Deciding what to do ‘after breakfast’ is challenging
BEAVER CREEK – What interests Colin Hay are the songs he’s composed and concerts he’s played since writing a few smash hits in the early ’80s with his band, Men At Work. Hay has been on the road the last dozen years or so, playing solo acoustic shows and performing with rock bands. He brings the latter to Beaver Creek Sunday night. “People come up and say, ‘Wow you guys ruled in ’82 on MTV,’ and I say, ‘Yeah, what I’m really excited about is a song I wrote yesterday,'” Hay said Wednesday on his way to a show in Park City, Utah. “People are obsessed with the past, people love being nostalgic,” Hay said. “I bring the past with me – it’s not 20 years ago for me, it’s only as far away as last night.” That past includes Men at Work’s Grammy for best new artist of 1982 and the hits “Who Can It Be Now?”, “Overkill” and “It’s A Mistake.” But none of the band’s songs are as well known as “Down Under,” Hay’s wry elegy to his teenage homeland (he’s a native of Scotland) that sparked ’80s America’s fascination with all things Aussie a few years before Paul Hogan was throwing shrimps on the barbie. Sunday night he will play some of the old songs, but also new songs and others that haven’t been released yet which he’s fine tuning on tour. “It’s one of those kinds of shows where you get everything and a little bit more,” Hay said.
Hay does requestsHay has done about eight albums outside Men at Work. Among his latest releases are “Man@Work,” a predominantly acoustic reworking of a dozen solo and Men at Work songs, and “Going Somewhere,” a 2000 album of somber ballads rereleased this year. One of Hay’s songs, “I’ll Just Don’t Think I’ll Ever Get Over You” (from “Going Somewhere”), was included on the trendy soundtrack to the even trendier movie, “Garden State.” He also sang “Overkill” on an episode of the TV show “Scrubs.” The acoustic album answers a request from his fans. “People e-mailed me after coming to see the live shows,” Hay said. “They wanted an album that was that and they’ve responded really well.” Fans are a high priority for Hay, but they have changed over the years, he said. “I have this following all over the world, wherever I play fans come to see me,” he said. “In a sense it’s more of a real following. When you have a massive success like Men at Work had, it’s over-inflated. It’s real people who bought those albums, but when the dust settles, you’re left with core base of fans, which is what my audience is.”And it’s those fans who keep him going. “I really love writing songs and recording and performing, it’s just something I still get excited about,” he said. “I get a lot of affirmation – I get a lot of e-mails from people who tell me they like the songs.” There are, of course, music fans who refuse to believe the ’80s ended in 1989. Jeff Cerovich, an Edwards resident and father of three, is one of them. “The only good music was made between 1980 and 1989 and the sooner people embrace that the happier they’ll be,” said Cerovich, who keeps his satellite radio tuned to ’80s channels and has packed his iTunes with songs from the era of XTC, Oingo Boingo, Aztec Camera, Flock of Seagulls and Haircut 100.
“There were a few songs in the 90s that weren’t bad,” he added. While Men at Work is not one of Cerovich’s favorite bands – “Our goal growing up in western Pennsylvania was to find obscure groups no one ever heard of,” he said – he acknowledges “Down Under” is a musical landmark of the era in which MTV showed its first videos. “If you went to an ’80s high school reunion, Men at Work would be in the top 10,” Cerovich said. No point in a bad dayHay is less nostalgic than those who worship the music of the Reagan years. It’s important for an artist not to live a “groundhog day,” he said, referring to the Bill Murray movie in which a hapless weatherman relives the same day over and over and over. Hay isn’t trying to write another “Down Under” or repeat what happened in the past, he said. “What’s interesting is what people are doing after you have some huge success like what we had,” Hay said. “You have to ask yourself if you want to stay in the business and what keeps you on that path.
“You have to ask yourself those questions all the times,” he said. “It’s is a difficult road, because people want you to stay in your little box.” The songs he writes these days are about the troubles of everyday life. “More than anything, we all share the same kinds of trials and tribulations about what we’re going do after breakfast, how we’re going to get through the day,” he said.Facing these daily ordeals comes with some perspective, though. “My struggle is a lot less than most of the world,” he said. “I have enough food to eat, I have a career and a nice place to live. I have running water.” Surely, even with all that, one can still have a crappy day, right? “I don’t tend to have crappy day,” Hay said, “because there’s no point.” Assistant Editor for Local News Matt Zalaznick can be reached at 949-0555, ext. 606, or email@example.com. Vail, Colorado