The band had formed in June 1994, and included multi-instrumentalist and producer, Daniel Jones and vocalist, Darren Hayes. In 1995, they entered the studio to work on their debut album with producer, Charles Fisher (Air Supply, Moving Pictures, 1927). In March 1997, the duo's self-titled debut album, Savage Garden, entered the Australian charts at No. 1 and peaked there for a total of 19 weeks. The album was released internationally two weeks later. The album reached No. 3 on the US Billboard 200 and was certified gold by RIAA.
In September, Savage Garden won a record ten ARIA Awards from 13 nominations for the album and associated singles. As of 2005, Savage Garden had been certified diamond in Canada, 12× platinum in Australia, 7× platinum in the US, 2× platinum in New Zealand, Singapore, and in the UK.
The album's track listing varies depending on territory. The original Australian version of the album includes the tracks "Mine" and "All Around Me", which were removed from the international track listing. "Mine" was removed due to concerns held by the record company over the line "crosses and crucifixes", and "All Around Me" was removed for being overtly sexual. The international version adds the track "Promises", as in international markets, it was only originally released on the cassette format of "I Want You", whereas in Australia, it was already available on CD as the B-side to "Truly Madly Deeply". Also, the version of "Truly Madly Deeply" on the international version has a new drum track, compared to the original Australian version, which has drum machine. Thus, this became the hit single version released outside Australia. The track order was also changed to give prominence to the three hit singles, which open the album. The Japanese version of the album uses the international track listing, however, includes "Mine" as a bonus track between "Promises" and "Santa Monica". In support of the group's Asian tour in 1998, a special double-album package was released in the region. The first disc features the international version of the album, and the second disc includes B-sides, remixes and rare tracks. Darren Hayes has noted that the international track listing was not what the band wanted (particularly because Mine was one of his favorite tracks, and because the band had laboured over the track order), but the US record label insisted.
"To the Moon and Back" was released in November 1996 in Australia, reaching No. 1 in January 1997. In May 1997, "To the Moon and Back" was the most played song on American radio. The single became the band's most successful chart single in the United Kingdom, peaking at #3 on the UK Singles Chart, after its second release in June 1998.
"Truly Madly Deeply", the band's third Australian single, was released in March 1997, reaching No. 1 there, and soon became their signature song. By the end of 1997, "Truly Madly Deeply" became the most-played song on American radio, and the only one-sided single to spend a full year in the Top 30 of the Billboard Hot 100. It also replaced Elton John's "Candle in the Wind 1997" at the top of the charts after that song's 14-week run at No. 1. The single became the band's highest-selling single in the UK, selling 645,000 copies after just six months of release.
"Break Me Shake Me" was released as the album's fourth Australian single in June 1997. It achieved minor success, and thus, was later issued in Europe and Japan in September 1998, complete with a brand new music video. The single was not released in the United Kingdom.
"Universe" was released as the album's fifth Australian single in October 1997. Exclusively released in Australia, it is one of the band's least-known singles, but is still popular amongst Australian fans.
"All Around Me" was released as a radio-only single in Australia in January 1998, although around 3000 physical copies were given away via a radio competition and at the band's second massive concert in Brisbane.
"Santa Monica" was released as a single in Japan in December 1998, accompanied by a video of a live performance of the song at the Hard Rock Cafe. The single was never issued in Australia.
"Tears of Pearls" was released as the album's final single in May 1999, exclusively in Europe. The single was backed with a music video featuring footage from the group's Future of Earthly Delites tour.
This album fetched the duo a record of 10 awards at the ARIA Awards 1997, grabbing Best Album, Best Single, Best Group, Song of the Year, Best Debut Album, Best Independent Release, Best Pop Release and Highest Selling Single award—the most awards ever won by a single act in one year. The following year at the ARIA Awards 1998, the album won two more awards—Highest Selling Album award and Outstanding Achievement Award. In October 2010, Savage Garden was listed in the top 40 in the book, 100 Best Australian Albums.