THIS WEEK: Shane Lamotte discusses Silverchair’s Frogstomp
You have to give Living Illusion credit: the Edmonton band has not only put out an independent CD, which they just celebrated at a release party a couple of weeks back at the Sidetrack—but they’ve also accompanied it with a DVD featuring an acoustic song and an interview with the band. Pretty ballsy for a group that is still establishing itself, wouldn’t one think? But Living Illusion doesn’t really want to play by any set music industry rules; brothers and founding members Shane and Jason Lamotte are champions of the independent spirit and want to show off that an up-and-coming band can do more than record a simple demo and pray for the best.
For Shane, the album that most influenced his musical career is Frogstomp, the 1995 debut from Australian youth-rockers Silverchair. As those of us in our 20s and beyond will recall, the Aussies in question were a genuine rock phenomenon simply because the members of the band were 14 and 15 when this album was released. No member of Silverchair was old enough to drive a car when the band’s first single, “Tomorrow,” became an MTV fave.
And while many critics at the time dissed the kids as simply being Pearl Jam wannabes who won a few talent contests Down Under, Silverchair had a simple formula for success: even at such young ages, the band members had a penchant for writing simple, hooky rock music. And it helped make Frogstomp the first album in Australian history to enter the domestic chart in the number-one slot.
And it was those rock melodies that made Lamotte a fan—and want to be in a band even that much more. “They were all so young, the songs weren’t difficult or very hard to play,” he says. “But the melody lines were so catchy and they could write simple, catchy hooks, too. And those songs just got stuck in your head.”
Lamotte has been playing guitar since Grade 7, about the same time the Silverchair trio got together. And the fact that three guys who were so young could go on to find fame and fortune was not lost on Lamotte. “It was the first CD that made me think ‘why can’t I do this?’” says Lamotte.
As well, what impressed Lamotte is that, despite the ages of the band members, Silverchair was able to do something with a debut that hardly any band ever does: according to him, the music was mature enough to make him think the band had been recording for years. “It is rare that a band’s first album is so solid that everyone likes it and connects with it,” he says. “But they did it.”
Unfortunately, the band could never replicate the success of that debut, and few music fans outside of Australia have heard their fourth and most recent release, Diorama (which, by the way, has earned the band the best reviews they’ve ever received). At the moment, Silverchair are still together, but Chair man Ben Gillies has taken time to work on his other band, Tambalane, which embraces a funky ’70s groove and has received good press in Australia.
As for Lamotte, Living Illusion is the realization of a dream he had when he was just 17 and started a band with his friends on Vancouver Island. He was crushed when, upon graduating high school, none of his friends wanted to go on, so he moved to Edmonton, joined up with his brother and started anew. After all, why let go of a dream when a trio of Australian kids showed you that if things go your way, it could come true? V
By STEVEN SANDOR