It’s been 20 years since Silverchair had their big break from winning a nationwide talent search through SBS and now Daniel Johns, frontman of the Australian rock band (who announced an indefinite hiatus over a year ago), has become the mentor for a new wave of up-and-coming young musicians.
Having already composed a new symphonic instrumental for an ad campaign for the airline company, Johns has aided Qantas once again with providing a day’s worth of mentorship to the winners of the Qantas Spirit Of Youth Australia (SOYA) awards.
As News Ltd reports, the prime SOYA winner is Sydney’s Caitlin Park, who along with runners-up, the delicate musical styling of Melbourne’s Hayden Calnin and songwriting maverick Courtney Barnett, scored a day’s workshop with the award-winning Johns.
Daniel Johns admits though, that he’s still a student. “I’ve never done something like this before,” he said, “but I find it really inspiring. I feel like I am the one being educated.”
The competition, which saw Calnin and Barnett flying to Sydney to join Park in yesterday’s workshop, also had producer Lee Groves, whose work features on albums from Janet Jackson to Bertie Blackman, on hand for guidance.
According to Park, workshops like these helped validate the choice of making music a career. “The music industry in Australia is flooded with really amazing artists and it is hard to get your stuff out there,” she said. “So independent artists enter things like SOYA to see if what you are doing is worthwhile, if you should continue to do it.”
Johns’ main advice was stressing to his charges to let others from outside the music industry to listen to their work to gain “a fresh perspective.”
“I don’t think anyone has the right to comment on someone else’s art unless they are asked,” said Johns. “I love asking people who aren’t musicians, like surfer friends, to hear music through their ears.”
Johns, who scored ‘Atlas’, the new theme for Qantas, has also been working on his own solo project, and a new collaborative album with Empire of the Sun/Pnau/Cirque du Soleil show composer Luke Steele.“I’ve never done something like this before… but I find it really inspiring. I feel like I am the one being educated.”
Meanwhile the other members of Silverchair are keeping themselves busy, with bassist Chris Joannou working on brewing his own line of boutique beer, while Ben Gillies has turned drummer to frontman, recently unveiling his new band, Bento, and their debut album, Diamond Days.
Gillies also hinted that despite the new musical ventures, that a reunion and new album release from Silverchair sometime in the future was not out of the question.
In a forthcoming interview with Tone Deaf, Gillies says of the Newcastle-born band: “We could have come out with an album that we weren’t happy with and then break up legitimately only to turn around and say ‘oh well, that was a mistake’, but we’re all happy where we are so one day, one day it will happen.”
“We started working on a record and it definitely felt like we hit a bit of a brick wall and it was kind of like we just need a bit of distance from it to move forward,” he explained.
As Gillies continues to work on his new “baby”, Daniel Johns has been announced on the bill for Adelaide Festival 2013, performing alongside celebrated producer, Van Dyke Parks, for a career-spanning retrospective of the famed arranger and composers’ work at Thebarton Theatre on March 8th.
Van Dyke Parks helped with some of the production of Silverchair’s 2002 album, Diorama (most notably on the orchestral sweep of ‘Across The Night’ and ‘Tuna In the Brine’).