The portrait glows of lava — internally molten. The eyes glossed, smooth. A Grecian-like bust of a teenage boy. This is the adorational placement given to Silverchair frontman Daniel Johns, who at 17 years-old, was coming off of the life changing release of his band’s colossal debut album Frogstomp.
This portrait, drawn by Canadian illustrator Matt Ryan Tobin, captures Johns as he was at the dawn of Silverchair’s true ascension into worldwide stardom. Tobin’s portrait is part of his artwork surrounding Johns’s second solo effort, FutureNever, an album Johns explains, “…is very much about me not only coming to peace with but celebrating my past for the first time. FutureNever is the perfect platform to explore and celebrate my past in such a fun way.”
Since the first moment Silverchair entered the ’90s limelight, Johns has fought against norms and expectations put upon the new faces of post-Nirvana grunge, never looking back but always forward: bringing pianist David Helfgott and composer Van Dyke Parks into the studio with Silverchair, crafting avant-dance-pop with Paul Mac as The Dissociatives, and making his first solo venture, Talk, a wildly poetic record highlighting the depth of his voice and persona. These portraits provide fans with both surprise and delight, as Tobin fills the rift between Johns and his younger-self. That part of him that felt tethered by the music and fame that lead to Silverchair going on indefinite hiatus in 2011.
In Tobin’s portrait of Johns in his 40s, you see the artist’s past and future at the same time — kaleidoscopic color ruptures his stone facade, a nod to the cover art of Silverchair’s 2002 release Diorama, the exhilaration of new music, and the maturity to find inspiration in his past innocence. Johns even confronts the song that changed his life forever, Tomorrow. Tobin looks back to Silverchair’s debut album Frogstomp, reviving the signature frog, giving him a place in Johns’s present world.
Pre-Orders for FutureNever by Daniel Johns is available at FUTURENEVER