I know I keep going back to the 90’s but, it truly was a magical time. Just like the 60’s and 70’s for our parents (well most of ours), the 90’s was a revolution musically for a generation and then some. The sheer amount of groundbreaking and legendary albums from this time is astounding. The legacies that those bands have to this day are beyond what many of them ever expected and the influence and inspiration that those bands and albums have had on countless other bands, well, that’s the gift. There was a band that came out during this time, made up of three teenagers that really left a mark. That band was Silverchair and their debut album Frogstomp, was quite the exceptional record and one that, to this day, still excites people.
Recorded in 9 days in December 1994, Frogstomp would go on to put Silverchair on the map. At the time of recording, Daniel Johns (vocals/guitar), Ben Gillies (drums) and Chris Joannou (bass) were all 15 years old. John’s would later comment on the recording “The songwriting might not be genius, but I think sonically, the performances are really good. It’s really honest; it’s just three Australian kids thrashing it out in the studio and that’s exactly how it sounds.” I couldn’t agree more. Some critics wrote the band off as Nirvana/Pearl Jam wannabes but, they were not some flash in the pan copycat band. These kids had depth and substance to what they were writing. The song “Tomorrow” is a great example of the power and intensity they had. I will admit, when I first heard this song, I thought it was Pearl Jam but, after it was done and they announced who it was, I knew I had to go buy the album. Rolling Stone magazine’s David Fricke had said about the album “Truly shameless wanna-be’s like Bush should be so lucky to have the hard smarts that Silverchair – particularly the band’s main writers, singer-guitarist Daniel Johns and drummer Ben Gillies – show on such Frogstomp-ers as “Pure Massacre” and “Israel’s Son.” When these guys turn 18, they’ll really be dangerous.” Which is quite interesting because by the time they were 18/19, they had released Neon Ballroom, and that album is an Unsung Masterpiece.
Frogstomp is to this day one hell of an album. Everything from the songs, tones, style, grit, and so much more have made this an everlasting album. Songs like “Israel’s Son,” “Pure Massacre,” “Tomorrow,” Shade,” “Suicidal Dream,” “Findaway,” and “Leave Me Out” have stood the test of time and continue to influence and inspire. One of the songs that always grabbed me besides the ones above was the instrumental track “Madman.” The energy of this track is exhilarating and I’ve always wondered what the lyrics and vocals would have been for this song.
This album laid the groundwork for what was to come for this three piece. The strong songwriting ability of Johns along with the powerful tenacity of Gillies and Joannou made this band what it was. If it were anyone else, this band wouldn’t sound the way they did. Throughout their career, they would constantly push themselves to get better and mature. And they did with Freak Show, Neon Ballroom and Diorama. Their album Young Modern, was a strong departure from what the band once was but, it still showed how great of a band they were. Now, if only they would get back together and celebrate what they created, that would be amazing.