Darren Hayes’ new DVD for "The Time Machine Tour" is out on July 22nd and it’s a spectacle of delight for the eyes and ears. After the screening of the DVD last month in Soho, I naturally I had some burning questions that Darren took the time to answer – exclusively for you EQ readers. In our little chat about the DVD, Darren talks about some of the technical considerations with the tour, lost concepts, his thoughts on being denied useage of a brilliant Prince mash-up for "Baby I’m A Star/Popular" and some tiny hints as to what we can expect in the future from Mr. Hayes…
EQ: Hey Darren – Welcome back to EQ. Now in watching the The Time Machine Tour DVD back, one thing I noticed was that the DVD footage seems a bit darker, than when you watch the actual live show. Would you agree or disagree with that?
Darren Hayes: Having never seen the show from an audience perspective I couldn’t comment on whether it’s darker or lighter but I can comment on how it was shot. It was shot with only the lighting provided specifically for the show, as opposed to ramping up the lights for filming. That is to say, normally you have to add additional lighting or ‘over light’ when you are filming purely because the camera lens and the human eye are very different. I felt very strongly that I did not want to ‘over light’ the show – for one reason. It would have ruined the experience for all those present. When you add additional lighting to a show for filming purposes, you never truly go to ‘black’ in between songs. You never truly have those huge contrasts in dark and light. And subconsciously that affects an audience because they sense that they are not truly immersed. The downside is that, yes, some of the footage is indeed dark but I’d much rather have captured the show with the actual vibe in the room and what that did to my performance than an overly bright show for show’s sake. A classic example of a DVD way over lit is the last Madonna DVD. That show on DVD looks nothing like the actual tour. And for me that’s an issue. I’d like to think our show looks more like the human eye would have seen it than a camera lens. It’s something we applied to the entire process including not having actual camera crew on stage or massive cranes. I wanted to film this as inconspicuously as possible, hence ‘robot’ cameras hidden around the stage and operated by tech offstage.
What was really interesting to me was chatting with your musicians at the DVD screening. They basically said they have "never experienced the live show" because they were concentrated on actually performing it. When you watched the show back on DVD, was your interpretation of it the same or different being that you could watch the whole thing instead of performing it?
It’s absolutely strange to watch yourself full stop. And also, my view of the show is from my eyes out to the audience. A classic example is, I’d never seen what the green lasers looked like. They are my favorite part of the show! But I’d never seen them before seeing the DVD. It’s a bit like acting with a blue screen. You know the effects are going to be added later, or in this case, will be seen by the audience, and you just have to concentrate on the performance and trust that the other supporting elements will only serve to make what you are doing stronger.
So did your fascination with green laser lights begin with this tour or have you always harboured a secret desire to work with laser lights?
Ever since Michael Jackson’s "Rock with you" video!
One reason I’m glad you captured the tour on DVD was that many of your fans couldn’t make it to the UK or Australia to experience it. Was that a big motivator in getting the DVD produced?
When we realized the show wouldn’t make it to the US, I was really glad we were filming it. But to be honest, I always planned to film it. I aim to film every major tour of my career.
So unfortunately Team Prince wouldn’t allow you permission to use your version of "Baby I’m A Star/Popular" on the DVD. Upsetting or do you totally understand where he is coming from there?
No I think he’s crazy to be honest. A control freak. And hypocritical considering his last tour was essentially a covers tour. But, that’s the thing about having idols. It’s best not to get too close. The mystery is ruined. I still think he’s a genius, just a crazy one.
One of the highlights of the show is your performance of Savage Garden classic "The Best Thing" – why did you choose to revamp this song on the live tour?
All Willie Williams idea and precisely because it’s probably the most iconic visage moment from Savage Garden. We wanted to celebrate that.
Is there any lost concept on the tour that didn’t make the cut in the final performance due to time/budget constraints? Obviously you spent a lot of money on the giant origami bird!
We had an idea to have a system of pulleys and levers with rope all around the stage, like a Victorian conveyor belt – on which I’d travel. That got lost pretty early on. Also there was an idea to start the show with the future being all perfect and gleaming but then have a moment when the set sort of falls about to reveal the present as torn and crumbled. During the show we’d slowly put it back together but it wouldn’t be the same. A sort of simple metaphor to say that the flaws are necessary. But ultimately we sort of achieved that idea in a much more simplistic way simply by having the ‘dark’ section in the show from which the bird ultimately ‘rises from the ashes’ with me astride it.
Let’s talk about the origami bird some more. It’s a huge theme in "This Delicate Thing We’ve Made" – how much work went into the concept of this very ornate stage prop?
A massive amount. People really interested should read the article that was on the cover of ‘Total Production’ magazine. The design is all Willie Williams – the construction and the work of the men who make all of Willie’s big tour props (U2’s ‘lemon’ a classic example). The physics behind that and in fact the bridge were fascinating – because they both had to support the weight of an adult and collapse and unfold.
Did Willie Williams freak out when you told him you wanted to do this or was he like "giant origami bird…no big deal!"
It was his idea totally. The bird obviously was my idea from the theme and the artwork but he took it to the literal physical level.
You said you’ve always wanted to do a tour of this scale. Was The Time Machine Tour your version of ‘Blond Ambition’ or was it more ‘Drowned World’? Do you see yourself doing something on this scale again?
I’d say it was neither. This is my ‘Glass Spider’. Or my ‘Secret World’ live. It was theatrical and simple, though expensive!
You sold out the Royal Albert Hall on this tour. In your career where does fall in terms of lifetime acheivements?
I only need to be nominated for a Grammy and I’m set.
Now you did something very interesting after The Time Machine Tour…you then went on a mini-tour called "The Side Two Tour" to play some b-sides and rarities, which for die hard fans was an absolute treat. Are we going to see any footage of The Side Two Tour anytime soon?
Cool – thanks for chatting with us…Now I know you said you’re taking a break, but knowing you, you never stop…what’s next?!
Writing for other artists and some secret special things in Australia. Lovely to talk to you as always!