It has been nearly 26 years since the Australian new wave band Men at Work went their separate ways, but lead singer Colin Hay never stopped working.
Hay has released 11 solo albums since Men at Work broke up and has in a sense recreated himself for a new generation.
“It was phenomenal in the true sense of the word that doesn’t happen to very many people. It was very, very exciting travelling the world and having successful records and coming to the United States and going on Saturday Night Live. It was quite incredible,” says Hay about his experience in Men at Work.
Growing up in his parent’s music shop in Scotland, Hay was surrounded by pianos, guitars, drums and records.
“I listened to a lot of different things growing up. I was very fortunate,” he says. “I naturally gravitated towards the guitar. I tried piano before that, and that’s my biggest regret: giving it up.”
Like many musicians, Hay was influenced by the music of The Beatles, and it was the beat music phenomenon that inspired him to pursue music as a career.
“I didn’t really want to pursue anything else,” he says. “I did flirt with the idea of becoming an actor because my best friend in Melbourne was an actor. But music was the path that I followed. It was something that I don’t even remember consciously thinking that I wouldn’t do.”
Hay doesn’t spend much time comparing his new record Gathering Mercury to his past work, but says “I think I’m becoming more stylish as I get older.”
Even though Hay isn’t influenced by his past albums, the reggae sound of Gathering Mercury reflects his past.
“It’s just the way that I hear the groove really. Reggae was around in the ‘70s in Australia and it was in the old band sound. It’s just kind of a natural thing really,” he says.
While recording Gathering Mercury Hay experienced the “first and most tragic thing that’s ever happened in [his] life,” the death of his father.
“I think the death of my father did impact the songs on Gathering Mercury in a big way because I was thinking about him all the time in one way or another simply because it was a very radical and tragic thing but also a very human thing.”
Hay’s music has appeared on soundtracks such as Garden State and he even played a troubadour on Scrubs.
Hay will take the stage at The Royal on Thursday at 8 p.m.
Tickets are $30 and are available at Royal Espresso, Eddy Music and liveattheroyal.com.