We’ve Got A File On You: Colin Hay

Paul Mobley Studio

We’ve Got A File On You: Colin Hay

Paul Mobley Studio

We’ve Got A File On You features interviews in which artists share the stories behind the extracurricular activities that dot their careers: acting gigs, guest appearances, random internet ephemera, etc.

How you came to know Colin Hay and his music has everything to do with how old you are. Gen X-ers and boomers will know the Scottish-born singer/songwriter from his time in the ’80s with Aussie new wavers Men At Work, who arguably introduced most Americans to the concept of a Vegemite sandwich. If you’re a millennial, you probably caught Hay in a few episodes of Scrubs and listened to “I Just Don’t Think I’ll Ever Get Over You” on the Garden State soundtrack. If you’re even younger, then perhaps you caught Australian DJ Luude’s 2021 viral drum and bass remix of “Down Under.” Point is, Hay, who is now in his late 60s, has an impressive and well-documented history of bubbling back up in the zeitgeist every few years.

A true career musician, Hay has been steadily releasing solo albums since Men At Work disbanded in the mid ’80s (in 1996, Hay reunited with former bandmate Greg Ham, who died in 2012; Men At Work even performed “Down Under” at the closing ceremony of the 2000 Summer Olympics in Sydney). Starting with 1987’s Looking For Jack, Hay has released 14 studio albums and even spent time as a member of Ringo Starr’s All-Starr Band. This Friday, he’ll release his 15th LP, Now And The Evermore, which features the former Beatle on the title track.

In the lead-up to Now And The Evermore, Hay was kind enough to hop on a Zoom call from his home studio in Topanga Canyon. We walked through 40-plus years of unexpected career moments, including the time he met “an aspiring actor” named Zach Braff and the other time he educated Dick Clark about where exactly Melbourne is on a map.

Now And The Evermore (2022)

When did you begin work on Now And The Evermore?

COLIN HAY: Well, I’ve been working with Compass Records since about 2003. And usually it ends up that I give them a record every couple of years or so. Maybe it’s a little bit longer. But my — I hate to use this word — process, if you like… really, it’s just circumstantial rather than design, my career. I always mark it by when I got dropped by the major record labels, which is, I think, 1991 or something like that. So I realized that I was just on my own. I didn’t have any management or a booking agent or anything like that. Nobody seemed particularly interested in what I was doing.

So I just started going out on the road and making records. And I started off just going down the post office and mailing off CDs to people who wanted them. So I’ve just been on my own pretty much. And I hooked up with Compass Records around 2003. I think we’d done, I don’t know, 10 albums or so together. It was that time where I was off the road, and the pandemic had just started to hit. And so I started to work on this record around… 2020, I think it was. That was when the pandemic first happened, the start of the year, wasn’t it?

So I was on the road. I was touring, and all the gates got closed down. So I found myself at home, like a lot of people did. I usually don’t have that much time here consistently. I usually have a few weeks, and then I go on the road again, or [get] interrupted by something. But I found myself with this span of time, like a lot of time, a lot of people did, being home and going between upstairs, which is the house, and down here in the basement, which is where the studio is. And so I just started working on this record then.


And I found that I almost felt guilty in a way, because I was really enjoying not having to go anywhere and not do anything except go up and downstairs, make some coffee, and come back down and make a bit of food, take the dog for a walk. Everything was very self-contained. It was horrendous at the same time when you’d watch the news, of course. People dying right, left, and center. Idiocy on a mass scale. So you’re fretting about the state of humanity and people’s ability to make rational decisions and all that kind of stuff.

As I get older, I feel a certain pressure of time. Because I realize, “OK, I’m a couple of years away from 70.” So if I look after myself, I might have another 10, 15, 20 years if I’m lucky, walking around. I want to enjoy myself, really. I got an immense amount of pleasure, I suppose, out of making this record, because it seemed that I was in the past. And I mean my past. Since I was a young chap, or even a boy, time just seemed to compress. Lots of thoughts came flooding in, I suppose, just because of the fact that you never really knew. But if you happen to get COVID or something, or before the vaccines, your number might be up. So I felt a desire to express emotions and be as present as I could. The song “Now And The Evermore,” I had the music for it for quite a long time. And it’s funny, but I always imagined Ringo [Starr] playing on the track. I don’t know why, but it just struck me as something that I could hear him playing.


So once the lyrics came and I’d recorded the song, I just asked him if he’d play on it. He said, “Sure. Send it over.” So I sent it over to him. The song is really unashamedly inspired by the Beatles, as is a lot of people’s work, including mine.

So he played on it. And it was just somewhat surreal, but beautiful. Just fantastic on a personal level, because my mother and father had a music shop in Scotland when I was growing up. And so I would just look at the Beatles on the wall and think, “How do I become part of this magical world that I know exists beyond the world that I already know?”



You’ve known Ringo personally for quite a few years, correct?

HAY: I first played a tour with him 2003. And then I did a couple of television things with him. And then he didn’t ask me back until 2008. So I thought maybe he didn’t like my playing, but it was fine. I thought, “Well, I got to play with Ringo once. That’s fine.”

But then he asked me again in 2008. So that was nice. And then I did that tour. And then I didn’t work with him again for 10 years. And then, he asked me again in 2018. And I’ve been doing it since then. So we have some stuff coming up this year.

Playing American Bandstand With Men At Work (1982)

There’s a very early clip of your time in Men At Work where you and the band are playing American Bandstand. You’re having to explain to Dick Clark where Melbourne is. Was that something you had to do a lot in the ’80s? Explain to Americans the geography of Australia?

HAY: We were pretty ambitious. By that time, we had had a lot of success in different parts of the world. And we certainly weren’t anti-America or anti-USA by any means. We clearly wanted to become successful here. But we were aware of the fact that the American record company in New York had rejected the album twice because they thought there was no hits on it. So they didn’t really think much of the band at all, what we’d done.


It doesn’t really matter how well you’ve done anywhere else. In America, it doesn’t really matter unless it’s really staring them right in the face. And even then, sometimes they don’t realize what they have. We were very lucky because we got the opening spot on a Fleetwood Mac tour, which put us in front of thousands and thousands of people. And “Who Can It Be Now?” was really starting to really break the radio. It was happening because it was coming over the borders from different places. It had been released, but I don’t even think that the record company even still realized what they had. So we treated everything that happened to us in the United States with a certain level of irreverence.

We fully expected to be on Bandstand, if you like. We expected to be on everything because we were quite full of ourselves. And we thought that we thought that we were pretty good. And we really thought that we would capture the United States. And it was frustrating sometimes, in a way, because we were met with levels of idiocy at high levels. People didn’t know where anywhere was. And we were shocked by how ignorant people were, by and large, about the rest of the world. Even about places in their own country. People had no idea where Australia was. Do we speak English there, and all that kind of thing. I thought, “My Lord. Where do you people get educated?” There didn’t seem to be anyone we seemed to meet who had any idea about what was going on anywhere.


So it was frustrating in that sense. It made us laugh. And having to explain to Dick Clark where Melbourne or Australia was was funny, I guess, to some people. But to us, it was just like, “My God. Look at these idiots. Who do they think they are? Learn something. Read a book.”


Do you think that Dick Clark actually didn’t know where Melbourne was, or was he just hamming it up for an American audience?

HAY: I don’t think so. I don’t think he did. No.

Wow.

HAY: I think that that’s really the most important thing for people to learn here. Because there’s no doubting that the promise of what America is trying to be is [having] lofty ideals. Which as you well know, has never been realized for everybody in this country.


But there seems to be, still, this obsession of being number one. I don’t really understand that. Why can’t the United States just lead by example, instead of trying to force the fact that we’re number one down in everyone else’s throats? It’s ridiculous. It’s a big ask.


Why can’t we just be part of the world, instead of having this obsession with leading it? I think that everything is here. You have great entrepreneurship, you have great people who are great talent and your great art here, and your great enterprise here. And as far as the systems out there, you could argue quite strongly that this version of the capitalist system that works, that exists here at the moment, is broken to a large degree, because it seems that fewer and fewer people are owning more and more of the assets of what exists here. And the huge percentage of the population are not really any more well off. The shrinking of the middle class and all that kind of thing.

But if you compare it with other systems in the world, it’s still probably, as far as I’m concerned, the best one out there, and can be improved upon. But you look at [Chinese] President Xi, who’s just decided that he’s there for life. And now China seems to be making big moves, in terms of aggressive stances and so forth, to become number one in the world. 


But I still have great optimism and faith about people here who I meet all the time [when] I’m playing shows, and when I’m out touring and so forth. There’s great artistry and entrepreneurship, and there’s great people who are constantly just in the area of design. Or even in my world, whether it’s effects, pedals, or guitars, or amplification, or whatever it is in the world that I’m part of. I have a fantastic life. So I have great faith still, even although it gets tested all the time.

What was the average American’s impression of Australia in the ’80s?

HAY: There was a huge level of intrigue about Australia because people had this myth that Australia was like America was in the ’50s, which it wasn’t. There was nothing like it at all, but that’s what people wanted to believe. They wanted to believe that the Crocodile Dundee was walking around everywhere, which was just a replacement for John Wayne or something when they mythologized the United States being somewhere which was a much better place, which is also not true as well.


When we came over here, I could only imagine how the Beatles felt. We were nowhere nearly as successful as they were, but they were met with this barrage of interest, whether you call it the British Invasion or whatever you call it. I could only just imagine what they felt when they first came across here, which must have been completely mind-blowing, because it was for us.


Men At Work Win The Best New Artist Grammy (1983)

You’ve famously joked that the Best New Artist Grammy is the kiss of death for a musician’s career. Do you still feel that way?



HAY: It’s just a bit of a gag, really. It wasn’t really that for us, the award per se. It was our band was destined not to last with the personnel that was in it. Which was sad in a way because we had great potential, and we made a couple of good records and they did really well.


And we had a lot of talent within the band, but there was no soul in the band, really. That’s what I think about it, anyway. None that I could really recognize. It was very lots of disparate energies there that sometimes that works in a band where you can have all this tension and it somehow comes out in great artistic expression. But by the time we were touring the States, it just wasn’t particularly interesting anymore.

How does Men At Work’s lineup change look to you now, with more than 30 years of hindsight?

HAY: Well, that was really a mistake, more than anything. What happened was, there was six people in Men At Work. There was five musicians and one manager. And the manager was my friend. When we were at university together, Russell [Depeller] and I, he said, “Oh, if you ever get a band together, I’ll hustle for you.” So that was the basis of our deal. So I got a band together, and just a three-piece band. And then Greg [Ham] joined us, so there was four of us. And then I asked Russell to manage the band. And so, he said yes.


He didn’t have any experience as a manager, but we didn’t have any experience as a band. We thought, “We’ll conquer the world together. We’ll make it up as we go along,” which is exactly what we did. And we had songs and we had a good sound, and it happened for us. So when we were at the height of our success, a couple of the guys in the band didn’t want Russell to be the manager anymore.

I think they wanted either to sack him or they wanted to get somebody else to manage the band. And I was like, “Why would you do that? We’ve conquered the world together. Why?” So there was that kind of idiocy, in my mind, that crept into the band. It’s like, “Why are you trying to change what’s already working?” And it wasn’t that there were no problems or things to be worked out legally or contractually, but that happens with every band.


What had happened to us was truly phenomenal. It was a phenomenon in the true sense of the word. This does not happen to very many people, to very many bands at all. And it wasn’t being recognized as something which was huge. It was somehow being kept small by small-mindedness. That’s what was frustrating for me. And so, I thought, “Well, I’m not going to sack my friend. If you’re going up against me and my friend, well, you’re going to lose.”


And so that’s what happened. They lost, they got sacked. That shouldn’t have happened. We should have sat down and we should have worked out these issues. Which were, “Why do you want sack this guy? Don’t you realize what we have?” So in the end, what happened was just the tour was finished and I didn’t want to be in the band anymore. I said to Russell, “This is not working for me anymore. I’m going to leave.” He said, “Well, what are you leaving for? It’s your band.”


And slowly Greg came to me and Ron [Strykert] came to me, and they said, “Well, we want to keep going.” But the four of us didn’t want to work with the bass player and the drummer, so they got the sack. But we shouldn’t have sacked them. It was silly. We should have figured it out, or just broken up.


We made another album; there was some good songs on the album. Three of us; Ron and Greg and I. And then, halfway through that album, Ron just said one day, he said, “Oh, I’m going home.” And I said, “Oh, yeah?” And he said, “Yeah.” I said, “You coming back?” And he goes, “Nah.” He just didn’t come back. That’s how he left the band. On a Tuesday afternoon, just Ron went home and never bothered coming back. It was classic, classic Ron, though, really.


And when the third record didn’t do anything, Greg just said, I’ve had enough.” So really, I was the only one left. And so, there was no band anymore. It all just disintegrated.


Men At Work Perform At Live Aid (1985)

HAY: We made a mess of that. We weren’t very good.

Why do you say that?

HAY: It was another band. It was another Men At Work, which wasn’t the original Men At Work. And we had an album coming out — that album didn’t really do anything. So we were already on the other side of the mountain, on our way out.

Is there any reason why “Mr. Entertainer” was never formally released?

HAY: No. There was no real reason. I think that was a good song. And I don’t know why. I think we just broke up. It should have been recorded and written properly. I think it was a really good live song.

I probably couldn’t play it now if I tried, but I actually listened to it the other day because somebody sent me a bit of live footage on it. And I watched it again. I thought, “This is quite good. This is not bad, this song.” We had a bunch of songs like that. We could have done some other interesting things if we hadn’t [broken up].

It’s difficult. I think about this a little bit: Bands are sometimes metaphors for what happens in the larger world. It’s five or six men together for extended periods of time and having an inability to communicate their feelings and really what’s going on is what causes most of the breakups. And indeed, I think what causes most of the problems in the world is men not being able to communicate their feelings without resorting to some kind of horrendous behavior.

Releasing “Hold Me” As Colin James Hay (1987)

When you started your solo career, was it a relief to be releasing work under your name, as opposed to dealing with band dynamics?

HAY: You’re correct. It was a complete relief. And I felt like I didn’t have any reins on anymore. I felt, creatively, quite free. I made a record with a great English record producer whose name is Robin Millar, who did the Sade records, and Everything But The Girl, and Fine Young Cannibals. Many, many, many, many great records. And I didn’t really know this until later on. But apparently, the idea of producing me was sold to him as being a Men At Work record, but I didn’t know that. It was always, to me, going to be a solo record because the band was done.


It’s an interesting thing to talk about because I was still basically under contract with Columbia. And as far as they were concerned, it could have been a Men At Work record because I still had a deal. 
So, perhaps it would’ve done better if it had to come out as Men At Work. I don’t really know whether it would’ve or not. But before Men At Work, when I would play little solo acoustic shows, I would go out as Colin James Hay, which is my name. But when I was in the band, somebody in the band said, “Oh, we don’t use our middle names. Why are you using your middle name?”

Again, it was just driving me nuts. So I said, “Oh, OK. I won’t use it. I’ll just be Colin Hay.” So after, when I was doing the Looking For Jack record, they said, “Well, what’s it going to come out under?” I said, “Well, just put it out under my name.” And in a moment of some declaration of my own singular identity, I said, “Call it Colin James Hay. That’s my name.”


But think it was ultimately a mistake. I think I should’ve just called it “Colin Hay” because I think it was seen as being perhaps there’s some level of pretension in that declaration or calling it that. And also, it was a bit of people [wondering], “Who is that guy? Who’s Colin James Hay?” And even my name, people didn’t really know who I was, even Colin Hay. But Colin James, it had even less name recognition than I did.


There were some good things on that record, the Looking For Jack record. And as a matter of fact, it’s the only time I ever got an apology from a high-level record company executive in England who wrote to me, and who actually was the boss of CBS Records when my band first got signed. He wrote to me and said, “I’m sorry we dropped the ball on this record. This record’s a good record. You did a lot more for my career than I was ever able to do for yours.”


I never even really took this personally, but I realized then that you really are only as good as your last record. And if a record company’s not interested in you, why would you want to be there? Why would you want to stay within an organization that avoids your phone calls? Or if you walk in the office, just close the door or look the other way? So I decided to go to MCA Records because I got offered a deal there by a guy called Al Taylor, who was sacked by Walter Yetnikoff, and went to run MCA Records for a minute.

Guest Starring On Scrubs (2002, 2007, 2009)

This is going to be a huge marker of my age, but my first Colin Hay memories have a lot to do with the show Scrubs. Zach Braff was a big fan of yours, right?

HAY: Well, it all revolves around my best friend here in Los Angeles, a guy called Chad Fischer, who used to play drums in a band called School Of Fish. He worked on, I think, The Practice, Scandal — different TV shows. He’s a film composer-songwriter. And he has a band also called Lazlo Bane. Anyway, he’s about 15 years younger than me or something like that. When I first came to LA, I probably came here in ’89. So I’ve been living in the same place since ’91. I met Chad around ’93, ’94. And he played drums on a couple of my records. And he was just trying to become established here in Los Angeles.


But anyway, a lot of things that happened for me positively happened through Chad. So we had a mutual friend, Chad and I. Chad was a mutual friend of Kerry Brothers, a singer-songwriter, who’s a friend of Zach Braff. And they used to come and see me in Largo. And this was before Scrubs existed. I think that Zach, he was an aspiring actor and was, I guess, going out and auditioning madly.

And I was at a party at Chad’s house in Lookout Mountain off Laurel Canyon. Zach was there. And Zach and I were sitting talking. And he said to me, “I got this gig in this television show.” And I said, “Oh, good, man.” He said, “Oh, I’m going to be the star.” I said, “Wow. Good on you. More power to you.”


He said, “I’ll take some of your CDs in there and try and get them on the show.” So I said, “Oh, good. That’d be great.” So I didn’t think anything of it, but that’s exactly what he did. He took some of my songs to Bill Lawrence, who was the creator of the show. And Bill Lawrence got a little bit annoyed about the fact that he hadn’t heard of me for a while and he liked the music.


And he said, “Well, why are these songs not on the radio?” And I said, “Well, that’s a very good question.” And he said, “I’m going to use a couple of your songs and try and weave them into a storyline of a couple of episodes and see if I can make a difference for you.” So that’s what he did. So he wrote an episode called “My Overkill,” which was a very popular episode. And it made a huge difference for my career, in terms of live audiences. It was a great punctuation mark for me.


You have to be moving. It’s like a cliche, really. But you have to be actively working and doing interesting things in order for even people to take any kind of notice. And so that’s what I think what happened with me, is Zach liked some of my songs and he was in a position of power to do something about it.

The Garden State Soundtrack (2004)





HAY: I remember sitting there on [the Scrubs set] one day, and [Zach] said, “I’m writing a film.” I said, “Oh, you’re a busy boy.” And he said, “I want to use one of your songs in the film.” And I said, “Well, you do that very thing.”


So he used “I Just Don’t Think I’ll Ever Get Over You” in Garden State. And of course, I can remember specifically when I wrote that song. I was sitting up here at a friend of mine’s house here on the deck, and that song just popped out. Very quick song to write, some of them are.


And I remember writing that song. And I thought, “Oh, this is a cool song.” I liked it. And I thought to myself, “I don’t think anyone is going to hear this song.” Because no one was paying any attention, really, to my music or what I was doing in terms of the industry, if you like. 


I had fans. I could go out on the road and I was always flying over the radar. I would put a few hundred people into a room if I was playing in it. But as far as anyone paying any attention, it wasn’t really happening. So I had that song, I think probably ’96 or something like that, on an album called Transcendental Highway. And it wasn’t until 10 years later, when Zach put it in the film, and then Sony released it as part of the soundtrack, that people started to really notice the song. It gave me faith in myself in a way. Because I thought to myself, “Well, I was right. It was a good song and people did like it if they were exposed to it.” And that’s what Scrubs and the Garden State film did. It just helped youngsters discover that they liked some of these tunes I was doing.


The “Down Under” Copyright Ruling (2010)

When the Australian court ruled that the flute riff in “Down Under” was plagiarized from the children’s song “Kookaburra Sits In The Old Gum Tree,” you said in a statement: “What was born out of creative musical expression, became both a technical and mathematical argument. This ruling will have lasting repercussions, and I suspect not for the better.” In the 12 years since, have you seen elements of this prediction come to pass?

HAY: I think so, but I haven’t really been paying all that much attention. There was the famous one, wasn’t there, with… Was it “Blurred,” or something?

Blurred Lines,” yeah. That’s what I was thinking of too.

HAY: Yeah. I haven’t really listened to them both enough to really comment about specific songs since that time. But I think that what I was trying to say, and what I still say, is if you look at what the Beatles did, for example, who they were inspired by… We’re all inspired by Black music and what was being creative here.


That, in many cases, didn’t seem to be getting the exposure here. Even the expression “doing color songs,” where you’d have great songs written by Black musicians, which were made hits by white musicians, because that’s all this country could cope with at the time, which seems ridiculous. And it took these white, pasty-faced English people to come over and expose that music to where it came from in the first place. So it’s all that. We are all building on what’s gone before. It’s really ridiculous in a way. I think that it’s really difficult to make legal rulings about artistic expression.

I can really only talk about my song in particular. Because that song was written before Men At Work existed. So that’s why I know that that whole court case and litigation involved with that had a ludicrous element to it, because the song existed, came to exist with no reference to any other song. So the song is clean as far as I’m concerned, and a lot of other people are. It’s a complicated subject, but I’ll try and press it down to something which is short as much as I can. 

When we went in to record the song “Down Under,” we had an American record producer, Peter McIan. And he was brilliant because he would suggest things. Like, in “Who Can It Be Now?” he said, “Let’s bring the saxophone hook up in front of the song.” That didn’t happen when we used play it at that point. The saxophone hook never came until halfway through the song. So we come to do “Down Under.” And “Down Under” used to have a bass playing the intro. So Peter said, “Look, that’s a tough instrument. You can’t have that in front of the song. Why don’t you bring the flute? Play that line on the flute?” So Greg said, “OK.” So Greg played that front of the song.

And then [Peter] said, “OK, put that in the chorus there.” After that point, when we play this song live, that hook happened once. And this may seem hard for people to [understand], but we never even knew what it was. We knew it was something, but we never even really thought about it consciously.



That happens all the time, yes.

HAY: And so all of a sudden, there’s five bars in the song that had that flute, that had that melody; two bars of “Kookaburra Sits In The Old Gum Tree.” Now, we knew had a great song. We knew that chance this was going to be a hit record. So for us to consciously go at that point and say, “Hey, why don’t we take two bars of this upper song and put it in this song?” It’s just ridiculous. We would never have done that.


So in the end, what happened was because those two bars were taken out context and everything, they were in my mind subsumed within this new framework. And that’s really what happens with music, is that you take from all these different… whether it’s a tip of the hat, you build on things, and you create something new. And that’s what we did.


And I think that that’s really born out by the fact that for 27 or 28 years, no one said boo about it. And even the writer of the song “Kookaburra” was still alive when “Down Under” came out, and she ever said anything about it. So you’d imagine that she would’ve had something to say.


And also, “Kookaburra Sits In The Old Gum Tree,” you can go back and you can listen to this Welsh song. Usually, what happens is, when you have a song that’s going from the old world to the new world, it usually travels from the old world to the new world. Which is, really, I believe what happened with “Kookaburra.” Because there’s a Welsh song. And I can’t remember exactly the name of it, but it talks about a robin sitting in an oak tree. And in Australia, Kookaburra is sitting in a gum tree.


But it’s exactly the same melody, exactly the same melody and the topic. And so I’m suspecting that that was taken from an old traditional Welsh song. But we couldn’t prove that in court because they didn’t allow that in the courtroom. But the second day of the court, I knew the judge was going to give them something because he just felt that he had to. So the ruling went against us. And I think it was a bad ruling, I always will, but that’s the way it went. I don’t lose sleep over it anymore, but I stand by the fact that I think the reason people will probably use that as a precedent for other decisions, which will be wrong.

During the height of that court case, I remember playing in a jungle in Brazil with my band. And 20,000 people came and there were these indigenous dancers that come out of the forest. They were the most extraordinary looking people I’ve ever seen. I don’t know whether they’d seen white people very often, but they were just the most beautiful. And they were completely like no people I’d ever met before in my life.


And they danced before we went on. I said to Cecilia, my wife, “Do you think that they would get up and dance during ‘Down Under’?” She said, “Well, I’ll ask them.” So she did. And they said, “Yeah, of course.” So during “Down Under,” they came on. And they did this dance, which looked like it was choreographed, but it wasn’t. And it was extraordinary. At that very moment, I thought about the court case. And I just thought, “You know what? They can’t fucking touch this.”

Luude Remixes “Down Under” (2021)

Speaking of “Down Under,” what was your reaction to hearing the song reworked as a drum-and-bass track?

HAY: Well, I liked when it was first played to me. And I’ve never spoken with Luude. I can’t remember whether I sent my vocal to him or whether I sent it to his label down here, but they contacted me and they asked me if I would give them an updated book, which is what I did.


So I can’t even remember whether I re-sang the song or whether I just had another vocal. Basically, I was going into partnership with this young chap and his record label called… I think they’re called Sweat It Out Records.


They said to me, “Look, this is getting traction already.” And this was back in November. And I listened to it. A lot of people do remixes of “Down Under,” but I’ve played it to a couple of people who are in their 20s and 30s. I said, “What do you think of this?” And I liked it. And I wanted affirmation, if you like. And they said, “Yeah, we think it’s pretty good.”


It’s a great example of the randomness of the universe, where I read an interview with Luude the other day, where he said, “This is a career-changer for me, this song.” And I wanted to say to him that it was a career-changer for me as well, 40 years ago. And it took 40 minutes to write. So those 40 minutes have sustained me for 40 years. And it would seem is going to help this young chap in his quest for world domination, but good for mine.


Playing With Of Monsters And Men On Kimmel As Of Monsters And Men At Work (2016)

Did it take long for you and Of Monsters And Men to mash up “Down Under” with “Little Talks”?

HAY: It only took a little one or two sessions to do that. They came up here. They just sat next to me here on the sofa, actually, where I am now. And they were the loveliest of people. And I’ve never been [to Iceland], but I have a fascination with that part of the world. They liked my music and they were very into the idea. So they came here and we hung out. We just worked on the ideas of what we would do. And it was a lot of fun. They’re lovely people. I like them very much.

Acting On The Resident (2018)

Is it just a coincidence that you’ve popped up in multiple TV shows set in hospitals?

HAY: Just a coincidence, I think. But my best friend in Melbourne, my friend, Kym; who is always largely responsible for the formulation of Men At Work. Kym Gyngell is his name. He and I were great friends at school and I had a secret desire to be an actor, but the music was really the path that was in front of me.


So I followed that. He became an actor, a very successful actor, in Australia. But I thought that I would be doing a lot more acting at this point. I was saying to my wife yesterday, “Well, I’ve always given up on being discovered.” Because I love that world. I don’t really know that much. I’ve done a few things. I haven’t done a lot.

But I thought that I would’ve done a lot more. And I very occasionally go out on auditions. And most of the time, don’t get them. Most of the things that I do end up doing, it’s just somebody who’s seen me play somewhere or they like the shape of my head or something. I’m not quite sure. But they ask specifically for me to do something, and then I go and do it, usually.


Because as, Woody Allen said a long time ago, you show up. You just say yes. One of the great things about getting older is you can say no and feel OK about it, whether it’s about going to a club or going to whatever it is sometimes people ask you to do. I feel no guilt or anything about saying, “No, I don’t want to do that.” I’d rather stay right exactly where I am in this space.

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