''Thanks for remembering me,'' said Darren Hayes to the audience at a New York club date this summer. Indeed, it's been a while since we last heard from the former frontman of the duo Savage Garden, who became a wedding-dance staple thanks to their smash hits ''Truly, Madly, Deeply'' and ''I Knew I Loved You.'' As Hayes, 35, gets set to release ''Me Myself and (I),'' the second single from his ambitious new solo record, This Delicate Thing We've Made, here's a crash course on what the Aussie popster has been up to.
He and fellow Garden-er Daniel Jones parted ways in 1999. ''He decided to leave the band, but when the news broke, he denied that it was his decision, and I looked like the arrogant lead singer who broke up the band to go solo. For years I was such a gentleman about it I never really spoke about it. The fallout is that we obviously disconnected. I didn't appreciate how that went down. But I love him, to be honest.''
Last year, he came out on his website and later married his British partner, artist Richard Cullen. ''I've never parachuted, but I would equate it to that feeling of standing at the edge of a plane and deciding to jump. Being exhilarated but terrified at the same time. I didn't want my audience to read on page 18 of same tabloid, 'Darren Hayes got married to his boyfriend, he's gay, duh, news flash.' I wanted to be the first person to tell them. I decided I'd just blog about it, and then I would take a year off and make my record. I wouldn't be profiting from coming out or using it as a press angle. And then hopefully by the time I put my record out this wouldn't be the most interesting thing about me. I'm finally comfortable with myself and in a beautiful place personally.''
He's become obsessed with time travel, the theme of his new record. ''Star Wars, the Back to the Future trilogy, E.T. those films were about escapism. And as a child, my home life was quite horrific. During the first 10 or 11 years of my life, my dad was a very violent alcoholic, and music and film and escapism and fantasy saved my life, really, because I dreamed myself into a happier place.''
He's still happy to play some of his Savage hits, like ''I Want You'' (also known as the ''Chic-a-Cherry Cola'' song. ''I'm a huge Prince fan. Prince in general is very smart about the way he plays live. Prince will always play the hits when you go and see him live. I think there were one or two periods when he didn't, and I remember seeing one of those shows, where he played two hours of instrumental jazz gospel funk. And it was just a fan moment, when I realized that the people who come and see me own those songs. Those songs are the reason you're speaking to me today.''
He's developed a smaller but infinitely more rabid fan base. ''It's ironic, because the most commercially successful I was, the most miserable I was personally. Today, I'm quite statistically and officially the least successful I've ever been and yet the happiest I've ever been. To stand up there today and still have this second chance, where the people who love my record really love my record, I would say that it's much better than playing Radio City Music Hall.''