The Savage Story
Australia, the mysterious continent perched at the bottom of the globe, might best be known for Koala bears and Crocodile Dundee. But perceptions are about to change. The sound of Savage Garden is about to turn all those myths you might believe about Down Under inside out. Here is a band with a sound that is refreshingly different. Savage Garden is at the forefront of a musical movement currently surging away from guitar and angst-driven alternarock into a world that is unashamedly pop. Yet, unlike a lot of the music associated with this genre, Savage Garden, by virtue of the duo's hooky and provocative songwriting, offer substance within the group's irresistible pop-sheen. Amidst the turbulence of sub-electronic grooves and funk guitars, there's an undeniable authenticity in Savage Garden's biting irony, linguistic gymnastics and canny juxtaposition of musical styles. For singer Darren Hayes and instrumentalist Daniel Jones, the rehearsal is over. The pair met 4 years ago doing time on the local bar scene in Brisbane. The story goes like this: Daniel advertises for a singer. Darren answers the call. They click. They leave the band and, deciding to collaborate on their mutual musical vision, go into hibernation, writing songs and sending out demo tapes at a feverish pace. "We connected right from the start," recalls Darren, "We were both so determined, so ambitious that meeting seemed almost like coming home." Response from publishers and record companies came fast. Soon they were sitting in a recording studio, sleeves rolled up and heads to the control board in the process of recording an album that would take almost 8 months to complete. "It was the biggest learning experience," explains Daniel. "We were still desperately trying to come to terms with the fact that we had begun the journey. We were in the process of actually doing what we had dreamed about all our lives."
The passion and enthusiasm for the music that Daniel describes is evident in the sweeping diversity of style and emotion on their eponymous Columbia debut. Incisive wordplay, sweet love songs, and an avant-garde sonic palette all merge together in a smooth bed of lush electronics and moody rhythms, a refreshing and intelligent mix of tradition and technology. This fusion of sounds perhaps explains the chemistry between Daniel and Darren, who have often been described as chalk and cheese. "I Want You," the pulsing 80's Europop-influenced first single became a huge hit in their own country as the highest-selling Australian single for 1996. The follow-up second single, "To the Moon & Back," quickly went to Number 1, surpassing the sales of the previous debut single. Suddenly an international deal with Columbia Records materialized. As Darren explains, "it seems like only yesterday I was sitting there praying for this. It has literally come from nowhere. If I sat and really thought about this I'd probably go crazy. We are just holding on for the ride, and so far the ride has been amazing." The genuine thrill and unaffected enthusiasm this pair exhibit (they are after all, only in their 20's) comes through in the music. One listen to the debut album and you know Savage Garden is going for broke. Brimming with urgency of love itself, many of the album's tracks explore the intricacies of relationships. "To the Moon & Back" addresses the insecurities of a teenage girl while musically it suggests a theme much older and wiser. In Darren's plaintive vocals and in Daniel's surging melodies, one can feel the confusion, the hurt and longing. The mood swings in the opposite direction with the aptly-titled "Truly Madly Deeply," a love song distilled from the purity of the heart. Acting as contrast and compliment, there's the biting snap of the bass guitar alongside wailing guitars and nasty sentiment in "Break Me Shake Me" and the overwhelming feeling of betrayal in the brooding "A Thousand Words." The diversity of the songs has as much to do with the differences in the pair's personalities as it does to the recording process. As Daniel explains, "'Universe' was originally just an instrumental track. It was written for guitar and sounded like Clapton meets Steve Vai. Then Darren got his hands on it and now it sounds like Motown." Indeed, the sexy groove and sweet crooning give the song a distinct Smokey Robinson feel.
The duo's sophomore follow-up certainly has not left any disappointed fans in it's wake. While following many of the same traditions set forth by their debut album (heart warming melodies, soul touching ballads, and the bittersweet intricacies of love, hate, and relationships gone bad), their new release titled "Affirmation" has a predominately mature atmosphere, one that was lacking in the innocense portrayed in their self titled debut. The title track challenges many political and social issues we are faced with on a daily basis, as Darren's lyrical majestics battle their way though several taboo subjects. "Two Beds And A Coffee Machine" hauntingly portrays a sad, but all too common domestic abuse scene with simple, yet heart wretching melodies and tearful imagery. Take a musical journey into the heavens with visions of loved ones lost yet not forgotten with "You Can Still Be Free", a balled defying space and time written for two people who have taken their eternal leave. And follow the path of a broken heart, picking up the pieces and trying desperately to move on after a relationship gone bad with "Hold Me" and "I Don't Know You Anymore". Fans of Savage Garden's mega-hit "Truly Madly Deeply" will not be lost in this meddle of treacherous emotions, however, as the band again blesses us with a sugary sweet love song, perfect for cuddling and deep gazing titled "I Knew I Loved You". And no Savage Garden CD would be complete without upbeat, heart thumping rhythms to get you off your feet! Songs like "The Animal Song", "The Best Thing", and "Chained To You" are sure to satisfy any club jumping, techno crazing, booty shaking listeners who feel the need to cut loose and live it up!
"We understand that we have had a couple of hits in our home town and it's only now that we're venturing out into the world. I think we realized from an early stage that this career is not predictable. You never know where you'll be tomorrow and there are no guarantees that we will achieve all the goals we have set out. We have had some amazing breaks and good fortune. All we can do now is continue to write songs and do what we do best."