Colin Hay has played and recorded with a vast array of musicians over the course of his 40 years in the music industry. If you have listened to the radio in the last 30 years, you know the music of his band Men at Work. Think of any radio song you know all the words to, and the odds are pretty good that it’s a Colin Hay original.
The Scottish-Australian singer-songwriter has performed all over the world over the last four decades, and released his 13th album, Fierce Mercy, in 2017. On this latest album, his signature style is instantly recognizable, but it also deals with more personal, emotional themes. Love, loss, facing one’s own aging and mortality and even a brush with extra-terrestrials.
Colin is one of those folk-rock singers who effortlessly capture and express the Zeitgeist.
Even with Men at Work, Colin has always written from a very intimate, honest place, and Fierce Mercy continues in this pensive vein. He refers to current global issues as inspiration for the album’s name. “With the changing weather patterns, or the polar ice caps melting, we’re getting all of these warnings, and a lot of them are incredibly fierce. But they still feel somewhat merciful — they’re not destroying us totally. We’re all being told, ‘Listen, you can still maybe address this, and it won’t get to the point where I have to take you all out. You’ve still got a shot.’”
While touring Europe with Ringo Starr last summer, he realized how many people still love Men at Work.
He was getting so many requests to play his old tunes that he decided to put together a tour playing all of the old hits as well as songs off the new album. He is currently touring with his US support band, which includes his wife, Cecilia Noël. The album was recorded largely with this band in Topanga, California, and in collaboration with Michael Georgiades. Georgiades also collaborated with him on three previous albums, Next Year People (2015), Gathering Mercury (2011), and American Sunshine (2009).
Colin took the time to answer a few questions via email about his many years of experience in the music business.
LH: What an absolute privilege and pleasure to have the opportunity not only to see you play the songs I grew up with, but also to ask a few questions about your long and prolific career. You have been making music for pretty much as long as I have been around. Is it still fun? Is touring still fun? It can be pretty grueling. Do you sometimes just think, I’m done with all this?
Colin: Yes indeed, I sometimes think, why am I still on the road? In short, it makes me feel useful.
LH: Back in 1985, the original lineup of the band split. Was it very difficult to get that album out, promote it on tour, and then to continue without the other guys? Did you think at any point that “this is it, we are done?”
Colin: The old band was over by the end of 1983.
I was happy to be on my own. I still am, but I have a new band that I love playing with.
LH: So much has changed in the four decades that you have been active in the music industry. You have seen the transformation from LPs, to tapes, to CDs and now to digital music, to name just one aspect. How has this changed your process of not only creating, but also marketing your music? What has surprised you the most?
Colin: There are just new tools. Everything co-exists. Streaming, vinyl, CD, YouTube. I still love the process of writing, recording and playing music, and finding new audiences. I am fortunate indeed.
LH: Finally, what advice would you give young musicians who want to make a living out of making music?
Colin: Work hard on your craft, and never sign anything without first consulting with a reputable entertainment lawyer.
LH: Thank you so much for taking the time to share some of your wisdom and experience. We are very excited about the show!
Colin Hay: Men at Work on Tour 2019
Open air at Parkbühne, Clara Zetkin Park
Saturday, 6 July 2019, 19:30 (7:30 PM)