ARTICLE FROM EIL.COM --- AUGUST 9th 2004
DARREN HAYES - THE TENSION AND THE SPARK
Recording the vocals...
... for his new solo album, The Tension and The Spark, in a home studio in San Francisco, singer/songwriter Darren Hayes, who sold 23 million records worldwide between 1997-2001 as one-half of the multi-platinum duo Savage Garden, began to appreciate the irony of the phrase, "pop will eat itself." It was June 2003, a sweltering California day, and Darren felt a déjà vu evoking the humble beginnings of his recording career in Australia some eight years prior.
It was the summer of 1995 and in the spare bedroom of producer Charles Fisher's home in Sydney, Hayes was creating the astonishing vocal tracks for 'Truly Madly Deeply', a classic song that would go on to hit the #1 spot on Billboard's Hot 100 in 1998 and change Darren's life forever. By the time "I Knew I Loved You", from the second Savage Garden album, Affirmation, took its own place at the top of the Hot 100, the group's eponymous debut album and subsequent sophomore release were well on their way to generating sales of more than 20 million albums around the world. To this day, "Truly Madly Deeply" and "I Knew I Loved You" still hold the record as the #1 and #2 longest running songs to sit atop the Billboard Adult Contemporary chart.
By late 2003, with one successful solo pop album (2002's Spin) to his credit, Darren Hayes was reassessing his artistic goals. Having created an already enduring pop music legacy, Hayes felt ready to expand his musical palette, developing new sounds while intensifying the range of his musical and lyrical sensibility. He was, in effect, beginning anew, keen to follow his muses into bold and adventurous new territory.
Most of The Tension and The Spark was recorded, quite literally, in a bedroom (albeit a bedroom with state-of-the-art recording equipment). Hayes had decided to record his new album at home, under the radar, in order to fully explore, and enjoy, a level of artistic freedom he'd never granted himself previously. Keeping a low profile, Darren Hayes wrote and recorded a collection of songs bristling with candour, urgency, and authenticity.
For his new solo album...
... Darren worked with a team of cutting edge producers of a calibre seldom associated with the pop mainstream: Mark "Spike" Stent (Björk, Massive Attack, Depeche Mode, Madonna), Marius De Vries (Björk, Madonna's Ray of Light, The Moulin Rouge) and Robert Conley a relative newcomer, but maverick master of the contemporary electronic world.
Bravely pointing towards a new musical future, The Tension And The Spark crackles with 21st Century experimental electronica - with Darren's deeply heartfelt and often confrontational lyrics poured across an atmospheric soundscape.
While Spin, Darren's first solo album, racked up close to two million sales and produced four singles, most noticeably the soulful romantic ballad "Insatiable," as well as a sell-out world theatre tour, it is on The Tension and The Spark that Darren Hayes comes fully into his own as a gifted singer songwriter.
Hayes was feeling inspired by all kinds of new music. "I'd been getting into French bands like Phoenix and Rhinoceros as well as Björk, Air, Goldfrapp and The Chemical Brothers", he recalls, "music that was to me so much more textured and interesting than anything I was hearing on current Top 40 radio."
Working almost accidentally at first with friend and hardcore, underground electronic artist Robert Conley (www.specificus.com), Hayes began the process of writing new music without really realizing it. During a stay at Hayes' San Francisco waterside home, Conley was constantly working on new tracks for himself in the spare bedroom. "He would be tinkering away on the keyboard," Darren recalls, "and although I had told anyone who would listen that I was not interested in writing or making an album, every time I walked past his room I found myself singing along to his tracks."
What began, as a few unselfconscious 'collaborations' between Hayes and Conley soon became seven tracks, then twelve. Before long, Conley began recording Hayes's own self-penned songs, which were the first he'd ever written completely alone. Suddenly, an album was emerging and Darren Hayes no longer wanted to keep it entirely under wraps.
Still working on...
... the down low, Hayes took a trip to London to work with Marius De Vries and to lobby legendary mix engineer Mark "Spike" Stent. At first, the generally hard-to-impress "Spike" was difficult to pin down. "I had passed on working with him on 'Spin'", Spike recalls, "So when it came to this record, he called me up - and he is a bit of a persistent bugger, which is one of the things I like about him - and I told him to come down and see me." After listening to three of Darren's new songs, Stent was hooked. "Darren had actually moved forward musically - a lot - and he was being brave about what he was doing and trying new ideas. I like that, and because of that, I wanted to work with him".
Apart from the album's obvious sonic departure from Darren's earlier work, what stands out most on The Tension and The Spark is the record's psychologically complex and deeply personal subject matter. "It's an album that describes a personal journey from darkness into light," Darren explains. "From blame to forgiveness and, finally, to the acceptance that everything, even misery, happens for a reason. And at the end of the day, there is a light at the end of the tunnel."
When Hayes sings, with startling honesty, "You made me feel like my father never loved me," from the searing "Unlovable", you know there's been a step change in Darren's maturity as a writer. The album's level of heart-wrenching vulnerability continues in "Dublin Sky" where Hayes plaintively questions the universe, "How many dreams have I left deserted? How many hopes have been diverted?" In the opening cut, "Darkness," Hayes ascertains, with penetrating acuteness, that sometimes our greatest fear is the act of becoming the very thing we fear the most.
"This record is my story," Darren muses, "but it's also a human story that I think most people can relate to. It's real." The Tension and The Spark is lyrically Darren Hayes's most autobiographical and musically, the most adventurous: it is the album he needed to make.
Thanks to Keri at All Around Darren Hayes net