Colin Hay Is Still A Man At Work

Though best known as the frontman of iconic and infectious '80s group Men at Work ("Who Can It Be Now?" "Down Under," "Overkill," "It's a Mistake"), for over 20 years Colin Hay has forged a newer identity as a singer-songwriter to a growing fanbase less likely to yell out "Vegemite Sandwich!" in between songs.

On his latest solo record, American Sunshine (Compass Records), Hay proffers 11 bright-and-spright tracks featuring some deft picking and his clear, expressive voice. The material is easygoing and low-key - but hardly soft - and filled with his love of the Golden State and wry observations about male-female relations.

Hay's current tour finds him performing a mixture of Men at Work and solo tunes, laced with his comedic interludes. In this e-mail interview (hey, the economy is tough - who's gonna pay for a phone call to Australia?), Hay proved a man of few words with a dry sense of humor. Either that, or he's a very slow typist.

Rocks Off: I'm going to burst a lot of people's bubbles here. You were born in Scotland! What's the most bizarre thing someone has said to you who assumes you're originally from Australian?

Colin Hay: I am actually both Scottish and Australian, and I have lived in the U.S. for 20 years, so I guess I'm a Scottish born Australian-American - if you'll have me, that is.

As far as bizarre things said to me, nothing much, but a fight did break out between two people at a show who were arguing the point. I wanted to point out that national identity is not all that important.

RO: How is the show set up? Are you a solo act or will you have a band?

CH: I will be solo in all my glory!

RO: American Sunshine is such an upbeat and relaxing-sounding album, even when the lyrics are not. What did you want to do with it that perhaps you haven't with any other record?

CH: Nothing. As with all my albums, I always assume they're going to be massive hits, so I'm ever hopeful.

RO: Has the California Tourism Board approached you about using "Oh California?" It's perfect!

CH: They have not, but I agree with you, I think they should. So if you could send it to someone in a decision making capacity, I would be forever grateful.

RO: My other favorite song is "Pleased to Almost Meet You." Based on years of real-life experiences with fan encounters, I assume?

CH: Correct!

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