Growing up in the Newcastle region, you collect Silverchair stories.
It cannot be helped, as every second person has one they wish to share: the time they saw Daniel Johns walking down the street with a bone-crushingly beautiful model; the time they saw Ben Gillies on the roof of the Great Northern filming a video; the time the (footy) Johns brothers woke a sleeping Daniel up after the ’97 Grand Final and got him drunk and hating footy even more; the time they performed a weird rap song at a school assembly under the name ‘Fat Elvis’; and the time one of them hit my friend Timmy in the face with a ball, and the other two laughed.
Of course, there is also the time they hit number one on the national charts with a slow-building rock anthem, a pocket epic pieced together by a teenage rock scientist with an innate ear for melody, a love of unconventional song structures, and two school friends who had instruments and dads who listened to Zeppelin and Cold Chisel.
‘Tomorrow’ was the band’s debut single, and a surprise success story. It was recorded three different times: once in 1995 for the album Frogstomp, another time as part of a band comp prize in 1994 – this version would be the one released as a single – and earlier still, as a six-and-a-half-minute demo recorded at Platinum Sound Studios in Newcastle.
The song was bashed out with four others in an hour at the studio. Johns has since estimated that “it cost about $75” to record the tracks, an investment which paid off as this recording of the song saw them win a national band comp co-hosted by SBS and triple j, discovered by Sony, and propelled onto the charts.
The six-and-a-half-minute recording meanders, as a lot of demos do. Many instrumental breaks and stray verses were chopped or tightened by the time Silverchair re-recorded the track as part of their prize pack – and these changes were clearly successful.
The song hit number one in October 1994, staying there for six weeks and becoming the highest-selling Australian song of the year, as well as the most-played song on American rock radio in 1995.
And for those diving for depths in the oblique lyrics, Johns explains the inspiration came from a documentary “about a poor guy that takes a rich guy to a poor persons’ hotel to experience what it’s like being a poor person. The rich guy is complaining to get out, and he has to wait till tomorrow to get out of the hotel.”