Benjamin David Gillies, and I am the drummer for Silverchair.
Estrella: I know you guys have been touring the US for half of 07; do you have any shows that stand out?
Ben: For some reason the San Diego show we had thought in our minds stands out to be particularly great. The one in New Orleans was cool. We have been touring for so long that we have reached a kind of standard that is pretty high and it is hard to have one stick out. But San Diego from what I can remember was pretty special.
Estrella: What makes one show stand out more than others?
Ben: I think it is a combination of a lot of things. The sound is really important, and obviously our performance. We are pretty critical on ourselves, even if there is a little mistake it feels like it could have been better. And the crowd plays a huge part, like when the audience isn’t into it then it is hard for us to get inspired as well. But if it feels like we are all having a big party together and everyone come along and it sounds good, and we are playing good then generally it is a pretty good recipe for a pretty fun night.
Estrella: Do you have any plans to tour the US in 2008?
Ben: Yeah, we are going home in about a week for Christmas and New Years in Australia just so we can re-charge the batters. Then we are doing a tour in Australia for a couple of weeks. Then the plan is to come back here in March and keep touring on this record. Nothing has been locked in at the moment.
Estrella: Is there any talk of who you are going to tour with yet?
Ben: There have been a couple of possibilities but nothing has kind of worked out yet so it is up to management to sort out who we are going to go out with.
Estrella: During your bands hiatus did you ever think that you all might not make music as a band again?
Ben: Yeah, I think there have been moments throughout our career that we thought maybe Silverchair isn’t something we want to keep doing. We were thrust into the spotlight at such an early age, but we were really ambitious as kids but it was almost like we didn’t have the choice. We started this thing and we kind of had to keep doing it. We didn’t really have any kind of perspective either, that is all we have done from young kids that we didn’t really have any life experiences. I think definitely during the hiatus we questioned it. I think it was that big break and us all going off and doing other projects, like Daniel and I were in other bands and Chris was doing production. It was that hiatus and other experiences that actually made us realize how much we love Silverchair, and how special it is. I think there were definitely moments we questioned it but I think in hindsight it was the best thing that we did.
Estrella: What made you guys sign with Warner Music Groups Independent label for this 5th album?
Ben: Every time you sign with a record company you just hope they are on the same page, have the same vision, and going toward the same goal. I think those guys really got the band and they understand we are not the kind of band that does the same thing over and over again. That was the problem we have had before, people would sign us and they just want us to keep putting out Frogstomp. That is just not what we are. One of the main guys that works at our label, “Steve Burgan” had an on going relationship and it was nice to have a connection there with somebody. Even when we were not signed with Epic, and we didn’t have anything to do with it, our manager kept in contact with him and we really got along with him. It seemed like the most natural place to be.
Estrella: How was it decided that “Straight Lines” was going to be the first single off of Young Modern?
Ben: I think it was the obvious choice, even when it was recorded and we all heard the demo we all agreed that would be the first single. It seems like the best song as an invitation for people to come and listen to young modern and re-discover the band. It was not a hard decision at all.
Estrella: What was the recording process like for Young Modern?
Ben: It is a bit of an international record, it has been around. We started rehearsing, but we really wanted to get out of our home town so we could diverse ourselves and really live and breathe the music. Then we went to Sydney to start pre-production and to keep working the songs out.
Then we recorded the main rhythm tracks in LA, it was a little studio called Seedy Underbelly, and we did some other tracks there with guitar, bass and a few vocals. After that Dan went to Prague and did the string arrangements on Young Modern, and also he did it on Diorama, our previous album.
Then it went to New Castle where Dan had to weed out the string arrangements because it was so insane, there was so much stuff it was hard to decipher anything. He had to go through it and tidy it up a bit. Then it was mixed in Toronto, Canada. So it has been all over, believe me. It was a pretty long process, but we had some pretty big breaks in-between and we did some shows scattered around there as well. It was probably the biggest process we have ever been through to make a record.
Estrella: How many songs did you guys have written for the album that did not make the cut?
Ben: I think Dan wrote about 40 or 50 songs. Not all of them were finished or maybe they were, but I am pretty sure they were not. When we went in the studio we only recorded 14 or 15 so there was a pretty big cut that went on.
Estrella: Since you guys do have 5 albums worth of songs, how do you usually decide what to play during a concert?
Ben: We are actually pretty stubborn when it comes to a lot of shows; we do a bit from each record I guess. We don’t want to be on stage going through the motions just hating it. It would also ruin it for the audience with us just going through the motions, they could get bored. When we write a set list we generally try to write it so we are having a good time or we are having fun on stage. It might not include some of the hits you might call it that people want to hear. We figured if we are up on stage, being honest and having a good time it reflexes to the audience. It seems to be working so far. I am sure there are some Frogstomp purists that walk out of there going, ‘those guys they should have done more’. I think the majority of the people walk out going, ‘that was really fun’.
Estrella: What is one of your favorite lines in one of your songs?
Ben: “Breathing through a hole in my lungs” is pretty cool. It’s the first line in “Straight Lines”.
Estrella: Is there any song you never get sick of hearing?
Ben: Yeah, “Custard Pie” by Led Zeppelin.
Estrella: What is something you have always wanted to do but not done yet?
Ben: I don’t know we have done a lot of stuff. I honestly think I have done it already; I just want to keep doing everything I have already done continuously.
Estrella: Is there anything that you would want to re-do?
Dan: I would love to play Rock in Rio again. We played to 250,000 people. That was pretty cool; I would love to do that again.
Estrella: If you could see any band or artist perform any song live what would it be and why?
Dan: I don’t know. I guess Led Zeppelin would be the band, because they are arguably my favorite band. But with Jason Bonham on drums. Maybe to see Led Zeppelin play “Stairway to Heaven” although that is a bit of a cliché I don’t care I want to see them do it.
Estrella: Any final comments?
Dan: Get on the Silverchair train or you are going to miss it.