Colin Hay found fame as the front-man of the hugely successful ‘80s band, Men At Work. Now with a flourishing solo career, he catches up with Kim Gould in the lead up to his Australian tour to talk music, television and charity.
> When Men At Work called it a day in the mid ‘80s, you started out on your solo career. Was it hard going out alone?
It didn’t feel really difficult; it was just what happened. I was still under contract to Sony Music, so I still made albums, and I felt pretty good being on my own.
In retrospect, I think it was probably more emotional than I thought. We were close for a while, then the whole thing split apart. There’s a lot of emotional fallout that happens when you split up with a band. But I just kept playing music and trying to be as creative as I could.
> Tell us about your record label, Lazy Eye Records.
It was a label that I formed myself simply because I was trying to get distribution for my own albums. At the time, people told me that if you make your own albums it’s a bit easier to get distribution if you have your own label, but I don’t think that’s necessarily the case.
I was without a label for probably ten years, so I thought I’d just form my own label and put my albums out under my own steam.
> Tell us about the 2005 charity single, ‘My Brilliant Feat’.
I wrote the song ten or twelve years ago about George Best, the football player. When he died, we used the song as an underscore for his best goals. We donated the proceeds from that to the Donor Family Network, which is the network that helps to find people livers and so forth. That was a charity that Heather Mills was involved with at the time, so she organised it over in England.
> Why is it important for celebrities to be involved in charity work?
I don’t think it’s necessarily important for celebrities to do anything that they don’t want to do. But if someone feels passionate about something and they have a voice, then more power to them.
They can reach a lot of people and they can create a lot of change, which is a great thing. I think anyone can do great work in all kinds of areas. It doesn’t have to be huge; it can be a small thing and be just as effective. But we all need to do something, because it’s chaos out there.
> You’ve worked on a string of hit TV shows, including Scrubs. How did this come about?
I knew Zach Braff before he was in Scrubs, and he and the show’s creator came to see me play a number of years ago. Zach liked my CDs, so he played them for the creator of the show, and he liked them as well. So they started using a few of my songs in the show. It was great for me to have that sort of exposure.
> Tell us about the new album, ‘American Sunshine’.
I guess the idea came from things being so black for so long here in the United States, and in many other parts of the world.
When President Obama got elected, it was a bit like a ray of sunshine amidst all the chaos of the last decade or so, and I had great feelings of hopefulness when he got into power.
I recorded about half of the album in my studio basement and the other half in Nashville. Nashville has an unbelievable level of musicianship, so I’ve been lucky to record there.
> What is one of your most memorable moments in music?
One of the highlights was playing in a club in Hollywood, and Paul McCartney came to see me play. He stayed for the whole show, which was cool.
I’ve also done two tours with Ringo Starr’s All-Starr Band, which was fantastic. Ringo puts a different band together every couple of years, so I did a couple of tours in 2003 and 2008. It’s a nice small club to belong to and a cool thing to have done.
> You’ll be touring here this month. Have you been to the area before?
I’ve been there many times. It’s one of the most beautiful parts of the world and it makes you feel fantastic. I’m bringing my band up there; I don’t think they’ve ever been up there before, so they’ll really enjoy it.
I’m looking forward to getting out and playing in Australia for a month and hugging the coast. I am keen to jump in the ocean and doing all those things you dream about doing when you’re not there.
> What are your plans for 2010?
Just touring and moving forward. I’m writing new songs, and I’m excited about the future.
At the moment I’m just thinking about the next tour and making that work right.
> Thanks Colin; good luck with the tour.