Pure Massacre"--the second single from Silverchair's Epic debut album, "Frogstomp," and No. 28 on Modern Rock Tracks this week--is not only popular; it encapsulates the teenage Aussie rockers' grungy sound and the band's spontaneous approach to songwriting.
Silverchair lead singer, lyricist, and guitarist Daniel Johns says he was inspired to write "Pure Massacre" after reading a newspaper article on the war in Bosnia. "It's pretty stupid, war, like that," he says. "So, it seemed the right thing to write a song about, rather than about the usual--girls or whatever. It took about a half an hour; it came straight to my head."
As Silverchair drafts its songs, the band's heavy riffs form the material's core, with Johns adding lyrics later. Johns co-wrote the music to "Pure Massacre" with drummer Ben Gillies, as he did on more than half the tracks on "Frogstomp."
As with "Pure Massacre," Johns says he gleaned his lyrical impetus for many of the other tracks on "Frogstomp" from current events in the news. He wrote "Tomorrow," Silverchair's previous single, after seeing a TV show about greed, relating his tale as "a rich person experiencing the life of someone poor," he says. "It's all just reading something, getting an overall impression, and then taking off from it."
Silverchair already has a "heap" of new songs for its next album, according to Johns, and the process of matching words to tunes has differed from the first batch. "Most of the earlier songs came from things I'd read or from watching telly," he says. "The new stuff is just from me--things I'm thinking about."
Johns says that he, Gillies, and bassist Chris Joannou write songs for themselves, without preconceived goals or paying much attention to the response of others. "We just play," he says, "and if people like it, that's a bonus."