Alongside Daniel Jones, Darren Hayes debuted in 1996 as the frontman and singer of the pop sensation Savage Garden, whose self-titled 1997 album propelled the duo to stardom almost overnight. Their debut record featured the singles "I Want You," "To the Moon and Back," and the number one hit, "Truly Madly Deeply." The duo followed the success of their initial album with a follow-up release titled "Affirmation" in 1999, which also produced several hits, including "I Knew I Loved You" and "The Animal Song."
In 2001, after selling more than 23 million albums worldwide, Jones and Hayes parted ways and Savage Garden was gone nearly as quickly as they seemed to arrive. One year later, Hayes decided to release his debut solo album, "Spin," which debuted at number two in the UK and featured the hit single "Insatiable." The album was supposed to continue the success of Savage Garden and make Hayes an even bigger star. However, it failed to meet the expectations of Hayes' record company at the time, even though it did sell a couple of million copies worldwide. Hayes' second solo album, "The Tension and the Spark," marked a big change of direction for the singer-songwriter, showing him experimenting with electronica and dark, depressing lyrics. Hayes and his label were soon at odds and the two sides would eventually decide to end their long relationship.
Hayes grew up in the working class suburbs of Brisbane, Australia. He is the youngest of three children and he started performing for his mother in his lounge room at an early age. At Mabel Park High School, Hayes appeared in school musicals and also sang at school concerts before graduating in 1989. He declined an opportunity to attend a performance academy in favor of studying at the University of Queensland. It was during his college studies that Hayes responded to an ad placed by Jones, who was seeking a lead singer for his then-band Red Edge. Hayes also met makeup artist Colby Taylor while in college, and the pair eventually married. The couple would later divorce in 1999.
Hayes' life has been filled with its share of trials and tribulations. Ten years ago, at the height of his fame, Hayes would have thoughts of suicide while driving across the Golden Gate Bridge. The feelings stemmed from years and years of Hayes' burying his childhood, which was plagued by his father's violence and alcoholism, as well as his own personal struggles with sexuality. While he had sensed for a long time that he was gay, Hayes confessed that the one thing he wanted more than anything was to get married, have kids and create a happy family — he wanted the life that he never had. Sensing something was wrong, Hayes' assistant urged him to speak with someone, and he eventually sought the help that he long needed.
Hayes is now a man on a mission. Following the end of his 10-year relationship with Columbia Records/Sony BMG, he decided to start his own label, Powdered Sugar. His new label just released "This Delicate Thing We've Made," a two-CD set of music that Hayes wrote and recorded over the past three years. The new release features 26 tracks, including the well-received first single, "On the Verge of Something Wonderful." Hayes also announced that he was gay after entering into a civil partnership with his boyfriend of three years, Richard Cullen. On June 19, 2006 in London, Parliament granted Hayes with the second legal same-sex marriage since Elton John.
In a candid interview, the long private and shy Hayes discusses his childhood and past struggles, his excitement and optimism to be on his own, and his many hopes for the future as he ventures into the life that he has always dreamed of.
ASM: Well much has certainly happened for you both personally and professionally in the past year. Has this been a long time coming for you?
Hayes: I've really appreciated my journey to this point. It's been hard! I can't trivialize it by pretending that it has come easily, but I enjoy a lot of freedom these days. My team are some of the kindest, sweetest and most passionate friends you could hope to work with, and together we all feel a bit like libertines.
ASM: You've always been a very private individual, but you've recently opened up and spoken about your childhood in which your father was an alcoholic and was physically abusive. At the age of 10, your mom finally escaped with you and your siblings. What goes through your mind today as you reflect back?
Hayes: I'm just thankful that we all survived. My dad definitely transformed himself (sober for 25 years now) and that kind of change is inspiring. The scars run deep, however, and rather than be negative about it, I just choose to be grateful I learned how to survive, and to forgive.
ASM: What were your interests as a child and teenager? You seemed to do well in school despite your problems at home.
Hayes: I threw myself into school and performance. I loved to write — and so I became quite a goody goody in the English department. Music and theatre were my guilty pleasures, but I excelled in them and soon became known as the kid who could sing.