ROCK sulverchalr Glasgow: The Garage, Thu 8 Apr.
Dismissed initially by the media and even Courtney Love as fifteen-year- old Nirvana-wannabes, Australia’s silverchair (vocalist Daniel Johns, bassist Chris Joannou and drummer Ben Gillies) have risen from embryonic schoolboy phenomenon to million-selling rock band within four years. Neon Ballroom, their third album, has just been released, debuting at Number One down under and entering charts around the world.
Johns’ troubled lyrics are well documented, acting as a focus for many of the band’s loyal fans. Heartfelt and somewhat intense, he writes from personal experience about eating disorders, animal experimentation and the pressures of fame. Coming from the likes of Radiohead, Smashing Pumpkins or the Manics, such complaint rock has a whiff of mid-life crisis to it. But, Johns’ youthful take on the genre has struck a chord among his record-buying peers. As Kurt Cobain once howled, teenage angst has paid off well.
’Dan has his good and bad days, it just so happens that he writes mainly when he's down,’ says Chris Joannou. 'But he’s happy a lot of
Under neon loneliness: silverchair
the time! Dan gives away a lot of himself in his songs. It’s useful for him to write things down.’
To get them out of his head? ‘Yeah. After we'd finished touring the last album, Daniel spent a lot of time on his own writing poems which became the lyrics for Neon Ballroom'.
Known as much for Johns’ emotive lyrics as they are for their tight Pearl Jam-esque riff-heavy blend of rock, silverchair draw on a diverse range of influences.
’I listen to blues and basic rock ’n' roll bands like Free, Ben likes dance stuff like Crystal Method and Dan’s currently listening to Fugazi,’ explains Joannou. ’The idea behind the album was to have lots of different
sounds fused together with the new (Neon) and the old (Ballroom), classical with rock, combining unusual instruments with technology.’
One of the noteworthy guests on the album is pianist David Helfgott, (the subject of the film Shine) who features on the album opener, ’Emotion Sickness’. 'The idea was to have a classical piano, but kinda manic,’ reveals loannou.
Playing in Glasgow for the first time since their 1995 Scottish debut at King Tut’s, what can people expect from silverchair? Joannou laughs: ’Loads of really loud rock music and a lot of jumping around!’
Smells like teen spirit? You decide. (Mandy Lee)
Every ortnight we turn the spotlight on a new act who are doing good stuff. This issue: Billy Mahonie.
Who? Billy Mahonie are exponents of a newly corned musical genre known to the mu5ic press as 'feedback fellatio’. You mean they suck? Not according to Arab Strap, who asked the instrumental four-piece to support them at their London Royal Festival Hall gig. 'It was a Wicked expenence,’ says BM drummer, Howard Monk. 'Me and the gunarist Gav work round the corner, so we just wandered over after
40 THE lIST l—lSApr 1999
Aural sex: Billy Mahonie
work, had a spliff, played at the Queen Elizabeth Hall, and then went home Like yOu do!’
What, no wild antics with Falkirk's incorrigible Strap leading the impressionable new boys astray? Nope. Monk reckons Aidan came off stage, said 'nice one', shook their hands and went back to his hotel to read a book.
Very sensible. But surely not having a singer isn’t such a smart move? We got a problem With people saying things that don‘t need to be said, claiming to be poets and haying some kind of meaning which is bollocks,’ grumbles
i C. *. .
MOnk. ’We played a gig with this band once, they were a little bit Bon Jovr -» guys With big chests, This record company guy approached us alter, said he managed a few acts an R&B singer who was really big in Italy and a c0uple of stadium rock acts. He thought if only we had a fucked up female vocalist, we could be contenders.’
It’s safe to assume that Billy Mahonie don't much sound like Hole, then? They are more often compared to 'post rock' types Mogwai and TortOise, ’I suppose it's helpful. If they were saying we sounded like the Manic Street Preachers, I'd be worried‘. Nor is Monk too concerned at being likened to Telewslon stuck in a washing machine, though he claims Billy Mahonie are more rock 'n' roll than experimental. Certainly, their s0und is dramatic enough for Head, Pl Harvey's producer, to have worked on their debut LP, which is due out in June on Too Pure. Not to be confused with? Billie, Billy Brernner, a septuagenarian lrish folk singer, Pogue Malione, Sam Malone (Rodger Evans)
Bil/y Mahonie play With Ganger at Cas Rock, Edinburgh, Fri 2 Apr, Nice ’n’ Sleazy, Glasgow, Sat 3 Apr
FOLK Shoots and Roots
Edinburgh: The Pleasance, Thu l—Sun 4 Apr. Bag 0’ Cats play Fri 2 Apr; Beginish play Sat 3 Apr.
Even when Paul O' Shaughnessy played fiddle in top Irish band, Altan, he held down a day job. That way, he was playing his music for love, not a wage. You can hear that heart and intensity in the beautiful music of his new group, Beginish, when they arrive in Edinburgh as the highlight of this year's Shoots and Roots folk festival.
Beginish ('small island‘ in Gaelic) is the name of one of the scatter of Blasket islands that lie west of the Dingle peninsula, close to the home of the band's brilliant accordionist and singer, Brendan Begley. The name is symbolic of a strong influence on the band’s musrc -— the celebrated sounds of County Kerry.
'Our music ties together Kerry and Donegal, which are phySically far apart, but so alike in their roughness and remoteness,’ says 0’ Shaughnessy. who learned his instrument at his mother's knee. Although born in Scotland, she lived in Donegal.
’But we play other music too,’ he continues. 'We're not biased. Not if it's a good tune. We try not to play too fast though — it's too easy to do that, because you can — but it's a trap.’
No one could ever accuse these bOyS of playing too slowly, however, or lacking energy. Or, for that matter, lacking lyrlClSlTl If you need conVincing, just listen to flute player Paul McGratten play the late Seamus Ennis's favourite air, 'Easter Snow'. It’s a simple, haunting, hymn-like tune that is, hopefully, not an omen for the weekend.
Fellow flautist Zoltan luhasz hails from Budapest and Will be joming the eclectic Bag 0' Cats in their Shoots and Roots performance. The group can count among their numbers such diverse figures as swing jazzer Dick Lee, omni-percussionist Rick Bamford, ex-Old Blind Dog reedsman Fraser Fifield, Scottish Ballet bassist Rick Standley, and manditar (a mandola and sitar hybrid) maestro Nigel Richard. Their's will be, beyond a shadow of a doubt, the least predictable musical experience of the four day festival, which attracts guests from Scandinawa, Hungary, Ireland, Scotland and the States. (Norman Chalmers) ta See Folk listings, page 52 for full Shoots and Roots details.
i \ ‘l is, f Shooting from the hip: Beginish