Colin Hay

Colin Hay

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“There’s this theatre in L.A. called Largo,” explains Hay, who was born in Scotland, emigrated to Australia in his teens and is now a U.S. citizen. “I’ve been playing there for years and years, but it’s also a place that hosts a lot of comedy nights. I had a chance encounter with Paul, and we hit it off. He recommended me to Scott [Aukerman] to be a guest on the show, and it ended up being a lot of fun. I kind of knew what I was getting into with all the improv and stuff that they do, so I did my best to play along and people ended up really liking it.”

Since rising to prominence with Men At Work in the 80s, Hay has fallen in and out of prominence; continuing to work tirelessly and tour just as much as Men At Work did, albeit on a smaller and more intimate scale. His profile rose once again in the 2000s thanks to cameo appearances on Scrubs and the now-infamous legal case concerning his biggest hit, “Down Under.” All of this was compiled into the aforementioned documentary, Waiting for My Real Life, directed by Aaron Faulls and Nate Gowtham and a surprise hit at last year’s Melbourne International Film Festival.

“I think people connected with it because it’s a common story,” he says. “I mean, it’s my story; but it could be anyone’s tale. You have this huge moment in your life, and you think that’s what your life is going to be from that point on… and it’s not. It never is. Sometimes, you do your best work and it’s almost kept a secret. I’ve been working a long time, and a lot of that time I was falling off the map. It’s what you do with that… that’s what ends up defining you. I guess that’s what people saw in my story.”

Hay will be back in Australia this March for a run of headlining dates across the country. This includes an appearance at the Port Fairy Folk Festival, as well as evenings at both Melbourne and Taronga Zoo as a part of their respective Twilight series of shows. Of course, plenty of new material from Next Year People will be showcased, but don’t fret – you’ll get your dose of “Who Can It Be Now?” and, indeed, “Down Under” – in a slightly different form, of course. “A lot of musicians my age just put their heads down and try and get their hits over and done with,” says Hay. “I’ve come to learn that it’s not about me. Those songs… they really belong to the audience now. It’s their moment to recapture. I just treat myself as a vessel for that.” As for the rest of the setlist, Hay says that he and his band vary from night to night. “When we’re in rehearsal, we start off with way too many songs,” he says. “That ends up being the best way around it, as you’re never short on song to perform. There’s always something in the back pocket if we want to change things up.”