The pop phenomenon known as Savage Garden came together when Darren Hayes and English-born Daniel Jones formed a songwriting partnership in 1994. The two musicians met during the early 1990s on the musical netherworld of the Gold Coast (Queensland) covers band circuit. Once the pair broke away from that circuit, they recorded demos of their original songs. With absolute and single-minded faith in their songwriting and performance abilities, the pair went on to record one of the most successful Australian albums of all time.
Savage Garden enlisted the high-powered management services of John Woodruff, who had previously worked with The Angels, Baby Animals and Diesel. Woodruff scored the pair an Australian deal with Roadshow/Warner, and later an international deal with Columbia. Savage Garden's platinum-selling, debut CD single, `I Want You', peaked at #4 on the national chart during September 1996. `To the Moon and Back' followed `I Want You' into the national Top 5 during December, attaining the top spot two weeks later. It too sold over 70000 copies. The third CD single, `Truly, Madly, Deeply', reached #1 in April 1997, the same week the duo's album, Savage Garden (produced by Charles Fisher, best known for his work with Moving Pictures and 1927, and mixed by Chris Lord-Alge), made its debut at #1 on the national album listing. Savage Garden registered platinum status (70000 copies) in the first week of sales alone. `Truly, Madly, Deeply' spent eight weeks at #1 and sold over 140000 copies.
By the end of June 1997, Savage Garden had been at #1 for 14 straight weeks (with sales in excess of 350000 copies), which was the longest stay at #1 for an Australian album since Skyhooks' Living in the 70's in 1974. The commercial success of Savage Garden's album was never in doubt (it went on to sell over 700000 copies). In combination with the duo's photogenic, youthful good looks, the album's mix of joyous pop melodies, catchy choruses and smooth beats was perfect radio fodder. The album revealed the influence of 1980s UK pop on Hayes and Jones' songwriting. Tears for Fears melodies blended seamlessly with Eurythmics-like arrangements, while Cure-styled guitar provided the icing on the cake.
Savage Garden's fourth CD single, `Break Me, Shake Me', made its debut at #7 at the end of June 1997. At the same time, `I Want You' sat at #15 on the USA chart and #11 in the UK. `Truly, Madly, Deeply' went on to attain the coveted #1 spot in the USA, while the album sold over 500000 copies. The duo won an unprecedented ten awards (including Engineer of the Year and Producer of the Year for Charles Fisher) at the 1997 Australian Record Industry Association (ARIA) presentations. Savage Garden ended the year with the release of a new CD single, `Universe' (November).
Universe’ peaked at #26 on the national chart in December 1997. Darren Hayes and Daniel Jones walked away with the Songwriter of the Year trophy at the annual Australasian Performing Rights Association (APRA) Awards in May 1998. By that stage, the duo’s debut album, Savage Garden, had peaked at #3 in the US and been certified four times platinum with sales of four millions copies. By end of 1998 it had sold an astonishing eight million units worldwide, and six months later it was sitting at the 11.2 million mark.
As well as attaining the #1 spot in the US, ‘Truly Madly Deeply’ was also the most played song on American radio in 1998. The single had gone to #4 in the UK, with the album peaking there at #14. Savage Garden debuted at #3 on Business Review Weekly’s 1997 Top 50 earnings list of Australian entertainers. The duo was beaten only by Mel Gibson and equal with controversial radio talkback king, John Laws, with a cool $11 million. AC/DC sat at #7 with $5 million and silverchair at #9 with $4.5 million. By 1998, Savage Garden had topped the Top 50 list of entertainers with $35 million. 1999, and the duo was #1 on the Top 50 list for the second year in succession, earning #30 million.
Savage Garden’s new CD single, ‘The Animal Song’ (February 1999), was the lead off track from the original soundtrack of the feature film, The Other Sister starring Juliet Lewis. It was also the first single lifted from the upcoming, second album. ‘The Animal Song’ peaked at #3 on the national chart, and within seven weeks it had sold 70 000 units (platinum). Now a truly international act, Savage Garden had the Herculean task of following up the enormously successful debut album.
The new album, Affirmation, arrived in October 1999. It was an album of pure unadulterated pop, boasting enticing melodies and a classy and sleek production sound courtesy of the Grammy Award winning Walter Afanasieff (Ricky Martin, Mariah Carey, Celine Dion). It had been recorded at Afanasieff’s studio in San Francisco, with Hayes and Jones co-producing and writing all the tracks. Not surprisingly, the album made its debut at #1 on the national chart, and had sold over 140 000 units within two weeks. By January 2000, it had sold 280 000 units in Australia.
The album’s second single, the power ballad ‘I Knew I Loved You’ (September), peaked at #4 in Australia, but did even better in the US where it attained the coveted #1 spot. With the single at #1, Savage Garden became the first Australian act since Men At Work in 1982 to have two US #1 hits. Likewise, Affirmation went to #1 in the US, selling 5.1 million units between October 1999 and March 2000.
Savage Garden took away the trophy for Best Pop Release (‘The Animal Song’) at the 1999 ARIA Music Awards. ‘The Animal Song’ also came in at #1 on the Most Played Tracks on Australian Radio in 1999 list, with ‘I Knew I Loved You’ at #48. The new single, ‘Affirmation’ (March 2000), heralded Savage Garden’s national tour of April/May, which was also the commencement of a world tour. The fourth single from the album, ‘Crash and Burn’ followed in April.