Darren Hayes was one half of the massively successful Aussie duo Savage Garden and has followed that up with solo success. Currently living in London, he’s back with a fresh look and sound and as he tells me, the four years since his last album have been filled with song-writing as well as a fair amount of soul-searching…
It’s been four years since your last record – how come?
“It’s been a process of collecting songs, making the right record and then finding a record company for it. Halfway through the process I thought I was finished but then I was told I wasn’t, so I had to go back and squeeze some more blood out. This record has been under wraps for years now, but I feel good about it and I’m excited to get it out there finally.”
What would you say is the overall feeling on the album?
“It’s a pop record and it’s about how hard it is to stay together and stay in love when it feels like the whole world is breaking up. I came to it newly married & loved up and I never thought I’d find someone to tolerate me! But at the same time, a lot of my friends’ long-term relationships were breaking up and it makes you cling to your relationship and think ‘when we hit these hurdles we have to overcome them’. This feeling shaped the record and the sound – we used a lot of live strings and there’s also a focus on colours and textures. Robert Orton mixed the record and he gave it a cinematic sound, which we wanted. I see my music as pop music with depth and any songs that didn’t fit that brief were tossed out.”
One of the songs on the record talks about heartache – so that was about your friends?
“Not exactly. That one is about a deep friendship which came to a close because of betrayal – I’m still working through it. The line between love and friendship is really close it turns out. But also, writing about heartache is easier than writing a happy song isn’t it?”
So that’s why it took so long – because you’ve been too happy?
“I was a bit lost to be honest! Sure, my love life was great, but as an artist I was struggling to see where I fitted into the world. Making music is now a part of my DNA and I want to be relevant, so that held up the process too.”
So you had a crisis of confidence?
“Yes absolutely. Plus I’m in the business of celebrity and I despise celebrity – I’m a private person and rubbish at promoting myself.”
Despite this and your time away, your fanbase is still there…
“They are – I see them as my backers, so I feel a debt to them – they never gave up on me, even with my changing sound.”
So is this album a new sound and look for you?
“I change my look most records to keep things interesting. The sound is also quite self-referencing – bizarrely, it’s not unlike a Savage Garden record and that’s something I never thought I’d say! But there are a lot of reunions on it – my original bass player, the guy who played the guitar solo on Truly, Madly, Deeply, my first producer. So there’s a sense of making peace with my career and reviving the best bits.”
Talking of Savage Garden – are you still in touch with Daniel Jones?
“Vaguely. The band ended really badly and I wasn’t happy with the way he blamed me for everything – it took me a long time to forgive him. We’re lucky enough to have written some songs together that changed our lives and now our relationship is as caretakers of those songs. So we meet up to make decisions about those, but we’re very different people. I still love him, but I like to deal with him at arm’s length.”
What’s the plan now – are you going on tour?
“We’re doing some tiny shows at the end of the year in the UK, America and Australia and then hopefully a bigger tour in 2012 – fingers crossed.”
You live in London – what are your favourite things about the city?
“You’re going to think I’m crazy but I like the weather! I grew up with blistering sun but I struggle with heat, so the English weather suits me perfectly. I also love this country culturally and also politically – the fact that I can have a Civil Partnership in this country speaks volumes. People think the English are conservative, but I think they’re so forward-thinking and liberal. I hope Australia catches up soon – in my heart I can’t believe it won’t.”
What’s the most-played song on your MP3 player right now?
“God, I’m going to sound like a complete pop tart, but Lady GaGa’s Marry The Night – it’s my jogging song.”
If you could be the lovechild of any two artists, who would you choose?
“John and Yoko, come on! Who wouldn’t want to be Sean?”
Darren Hayes’ new new single Talk Talk Talk is out now.