By Michael Swanger email@example.com
Hay's solo work is business as
you find yourself asking the question
"Who can it be now?"
when you see Colin Hay perform
Thursday at Nitefall on the River
as a solo artist, you probably
haven't been keeping tabs on the
singer-songwriter for the past
20 years. Hay may be best known
as the front man for the popular
'80s Australian rock band Men
At Work, but his work as a solo,
acoustic artist has been business
as usual since Men At Work's breakup
"I've done a lot of work
since then, but that's where it
stops for a lot of people,"
says the 52-year-old Hay, who
was born in Scotland and moved
to Australia with his family at
the age of 14 and now resides
in Los Angeles. "But if they
like what you did once, they tend
to like what you do now."
Since Men At Work split up following
the release of 1985's gold album,
"Two Hearts," Hay has
released a series of solo albums
with songs that have found their
way into film and television as
audiences have rediscovered his
trademark voice and clever observations.
Hay's "I Just Don't Think
I'll Ever Get Over You" became
a hit from the success of the
"Garden State" soundtrack
and it spurred Compass Records
to re-release "Going Somewhere,"
an album Hay first recorded in
2000 for his own label, Lazy Eye
In 1987, Hay released his debut
solo album, "Looking For
Jack," and its lead single
"Hold Me" hit the U.S.
Top 100 on the Billboard charts.
Unfortunately for Hay, his follow-up
record didn't fare as well and
his label, RCA Records, dropped
him. So from 1991 to 2003, Hay
worked without the support of
a major label, creating his own
"It was a case of necessity,
not of choice," he says.
"I license my albums to Compass
so they have more of a chance
to get to the store instead of
a room in the back of my house.
You get dropped and you have to
figure out how to stay in the
Hay hasn't enjoyed the same
kind of commercial success he
did with Men At Work, whose debut
album "Business As Usual"
sold 10 million copies and garnered
the band a Grammy Award in 1982
for Best New Artist, but he hasn't
stopped working. In addition to
his solo career, he's also appeared
in film ("The Country Bears,"
and on television ("Scrubs,"
"The Larry Sanders Show").
"There's a lot of people
aware of what I'm doing, but they're
not in the mainstream," Hay
says. "But you carry on and
do what you do. It ebbs and flows.
I'm loving what's going on at
For Hay, "the moment"
includes working on a new album
to be completed by the end of
the year and endless touring,
adding that his fall from grace
has been more interesting than
his peak in popularity with Men
At Work. He says he also enjoys
the freedom of being able to work
as a solo artist or with a band,
and that he hasn't lost his knack
for writing songs of bittersweet
"It's what I did when I
was 14 years old and it's what
I still do," Hays says. "It's
what I did until Men At Work,
which was the exception when it
formed and had amazing success.
That was five years out of my
life, then I started making records
again with other musicians. But
I'd always return to the acoustic
guitar and singing because it
felt most natural."
A reunion with his former bandmates,
in case you're wondering, wouldn't
be as comfortable, Hay admits.
"You have to ask yourself,
'Why would you do that?'"
he says. "What's the intrigue?
Is it a nostalgia thing?"
Hay says television executives
who produce shows like VH1's "Bands
Reunited" and Bravo's "Hit
Me Baby One More Time" have
asked him to reunite with Men
At Work, but he has refused their
"The only people who win
are the TV people because people
watch it and they get ratings,"
he says. "They're shockingly
appalling and there's nothing
in it for the bands. They don't
pay them much money and it sets
you up for public humiliation,
which is what those shows are
all about. Would you go on TV
with people you hung out with
20 years ago, which wasn't that
much fun then? I'd run a mile
the other way."
Though he once ruled the pop
music world and he's spent the
last 20 years carving out a niche
for himself as a solo artist,
he says he has yet to scratch
the surface on a career he hopes
will last a lifetime.
"I haven't done anything
yet," he says. "I play
a few chords and sing a few songs.
There are many things to do. It's
a lifetime. It's as deep or as
shallow as you want to make it."
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