Six years ago this week, Australian teen grunge trio Silverchair had just released Freak Show, the follow-up to their wildly successful debut, Frogstomp.
For Freak Show, the band stretched out with strings, extended sitar workouts and timpani drums. “The new album has some heavier kind of harder stuff on it,” frontman Daniel Johns said. “We’ve got two songs that have got strings, and one of the songs [’Petrol & Chlorine’] has got Indian-like music on it. … There’s these people in Sydney [and] one of the guys used to play with Ravi Shankar, who did some of the Beatles’ stuff. He has a little group who he does stuff with and we’ve got some of that on the song and it sounds pretty weird.”
And although he admitted the album might not have a guaranteed radio hit like Frogstomp’s “Tomorrow,” Johns wasn’t stressing.
“It doesn’t bother us whether we’re successful or not as long as we’re enjoying still playing and keep producing music and don’t run out of ideas,” he said. “As soon as we don’t like it anymore and it’s starting to annoy us and we can’t write any more songs, then we’ll just stop and go back to the beach.”
As the band geared up to tour in support of Freak Show, Johns and his bandmates were finding ways to stay busy.
“We actually tried to see how many cartons of orange juice we could drink on [the flight from Australia to the United States],” drummer Ben Gillies said. “Our aim was 15, but we fell asleep and we kind of lost track. But we got up to like eight or nine or something.”
Meanwhile, during a tour that attracted almost as many protesters as it did fans, Marilyn Manson found himself without a venue when his bus rolled into Las Cruces, New Mexico. School officials at the local state university pulled the plug on the show, claiming they were unable to assemble enough security guards to police the event.
Days later, Milwaukee’s Elmbrook Middle School banned the so-called Marilyn Manson “look” and all its accouterments after a rumble involving Manson-loving students and an anti-Manson sect. Black lipstick, fishnet stockings, white face paint, pentagram jewelry and the band’s T-shirts were all listed as contraband.
On a brighter note, Verve Pipe’s tour returned them to their home state of Michigan, awash in the success of the hit song “The Freshmen,” from 1996’s Villains.
It was a long time coming for singer Brian Vander Ark, who wrote the number before the band formed in 1992. “It feels really good to have the song out there now, to have a definitive version of the song,” he said.
“We’ve gone through a lot of different versions of the song, basically with the same melody but with a different feel. It started out as kind of me and an acoustic guitar, and then joining a rock and roll band was the dream for me. So then having a rock and roll band, I wanted all the guys to play along and be able to step up to that plate, so I’m thrilled that the song is out there now, and it’s pretty much complete.”
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