The mega pop star who vanished

July 17, 2015 5:23 am 3 comments Views: 68
Mystery man ... Recognise this guy? He’s one of Australia’s most successful, and low-prof

Mystery man … Recognise this guy? He’s one of Australia’s most successful, and low-profile, musicians.
Source: News Limited

DANIEL Jones is one of Australia’s most successful songwriters, but also one of the most mysterious.

He was the quiet half of Savage Garden, the member who hated touring so much it led to the demise of the chart-topping band after just two albums (which sold over 20 million copies).

Lucratively and uncommonly, the pair own the rights to their own music, which they haven’t put on streaming sites, and have remastered their albums and released a new singles compilation.

That has got Jones doing his first interview in many years, but he’s politely declined to send updated photos of himself, still happy to live off the radar.

Do you find it funny that people think you’re a mystery man?

People have a misconception about who I actually am. Because Darren was the extrovert at the start of Savage Garden my manager said ‘Whatever you are, turn it up to 100-per-cent’. I said ‘What if I’m a little quieter?’ and he said ‘Turn it up to 100-per-cent’. So I did. I just didn’t say much. And my manager said that’d be easy next to Darren. He was right. It just worked. That was our identity. And by accident really. I am quieter than Darren, he’s a full-on hyperactive person. He gives so much. There is no off button. He’s fantastic at it too. I don’t think I’d like to have the publicity or the profile of a Taylor Swift. I never want that in my life, ever. That’s giving away your freedom and to me there’s no price you could put on that.

Woolly, mammoth ... Savage Garden’s Daniel Jones and Darren Hayes sharing a joke.

Woolly, mammoth … Savage Garden’s Daniel Jones and Darren Hayes sharing a joke.
Source: News Corp Australia

With some distance do you look back on Savage Garden more fondly?

Yeah it’s like a bad road trip. During the time of it happening you think ‘Oh my God, I need to get out of here’ and then five years later it’s the best story you can tell your friends over a drink.

The timing was magic, you had global success at the time people still paid for music and bought albums. You made a living off music. It’s harder to do that now.

We were lucky enough to come in on the last real sexy wave of the music industry. iTunes came out 2001/2002, we’d put the game aside at that point, at least I had, with the band. So we were very fortunate.

You’ve said that Truly Madly Deeply has been a financial gift to you that you can pass on to your kids.

Absolutely. I remind myself of the guy in that Hugh Grant movie Music and Lyrics where he inherited royalties from some old songs. Sometimes I feel like that character in that I’m still getting paid for something I did nearly 20 years ago. That in itself is quite amazing. But it’s how the beast works, it’s how residuals and royalties happen. I’m so appreciative of the fact I’m still getting paid today for something I did so long ago. I did it not to get paid, I did it because I loved doing it. It was that innocent. For someone today to still be putting their hands in their pocket and buying our music, I’m so honoured by that.

At least you’re not making money from Crazy Frog, they’re songs people still love.

I’m sure some of our songs piss a lot of people off!

Are you protective of the Savage Garden legacy? Do you say no to the hits being used on ads for example?

I don’t think I’m as protective as Darren. It always has to be something both he and I agree upon if a song gets used for anything. I’m not overly protective. The fact we wrote and recorded the songs originally, that art is never going to change.

Early days ... Savage Garden makin’ some hits in a Brisbane studio, pre world domination

Early days … Savage Garden makin’ some hits in a Brisbane studio, pre world domination and stylists.
Source: News Corp Australia

There was a lot of drama around the split, people think there was a huge falling out with you and Darren.

The truth behind it all is that Darren and I had and still have an amazing amount of respect for each other as people, as human beings. Regardless of our differences, and believe me there are differences. But in some aspects we were very similar at the same time. We don’t really have a relationship anymore, because of the distance and he’s moved on and I’ve moved on, but we still have a great respect for one another. I still hear him speaking highly of me and it’s reciprocated.

You left the band because you didn’t want to tour and hated the spotlight — that’s been more than validated by the fact you’ve pretty much stayed out of the public eye since the band ended.

Absolutely. The one thing I never wanted Darren to think is that it was personal against him. My decision of walking away from the limelight wasn’t directed to anyone but myself and my own happiness. Years later I can tell you I don’t miss that lifestyle. The decision I made back then today is still the right decision. The who said what gets out of control, the reality is I never loved the lifestyle and the existence of touring.

A lot of bands say they will stop when it stops being fun. You actually did.

When it stops being fun it stops being fun. It’s just not for everyone. And you don’t know that until you do it.

Have there been many offers to reform Savage Garden?

There has been, the reality is the band will unfortunately never get back together. What we have to do is remember what we did do, if that’s touched your life to some degree, you’ve got to look back fondly rather than wish for more.

Family time ... Jones with wife Kathleen de Leon daughter Mikayla in 2007.

Family time … Jones with wife Kathleen de Leon daughter Mikayla in 2007.
Source: News Limited

You had to listen to the albums again for this project. Were you listening back fondly?

Good question. Sometimes I look back and think `I can’t believe I ever let that go to radio’ and some days I listen to a song and I think `Wow’ because I can’t think of where that came from within me. I do look at it proudly. It depends what mood I’m in on what particular day. Mixed emotions.

Is there one song that you’re most proud of?

A few. One song that was underrated was The Lover After Me on the Affirmation album. Probably my best body of work in the one song was To the Moon and Back. I just feel that was a really credible pop/rock song, it was intellectual yet it was pop. That to me was the guts of what Savage Garden sounded like.

Do you have a favourite of the two albums?

The first one (Savage Garden) by far. I was a lot more involved on the first one. The second one (Affirmation), America got involved, the big time Grammy winning producer got involved, Sony Music got involved, Darren took further control. I felt it kind of slipping from me a little bit, it wasn’t my baby so much anymore. It went from a baby to a toddler who could start to do things for themselves. I felt like I nurtured the first album, I felt it was more me than the second album, which is a little bit selfish I guess.

Have you followed Darren’s solo career?

I haven’t, to be honest. I heard the Spin album. I fell off the face of the Earth from music, it’s not just Darren’s music I haven’t heard it’s everyone’s music.

Loved up ... The most recent picture of Daniel Johns and Kathleen de Leon Jones is this o

Loved up … The most recent picture of Daniel Johns and Kathleen de Leon Jones is this one, from 2008.
Source: News Limited

So what does Daniel Jones do now?

There’s not a lot of mystery about it. I’m number one a father, number two a husband and number three I dabble in property. Music is sitting on the backburner now. I still enjoy it, I still write and record and play around with it purely for fun, the same way I did 20 years ago with Darren. But I don’t take it as seriously any more as far as the dream I dreamt. Which I realised wasn’t really my ideal dream. The dream I’m dreaming now is another one I’ve dreamt but I’m happy and that is a family. Two beautiful daughters and a beautiful wife, everything’s good.

You’ve got two kids, you must hear modern music?

My kids are oddballs. I’ve got a wife (Kathleen de Leon Jones, formerly of the children’s group Hi-5) into musical theatre. I hear the Wicked soundtrack, my kids are nuts for Xanadu and Grease. Yes I hear Taylor Swift, think she’s fantastic, a great songwriter. But I still hear people from the `70s saying there won’t be music like there was in the `70s and I kind of agree. The sound of music from the `70s and some of the `80s, I don’t think can ever be replaced. Nothing will ever come close to that. I’m a bit of a throwback guy.

What’s worse, the sharks in the music industry or in real estate?

Ha! Real estate is easier. Buy low, sell high.

So you’re flipping houses?

Yep. I’m pretty good on the tools and quite hands on. I’ve always thoroughly enjoyed doing hard work. I’ll be painting one day, putting up stud work one day, plastering the next day. I’m doing that on houses mainly through Las Vegas where I purchase them at a low deflated price and then hold onto them and flip them. I’ve got a small crew who work with me … for me. It’s so far away from music right?

On the town ... The pair also pictured in 2008 before their move to California.

On the town … The pair also pictured in 2008 before their move to California.
Source: News Corp Australia

You had a record label for a while back there …

Yeah, for me, honestly, I came out of the touring world and thought I wanted to pass onto others the experience I was given that, to a certain degree, I felt guilty that I’d got. I didn’t really embrace it the way others perhaps would or would want to. So I thought what can I do to give back? And basically the reality is I spent a whole lot of money on projects that never really went anywhere. I couldn’t keep doing that forever otherwise I’d end up with no money. I had every good intention to give back and give people opportunities but the reality is it didn’t go so well.

Do your kids know what you used to do for a living?

To a certain degree. They know more what mum did because she was in Hi-5. My eldest likes a couple of Savage Garden songs, there’s a video or two on the iPod. I’d love to sit them down and watch our live DVD with them. But they have an attention span of about ten seconds and then they’re gone.

How long will you be in America for?

We’ve been in Las Vegas for five years and we were in LA before that. I thoroughly enjoy living here but I miss Australia a lot. Kathleen and I were talking seriously about when we’d move back. In the back of both of our minds there’s a return trip home. We’re an oddball family. I was born in England, Kathleen was born in the Philippines, my eldest daughter was born in Sydney and my other daughter was born in LA. None of us were born in the same country, only one of us is a true Australian, but it is our home. Our parents are there, our siblings are there. I miss Australia a lot.

Singles (Roadshow) is out now as well as remastered versions of Savage Garden and Affirmation.

Superstar and cannonballs ... Daniel Jones on stage in 2000, Savage Garden’s final tour.

Superstar and cannonballs … Daniel Jones on stage in 2000, Savage Garden’s final tour.
Source: News Limited

www.news.com.au/entertainment/music

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