"As a person, it hurt that he couldn’t look me in the eye to tell me those things. I can’t lie, it was a dent to my self-confidence, as an artist and a person.”
Silverchair’s Ben Gillies has opened up about the band’s “D-Day”, where he revealed that he and bassist Chris Joannou were given a written letter by former frontman Daniel Johns.
“When Chris and I rocked up to Dan’s place, we didn’t know why we’d been summoned,” Gillies explained in his memoir with Joannou, Love & Pain, which was released today.
With the band’s manager John “Watto” Watson reading it aloud, Johns’ letter detailed his “plan for Silverchair going forward”.
“He wanted total creative control of the band. He wanted to be the sole writer and creator,” Gillies revealed, adding, “Yet it was only when we worked together – when I created drum parts, when Chris made his contributions – that we had the Silverchair alchemy.”
He went on to suggest that Johns’ well-documented battle with anorexia nervosa — which was famously the catalyst for their 1999 hit Ana's Song (Open Fire) — exacerbated his need for control over the band.
“Control is an elusive concept. Humans tend to grasp at it when they feel like they least have it,” Gillies wrote.
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“Dan had been suffering from an illness, anorexia nervosa. It is not hard for me now, looking back, to see how this may have been related to the new development in the band. In order for him to feel safe, the band may have been the most obvious thing in his life to try to control.”
“I wasn’t ready to give up on the band … I wanted to keep forging ahead,” Gillies wrote, revealing he accepted the singer’s new terms.
“I don’t think I realised it at the time because I just wanted to get on with things, but Dan’s letter knocked me.”
“As his friend, it hurt me that he didn’t want to work together as closely. As his bandmate, it hurt that he didn’t want the same level of input from me. As a person, it hurt that he couldn’t look me in the eye to tell me those things.
“I can’t lie, it was a dent to my self-confidence, as an artist and a person.”
The Daily Telegraph reported that Johns – who wasn’t interviewed in the two Australian Story episodes – and his music industry brother Heath, who is in charge of the singer’s business affairs, allegedly permitted Silverchair songs to be used on the ABC, but not for its streaming service, iView.
Addressing the growing speculation, Johns took to Instagram last Sunday (Sept. 24) to clear the air and share the facts.
“Australian Story reached out to me via my team ‘as a courtesy’ on Aug 11 to let me know that they were doing a story on Ben Gillies and Chris Joannou,” Johns wrote in the Instagram caption alongside an old screengrab of himself appearing on the ABC.
Johns stated that he “was and remains incredibly supportive of them telling their story” and continued, “I was asked at the end of filming to be interviewed about their contribution to the band and although I wished them all the best, I respectfully declined for one reason.”
Johns wrote that he hadn’t read the contents of the book Gillies and Joannou are promoting and claimed that he asked “on many occasions to read the book but haven’t been sent a copy”. As a result, he felt “uncomfortable being interviewed to help promote it”.