FROM SAVAGE TO SOLO ARTICLE--- OCTOBER 23RD 2004
By Joanne Brookfield
Former Savage Garden frontman Darren Hayes tells Joanne Brookfield what he has learned, both before and after he found fame.
I'm a performer because the first 11 years of my life I lived in a family with alcoholism and domestic violence. My father is my hero today and hasn't had a drink for 20 years, but I have never talked about this. The first 11 years of my life were horrific and turbulent and violent and I dreamed myself out of that.
I became a pop star, I became someone else, and that worked for years. It was great because I jumped and people applauded. I sang and people cried and all the love that I felt I was missing in my life I created out of this job. But that only works for a while because the fame bubble is like Nutra-Sweet, you know, it kind of fulfils a need in you, but not really.
I've always been quite sad underneath all of the smiling. I never realised that's the reason I became a performer and beyond that, that's the reason why I couldn't have successful, romantic relationships, why I felt so unloved, why I felt this void of whatever and now I'm really taking responsibility for that. Really forgiving my father, really accepting that I am an adult now.
I mean, you can only blame your childhood for so many years. When are you going to move forward? Your father doesn't drink anymore, so why do you act like he does?
I'm such a pleaser. I've always been so concerned with being loved and making people happy and making sure that I'm giving everybody what they wanted that by the time I had made (debut solo album) Spin I forgot to please myself. I also underestimated what it is that people probably loved about Savage Garden, which was that there was a huge piece of me in there.
On Spin, I just tried to keep up appearances. There was this well of emotion building up in me - it happens to everyone when you reach your 30s - and every part of my life converged upon one moment and that coincided with me leaving a very successful band and trying to restart my career and it was just a big train wreck.
It really knocked me off my pedestal. In some ways I think the pedestal was just smashed out from underneath me anyway because, in general, the job of hero has an expiry date. People just thought, whether it be the media or whatever, "Hmm, you know, we're done with you now," and it was such a shock. It really put me in a headspace where my ego was so bruised that I just skulked away and didn't even want to make an album. A lot of the megalomaniac, the egomaniac in me, was killed off.
I dusted him off for this album. You know he's the guy in the video for Popular and then I use that guy to sell my record to you, but ultimately, I'm a much calmer, softer, more sort of humiliated and humble person today because of that experience.
I was so sad back then, I really was. I was just under so much pressure and I got so much blame for the break-up of the band. It didn't matter how many times I said it wasn't my idea. I was cast as the villain and I was made to pay and that was happening at the same time I was really understanding that I had been, in some ways, the architect of my own misery for so long in my life.
I had created this pop star role and this career to distract me, but now the distraction wasn't working any more. Now I had to face up to the demons in my life, and that all coincided with what was the most difficult couple of years of my career, where the pressure was on.
So that's what I regret a little about the Spin period. I wish I had taken a little bit more time, but in the end, I guess I don't wish it because that album and the perceived failure of it - even though it sold 2 million copies, and in anyone else's book that's amazing - but the perceived failure of that was the catalyst for me to go and reinvent myself and so for that reason, I love it.
I was never an arsehole. I think that people's perception of me was very different to the person that I actually am. Because I was that kid that just wanted to be loved, I think I was so ambitious and desperate for fame, but not because I wanted to be famous, it was because I wanted to feel loved. It definitely became like a drug.
I wanted to be the biggest, best, the most successful, whereas I think if you look at the person onstage singing for Delta Goodrem at the ARIAs, there's a visible change there. I think that I've surrendered. Even the fact my hair was darker again, I kind of came full circle: I reconciled and I'm at peace now with the person that I created.
Writing this new album was terrifying, but it was almost like I had Tourette syndrome. The song Unlovable is about the moment the relationship I was in was ending and me being so devastated. I guess I was in grief, I was probably depressed and there's a lyric in it where I say denial, anger, bargaining, depression, just a few stages of accepting that it's really over. I was talking about the clinical stages of grief and I realised, "Wow, we have stepped behind the curtain of my mind and it's a gloomy place, but we're going to be here for a while so can someone please find a flashlight?" It was an amazingly cathartic and cleansing experience, to have found forgiveness and light and to feel like I'm so proud of this record.
I'm not really afraid of anything anymore. What have I got to lose? I've got everything to gain right now, so it's a beautiful feeling.
The Tension and The Spark is out now.
Source: The Age 2004
Darren Hayes Articles 2004