For some reason many of Australia’s fave musical sons started elsewhere, specifically the grey, rainy, couldn’t be more different to Down Under of Scotland
. AC/DC’s Angus Young and Cold Chisel’s Jimmy Barnes were born there, and so too Colin Hay, former Men At Work frontman, who’s simply one of the best singer-songwriters Australia – or any island for that matter – has ever produced.
Hay moved to Melbourne as a 14-year-old in 1967 and formed Men At Work in 1979, having a global hit with Down Under. They disbanded in 1987 and Hay went solo, moving to LA in 1989 and setting up his own label, Lazy Eye Records, three years later.
“I realised I’d have to work harder for more modest returns,” he says of this period of transition. “I set about building a new audience [who didn’t know him as a ‘Man At Work’] and it has been hand-to-hand combat ever since.”
Hay’s Californian period got a shot in the arm from the most unusual of places, too, as indie fan Zach Braff picked him and his music to appear in a number of Scrubs episodes, and chose I Just Don’t Think I’ll Ever Get Over You for the Garden State soundtrack. “I went from playing to 50 people a few years ago, to 500 and 1000-seat venues,” he says of his late-Noughties resurgence.
It has as much to do with his work ethic and dedication (11 solo albums and counting), and the fact he writes damn fine tunes as evidenced by ninth Lazy Eye LP, Gathering Mercury, which is out in the UK on May 6.Hay describes it as “possibly the best collection of songs I’ve ever written”. We couldn’t agree more.
Shepherd’s Bush Empire, W12 8TT
Sat, May 11 | Doors at 7pm, £25
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