Ode to Daniel Johns

Friendship Fire starter: something that promotes friendship, encourages a catch up or strengthens a bond between two or more people.

I have been writing a post about Daniel Johns in my head ever since my dinner date on Friday night with a childhood friend

As our conversation danced from family to children, school days, horror movies and a shared love of chocolate…we somehow got on the to topic of music festivals. My friend is a journalist and is writing a piece on the Australian music festival Homebake, which runs in Sydney each December.

Homebake is a favourite festival on mine, and when it was introduced to the dinner conversation it prompted discussion on all the wonderful bands we had been fortunate to see play live.

We both recalled fond memories…but I became stuck on one in particular….when a three-piece band from Newcastle debut their new material from what would go on to be the Australia’s album of the year in 2007, Silverchair’s ‘ Young Modern’

One day music festivals like Homebake require commitment….commitment to the 12 hour music schedule, commitment to drinking ( what ever your poison, the line for fluid is always miles long!!) commitment to queuing in general…for food and the ghastly port-a-loos!!

These festivals start early, 11am and by sun down…  moods can swing either way…You either amp it up, or come crashing down….The thought of standing in a field with 20,000 other people for one more music act appears a task more taxing than climbing Everest.

2006 was one such year….Scorched by the summer sun….I was baked, dehydrated and thoughts of home were never far from my mind…But I had made a commitment to myself that I would stay for the final act…it was after all my all time favourite Australian rock group….the one, the only, Silverchair…

When did I fall for hard for the Newcastle trio?….It was in 2002 with the release of their 4th studio album, Diorama.

I’m watching you, watch over me

And I got

The greatest view from here

 The Greatest View, Diorama, 2003

Their music prior to this album had never captivated me….I regarded it is loud, angry teenage boy music….Kind of like my younger brother’s band ‘ Rigamortis’…only much more successful!!

Diorama signified a shift. Their music became melodic and layered. The lead singer, Daniel John’s voice, had softened, the anger was gone…the lyrics too had begun to diversify…the band had grown up.

Rolling Stones Magazine called Diorama ‘ One of the boldest musical statements ever made by an Australian Rock Band’

I loved them for it….and it was then and there I became a fan…not of the die-hard variety, I simply admired from afar the trio’s ability to re-invent themselves, to bring about change when really no one had asked for it. There old sound was what had made them a success…this change of direction was a huge risk, a big leap of faith… I was on board.

‘Cause what lies beneath the clouds

Is an altered perception and I’ll pay for  sanity

But sanity don’t come  cheap

Luv Your Life, Diorama, 2012

Homebake 2006 and Daniel John, Ben Gilles and Chris Joannau took to the stage at 9pm. The atmosphere was electricSilverchair had not released new material or been together on stage for what seemed an eternity….it was here and now that they would debut their new sound.

5 years had passed since the release of Diorama…everyone in the crown waited in anticipation for a hint of the musical direction the band would take them during their 45 minute set.

And then the music started….and  true to the Silverchair ethos, it was new, progressive and undeniably unique. John’s had never appeared so sure of himself, of his lyrics or the raw power of his voice.

Recalling that night 6 years ago, words fail me….but strong feelings emerge. The overall excitement of being caught up in a moment, witnessing something ground breaking and redefining.

On stage, were a band, who, yet again were prepared to take a huge risk, another musical shift. As they threw caution to the wind, the audience did too….20,000 people enjoying the dawn of something new.

I remember sounds…the saxophone, the piano, and John’s voice, strong, powerful and the surge of emotion that came over me when I heard ‘ Straight Lines’ for the first time….

I love Silverchair and am a huge fan of Daniel John’s.

I love what the band accomplished, for the musical landscape they provide their audience and their commitment to reinvention time and time again. Though the band may have called it a day in 2011…for me, the music plays on…

I admire Daniel John’s from afar….his musical sensibility, his raw talent and the suffering he has endured as a result of his art.

I admire his commitment to his craft, his dedication and risk taking….he is a modern day musical prodigy.

I admire John’s for his ability to overcome illness, his battles with depression and auto immune disease….His strength and resilience in the face of adversity resonates with me.

And lastly, I find him incredibly sexy, I think anyone who is passionate is sexy.


Daniel John of Newcastle New South Wales, patron saint of Australian Music Redefined.

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