Silverchair's Chris Joannou Details Cancer & Heart Attack In Episode Of 'Australian Story'

26 September 2023 | 12:00 pm | Mary Varvaris

“I was just forced to stop and think about death...”

Chris Joannou & Ben Gillies for 'Australian Story'

Chris Joannou & Ben Gillies for 'Australian Story' (Credit: Jack Fisher)

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Part two of A Silver Lining, the pair of Australian Story episodes about Silverchair starring Ben Gillies and Chris Joannou, aired last night, with the latter revealing terrifying experiences with cancer and a heart attack.

In 2019, Joannou received the diagnosis of a rare form of cancer – soft tissue sarcoma stage four in one of his testicles. The tumour later spread to the bassist’s lungs, spine, and pelvis.

“I was just forced to stop and think about death,” Joannou recalled on Australian Story. The diagnosis came while his wife Karissa was pregnant with their second child, a son named Spence.

Joannou was declared cancer-free after three months and continued with another five months of treatment. However, his health woes didn’t end there. The musician suffered a severe heart attack in August 2022, leading to two stents being installed into his heart after surgery.

Following the heart attack, Joannou said he has incurred “some damage” to his heart but is gladly “still here”. “The doc said it was a bit of a doozy,” he commented, “I remember him getting the anagram out and going, ‘this is what we call a tombstone heart attack’.”

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On last week’s episode of A Silver Lining, Gillies detailed the “acute psychotic break” he experienced during the band’s Diorama sessions.

The mental health impact of the Diorama sessions led Gillies to embrace extra marijuana usage and try an ecstasy tablet, leading to a scary experience he opened up about on Australian Story.

“I had what I know now was an acute psychotic break,” he said. “It was really, really scary. I thought I was going crazy.”

Joannou and Gillies’ health experiences will be explored further in the pair’s new book, Love & Pain.

Love & Pain will be published by Hachette Australia on Wednesday, 27 September, with pre-orders available from the publisher’s website.

Love & Pain is described as a tell-all memoir that will tap into “all the love and pain that came with being in the band”, including “the cost of fame and intense pressure on two teenagers who had no way of preparing for it”, “the navigation of their friendships with each other and their relationships with their friends and family members” and “the mistakes they made and the successes they cherished”.

Singer Daniel Johns is not involved in the memoir. He responded to his former bandmates about the book and the removal of their episodes of Australian Story from ABC iView yesterday.

If you or someone you know is suffering from depression, anxiety, suicidal thoughts or other mental-related illness, we implore you to get in contact with Beyondblue or Lifeline:

Beyondblue: 1300 224 636

Lifeline: 13 11 14

Suicide Call-Back Service: 1300 659 467

Beyondblue and Lifeline both also offer online chat/counsel. Check their respective websites for operational hours and details.