Colin Hay

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Colin Hay

Colin Hay has a tale or two to tell, whether it be his first impressions of Australia after emigrating from Scotland at the age of 14, or stories from the decades of success and excess that followed as the front man of one of the country’s biggest bands, Men At Work. His first-hand accounts of redemption and re-invention are inspired, while his sense of humour – though self-deprecating at times – will leave you feeling uplifted and thoroughly entertained.
“It’s a form of release, like an energy release,” he says of his fondness for making people laugh. “A sense of humour is very important and storytelling has become an integral part of the show. When my old band broke up and I started playing shows on my own, very few people would come along. So I felt like I could tell the audience anything – about myself and what happened during those years [in Men At Work]. It was like letting them in on a secret. People seemed to really like that aspect of the show, so it grew from there.”
Colin freely admits that his struggle to find an audience in the aftermath of Men At Work weighed heavily on him and escalated his now defunct love affair with the bottle. “At times, it felt like everybody just wanted me to stay in my wee box and come out only to sing certain songs and then go away again, you know? So to those people who supported me through that, I wanted to give them something special and it’s grown over the last two decades.”
He continued making solo albums, however his major resurgence came about when the one time fan – and now friend – Zach Braff asked if he could use ‘Just Don’t Think I’ll Ever Get Over You’ (a track from Colin’s solo album Transcendental Highway, 1998) for his little indie movie, Garden State. Needless to say, it went on to become a cult classic and Colin found himself with a new generation of fans. From there he appeared in the US sitcom Scrubsat Braff’s request, playing an acoustic version of the Men At Work hit ‘Overkill’ in three separate episodes. (He has since gone on to act in various small roles for TV and film, something he’s done so since the ’80s.)
The recognition and exposure fuelled Colin’s resolve to continue on in his solo career (albeit independently). “I only produce my own records because there’s no-one else who wants to produce them!” he laughed. “It’s not like I particularly want to produce them – there isn’t the budget around anymore to have producers come in, so I just do it myself.” He set up his own label Lazy Eye Records, circa 2005.
Next Year People is Colin’s latest offering – 10 tracks of some of his finest work. Despite enjoying his careers renaissance, he deeply cherishes his long-term friendships and attributes much of his success to the support of his wife Cecilia Noel, a Peruvian singer once named the ‘Latin Tina Turner’. “She sings with me on this record and she has exceptional musical instincts. She helps me a lot in the studio and I’ve actually stolen a lot of compositions from her!” he grinned. “I’ve also got a couple of Cuban lads [San Miguel Perez and Yosmel Montejo] from her band playing on the record.
“And I’ve got a couple of dear friends who are very honest with me and steer me back when I go off track,” he continued. “But I think I’ll be alright as long as I remember that we’re all wandering around trying to figure out what the fuck it’s all about, you know? Everyone has that to share – we’re on this journey together.”
When & Where: Her Majesty’s, Ballarat – April 25, Lighthouse Theatre, Warrnambool – April 26 & The Forum, Melbourne – May 20
By Natalie Rogers