“It gets a little chilly there in Canberra at times, doesn’t it?” My proud inner Canberran thinks, ‘How could the man who wrote ‘Land Down Under’ not know that?’ But like the paradoxes and complexities of the song itself, COLIN HAY cannot be summed up so easily. MEN AT WORK and ‘Land Down Under’ both hold a solid place in the Australian musical landscape, and yet Hay has an internationally significant identity that extends beyond 1980s stardom.
Speaking to me on the day that his latest album Fierce Mercy was released, we discussed all of the above and his upcoming shows as part of the Apia Good Times tour. Here, he will be playing alongside The Black Sorrows, Mental As Anything, and Deborah Conway. “I detest them all.” His response to my question about his previous associations with the artists was an indication of his Scottish sense of humour.
Colin is a prolific songwriter, with 13 albums as a solo artist, so I was curious about his process and inspiration. “I’ve written songs since I was 14 years old,” (which is coincidentally the age he migrated to Australia). “I don’t really do anything, I just wait for songs to form. I put little ideas into my telephone. I don’t listen to them for a while and then when I go down to the studio I try make sense of them. I also sit down in the studio and try and practice a little guitar and I find if I do that, it takes you in different directions and all of a sudden you can be messing around with a little idea that shows promise.”
“Well it’s not really any of your business.” I was worried I’d offended Colin with my question about his recent decision to become a US citizen. “But I don’t really care if you know.” His abrupt initial response was probably just another example of his Scottish sense of humour, and he then went on to explain how it was mostly done for legal reasons to support his wife. “It was going to be much better if I fell off my perch. The other reason is I’m a big fan of President Obama and if I’m gonna become a citizen, I wanted it to be under his leadership.”
The ‘Land Down Under’ songwriter has been based in the USA for some time now. “I could wipe the slate clean when I came to the states and I could start again. I find it curiously inspiring.” His fan base has also left down under. “It’s mainly here and different parts of the world. I have a big following in Scotland.” Appearances on TV show Scrubs and other Zach Braff film soundtracks has contributed to his scattered fan base. “I wouldn’t say we have a friendship; he was a fan of mine and he came to a few shows and he said he would try get my music on the show.”
Experience the eclectic Colin Hay as part of the Apia Good Times Tour on Sunday June 11 at Canberra Theatre Centre. Tickets are available via canberratheatrecentre.com.au.