Neon Ballroom - Background

Background

From May 1998, Silverchair worked on their third studio album, Neon Ballroom, which had Nick Launay (Birthday Party, Models, Midnight Oil) producing again. It was released in March 1999 on Sony Records imprint Murmur and peaked at number-one in Australia – their third number-one album. Australian rock music historian, Ian McFarlane said, "As well as being the band’s best album to date, it was universally acknowledged as one of the best albums of the year." The band had originally intended to take a 12-month-break after the release of 1997's Freak Show, but in the end they decided to devote their time to making new music. Neon Ballroom provided three Australian top 20 singles: "Anthem for the Year 2000", "Ana's Song (Open Fire)" and "Miss You Love"; a fourth single, "Paint Pastel Princess", did not reach the top 50. The album charted in Canada, where it peaked at No. 5. It reached the top 40 on the United Kingdom Albums Chart. "Ana's Song (Open Fire)" peaked at No. 12 on the Billboard Hot Modern Rock Tracks.

In 1999, Johns announced that he had developed the eating disorder, anorexia nervosa, due to anxiety. Johns noted that the lyrics to "Ana's Song (Open Fire)" dealt with his disorder, where he would "eat what he needed … to stay awake." He revealed that his eating problems developed from the time of Freak Show and when Neon Ballroom was written he "hated music, really everything about it", but felt that he "couldn't stop doing it; I felt like a slave to it." Johns sought therapy and medication but felt "It's easier for me to express it through music and lyrics".

Silverchair added an auxiliary keyboardist, Sam Holloway (ex-Cordrazine), for the Neon Ballroom Tour. The US leg had the group playing with The Offspring and Red Hot Chili Peppers, while Silverchair's tour of UK and the rest of Europe had The Living End as the support act. In Europe and South America it became the group's most successful album to date. Rolling Stone's Neva Chonin attributed their chart success to the album's more "mature" sound. The group appeared at festivals in Reading and Edgefest, amongst others. Following the tour, the band announced that they would be taking a 12-month-break. Their only live performance in 2000 was at the Falls Festival on New Year's Eve. On 21 January 2001, the band played to 250,000 people at Rock in Rio, a show they described as the highlight of their career.

After the release of Neon Ballroom, Silverchair's three album contract with Sony Music had ended. The group eventually signed with Atlantic Records for North and South America, and formed their own label, Eleven: A Music Company (distributed by EMI), with their manager, John Watson for Australia and Asia.

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