Savage Garden -- Introducing the Australian group behind ''Truly, Madly, Deeply''

Hometown: Brisbane, Australia

Latest album: The double-platinum Savage Garden (Columbia)

Reason you’ve noticed them: Their impossibly romantic third single, ”Truly Madly Deeply,” which displaced Elton John’s ”Candle in the Wind ’97” at the top of the Billboard Hot 100 in January and served as the love theme in an episode of Dawson’s Creek.

How they would describe their sound if they were rock critics: ”Embryonic. Derivative,” says vocalist Darren Hayes, 25. ”I wouldn’t see us as a band that knew what we were doing, because we don’t. But I think we’re exciting.”

How we would describe their sound: Roxette with a sharper edge — and a stronger command of the English language.

Target demographic: Europop mourners, Dawson‘s freaks, and Rosie O’Donnell, who played their ”chic-a-cherry-cola” debut single, ”I Want You,” on her show for weeks. ”She’ll probably never understand what she did for us,” says Hayes.

Fashion sense: Obsessively monochromatic. In other words, they derived more than just their name from Anne Rice’s ”Vampire Chronicles.”

Triumphant tale of how they beat the odds: ”We were playing the local bar for the 700th time, and there was the same 20 people turning up drunk and throwing bottles,” recalls keyboardist-guitarist Daniel Jones, 24, of their cover-band days. ”We channeled that frustration into determination.”

Funky fact: They originally bought the band name Crush from an Australian group. ”But then we realized there was one in England that was storming up the charts” with the ”Jellyhead” single, says Jones. ”So we wasted our money there.”

If Savage Garden were a breakfast cereal, they’d be: Frosted Cheerios

Stock quote on the pitfalls of fame: ”Walking down the red carpet at the Blockbuster Awards was quite a fright,” says Hayes. ”Those paparazzi would not give up. We constantly assume we’re less newsworthy than we actually are.”

Lead singer’s instant charisma factor (out of a possible five): Four (minus one point for being married)

Albums that never leave the tape player on their tour bus: U2’s Pop and Achtung Baby, Sarah McLachlan’s Surfacing and Fumbling Towards Ecstasy, REM’s Monster, both Seal albums

What’s next: A tentative summer American tour, a possible rerelease of their underperforming second single, ”To the Moon and Back,” and a second Rosie appearance April 8.