In an interview with PEOPLE, Savage Garden’s Darren Hayes discusses what spurred him to speak out publicly about his own mental health difficulties during the band’s heyday.
At the brink of suicide, the openly homosexual artist revealed in an emotive op-ed published July 1 in HuffPost that he had struggled with his sexuality for years.
That exchange was “integral to my purpose for returning to music,” Hayes tells PEOPLE.
A new CD by the Australian musician “absolutely saved my life,” he adds. When I denied my creative side, I was denying a vital aspect of who I am. I was in a bad place emotionally because I didn’t understand that, like my sexuality, it’s a significant part of who I am.”
New music creation was a “lifeline” for Hayes, who had been away from the limelight for a decade.
While at the height of his popularity and fortune, he adds, “I realised that I had never completely been myself”. If I hadn’t returned to the public view as my actual, authentic person, it would have been a tremendous regret of mine.”
Darren Hayes has been promoting his next UK tour “intensely” this past week, which has already been a huge success. When tickets were on sale, he said, “approximately 80% of them sold out on the first day.” “It was such a pleasant surprise after a decade.”
Daniel Jones and Hayes both appeared in Savage Garden. Songs like “I Want You,” “To the Moon & Back,” and “Truly Madly Deeply” were significant hits for the band during this time period.
Hayes, who was married to ex-wife Colby Taylor from 1994 to 2000, eventually came out as gay when the band broke up in 2001. As of 2013, he’s been wed to Richard Cullen.
At the time of his previous interview with Billboard in 2017, Hayes talked about being bullied growing up because of his sexuality, including by his own dad. It’s the first time he’s spoken openly about his own significant mental health difficulties as a result of being gay, though.
After years of bullying at school, denial and guilt over [his] sexuality, and the mask to hide the quickly developing melancholy that would eventually become unbearable, the artist developed a “carefully designed character” that was “made to protect [him].”
His piece stated that Savage Garden was on the verge of global stardom and would go on to sell 26 million albums, have two Billboard No. 1 singles, and tour the world.
Even yet, no one knew I was extremely unhappy and barely able to keep the secrets that would eventually shatter me personally and lead me to the brink of suicide at the height of my celebrity. ”
Due to Hayes’ despair following the breakup of his band and marriage, his staff would secretly check on him to make sure he was still alive.
“The leftover grief from [his] past and [his] emerging sexuality” prompted Hayes to seek treatment in 2002. Antidepressants are also credited with saving his life, according to him.
In spite of a difficult journey, Hayes is now “creating honestly gay music and consciously doing all the things [he] had been discouraged from doing” in the early stages of his career.”
“I no longer feel the guilt and stigma surrounding my sexuality or my mental health because I have fully accepted myself in my art,” he said. “I publicly discuss both topics because I believe they are intertwined, and it is my belief that by talking about the things that most disgrace us, we may dispel the darkness.
Poison Blood is my latest hit, and I describe my mental health as ‘a blessing…gift…and curse’ in the song’s lyrics.”
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